In a frank interview with the German magazine Spiegel, Bayern Munich’s most valuable player, striker Robert Lewandowski openly criticized his club’s reluctance to pay the price for elite talent on the current transfer market. He sees Bayern in danger of falling behind its international competition:
Bayern has to come up with something new and be creative, if the club wants to keep luring world-class players to Munich. And if you want to keep up at the very highest level, you need these players’ quality.
Bayern’s summer transfer window brought several surprises, but on a shoestring budget compared to the exorbitant sums spent elsewhere. Rather than the highly sought-after Alexis Sanchez - who ultimately remained at Arsenal - Bayern brought former World Cup star James Rodriguez out of the blue from Real Madrid on a very favorable loan.
Bayern also may have broke the Bundesliga record for the most expensive transfer, but it did so with the surprise signing of Corentin Tolisso from Lyon for a reported €41.5 million. Even that, though, is not enough in Lewandowski’s eyes:
To date, Bayern Munich has never paid a transfer fee over around €40 million for a player. In international soccer, that is an amount that now has long become the average rather than the maximum. And now the distance from the highest sums is really massive.
Lewandowski thus views it as inevitable that Bayern ultimately adjusts to the new transfer market. The question then becomes how Bayern (and indeed the Bundesliga) can adapt and compete with clubs bankrolled by billionaires and even foreign states.
Effective regulation is one means of preserving competition in world soccer in Lewandowski’s view. Echoing the remarks of Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge about Financial Fair Play, Lewandowski stated,
UEFA must closely investigate the mega-transfers of this summer and ultimately work together with FIFA to close loopholes in the rules.
He concluded that the “associations [must] devise rules so that the market does not run completely amok.” How or when that may happen is uncertain, whereas the reality of the present market confronts the club and the Bundesliga daily.
It is worth noting in conclusion that had Lewandowski not come to Bayern from Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer in 2014, the club very probably could not have afforded him at all. Signing him to a contract through 2021 looks more astute every day.