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Why Uli Hoeness is right: Real Madrid’s transfer policy compared to Bayern Munich

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Bulk spending doesn’t matter when it comes to the Champions League.

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In recent times, the Bayern Munich fanbase has been very critical of the club’s frugal spending habits in the transfer window. Therefore, in a recent interview, Bayern President Uli Hoeness had a reply to these criticisms:

Permit me to recall that Real Madrid has not made any big transfers. It looks as if other big clubs are coming to their senses.

In case you’ve forgotten, Real Madrid are the Champions League title holders, and they’ve experienced unprecedented European success over the past five years. Surely, as their reputation suggests, this is on the back of some ludicrous spending? Real Madrid are the original big spenders after all. They’re the birthplace of the Galactico policy.

Reading the opinions thrown around by the fanbase and pundits, one would be given the impression that Los Blancos are outspending the Bavarians 3 to 1, and we have to loosen our purse strings if we want to stand a sliver of a chance. Uli Hoeness is being stingy. He has no idea what he’s talking about. You have to pay up if you want a UCL trophy.

The truth, however, is not so simple.

Time to compare some numbers

From the 13/14 to the 17/18 season, Real Madrid have won 4 Champions League titles, while knocking out Bayern in three out of those five seasons. In that time, they’ve spent about €49.65m EUR (net), and Bayern have spent €184.35m (net). Even in isolation those figures have a story to tell, but let’s let’s compare individual seasons:

Real Madrid net spend

Season 13/14: - €62m
Season 14/15: - €13.30m
Season 15/16: - €69.85m
Season 16/17: + €7.5m
Season 17/18: + €88m

Total = €49.65m

Bayern Munich net spend

Season 13/14: - €22m
Season 14/15: - €4.7m
Season 15/16: - €56m
Season 16/17: - €17.7m
Season 17/18: - €83.95m

Total = €184.35

If you compare gross expenditure instead of net expenditure, then it comes out to €390.9m for Bayern and €457.5m for Real, which is a €66.6m difference. That’s some coincidence. You can go check the numbers on transfermarkt.com, if you wish.

What’s going on?

Apart from the (slightly implausible) theory that Real Madrid are being aided by the Devil himself (don’t worry, we’ll get round to that conspiracy at some point), it’s clear to see that a lack of spending isn’t what’s holding back Bayern Munich in the Champions League. We are spending about the same amount as the record champions, and considerably less than what the likes of PSG, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Barcelona are spending.

How can Real keep winning without spending ridiculous amounts of money? Well, it’s quite simple when you think about it. They have a starting XI of world class stars who complement each other and have been playing together for ages. All they need to do is plug in a few holes here and there every window, and they’re set.

How this applies to Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich have much more in common with Real Madrid than we do with the likes of the two Manchesters and PSG. We have a high quality squad that is settled. The core of the squad that won the treble in 2013 is still with us and it’s still going strong, only Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are pending replacement. We don’t need to spend ridiculous amounts of money in order to be competitive with Real.

Here’s what Uli said about our policy going forward:

We don’t buy players just to buy players. The day is coming when we also will have to buy again. We want to promote players from our youth teams and also now and again sign an expensive player. That’s the way we want to go.

It’s a bit unexciting, but the policy makes complete sense for this club. The team don’t require massive overhauls every year to remain competitive. What we need is stability (and one or two reinforcements every summer). Outside factors like how the team is coached and injuries have a greater impact than our net (or gross) spend on players.

However, we’re still coming up short. How are we supposed to win the Champions League? Well, I already covered that in another article.