Spending Spree Highlights Bayern Munich as Too Rich and Too Good for Bundesliga

Clark Whitney@@Mr_BundesligaFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2016

Dortmund's defender Mats Hummels warms up prior to the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Dortmund vs VfL Wolfsburg, in Dortmund, western Germany, on April 30, 2016. / AFP / Sascha SCH��RMANN / RESTRICTIONS: DURING MATCH TIME: DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE TO 15 PICTURES PER MATCH AND FORBID IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050
        (Photo credit should read SASCHA SCHURMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

On Saturday, Bayern Munich established themselves as being in a league of their own as they won a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title.

The sporting angle of their dominance of the German top flight was discussed at length in this article. On Tuesday, though, Bayern found another way to stand head and shoulders above their domestic competitors as they flexed their financial might.

Within an hour, the Bavarians confirmed the signings of Renato Sanches from Benfica and Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund.

The fee for Hummels was reported by Bild (in German) to be between €35 million and €38 million. The Sanches deal is more complicated, with Benfica (via German Sport1) confirming an initial €35 million transfer fee with up to €45 million in added bonuses.

It was an enormous amount of money for one club to spend in one morning, at least a German one.

For perspective, the entire Bundesliga (according to Transfermarkt) spent just €52.6 million on transfers during the January transfer window.

Last summer, the Bundesliga's other 17 sides spent a combined €330 million, putting Bayern's spending between 370 and 620 percent (the difference largely dependent on how much of the bonuses for Sanches' transfer are eventually paid) of the €19 million averaged among the rest of the league over the entirety of last summer's transfer window.

SPORF @Sporf

This morning at Bayern Munich: - Sign Renato Sanches ✔️ - Sign Mats Hummels ✔️ https://t.co/yQYNEHanBP

It would be difficult to overstate just how massive Bayern's spending was, but another perspective is that at €38 million Hummels would be the second-most expensive signing in Bundesliga history despite having just one year left on his contract, while the bare minimum expense for Sanches (excluding bonuses) means Bayern paid significantly more for him than they did for Manuel Neuer, Mario Gomez (both €30 million), Franck Ribery, Thiago Alcantara (both €25 million) and Arjen Robben (€24 million, all transfer values via Transfermarkt).

Bear in mind that for all his talent, Sanches is a teenager, an 18-year-old whose valuation is based not on his current level but rather his potential.

It might seem like overkill to win the Bundesliga with a bench valued well above the entire squads of most every team, but defenders of Bayern's transfer policy would rightly note that the club's aim isn't to win the German league—it's to win the UEFA Champions League.

At a club with expectations such as Bayern's, it's feasible and useful to have many more world-class players than could possibly play in one game. They have the money to pay handsome wages to bench-warmers, and the ability to win titles that will attract even players who admit their likelihood of playing a major role is limited.

And there is utility in having such a deep team: It's entirely possible that several players will be injured and/or suspended at any point, or will at least need a break.

SPORF @Sporf

This morning at Bayern Munich: - Sign Renato Sanches ✔️ - Sign Mats Hummels ✔️ https://t.co/yQYNEHanBP

Therein lies the problem the Bundesliga faces: One club has different goals and different capabilities from the rest. Every year, at least 16 teams fight for second place, and only one really can dream of being crowned the best team in Europe.

Once in a blue moon, another Bundesliga club emerges with truly elite quality. They invariably either are picked apart (by Bayern or foreign powers) and fail to sustain a level competitive with the Bavarians or Europe's other top clubs for more than a year or two. Their budget for signing replacements is too low, the wages they can offer pale in comparison to the richer clubs; that's just the way oligarchy has become in European football.

In the summer of 2007, Bayern made up for a rather complacent period in transfers by spending an unprecedented €76.2 million (according to Transfermarkt), bringing in Franck Ribery, Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni and more. They needed an overhaul after losing the Bundesliga to Stuttgart.

Now, they have no need for transfers in order to win the Bundesliga, but they reinforce nonetheless in a bid to compete with clubs outside Germany. The only problem is, they actually compete with such teams for only six to 13 games per season.

Maybe a European "Super League," one with teams of comparable resources and goals, is their best placement after all.