Bayern Munich held the official opening ceremony for their new youth academy campus Monday after a two-year construction process. The new campus cost the club approximately €70 million to complete and is about four times larger as the club's first-team training facilities at Säbener Straße.
Bayern president Uli Hoeness was one of the chief architects behind the planning of the new youth academy and remains ambitious about its potential to develop a perpetual crop of young talents. Hoeness believes that the new facilities will be integral to the future of the club, especially as the transfer market inflates at an astonishing rate.
I am convinced that we can give the right answer to the development of international football, to the whole transfer madness and the exploding salaries. We see in this campus the chance to generate a lot of success.
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added that he hopes the club can produce "a player every year for the first team" from the youth academy.
A Tough Promise to Keep from the Bayern Execs
David Alaba was last player to work his way up through the youth academy, joining the senior squad towards the end of the 2009/2010 campaign. He's the most recent in a list of players that includes the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels and Philipp Lahm. Bayern have scarcely seen players from the academy system break into the first-team squad with regularity over the past seven years.
When the club has clearly exhibited the ability to produce homegrown talents in the past, the opening of the new academy seems to suggest the club is serious about significantly strengthening its youth development program again amid the chaos that is today's overly inflated transfer market. With each new transfer window comes added pressure to make marquee signings to maintain relevance and dominance on the both the domestic and European stage.
Interestingly enough, Bayern's track record in the Champions League seems to coincide with the drop-off in the number of players from the academy bursting into the senior squad. Before the 2009-2010 season when Alaba joined the first team, Bayern had not won the Champions League since 2001 and had failed to make it past the quarterfinals until 2010, when they ultimately lost in the final to Inter Milan. A major reason for bringing in then manager Louis van Gaal along with the likes Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez (the pair cost the club just under €60m) was to improve their fortunes in the Champions League.
Since that 2009-2010 season, Bayern has made a habit of poaching younger players after they've developed at other clubs. There's a laundry list of players that includes the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, Mario Gotze, and more recently Sebastian Rudy and Nilkas Süle from Hoffenheim. Each of those five players had established himself elsewhere at a young age before Bayern swooped in. They all all made a considerable impact at the club (some more than others, at least for now).
The pressure of consistently having a strong presence in European competition has seemingly put youth academy recruitment on the back burner for the better part of six-plus years. The €70 million investment to build new youth facilities will certainly increase the likelihood of producing a larger crop of academy starlets, but producing a player a year for the senior squad is a tough promise to keep.
Only time will tell if the FC Bayern Campus is able to live up to the expectations set forth by Hoeness, Rummenigge and company as the club waits for its next Muller, Lahm or Schweinsteiger.