Arjen Robben says politics forced him out of Real Madrid in 2009 – but has admitted that it was the best thing that could have happened to him.
The Dutchman spent two years at the Bernabeu from 2007-09 after joining from Chelsea for €36m, winning La Liga in his first season before Madrid endured a season of struggle in 2008/09 under Bernd Schuster and Juande Ramos.
Upon Florentino Perez’s return as club president in June 2009, however, Los Blancos set about overhauling their squad with a huge summer of business – forcing Robben to Bayern Munich for around €25m.
The 35-year-old has only just left Bavaria after a glorious decade in which he has won the Champions League and eight Bundesliga titles with Bayern – and now reflects on his Madrid exit as a blessing.
"Florentino Perez returned as president and then bought Ronaldo and Kaka, Benzema and Xabi Alonso," Robben recalled to Diario AS.
"They spent so much money and told us they needed to make some money with sales."
"For me it was a shame because I had a very good relationship with [former coach] Manuel Pellegrini, and maybe I had the best pre-season of my career."
"I found it difficult because of the change of president in Madrid – I really felt very comfortable there and played very well, but when politics comes into play and you don’t have a real chance, you must decide if you want to keep fighting or continue your career elsewhere."
"The decision wasn’t easy; we sat down as a family and talked – after all, it was leaving a great club like Real Madrid."
"There was no turning back. In comparison, Bayern weren’t as successful in Europe at that time. My goal had always been to win the Champions League."
"I wanted to prove I was good enough and my move to Bayern was the best decision of my career."