Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes has dismissed recent criticism of Bastian Schweinsteiger, saying the Germany international ranks alongside Sergio Busquets as the best in the world in his position.
Earlier this week, former Bayern player Olaf Thon had told Sky that Schweinsteiger, 28, did not "have the pace anymore" and was "no longer able to outplay opponents". He also argued that Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan was already superior and could take his place in the national team before the 2014 World Cup.
"I don't listen to those words," Heynckes told a press conference on Thursday. "To me, Schweinsteiger is a great strategist. Just as a film director has his script, he has a plan in mind for matches."
Heynckes added that Schweinsteiger plays "modern football with a lot of intelligence" and there is no one superior in his role.
"Barcelona are the measure of all things," he said. "A certain Sergio Busquets plays [in that position]. He is a genius on the pitch and has never dribbled in his life. Why? Because you have to cross the ball to other side, you have to pass, and that is what Schweinsteiger does. Alongside Busquets, he is the best midfielder in the world."
Schweinsteiger is likely to be handed the chance to once again prove that against VfL Wolfsburg on Friday night. The Germany international will be joined by Luiz Gustavo in defensive midfield as Javi Martinez is rested with a bruised toe.
The Spain international could also miss out on the Champions League clash with Arsenal next week, with Heynckes saying: "We have to see how it develops over the next few days."
Heynckes has no worries about granting Gustavo some playing time again, though, following the injury he had suffered in early November.
"Prior to his injury he was a very important player in midfield, maybe even the best," he said. "We have replacements for every single player. That's part of the reason we are so dominant."
The major story on Friday night, however, will be Mario Mandzukic's return to his former club.
The Croatia international had scored 20 goals in 56 Bundesliga games for Wolfsburg before making the move to the Allianz Arena last summer. After 21 games league games with his new club, Mandzukic tops the Bundesliga scoring charts with 14 goals in 18 appearances.
"It does not surprise me at all that he established himself so quickly," Wolfsburg left-back Marcel Schafer said. "The way he plays football is in demand right now. He runs a lot, goes into one-on-one situations. I don't begrudge him for making it at Bayern."
Mandzukic, who was not used in Bayern's 4-0 thrashing of Schalke last Saturday, also said he was looking forward to his return to Wolfsburg.
"I have the feeling it'll be a special evening for me. I'm looking forward to going back, playing at the stadium, and meeting up with my former team-mates and friends," he said, although he warned that Bayern would be looking to "boss the play".