FC Bayern München's record signing Roy Makaay is hitting his stride in front of goal.
By Mark Bennett
FC Bayern München broke their transfer record this summer to sign Roy Makaay from RC Deportivo La Coruña for €18.75m, and after a slow start he is doing exactly what he was bought to do: score goals.
Given his price tag, the pressure was on Makaay to deliver the goods from the word go. But the Dutch international failed to get on the scoresheet in his first two games and was subjected to harsh criticism with several papers asking whether the 28-year old was the right choice - especially since Bayern decided to let Giovane Elber, the most successful foreign striker in Bundesliga history, move to Olympique Lyonnais.
However, other Bayern stars such as Oliver Kahn and Michael Ballack repeatedly insisted that the Dutchman was a vital signing. "Roy is a world-class player, but every player needs time to get used to his new surroundings," said Kahn. "He will be very important for the team in the future and will score goals."
Makaay comes good
On 13 September Makaay got his first goal of the season but could not prevent Bayern crashing to a 3-2 defeat at VfL Wolfsburg. However, four days later he finally showed his full potential. With Bayern trailing Celtic FC in the opening match of their UEFA Champions League campaign, Makaay turned the game around almost single-handedly. His goals after 73 and 86 minutes gave the German title-holders a vital 2-1 win at the Olympiastadion.
Since then Makaay has continued to underline his reputation as one of Europe's outstanding forwards. In Bayern's last ten games he has scored nine goals - six in the Bundesliga and three in the Champions League, including the opener in the 1-1 away draw with Lyon on Matchday 3.
Room for improvement
Despite Makaay's impressive beginnings as a Bayern player, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld can see room for improvement. "He is getting important goals at the moment, but he can play better as a member of the team," he said. "It is not enough just standing up front and waiting for a chance to score. We want him involved in the build-up too."
Nevertheless, Bayern legend Franz Beckenbauer is pleased with the new No10. "He has got that killer instinct that all great strikers possess," said Der Kaiser. "He doesn't need many chances to get his name on the scoresheet."
However, the fact the Dutchman often goes unnoticed until it is too late has earned him a special nickname. Germany's biggest tabloid, Bild, likes to call him the 'Phantom striker', because he is not seen until he raises his arm aloft to celebrate yet another goal.
Goals do the talking
Not surprisingly then, Makaay is letting his feet do the talking. "Putting the ball into the back of the net says a lot more than I can," the Dutch international said. At the moment, these skills are speaking volumes for Bayern.