Champions League: how long can Bayern keep up?

SChest question: How much transfer fee do you have to spend in the pandemic summer of 2021 in the Premier League for a 23-year-old defender who, in his life as a professional footballer, has played for Brighton & Hove Albion, Peterborough United, Newport County, Leeds United and for a total of 109 minutes of test play against Austria and Romania played for the English national team? 58.50 million euros. That is how much Arsenal FC paid for Ben White a few weeks ago, if you believe the figures from the online portal “transfermarkt.de”. Without salary and bonuses.

And with that to FC Bayern Munich.

This Tuesday (9 p.m., in the FAZ live ticker and on Amazon Prime Video), the most successful German football club will enter the first round of the Champions League with an away game against FC Barcelona. And if you think about Arsenal and Ben White for a moment, you have to ask yourself: How does the Bundesliga champion want to win the most demanding European football competition if he has paid less transfer fee for all his new players this summer than a club from the Premier League, who couldn’t even qualify for the Conference League, for just one player?

New order in Europe

Now that the second transfer summer of the pandemic is over in the major leagues, a new order can be seen in the elite of European football. It can be read off from a simple list that can be found on “transfermarkt.de”. There, in the “Top Transfers” category, the players are listed who have changed clubs this summer for the highest transfer fees. In first place: Jack Grealish, 117.50 million euros, Manchester City. In second place: Romelu Lukaku, 115 million euros, Chelsea FC. In third place: Jadon Sancho, 85 million euros, Manchester United. In fourth place: Anchraf Hakimi, 60 million euros, Paris Saint-Germain. And with a slight gap in sixth place: Dayot Upamecano, 42.50 million euros, FC Bayern.

It is of course misleading that the distance between Munich and Paris, a representative of the new Big Four, can simply be expressed as 20 million euros. As if their deals with Lionel Messi or Gianluigi Donnarumma, listed under “free of charge”, were really free of charge with a view to hand money of all kinds. It does not deceive, however, that the Big Four only includes clubs that are leveraged from Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United States and Qatar. You can certainly expand this group to include Liverpool and Real Madrid. The Spaniards were apparently ready to pay 180 million for Kylian Mbappé this summer.

Such sums shouldn’t even be discussed in Munich in the near future. Because Bayern do not want to and cannot afford it. There is only one contradiction in this decision: They want to spend less than the clubs from London, Manchester and Paris – and still get ahead in the Champions League.

“We have to be spared from injuries”

“That is certainly challenging, no question about it,” said Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern’s new head coach, in an interview with the FAZ. He knows that the clubs from England in particular have “filled almost all positions twice or even three times with the same quality” and he knows that his team has more of what he calls “challengers” in these positions. He still believes that she can win the Champions League – on one condition: “We have to be spared injuries.”

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