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Rummenigge defends Schweinsteiger

Bayern Munich chief executive officer Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has hit back at Olaf Thon for suggesting Bastian Schweinsteiger's days with the German national side are numbered.

• Blog: Schalke Null Vier, anyone?

With Bayern on course for their first title-winning campaign in three years and reports of in-house strife cooling off, all would appear to be well with the club once labelled FC Hollywood. As it stands, Bayern's biggest problem is contending with the criticisms of the club's former players.

Thon, who spent six years as a player with Bayern and won 52 caps for Germany, has become the latest to cause a stir after suggesting Schweinsteiger is set to become the new Michael Ballack.

"Schweinsteiger is a player who will play even more defensively in the next few years," Thon told Sky on Sunday. "He does not have the pace anymore. In his position, you need speed and aggressiveness."

He added: "He is very strong in the air and tries to show other virtues. He tries to show leadership qualities so he can somehow make it to the World Cup, but then it will be just like with Michael Ballack. Other players will move up, but it might happen even earlier."

Thon said that Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has already overtaken Schweinsteiger.

"[Schweinsteiger] is no longer able to outplay opponents," he said. "Gundogan now is better at it."

On Tuesday, Rummenigge laughed off the statements in an interview with TZ.

"What Olaf Thon said - well, he was no Armin Hary either," Rummenigge said, referring to the German runner who set a then-world record time in the 100 metres with 10.0 seconds in 1960. "It might have been his wish to be as good as Bastian Schweinsteiger.

"Maybe Olaf Thon is frustrated - he does not play a major role in football these days. That's when you tend to say things like that on TV. We are very satisfied with Bastian."

Rummenigge said that Schweinsteiger, who at the age of 28 has won 97 caps for Germany, would not follow Ballack's path.

He added: "Looking at the caps for Thon and Schweinsteiger, quality and quantity speak for Bastian. End of discussion."

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