Pep Guardiola's decision to take over at Bayern Munich has raised many questions and in some cases realisations as to the current power of the German game. Are the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 on the brink of becoming Europe's top teams?
He could have gone anywhere in the world. Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan and many more big names were willing to offer Pep Guardiola the chance to manage their teams but much to the surprise of many the Catalan legend has instead decided his future lies in the Bundesliga.
While some have questioned his decision the contrary belief could be that Guardiola sees his future in the Bundesliga because the Bundesliga is the future.
The Premier League and La Liga have been considered the leaders of European football for the past five years and rightly so. Six of the last eight champions of Europe have heralded from Anglo-Espana with brief intermissions of Milanese disruption getting in the way.
However the Bundesliga is now a league on the rise and it is a bold statement to make but over the next five years it may become the top league in European football.
A bold claim but one based on significant indicators; of which Guardiola’s decision is just the tip of the iceberg. As with most things in this world the key lies in money. The global economic crisis has had many casualties and in the once deemed recession proof world of football that is now clearly no longer the case. In La Liga a majority of the teams have outstanding debts; many of which are to the Spanish taxman. In the previously prosperous state of Spanish finance these bills were ignored but now with the country itself crippled by severe debt the football teams are being asked to stump up; interest included.
The same can be said about Italy where AC Milan and Inter Milan; two usual big players in the transfer market have begun to let star players leave on the cheap to help pay their huge tax bills. In AC Milan’s case Paris Saint-Germain have poached on their frailty yet while all is rosy at the Qatari owned capital club teams such as Marseille and Lyon are the real face of French football; stadium developments falling by the wayside due to mounting costs and debts forcing them out of the transfer market.
The state of the English league is not much better. Liverpool’s new owners have seen their fortune shrink in 2012 and while wealthy owners are at the helm of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea the way in which their finances are run could soon come under severe scrutiny from Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
Of all the major EU players Germany has remained the country with its head above the choppy financial waters during the past few years; and that is reflected in the Bundesliga. Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, VfL Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04 and Borussia Monchengladbach have run their teams like businesses; slowly growing acumen that now makes them some of the most financially secure football clubs in the world.
The infrastructure in place at these teams is of unparalleled quality. The best stadiums in Europe are in Germany. The incredible Allianz Arena, Signal Iduna Park and even the home of little known Fortuna Dusseldorf, the Esprit Arena, are all stunning stadia with huge capacities that fill up almost every weekend.
In terms of the development of young talent only Spain comes close to Germany’s current production wheel. This mixture of financial security and youth development means not only are they constantly able to bring in top talent from abroad, in particular from countries such as Poland, Czech Republic and Croatia, but they are constantly developing their own stars. If these players do not remain with the clubs then they are usually sold for huge profits such as Mesut Ozil or Sami Khedira. Dutch teams could argue they produce better young talent but at the moment most of those end up playing where? Have a guess it begins with a G.
The money in Germany is simply spread out better as well. When the World Cup came to Germany in 2006 a vast country wide stadium development investment went ahead; much if it funded by the public. This spread of wealth is equally recognisable in the way sponsorship is spread across the countries football teams.
Add to all this the new €2.5billion media rights deal with Sky and the Bundesliga may be on the brink of accelerating right past Europe’s former top leagues after years of careful spending and financial control finally start to pay off.
It may seem ridiculous to even suggest that the Bundesliga could become Europe’s top league but when you look back to the early to mid-90’s Serie A was the richest and most widely consumed football league on the planet; fast forward 10 years and it struggled, and continues to struggle, keeping up with England, Spain, Germany and to a lesser extent France.
On top of all the obvious financial muscle that Germany can currently flex the football being played on the pitch is of the highest standard. Borussia Dortmund have won major plaudits for the way they have despatched of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Ajax in this seasons Champions League and Bayern Munich are currently dominating the Bundesliga. Schalke 04 are a team going from strength to strength while Bayer Leverkusen are also strong both on and off the pitch.
The doctrine of positive on-the-ground football is engrained throughout the league. Jurgen Klinsmann, Oliver Bierhoff and Joechim Low have much to answer for in that respect. They asked the teams to rear their players in this way for the long term benefit of the national side. Considering most Bundesliga clubs are run by German nationals they actually obliged; imagine trying to do something similar over here. What it makes is an exciting league where almost the entire league tries to play attractive attacking football. Teams such as Hannover, Wolfsburg, Borussia Monchengladbach, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Eintracht Frankfurt also have the blueprints to be successful both domestically and on the continent.
There are of course still teams with worries. Hamburg, Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim have overspent in the past and at the moment are just rebuilding the foundations of potentially excellent football clubs. There is also the lure of moving abroad, in particular to the Premier League; Tottenham have pried away Lewis Holtby from Schalke while the likes of Muller, Schurrle and Gotze are continually linked with an English destination.
So while many will be furrowing their brow at Guardiola’s decision to take his next managerial steps in Deutschland it may not be long before the only brow furrowing we are doing is at the unthinkable achievements of Bundesliga football clubs both on and off the pitch.
Is the Bundesliga capable of overtaking La Liga and the Premier League as Europe’s biggest league?
image: © wonker