The Fabled FC Bayern Youth Academy

One of the most recent trends that has hit the footballing world by storm is the absolute unhinging hatred of FC Bayern München . From the absolute irrational thought that Bayern are cheating their way to glory to the somewhat less insane – Bayern are buying their way to success.

In today’s article, we shall take a closer look at the latter to determine how much truth is really there within that statement:

The one thing that football fans need to keep in mind is that FC Bayern München  is not a charity organization (despite many acts of charity). In the end, we are a football club, and in today’s world that would mean that we are not only a football team but also a company.

With the world of football becoming heavily money minded with the glorification of the Champions League into both a prestigious and monetarily significant competition, and the now famous “Bosman” ruling, it’s hard to criticize a club for paying close attention to the financial department.

Gone are the days when a Celtic team comprised of 11 lads born and raised in Glasgow could win the European Cup, gone are the days when 10 Germans formed the team as Bayern won the 1976 European Cup. It needs to be accepted that football has become a more global and a much more financially motivated spectacle.

However, one thing that sets Bayern apart from many other clubs is how exactly they earned the money to spend. There is no lottery ticket that was won; no Russian oligarch, Arab sheik, or Italian oil tycoon pumping in the cash to keep things moving along. In fact, Bayern even work with the disadvantage of receiving a far lesser amount in television revenue when compared to what other “top” teams earn.

Indeed, Bayern’s supremacy in finances has come about as the result of the decisions taken by the visionary club president and former sporting manager, Uli Hoeness, along with sustained success on the football pitch for the last 40 years.

And so, through the use of common sense, Bayern spent the money which she earned to bring about more quality on the football pitch to help the club become even more powerful. In recent years, acquisitions like Neuer, Boateng, Robben, Ribery, Gomez, Mandzukic, etc. have shown that smart purchases can help take a club to the very top.

However, it becomes very easy to forget, especially if you desire so, just how much a part the youth academy of FC Bayern München  has played in helping the club become a super-power.

In the current team, club captain and vice captain – Lahm and Schweinsteiger, along with Badstuber, Kroos, Müller, Alaba, Contento are all products of the academy. Apart from Contento, virtually every player has played a significant part in the re-emergence of Bayern.

Just to provide an effective contrast to illustrate the point: In the 2013 UEFA Champions League final, the two teams which squared up against each other were Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München . Dortmund are regularly championed as the “anti-Bayern”, the team which focuses heavily upon youth talents, whereas Bayern are of course the team that has only achieved success due to buying star players.

Isn’t it interesting then that within that final, of the starting XI of both teams, only 2 players of Dortmund were homegrown (Grosskreutz is counted as a Rot-Weiss Ahlen product) whereas Bayern had 5 players from their youth academy on the pitch, including Hummels who played for Dortmund. That number could very easily have been 6 considering that Toni Kroos was out injured (Kroos was an undisputed starter prior to his season ending injury against Juventus).

The truth of the matter is that both Bayern and Dortmund make purchases within their respective limits and focus on their respective youth academies. It’s just a fact that Bayern has done a better job financially which is why they can make larger purchases, and have also done a better job in developing world class players from the youth sector.

Yet, it doesn’t end there as the youth academy hasn’t just recently emerged out of the darkness, but rather has always been a great source of future Internationals.  Prior to the golden batch which has just arrived, the youth department boasted the likes of Markus Babbel, Deiter Hamann, Owen Hargreaves, Zvjezdan Misimovic, Piotr Trochowski, Thomas Hitzelsperger, and Jose Paolo Guerrero, amongst a plethora of other stars of which there are far too many to name. By now, it should become rather clear that Bayern have always taken a keen interest in their youth sector.

In the past, the youth team played a 4-1-2-1-2 “diamond” formation in an attempt to make players comfortable with certain roles regardless of the system being deployed; however, since the arrival of Pep Guardiola and Sammer, the team now plays in the same manner as the senior team to help facilitate a transition from the junior ranks to the pro.

And despite the recent purchases of Götze  and Thiago, Bayern have shown no signs of losing interest in the gold mine that lingers in their own backyard. Amongst the current crop, the most prominent players to have emerged as potential future stars include: Julian Green, Alessandro Schöpf, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

In fact, any doubts to the ludicrous thought, whether Bayern were becoming “another Madrid” should be put to rest with the latest news regarding Allianz purchasing 8.33% of Bayern’s share for 110m Euros, as the Bayern chiefs have confirmed that a large part of the money will be invested in making the youth department even more modern and functional.

Long term thinking mixed with the notion that short term success should not be omitted has made Bayern into the vicious beast they are today. Purchasing world class players and integrating them with world class youth products has made Bayern into the best team in the world today.

Mia San Mia.

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