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Bayern Munich’s Oliver Kahn on Erling Haaland pursuit — and why they’ve never spent €‎100m on a transfer

Fiscal discipline is the name of the game.

Crystal Palace v Manchester City - Premier League
Former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola gets to enjoy one of the most expensively-assembled squads in the game.
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Bayern Munich are one of the strongest clubs in Europe, competitively as well as fiscally. But on the transfer window market, the Bavarians run a tight ship — often being reticent to spend.

“There’s a philosophy: we only spend what we earn,” said CEO Oliver Kahn recently to L’Équipe (via @iMiaSanMia), when asked why the club have never put up a €100m transfer. “And investing a lot of money on a single player is always a big risk. Everything must be done wisely. The player must fit into our squad, both from a sporting and economic point of view.”

This stands in marked contrast to the big players, including state-backed clubs like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. It was City that won the race over Real Madrid to last summer’s big prize, phenomenal then-Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland. In this case, it was a matter of not only the transfer fee but the total compensation.

“Regarding Haaland, the overall package (€60m release clause, salary and bonuses) would have been huge,” Kahn elaborated. “Sometimes there comes a time when you think you can’t keep up.”

But while investment can turn around a club’s fortunes quickly — see Newcastle United, maybe Manchester United in the future — it can also be a whole lot of cash burning. Chelsea FC’s new American owner has already spent a fortune with, at present, little to show for it. Meanwhile, the German record champions keep chugging along at their own pace.

“We will not do anything that could endanger the economic stability of the club. Bayern have no debts. It’s our philosophy and, in the long run, it’s even a competitive advantage,” Kahn said firmly. “In the short term, a club can go into debt or call on investors. The question is what will happen in the future. And if we relate sporting success and financial resources compared to other major European clubs, it is clear that Bayern have always outperformed.”

The club’s spendthrift hasn’t come without cost — Bayern didn’t strike while the iron was hot after Hansi Flick’s sextuple year, in the wake of a heavily uncertain situation in the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic. But now that the balance sheet has stabilized, the club has struck back with a vengeance, landing top players like Liverpool’s Sadio Mané at bargain-bin prices.

Bargain without compromise: that’s how Bayern like to shop. With a view to this summer, current loanee João Cancelo as well as long-admired Harry Kane might represent expensive pieces of business. Kane himself might eclipse the €100m mark. Will Bayern ever decide to break the bank? And will they be able to keep up without doing so? It’s surely getting more tempting — but for now, the Rekordmeister can still point to a sterling record on the pitch under their current model of restraint.

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