The Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer believes Michael Ballack should have joined Manchester United instead of Chelsea.
The Germany international moved to Chelsea on a free transfer from Bayern Munich last summer, but an injury-stricken first season at Stamford Bridge saw him make only 26 league appearances. His future was the subject of speculation over the summer and the subject resurfaced after Chelsea omitted the midfielder from their initial Champions League squad.
"I think it was a mistake to move to that club [Chelsea]," Beckenbauer said. "There was a space available for his position with Manchester United and he would have fitted into their system perfectly. The same with Real Madrid. But at Chelsea his role was already filled by Frank Lampard."
The Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster claimed Ballack was only prevented from moving to Spain this summer because of an agent's fee. But with Madrid having spent almost £50m and Ballack's £130,000-a-week wages in England, Beckenbauer does not see how the midfielder can go anywhere when the window opens again in January.
"Where can he move to now?" Beckenbauer said. "His first transfer opportunity is during the winter and I hardly suppose Bernd Schuster's Madrid are interested after bringing in Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder."
But a return to Munich was dismissed by the Bayern president who said, "We can no longer afford to pay his wages."
The criticism of Chelsea by the Germany coach Joachim Löw for Ballack's omission clearly stung the English club, who have again insisted that the decision was taken purely on medical grounds. "Looking from afar, you get the feeling that Ballack is caught in the middle of German doctors and English club doctors," Beckenbauer said. "It would be regrettable if the player was made to suffer."Reuse content