Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Water is wet, the sky is blue, another Bundesliga talent joins Bayern Munich

Posted on 24 February 2021 by Charlie Gordon

The Bundesliga is getting really boring, isn’t it?

Bayern Munich steaming towards another title is a bit like beating your nan on FIFA – a foregone conclusion, no applause required.

When Dayot Upamecano, one of the world’s most exciting young defenders, confirmed his switch from RB Leipzig to their Bavarian title rivals I sighed in chorus with every other dejected neutral around Europe.

The German topflight is rightly lauded for its treatment of fans, but let down by its brain-numbing predictability. While the two nearest challengers to the throne, RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, are selling clubs by their very nature, competitiveness naturally falls by the wayside.

Bayern are always there to capitalise. Several seasons ago, they extracted the spine of Borussia Dortmund’s team, Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski, in the space of two years – Bayern were left smiling at a bulging trophy cabinet, while Dortmund could only smile at the balance sheet.

Now, they are marching towards their ninth title in a row. The Bavarian bully sits firm on the merry-go-round while we all wonder when someone else can have a go.

In Upamecano, Bayern have snapped up a precocious talent. The 22-year-old has already made 178 senior appearances, putting in performances which turned the heads of every major club in Europe. His instinct to progress the ball forward from centre-back gives him the unique skillset which makes him so desirable. I’m not bitter, I promise!

Courtesy of Steffen Prößdorf via Wikipedia

Although Leipzig have flipped him for a tidy £30m profit, the release clause in his contract allowed him to leave for a ‘bargain bucket’ price. Meanwhile, they have a strapping young Frenchman sized void to fill in their backline as they seek to close the gap on the very club they sold him to.

The path taken by Upamecano in his young career has been so painfully foreseeable. Having impressed as a teenager for RB Salzburg, he made the step up to sister club RB Leipzig. Having impressed in the Bundesliga, Bayern came calling. They see talent, they hoover it up. We might as well call them Heinrich the hoover (they play in red after all).

Feeder clubs are common in world football: Udinese and Watford, Girona and Manchester City – the common theme is the small supplying the large with those who have outgrown them, while the large send developing talent the other way.

Only in Germany, though, is the top dog effectively fed by their sell-happy title ‘rivals’. No wonder it is so monotonous.

As summarised by Bavarian Football Works: “Winning trophies has become more of a hobby for Bayern under Hansi Flick and a young talent like Upamecano wanting to be a part of such a club is not a big surprise.”

In many ways, winning is less like a hobby but an addiction for Bayern: expensive to maintain while hurting everyone around them.

German success in European competition certainly keeps their clubs relevant, but with each passing year that Bayern lift the Meisterschale the world grows less and less interested in domestic German football.

It’s sad to see in a league which has a wealth of ideas, talent and potential, but what do you expect if whenever we approach the juicy end of the season, Bayern break clear of the pack?

Italy’s Serie A is emerging from a similar spell. Juventus have lifted the Scudetto every year since 2011 in a period of utter dominance. Now, they sit third in the table, eight points adrift of Inter Milan who are spearheaded by the rampant Romelu Lukaku.

Can you imagine Inter selling their star man to Juventus at the end of the season? Not a chance. It’s not as though a flying Napoli sold a red-hot Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus back in 2015… oh wait.

The point is, we all make mistakes. Italy have turned a corner and fans around Europe are frothing at the mouth with Serie A poised for its most entertaining, competitive spell in decades. Germany’s chasing pack should grow a backbone and learn a thing or two.