It’s the end of an era at Bayern Munich this summer.
Their iconic duo of Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben – understandably known as ‘Robbery’ – will be going their separate ways at the end of the season, ending a combined 22-year spell at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern Munich’s mercurial Dutch winger has made 306 appearances during his decade in Bavaria, where he’s been directly involved in 244 goals and lifted 19 trophies at the club, most notably the Champions League where he scored the winning goal against Borussia Dortmund.
But Robben isn’t ready to hang up his boots just yet and rumours are doing the rounds about where his next move could be, so to make things just that little bit easier, here are the contenders to sign the 35-year-old this summer.
Chinese Super League
It’s a rumour that won’t go away, but both Arjen Robben and the decision-makers in the Chinese Super League look dead set against making this happen.
“A transfer to China would be something else entirely. That is basically acknowledging your career is over,” Robben said back in 2017, quoted by The Telegraph. “I want to keep playing at the highest level as long as possible.”
While two years ago the owner of Shanghai SIPG resoundingly played down a move for either of Bayern Munich’s veteran wingers.
“If Ribery had an offer two or three years ago from China then that was his chance, an ambitious Chinese team like Shanghai SIPG wouldn’t sign him or Robben now,” Mads Davidsen told Sport Bild.
“Why should a Chinese club sign a 33 or 34-year-old when they can get 27-year-old stars like Axel Witsel or Alex Teixeira – or Oscar at 25?”
Likelihood rating: 1/10
While Italian giants Inter certainly tick the box of a club still amongst the European elite for Robben’s next move, it’s largely unknown why I Nerazzurri would be all that interested in bringing the Dutchman to San Siro.
The club are expected to invest yet again this summer as they look to topple Serie A’s hierarchy, but having Antonio Candreva and Matteo Politano Inter’s current options – Yann Karamoh returns from his loan spell at Bordeaux too – means that additions on the right side won’t be a priority.
Likelihood rating: 3/10
Champions League semi-finalists Ajax are going to be dismantled to an astronomical level this summer, with bucket loads of their first-team players being linked with moves to the financial powerhouses of European football.
A return to the Netherlands is certainly on the cards for Robben when he leaves Bayern Munich at the end of the season, but having previously been on the books with PSV Eindhoven, moving to Amsterdam could be seen as a stab in the back to his former club; even though Ajax don’t have the same level of rivalry with them as they do with Feyenoord.
On top of that, signing a 35-year-old Robben would also be very out of character for the decision makers at the Amsterdam Arena, as selling their current stars will allow the next generation of talents to step up.
Likelihood rating: 4/10
Major League Soccer
Before the Chinese Super League became a thing, it was the job of Major League Soccer to act as the retirement home for former superstar players in Europe.
As a slightly higher profile league, the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Wayne Rooney and most recently Alejandro Pozuelo have chosen to travel across the pond as the next step in their career, snubbing moves to China, Japan or even Australia.
It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that Robben could move to the MLS at the end of the season as he would face a fairly seamless transition, even if the 35-year-old is getting better financial offers from elsewhere.
Likelihood rating: 5/10
Although Robben doesn’t have an obvious connection which would see him move to Portugal, aside from the odd former Bundesliga player in their ranks, a summer switch to join Benfica is the rumour that doesn’t want to go away.
The Águias have enjoyed a lot of success this season after reaching the Europa League quarter-final, and with two games to go they look set to secure the Primeira Liga title.
And with Benfica facing the prospect of selling teenage sensation João Félix, a position could open up in their attacking line next season.
Likelihood rating: 6/10
As the club which Arjen Robben first made his name at in Dutch football, it only makes sense that the veteran winger could be looking for his career to go full circle by returning to Noordlease Stadion, 23 years after he first joined them as a youth player.
As well as developing in Groningen himself, Robben’s wife Bernadien Eillert also grew up in the northern city, so a homecoming would tick all the boxes for a player making a move at this stage of his career.
But a return to Groningen wouldn’t just be for a sense of nostalgia, as talented youth player Ritsu Doan – who’s built in the mould as Robben – would get invaluable experience from a left-footed forward who defined a generation by cutting inside from the right wing.
Likelihood rating: 7/10