Does the Marco Reus transfer signal the end of Bayern Munich’s dominance in Germany?
It is a transfer that points to significant change in the Bundesliga. After nearly two decades of largely unchallenged dominance from one team from the South, it now seems as if FC Bayern’s monopoly may be under serious threat.
Hyperbole is too common in professional sport, and, in reality, the news that Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Marco Reus will join Dortmund in the summer gives us about as accurate a prediction of the Bundesliga’s future as the angry dollar signs in Uli Hoeness’ tea leaves. The precedent that the deal sets is nonetheless hugely important.
Reus has been the poster boy for Gladbach’s resurgence in the last twelve months, as the team has completed the remarkable turnaround from being two games away from relegation to now be considered as genuine title contenders. Their league campaign has been overshadowed – if somewhat distantly – by the increasingly inevitable prospect of their star player moving away from the Borussia Stadion.
While the European press happily peddled rumours of a move to England and Spain, it was the German “Rekordmeister” who were, by unanimous consent, the hot favourites to sign the young attacking midfielder. And when Bayern lead a chase, they are used to it culminating successfully.
It needs only a brief glance at recent history to gauge the extent of Bayern’s on and off field dominance of the Bundesliga. The Bavarians’ current leading goalscorer Mario Gómez was brought in at an inflated price from 2007 champions Stuttgart, and it was only last summer that Schalke hero Manuel Neuer was tempted – with both cash and success – to the number one spot in Munich.
With Reus, there was no reason to believe things would transpire any differently. While Dortmund have been relatively successful in keeping the pace with a resurgent Bayern this year, their lack of financial might has been exposed in their European failures. The 17.5 million euros that they have shelled out could surely have been matched by the infinitely wealthy Bayern. The Dortmund born Reus, though, is alleged to have turned the Munich giants down as they could not promise him a regular first team place. The earliness of BVB’s announcement last Wednesday that they had secured a deal indicated yet again that money is not everything in German football.
Even in the arrogant world of the Bayern hierarchy, the spin doctors have been quick to acknowledge the transfer as a symbol of the current champions’ arrival as a major force. Director of Sport Christian Nerlinger declared that the years of Dortmund as merely another pretender were over: “With this transfer they have established themselves as a major rival for the championship – something I’m very much looking forward to.”
To grant Dortmund the accolade of real title contender a whole eight months after they have actually won the league is perhaps a little typical of the Bavarian superiority complex, but Nerlinger has a point. Where other recent champions have fallen as quickly as they rose, Dortmund have proved that they can mount a serious long term challenge to Bayern’s dominance by beating them to the transfer of Reus.
It is not just the promise of success that attracted Reus to Dortmund of course. A local boy who was let go after coming through the BVB youth system, Reus will now be reunited with old friends when he first pulls on the yellow and black jersey. Dortmund’s Director of Sport Michael Zorc professed his regret that it had cost his club so much money to recapture a player they could have developed themselves, “but sometimes,” he philosophised “things transpire unusually.”
Besides, it would not be invalid to suggest that Reus would not have become the player he is without his current club. His early international career has been blighted by misfortune, and as a key player in Favre’s revolution, he has matured and developed remarkably quickly in his two and a half years at Gladbach. The club, for their part, have expressed a disappointed resignation to his departure, and with defensive midfielder Roman Neustaedter also set to join Schalke in the summer, the club will be forced to splash the cash if they wish to retain their position at the top of the Bundesliga.
The Reus affair, though, marks a definite change in the winds of power. That Dortmund are, in the eyes of one of Germany’s most promising youngsters, equally as able to promise high level soccer as Bayern, implies that the Bavarian autocracy may be in a slow process of dilution. For the neutral observer who seeks solace in Germany’s competitiveness, this can only be good news.Tagged in: bayern munich, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Bundesliga, Dortmund, marco reus, Schalke
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