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Bayern let Van Bommel join Milan

FC Bayern München midfielder Mark van Bommel has joined AC Milan on a free transfer, with the 33-year-old Dutch international saying: "Bayern will always have a big place in my heart."

Mark van Bommel was Bayern's first non-German team captain
Mark van Bommel was Bayern's first non-German team captain ©Getty Images

Following the arrivals of Antonio Cassano and Urby Emanuelson, AC Milan have further strengthened their squad by signing midfielder Mark van Bommel on a free transfer from FC Bayern München.

The 33-year-old Dutch international, whose Bayern deal was due to expire in the summer, has accepted a contract until the end of the season with the Rossoneri. "Mark formally requested to be released from his contract before its expiry date for professional and career reasons, allowing him to join AC Milan straight away," explained Bayern's president, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

"With regard to his service for the club, we've granted Mark's request," Rummenigge added. "Mark has always been a model professional, an important and successful player for Bayern, and an outstanding club captain. Bayern wish Mark van Bommel and his family all the best for the future in Italy."

Van Bommel played 185 games in all competitions for Bayern, scoring 16 goals, and was the first non-German player to captain the Bavarians. "I leave Bayern with a heavy heart but with my head held high," said the midfielder, capped 67 times by the Netherlands. "I've had four and a half wonderful and successful years here, and I'd like to thank the club and the fans for that. Bayern will always have a big place in my heart."

Having played for Bayern in this season's UEFA Champions League, Van Bommel will not be eligible for Milan's round of 16 tie against Tottenham Hotspur FC.

He started his professional career at Fortuna Sittard before switching to PSV Eindhoven in 1999 and going on to lift four Eredivisie titles. A move to FC Barcelona followed and in his solitary Camp Nou campaign, 2005/06, Van Bommel won the Liga and the UEFA Champions League. He then picked up two Bundesliga crowns with Bayern and reached last season's UEFA Champions League final, losing to FC Internazionale Milano, the same team the German club face in the last 16 in February.