How Bayern Munich Conquered the Transfer Market

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2014


Bayern Munich have always been dominant in German football's top division. Although it took them two years to reach the Bundesliga after its inaugural season in 1963, a side that featured such talents as Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Sepp Maier welcomed the new division with open arms, and the club have never looked back since. 

Yet amongst the genuine talent and success that now hangs from Bayern's illustrious trophy room, after half a century of winning leagues and trophies on the pitch, there is another aspect of Bayern's success that is rarely mentioned when fans of the club talk of their affection for their side. 

We are of course talking about Bayern's insistence of playing the transfer market as well as they have the Bundesliga in modern times. 

Such tactics have always been a part of Bayern's overall campaign for dominance in the German league, with the likes of Michael Ballack, Lucio and the great Ze Roberto leaving former champions Bayer Leverkusen for the more illustrious club, being the most obvious example in recent years. 

Our modern equivalent of Bayern are currently European and German champions, yet their success is steeped in old tradition and tactics based on signing quality players from sides around them. 

The first of these iconic signings is of course Manuel Neuer, Schalke's stand-alone goalkeeper, who signed for the club in 2011. He was a shot-stopper who was undoubtedly the best keeper in Germany that season, yet his signing didn't come as too pleasant a surprise to most Bayern fans.

His move to Schalke—a club considered too close and too different from that of the Bavarian giants—forced fan groups to demand a series of rules that the player had to follow for the Munich faithful. Not the most natural signing, but one that would go on to demand a first-team spot of his own in seasons to come. 

The first big signing that came through Bayern's ranks when Jupp Heynckes joined the club in 2011 was that of Javi Martinez, who signed from Athletico Bilbao and quickly went on to become one of the most important players of the 2012-13 season. The onetime English Premier League target played alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger in the middle of what would become the important double pivot of Bayern's midfield, as the German side marched on to a domestic double and European cup. 

Perhaps the most pinnacle transfer of recent times was that of Mario Gotze's move to Bayern from Borussia Dortmund. The golden boy of Jurgen Klopp's brilliant side had always been considered too far for Bayern's grasp, yet the Munich side eventually got their man just days before the Champions League final. 

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - AUGUST 29:  Pep Guardiola the FC Bayern Munchen coach shares a joke with player Mario Gotze during a training session prior to the UEFA Super Cup match between FC Bayern Munchen and Chelsea at Stadion Eden on August 29, 2013 in Pr
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Such a ploy to announce the news before the climax of a competitive season was exactly what Bayern had planned all along and exactly what they had hoped for in terms of impact and the desired effect on Dortmund. During that European Cup final Gotze sat helpless on the sideline as his former side were well beaten by the club that he would soon call home. Bayern had won the Champions League and Dortmund's best player. 

Yet their desire for domination didn't simply end at the German Bundesliga or even the Champions League. Bayern wanted to dominate Europe, and to do that they'd have to do what they did to Dortmund across the continent's best teams. 

Such tactics became apparent in the form of young Thiago Alcantara. The Catalonian student of the beautiful game unexpectedly came up for sale in the summer of 2013 and was expected to sign for Manchester United, only for Bayern to swoop in and steal the in-demand prodigy from David Moyes' grasp.

Barcelona's best sale in the past decade demanded a move and could look no further than the dominant German side. Bayern had conquered German football and were on their way to dominating the European market too. 

Such antics lead us on to where we are now with the recent news that Robert Lewandowski has agreed to move to Bayern in the summer. It's the transfer of another Dortmund player—a move that will undoubtedly weaken who are the only genuine contenders to the Bundesliga—and another world-class forward joining the ranks at the Bavarian club as they continue their pursuit of trophies and league titles through success on the pitch and cunning tactics in the player market.