Kevin de Bruyne’s record transfer to Manchester City earned Wolfsburg a reported €79.8 million, but there are concerns here about the drain of Bundesliga talent to England.
De Bruyne is just one of several German league stars tempted by Premier League cash before the closure of the transfer window in Germany on Monday.
Son Heung-Min joined Tottenham Hotspur for £22m from Leverkusen last Friday after Liverpool paid Hoffenheim £29m for Roberto Firmino in June and Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger signed for Manchester United for £14m from Bayern Munich in July.
Those four signings alone combined have earned their former Bundesliga clubs around €170 million, but there are concerns in Germany’s top flight that the influx of cash will only widen the gap between the league’s rich and poor.
“It means the gap within the league will just get wider,” said Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia.
The De Bruyne transfer smashed the Bundesliga’s transfer record and is a club record even for Abu Dhabi-backed City.
But the deep pockets of England’s Premier League sides means German clubs can expect to lose more future talent, according to Ralph Hasenhuettl, coach of newly-promoted Ingolstadt, who are in their debut Bundesliga season.
“It’s unbelievable the sums of money which are in play,” said Hasenhuettl.
“I am happy that my players aren’t involved, but that will probably change.
“You have to be happy just to walk into the changing rooms and find your flock is all still there.”
Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and Hoffenheim are the three Bundesliga clubs backed respectively by car manufacturers Volkswagen, pharmaceutical company Bayer and billionaire software entrepreneur Dietmar Hopp.
But even Wolfsburg stood no chance of matching the massive reported annual salary of £200 000 per week City supposedly offered De Bruyne, a price even Bayern Munich refused to meet, according to Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn.
“At some point you are powerless against such sums,” said the chairman of the Volkswagen board.
“Even Bayern Munich, who were interested in De Bruyne at one point, said ‘at the end of the day, we can’t currently compete against sums like that’.”
Winterkorn warns the Bundesliga must think carefully about “what can be done to maintain German football and guard against the supposed superiority of the English (clubs), who throw a lot of money around in order to assert themselves”.
Wolfsburg’s director of sport Klaus Allofs admitted the week-long saga which preceded De Bruyne’s transfer disrupted the team behind the scenes.
Both he and coach Dieter Hecking faced a constant barrage of media questions for the latest update before the deal was confirmed on Sunday afternoon.
Ex-Germany captain Stefan Effenberg felt the speculation also got to De Bruyne on his final below-par appearance in a 1-1 draw at Cologne ten days ago.
“It will be interesting to see if he really is worth it,” said Sky expert Effenberg.
“His head wasn’t really in his final Bundesliga match. You could see that it (the speculation) had burdened him.
“I am sure he went to the club after that and made it clear that he wanted to leave.”
The disruption caused by De Bruyne and Son’s departures to their respective clubs is something which must not be repeated, according to Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, who wants the transfer window moved back to close here on August 1.
“It has annoyed me colossally. We need the transfer window to be pushed back to August 1. What has been happening in the last few days is horrible,” Watzke told Sky.
“What is happening now is that the really big and rich clubs come in on August 30th or 31st with 20, 30, 40 or 50 million and shake everything up.
“As a coach, you have to ask yourself why are we doing pre-season training when you have to give up four players and introduce four more? This is all madness.”