According to a new report by Nizaar Kinsella, a journalist known to be reliable for Chelsea transfer news, the Blues have offered wantaway star and Bayern Munich target Callum Hudson-Odoi an insane new contract worth up to £180,000 a week. Basically, that's almost £10m a year for an unproven 18-year-old coming off a very serious injury.
No wonder he’s about to sign a contract extension. Bayern have been after the winger since before the winter break, but with numbers like that being thrown around, can anyone blame Hudson-Odoi for staying? For Chelsea’s part, they clearly see the same talent that we do and want to avoid another Lukaku/Salah/De Bruyne situation. (Thrice burned, at last shy?)
Hudson-Odoi’s incredible new salary isn’t unheard of — in fact, there’s a chance it may become the new norm. Just recently, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford penned a new contract that will see him earn £200,000 a week + £50,000 in bonuses. For comparison — that’s almost as much as the €15m a year that Robert Lewandowski earns at Bayern.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has already stated that he is worried not about rising transfer fees, but rather the explosion of player salaries. As it should — recent reports suggest that Manchester City’s offer of €12m a year to Leroy Sané might not be enough to keep the winger England. To entice him away, the Bavarians will certainly have to go above and beyond that number — which already seems to be the case.
While Sané is one of the few players that could justify such a hefty price tag, these actions are very un-Bayernlike and could backfire very easily. The last time Bayern disrupted its wage structure for the sake of acquiring a top talent (Mario Götze), it led to the departure of Toni Kroos for Real Madrid. Kroos felt that Bayern’s bosses did not value him as much as they should.
Then again, what’s the alternative? Football is getting more and more expensive, both in terms of transfer fees and in terms of wages. To buy the top talent Bayern are known to covet, the club will need to start paying the players more money.
The other option is to invest heavily in youth talent — with the salary of a single Callum Hudson-Odoi, you finance dozen youth players as they rise through the ranks and hope that perhaps one of them makes the first team. But for a team like Bayern, that values — or rather, needs — success in both the short and the long term, waiting for young players to come through the academy is simply not an option. The club simply has to spend to compete — there’s no other way.
This would be fine and dandy if the playing field was fair and level, but it isn’t. Clubs backed by oligarchs and oil-rich Arabian states like Manchester City, PSG, or Chelsea, and the lucrative TV deal for the English Premier League are driving up the prices for young players and causing a general surge in transfer fees across Europe. For Bayern, a fiscally responsible, majority member-owned club, the prospects for the future look bleak.
There’s always the option of buying smart and buying early — but that route is going nowhere. As transfer fees increase, the really big transfers, the transfers that set Bayern apart from player-development clubs like Borussia Dortmund, will be out of reach without taking out exorbitant loans like Barcelona and Real Madrid are known to do — which comes with its own set of issues. Currently, Barca are inundated with debt and struggling under weight of their huge wage bill — that’s not a future Bayern wants.
Is there any light at the end of this tunnel?