It’s January, it’s the transfer season. But I don’t want to talk transfer rumours today. I want to talk about transfer tactics, which are a huge topic in Germany at the moment.
As everyone may have read, the Robert Lewandowski saga came to an end this Saturday. Nothing to be surprised about to be honest as the deal has been in place for at least half a year; if not longer. But it’s the way Bayern Munich do their business for years now which is the point of discussion Germany right now. Let’s have a closer look and see if the Munich business model is transferable to the Premier League.
Borussia Dortmund have been Bayern Munich’s main rivals over the last 3-4 years. They built a team with the likes of Mario Götze, Lewandowski, Marco Reus, Sven Bender etc. A team capable of beating anybody in Europe and winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles. Any time this happens you can count the days until Bayern Munich will tear their opponents apart. Not on the pitch but on the transfer market.
Bayern Munich have a transfer policy which has almost been the same for decades now. First, they are not afraid to offload “big names” if they think they are not good enough anymore or don’t fit into their concept. Look at players such as Roy Makkay, Mario Gomez, Stefan Effenberg, Luca Toni, Mark van Bommel and so on. Regardless if they are under contract or not they somehow make them leave (which could be a good thing regarding Mario Mandzukic, who has two years left on his contract from this summer). I always call it the influence of former world class players. Munich have Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß, who are not only convincing but also know the business well enough to point out what a year on the bench or in the stands could mean for ones career. It’s simple but effective.
Another point in Bayern Munich’s transfer policy is the question where to look for good players. At your opponents! Easy you say? You might be right. Bayern Munich weaken their strongest opponents simply by buying their best players. They don’t care if they need another striker or midfielder. They just do it to get better by weakening. And by sticking to the above said they manage to reface their squad every 2-3 seasons and keeping it title focused.
The same happened with Borussia Dortmund last summer and will happen this summer. Last summer Mario Götze was been transferred to Bayern Munich. A deal a lot of people were surprised about but which was planned long before Dortmund even knew it could actually happen. This summer the best striker for the past two seasons will head to Munich. Borussia Dortmund will suffer another huge blow. A blow of which they could hardly handle last summer. And if you asked me the raid is not over AKA Reus and Ilkay Gündogan. Dortmund will need years to get back to dominating Bayern Munich as they did in the DFB Pokal final nearly two years ago. And that’s exactly what Munich intended to do. Dortmund don’t need to be embarrassed. They are not the first it has happened to. During the strong run of Werder Bremen, VFB Stuttgart or Bayer Leverkusen in the early 2000s or Gladbach in the 80s, Munich did just the same. Michael Ballack, Ze Roberto, Lucio, Cludio Pizzaro, Basler, Misroslav Klose, Giovanne Elber, Mario Gomez, Lothar Mattäus only to name a few.
If you look at it, it’s a pretty good transfer policy. If you can’t beat them buy them. But is it applicable to modern Premier League club culture? We’ve seen it happen to us with the Robin van Persie deal two seasons back. And with the one-man show last season you see where it took Manchester United.
In general it’s not a policy I’d expect to see in the Prem in upcoming years. And there’s a simple reason for that. The Premier League has too many “big clubs” compared to the Bundesliga. The clubs are in their own way all big player. You don’t have a single player like Munich who is able to dictate. Honestly we’ve been the only club selling good players to rivals over the last years (Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, RVP). This was basically due to financial restrictions (stadium etc.). The times have changed and so have we which means there won’t be these kind of weakening deals any more.
Look at the Luis Suarez situation last summer. We wanted him. We bid a lot of money for him. But Liverpool refused to let him leave for a rival even if that would have meant they had to bench him. And in the end they were right. Suarez is their lifeline and the only reason they are ranked that high in the table at this time. The same with Chelsea. We needed (and still need) a striker. A loan deal for Demba Ba was close until we signed Mesut Özil and the so-called Special One called it off himself. He knew a striker was the missing puzzle piece. And he refused to hand it to us.
So what does that mean for Arsenal’s transfer policy? In case you want weaken your rival you have to be prepared to pay a huge amount of money. Otherwise look abroad…maybe in Germany….