JAI SINGH 8th July 2020

Last week, Bayern Munich confirmed the signing of Leroy Sané for £49 million from Manchester City; a signing that has been in the rumour-mill all season following what seemed to be a deterioration of the relationship between himself and Pep Guardiola coupled with familial reasons to make a return to Germany. The acquisition of the 24-year old German winger follows a trend at the Bavarian club, which is to execute an astute business plan in the transfer market. No one can say for certain whether Sané will be a success but given his exceptional ability and Bayern’s track record of nurturing German talent, one can only imagine he will further bolster the club’s impregnable arsenal.

The question is, how do Bayern get it consistently right? What do they do differently in the transfer market that has ensured they have been at the top of German football for the past decade, and look like they will continue to do so? Their movements in the transfer market is a key factor in this success. When they sign players, whether big money or bargain buys, they get it right.

Buying replacements early

One thing Bayern have done well over the years is buying the replacement player whilst the starting player is still playing and is at the club. The perfect examples of this are Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry being replaced by Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry. The young pair was signed whilst the old guard was still wreaking havoc and terrorising defences in the Bundesliga. This is vital in ensuring that when it’s time to find a replacement, it isn’t a last-minute scramble in the market that leads to no avail. By slowly bringing the replacements into first-team action rather than throwing them into the deep end, they are able to adapt to the style and culture of a club of Die Roten.

Serge Gnabry was able to settle, find his feet and learn from the predecessors exactly what it takes to be a star at a big club. It also takes away the pressure from the new players to deliver from the word, ‘go’. If Gnabry signed as the immediate replacement for either Ribéry or Robben, despite his inspiring spell at Werder Bremen, the level of pressure to hit the ground running could have potentially marred his development.

What this comes down to then, is excellent planning. Bayern is able to recognise very early when a player might need replacing and go and sign a worthy successor, 2 or 3 seasons early. That way, when a club great like either of the Robbery duo are ready to retire, the club already have their replacements and they know exactly what they need to do to make sure the big shoes are filled.

Hoovering up the best talent in Germany

How often over the years have we seen Bayern sign a player from a rival club for next to nothing? Manuel Neuer, Mario Götze, Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels, Leon Goretzka- the list goes on. All those mentioned (as well as others) have helped take Bayern to the next level, whilst simultaneously weakening their direct competition. Bayern’s monopoly on German talent is one of the sole reasons why they have been the top team for 8 years and look nowhere near hitting pause on what’s been an unprecedented domestic ascendance.

There are a few reasons why Bayern are able to do this.  Firstly, in pure footballing terms, the Bavarians are head and shoulders above their competition. The 8 consecutive league titles, which included a historic treble is the clearest evidence of this. This is a consequence of being in a superior financial situation than the rest of the league. Whilst money does not always guarantee success, it certainly helps and by being financially superior to the rest of the league,  this creates a situation where the best players in German football recognise that without funding, it is extremely hard for the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig to compete with the powerhouse that is Bayern Munich. If an opportunity arises for a player at these clubs to make the switch, rub shoulders with European football’s very elite, win league titles and play in the business end of the Champions League year-in, year-out, it may seem like a monotonous trend, but can anyone really blame them?

Secondly, and to put it simply, Bayern brings in considerably more revenue and can therefore pay greater wages than their opponents. The appeal of more money is hard for anyone to turn down, and one cannot begrudge those who move from rival to rival when they can better their financial situation as a result. A footballer’s career is extremely short and equating this to a 9 to 5, one would be daft to say no to a raise at a better paying job. Sure, there’s a stark difference between football and other jobs in society, but the principle of financial practicality remains the same on several occasions and understandably so.

Bargain buys go a long way

While it’s easy to assume that a club of Bayern’s size splash the cash on anyone and everyone, they handpick to bolster their ranks, this couldn’t be further from the truth. This transfer model applies more to clubs that have come into large amounts of wealth in relatively recent times such as Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain. However, the ‘traditional’ big clubs who have been powerhouses of football for 50 years are not averse to a bargain buy every now and then, because that promises a more sustainable model for such clubs.

Such low-risk investments tend to be a boon for clubs in more cases than not because either they turn into world-class players or they improve slightly, and the club makes a minimal profit a couple of years down the line. It’s a win-win situation. A player who personifies this method of business is the breakout star of the season, Alphonso Davies.

From unknown to unstoppable

The Canadian speedster was signed for £9million in January 2019 and has quickly made the left-back spot his own, despite being a winger by trade, ahead of veteran and Bayern Munich legend David Alaba as well as the World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez. Through excellent scouting, Bayern Munich signed a young prospect who has exceeded all expectations and will be at the club for the best part of 10 years, all for less than £10million and along with Andy Robertson is possibly the best in his position. Talk about a solid business model. And to think this is just a fluke is simply being unaware of how Bayern operate in the transfer market.

Joshua Kimmich was signed for around £5million in 2015 from the third division of German football to the biggest club in all of the land as a Phillip Lahm replacement. Cut to 2020 and the lad can stake a claim for being the standout player in both defensive midfield as well as right-back and his greatest achievement is perhaps his pinpoint impression of his legendary predecessor. With the free acquisition of Tanguy Kouassi from PSG, this trend has continued.

The 18-year-old joins after allowing his contract to run out and Bayern will be hoping he follows in the footsteps of Kimmich and Davies. However, as previously stated, if he doesn’t reach the heights of those two, the German juggernauts can still turn in a cool profit as the young buck is one of European football’s most touted young central defenders.

To put things into context, Bayern signed Gnabry, Davies, Goretzka, Coman, Kouassi and Sané for £73 million. Let that sink in.

Bayern to stay top dogs?

Bayern owe a lot of their recent success to excellent business in the market. Planning ahead, making good signings and weakening their rivals whilst improving themselves have meant they have been able to build a dynasty akin to the great Bayern side of the 70s of Beckenbauer and Reitner. Given they have a relatively young squad who know what it takes to win, it’s hard to see the success stopping any time soon.

Gnabry, Kimmich, Süle, Davies, Coman, Pavard, Hernandez, and now Kouassi and Sané are all under 25. With their peaks around the corner, it’s hard to see anyone knocking Bayern of the top of the Bundesliga anytime soon.

Both literally and metaphorically, Bayern mean business.