Bundesliga: Is it worth paying for a coach? | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 27.03.2018
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Bundesliga: Is it worth paying for a coach?

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund need new coaches next season, and both look likely to pay big money to poach one from elsewhere. Coaching transfers are increasingly popular, but they haven't always worked out.

As it stands, neither Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund have a head coach in place for the 2018-19 season.

Jupp Heynckes, 72, agreed to come out of retirement in October to fill Bayern Munich's coaching vacancy after the club sacked Carlo Ancelotti. Despite his success, and efforts by Bayern president Uli Hoeness to persuade him otherwise, he has been steadfast about going back into retirement at the season's end.

Read more: Bayern Munich's coaching options after Thomas Tuchel turns down the job

Borussia Dortmund are in a similar position: The club appointed Peter Stöger, who had just been sacked by Cologne, until the end of the season after parting ways with Peter Bosz in December and there's been no indication the Austrian coach will remain beyond mid-May.

Reports in Germany have suggested that both clubs are keen on recruiting Ralph Hasenhüttl and Lucien Favre. However, both coaches are under contract at other clubs — Hasenhüttl at RB Leipzig and Favre at OGC Nice in France — which means some sort of compensation agreement will need to be reached in order for a transfer to occur.

German daily newspaper Bild reported on Monday that Leipzig are demanding a €10 million fee to acquire Hasenhüttl, while French sports outlet France Football have said securing Favre would cost €3 million.

Compensatory fees, or transfer fees, are commonplace in player acquisitions. However, coaching transfers have become more popular in the Bundesliga in recent years.

The appeal of such a move seems clear: why not pay a little extra money for a coach that could bring you success? After all, coaches are presumably under contract because they are good, and unemployed coaches tend to be on the market because of a misstep or two. However, such moves haven't always worked out, and the gamble can prove costly.

Read more: Opinion: The DFL needs to make its own league worthwhile

Successes and failures

Since 2016, eight coaches have been appointed to Bundesliga clubs in the off-season. Five of them were poached from other clubs and required a compensatory fee.

Bosz is the most recent example of a coaching acquisition gone wrong. Borussia Dortmund recruited the Dutch coach after he led Ajax to the Europa League final but, because Bosz was under still under contract, Dortmund had to pony up a reported €5 million to convince the Dutch giants to let him leave. But he didn't pan out in Dortmund, and the club sacked him after going winless in nine straight games.

Bundesliga Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Dortmund | Peter Bosz (picture alliance/dpa/R. Vennenbernd)

Borussia Dortmund payed big money to acquire Peter Bosz before sacking him after just six months into his tenure

Leipzig made a better decision when they pried Ralph Hasenhüttl away from Ingolstadt in 2016. Hasenhüttl had helped the Bavarian club achieve a mid table finish in their first ever Bundesliga season. Leipzig, on the verge of their first top flight experience, paid Ingolstadt a reported €1.5 million fee to get their man. The Austrian coach helped his new side finish as runners-up to Bayern Munich last season and has lead the Red Bulls to the Europa League quarterfinal this term.

Schalke, who acquired each of their last two coaches with compensatory fees, have had both good and bad experiences with the recruitment tactic. In 2016, the Royal Blues acquired Markus Weinzierl from Augsburg for a reported €3 million fee, but they sacked him after just one season.

The following year, they took a chance on Domenico Tedesco, signing up the then 31-year-old coach from Aue for a reported €500,000 fee. That has worked out swimmingly as Schalke currently sit in second place with seven matches to play.

Perhaps the worst club at acquiring coaches is Hamburg. In June 2009, the Dinos acquired Bruno Labbadia, who had just reached the German Cup final with Leverkusen, for €1 million, but sacked him less than a year later. They did something similar in 2011, poaching Thorsten Fink away from FC Basel for €1 million before sacking him two years later.

UEFA Champions League Achtelfinale | Besiktas Istanbul - FC Bayern München | Jupp Heynckes (Reuters/M. Sezer)

Bayern Munich will be looking for a new coach next season once Jupp Heynckes leaves

Less financial concerns

Due to their continued success, Bayern and Dortmund don't have to be as frugal as many other clubs in Germany. Bayern is one of the most valuable clubs in the world, and Dortmund has received more than €350 million in player sales over the past two seasons.

For clubs that size, no amount of money will stop them appointing the right coach. Bayern did not have to pay a fee for Pep Guardiola when they appointed him in 2013, but they did have to make him the highest paid coach in the world to convince him to end his sabbatical from coaching after he left Barcelona.

However, if either club is going to pay a seven- or eight-figure fee to acquire the likes of Hasenhüttl or Favre, it has to be sure he is the right man for the job — or risk being labeled as frivolous.

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