Bundesliga strapped for cash
Germany's new football season gets underway this weekend with tough economic times meaning that only Munich and Hamburg are the Bundesliga's big spenders. John Bagratuni reports.
Bayern Munich has signed up Brazilian World Cup defender Lucio EUR 12 million
The big two spent EUR 36 million on the transfer market, more than half of the total 65.1 million for the entire 18-team league.
The figure indicates a majority of clubs are opting for restraint in economically difficult times, preferring to reduce their rosters, hire players on free transfers or call on youngsters from their own junior teams.
Munich have always been able to buck the trend as Germany's wealthiest club.
This time around they signed Brazilian World Cup defender Lucio from Bayer Leverkusen for EUR 12 million, bolstered their defensive midfield with Germany player Torsten Frings from Borussia Dortmund for EUR nine million, snatched Andreas Goerlitz from relegated crosstown rivals 1860 Munich for 2.5 million and added VfL Bochum's Vahid Hashemian to their attacking line-up for two million.
*quote1*Munich were ready to spend up to EUR 20 million on Portugal playmaker Deco until he chose to join Barcelona.
Munich, who generate up to EUR 20 million per year from their main sponsors Telekom, are taking no chances as they aim to rebound from a poor last season which saw them without a title of any kind.
But they may even get some added income if they sell off Owen Hargreaves and Sammy Kuffour, as indicated in recent days.
Hamburg, meanwhile, will not be able to match Munich on the playing field, but hope for improvement with three big transfers worth a total EUR 10.5 million: Belgium striker Emile Mpenza, Germany forward Benjamin Lauth and Belgian defender Daniel van Buyten.
Hamburg has secured Belgium striker Emile Mpenza for this season's line-up
The overall Bundesliga income of EUR 47.5 million is still less than the 65 million spent on players - but nonetheless indicates that clubs are more cautious in view of cumulative debts of more than EUR 600 million.
Schalke 04 are the prime example for the new trend of hiring above-average players on free transfers.
The 1997 UEFA Cup winner managed to lure last season's league top scorer Ailton, and Mladen Krstajic away from Werder Bremen for free, while Lincoln didn't cost a cent in his move from Kaiserslautern.
Their only major outlay was the EUR four million spent on Stuttgart defender Marcelo Bordon.
*quote2*Champions Werder Bremen remained traditionally modest despite guaranteed extra-income from the Champions League - with EUR five million for Germany striker Miroslav Klose their only major investment.
Promoted Nuremberg had the biggest fluctuation with 15 players gone and 11 newcomers while SC Freiburg have an almost unchanged squad with just five departures and two arrivals.
Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, managed to get the most interesting player from abroad in their long tradition of signing Brazilian players - Roque Junior from AC Milan.
TIt fits the trend that the World Cup star didn't cost them anything.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Life in Germany, Bundesliga, football transfers