Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phillip Lahm, Thomas Müller, David Alaba, and Holger Badstuber. All players that were brought to FC Bayern early on in their footballing careers and developed into world-class players. They helped the club go from good in the mid 2000s, to great at the beginning of the new decade, and have been a big part of Bayern establishing themselves as one of the top three teams in the world, along with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Unfortunately, the injection of top youth talents has slowed in recent years, with players such as Pierre Hojbjerg, Emre Can, and other academy products finding it more and more difficult to establish themselves as players at the top club in Germany. While a reason for this is just the uptick in quality of first team players, another reason is certainly a lack of talent in the academy.
Since Pep Guardiola's arrival in 2013, the number of youngsters that have been able to cement themselves as first teamers is extremely small. Zero, actually. Emre Can was a big talent and valued by Jupp Heynckes. Unfortunately, he was sold to Leverkusen with a buy-back clause, but eventually ended up in Liverpool and now plays as a holding midfielder under Jürgen Klopp.
Pierre Hojbjerg is another talent who emerged under Heynckes, becoming the youngest player in Bayern history to play in the Bundesliga. In the book "Pep Confidential: The Inside Story of Pep Guardiola's First Season at Bayern Munich," it was noted that Pep thought very highly of Hojbjerg upon arriving in Munich, wanting to teach him all the tips and tricks he learned during his time as midfielder for Barcelona. Two and a half years later, Hojbjerg has only made 23 appearances under Guardiola and is currently on his second loan spell, mostly warming the bench for Schalke 04 after previously earning valuable minutes in Augsburg.
Those two have been the biggest talents to come out of the academy in recent years, which is alarming since there is really no one close to their level of quality outside of maybe Gianluca Gaudino, who has spent all his time this year playing with the reserves. The good news is that Bayern have put more and more emphasis on the academy and young talent in recent months. Other than the two youngsters brought in to help the first team-Joshua Kimmich and Kinglsey Coman-they have done more to boost the lower levels of the academy.
This year, the club gave professional contracts to Fabian Benko and Niklas Dorsch, two midfield talents that are coming up through the academy. Benko and Dorsch have both played for the German youth national teams, with Dorsch representing the team at the U-17 World Cup just a few weeks ago. FC Bayern also bought a promising young talent form Greuther Fürth named Timothy Tillman, who currently plays for the U-17 and has also been capped at the junior international level.
The biggest thing the club has done though, is break ground on a brand new youth complex to be completed for the start of the 2017/18 season. The complex, which will cost roughly €70 million, includes increased housing for academy players, outdoor training grounds, indoor practice facilities, a stadium for games, and much more. This will allow Bayern to attract more high profile talents from around the globe to their academy.
While academy set ups shouldn't be judged on something like the Youth UCL, it's quite alarming how poorly the Bayern U-19s have performed in recent years. In the three years that the competition has been around, Bayern have not been able to advance past the group stages even once. It's concerning that the players look overmatched in these games, considering that these are some of the players we hope will lead the next generation of Bayern teams to glory.
A bigger academy is something the club has needed for a long time. While their set up wasn't bad, it didn't match up with the academies of clubs such as Ajax and Barcelona. Even German teams such as Schalke 04 have had more success recently churning out top young talents such as Julian Draxler, Max Meyer, and Leroy Sane. Being able to house more players from outside of Munich in their academy will allow them to have more opportunities at unearthing the next Lahm, Schweinsteiger, or Müller.
A top club needs a top academy. It's only right that Bayern are now giving themselves the best opportunity possible at developing future superstars. While buying players such as Arjen Robben and Xabi Alonso is certainly not a bad thing and often times necessary, they just don't evoke the same emotion in our hearts as someone like Schweini or Lahm. Hopefully with these new state of the art facilities, we will soon see more and more homegrown players on the pitch at the Allianz Arena.