Bayern Munich are on course for a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title and have just raided Hoffenheim to sign another two German internationals. Is this good for the league? Two of DW's football reporters discuss.
Bad news for the Bundesliga - Matt Pearson
Hoffenheim's incredible unbeaten Bundelisga run is one of the stories of this Bundesliga season. But just days before Julian Nagelsmann's side resume league action after the winter break, their success has been somewhat tarnished by Sunday's announcement that two of their key men - Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy - will join the steamrolling force that is Bayern Munich.
It's a depressingly familiar tale for Germany's top flight. In any league, the biggest predators will always feed from lower down the food chain but Bayern have made an art of strengthening their own hand by taking the trump cards of their rivals.
In the last decade alone they've snapped up Mats Hummels, Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund, Mario Gomez from Stuttgart, Manuel Neuer from Schalke and Mario Mandzukic from Wolfsburg. The list goes on.
In several, though admittedly not all, of these cases, the selling team was enjoying, or had just enjoyed a strong season. While there's little doubt most of those mentioned justify Bayern's interest, it's hard to escape the notion that their dominance of the league is inextricably linked to their dominance of the domestic transfer market.
This is, of course, what football has become, and there's no suggestion Bayern are doing anything wrong – they need only look after their own interests. But if mid-table sides – and even Germany's other European power Dortmund - can't resist the bulging wallet of the Bavarians, then is there really true competition for the title? Is everyone else just playing for second?
RB Leipzig may not feel like they are. At the minute, the newly promoted side look like the only thing standing in the way of a fifth consecutive Bayern title. Their ownership model has prompted much hand wringing in Germany but they may be the only club that can resist Bayern's overtures.
That being said, they are yet to be truly tested in that respect. And there'd be few German football fans who'd be overly surprised to see Naby Keita or Timo Werner standing next to Carlo Ancelotti and holding up a red shirt in six months time.
For the sake of the Bundesliga – and of sporting competition – let's hope it's not the case.
Good news for the Bundesliga - Felix Tamsut
In Germany, Bayern are quite often being portrayed as the enemy of the domestic game. The Bavarian club seem to be constantly under attack for buying the country’s best talents, supposedly killing any competition that could have been developed in the process. Their latest signings have only strengthened the voices that oppose the Bavarian giants’ ways.
However, there’s a number of problems with this argument. First, Bayern are only doing what’s best for their future, like any other club in the country. Pretty much every other Bundesliga club has been involved in transfer dealings with direct rivals, but the same criticism was hardly heard. It's seemingly a case of tall poppy syndrome, those who stand out the most are there to be shot at.
While Bayern are indisputably the biggest club in the country, three other teams have won the league just in the last ten years. The last of them was Borussia Dortmund, with Ilkay Gundogan as one of the team’s rising stars. Gündogan was bought from then-Bundesliga club Nürnberg. No criticism was heard of the Schwarzgelben.
Another argument often put forward contends that Bayern are hurting not only the Bundesliga, but German football as a whole. But when the bigger picture is considered, that’s hardly been the case. Bayern are historically the club that provides the greatest proportion of players to the national team’s squad, a major contributory factor in die Mannschaft’s resurgence in recent years. As with the Spanish national team, the familiarity bred by playing together with club teams helps national sides form a coherent playing style more easily.
On top of that, as a genuine global powerhouse, Bayern have the financial clout to buy from anywhere in the world. For the most part they don’t, so the money stays within the Bundesliga, potentially enhancing the league's talent pool.
All in all, Bayern are just doing what’s best for them. Like any other club. But they’re the only ones that are being singled out for doing just that.