LISBON, Portugal, Aug 22 – Bayern Munich were happy to see the back of Juan Bernat after he signed for Paris Saint-Germain in 2018, but the left-back has become a key player for the French giants and could haunt his ex-club in Sunday’s Champions League final.
Bernat, a reliable presence at left-back, scored PSG’s final goal in Tuesday’s 3-0 semi-final win against RB Leipzig.
The 27-year-old says he has “fond memories” of his four years in Munich, where he won four straight Bundesliga titles before being sold to the Parisians in August 2018.
However, a few months after he had left Bernat’s name suddenly came up in an explosive Bayern press conference in October 2018.
When asked about left-back cover at the time, then president Uli Hoeness lambasted the Spaniard’s performance in a Champions League quarter-final at Sevilla, six months previously.
“When we played in Seville, he alone was responsible for the fact that we almost dropped out,” ranted Hoeness.
“That was the day we decided to sell him. He played like crap and almost cost us the Champions League season.”
The focus of Hoeness’s wrath was a Bernat mistake which allowed the Spaniards to take the lead in Bayern’s 2-1 away win, eventually bowing out to Real Madrid in the semi-finals.
Hoeness has since apologised with Bernat now a mainstay in Thomas Tuchel’s side.
“I wouldn’t use one or two words again – I was very sorry to have insulted Juan Bernat and the way he played,” Hoeness said shortly after his outburst.
To his credit, Bernat took Hoeness’ rant in his stride and was “surprised” by the retrospective criticism.
“I was taught as a child to be grateful and I will always be grateful to Bayern for the four years I spent there.”
Bernat has since won two Ligue 1 titles at the Parc des Princes.
He scored key goals against Liverpool, Napoli and Manchester United in their 2018/19 Champions League campaign when they bowed out in the last 16.
Having reportedly cost PSG 15 million euros ($17.7 million), he is a bargain in a squad of superstars.
The nimble defender has started nine of 10 matches in Europe this season and is “a very important player” for Tuchel, who has praised Bernat’s “great attitude”.