Bayern Munich captain Mark van Bommel on Tuesday joined Italian side AC Milan, five months before his contract was due to expire, the German giants have announced.
“It was Mark’s express wish to be released from his contract early for sporting reasons, in order to be able to move to AC Milan immediately,” Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
“Mark was always a model professional, an important and successful player for Bayern Munich, and also a fantastic captain.”
Bayern gave no financial details, but reports said that with van Bommel’s contract due to expire at the end of the season, his move to the Italian giants was a free transfer.
German daily Bild said that van Bommel’s relations with Bayern coach, compatriot Louis van Gaal, had hit an all-time low and the Dutch midfielder has admitted in an interview he did not say goodbye to van Gaal.
Van Bommel had become worried that he could spend a lot of the second-half of the Bundesliga season on the bench and could lose his captain’s armband because he no longer fitted in with van Gaal’s plans, Bild said.
The Dutch hardman joined Bayern in 2006 in a six-million-euro move from Barcelona, playing 123 times, scoring 11 goals and helping the Bavarians to two Bundesliga and cup titles.
“I am leaving Bayern Munich with a heavy heart but with my head held high,” said the 33-year-old Dutchman.
“I have spent four and a half very nice and successful years here and would like to thank the club and the fans for this.
“Bayern Munich will always have a place in my heart.”
Van Bommel revealed how the deal happened so fast, especially as he captained the side in Bayern’s 5-1 demolition of Kaiserslautern on Saturday.
“On Sunday evening, AC Milan contacted my agent, who called me and things happened very fast after that,” he said.
“I don’t know how long the contract is for, but that will be decided soon.
“It wasn’t hard in my situation to make the switch to Milan and I am proud that they wanted to sign me.”
After Bayern signed Brazilian midfielder Luis Gustavo from Hoffenheim during January’s winter break, van Bommel’s position was under threat, but the Dutch star says that was not the reason he has quit Munich.
“It was a purely sporty decision (to leave),” he said.
“Two years ago, Bayern signed several new players, so this is not a new situation.
“I played in recent matches, even though Gustavo was already here.
“I do not worry about other players. I am 33 years old and have been a professional since 1992, so I know what I can and can’t do.
“And I know that I could have helped Bayern Munich.
“Each player must always fight for his place and I also always done that.
“I have fullest confidence in myself, and if I had remained, I would have played.”
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