Why the success of German clubs in Europe is a great danger. What the DFB needs to change. And where Boateng had to go. | A column by Stefan Effenberg
For years, the German clubs have embarrassed themselves and thus the Bundesliga in the Europa League. This year, Hoffenheim and Leverkusen have made good progress. With Bayern, Leipzig, Dortmund and Gladbach, all four German clubs have won the Champions League. It is a huge success.
The biggest disappointment
Did the German clubs weather the Corona crisis better than others? I don’t know if there is a connection. Most likely they have at least benefited from the fact that many clubs in Europe are in turmoil.
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In my opinion, the biggest disappointment is Inter Milan. Inter finished second in Italy last season, just one point behind Juventus, and is currently second. You have top international players such as Romelu Lukaku, Arturo Vidal or Alexis Sánchez – and you certainly plan to make it to this round of 16. Three and a half months ago they were still in the Europa League final. Clubs like Real or Atlético Madrid also had problems, but eventually made progress and could adjust. Inter did not even qualify for the Europa League and is eliminated.
Players and coaches in the focus of the top clubs
The German clubs do not care what is going on with the competition. Not all of them progressed confidently, but they earned one hundred percent. Leipzig and Gladbach have proven themselves in extremely difficult groups. That was not to be expected in that form.
However, the enormous success also entails a huge risk. Trainers Julian Nagelsmann and Marco Rose have honed their profile in Europe and promoted themselves. In addition, there are players at both clubs who are now the focus of the international top clubs. At Gladbach these are of course Marcus Thuram, Alassane Pléa, Florian Neuhaus and Denis Zakaria. In Leipzig, next to Dayot Upamecano, for example, Angeliño.
Leipzig is one of the top ten in Europe
The danger is all the greater, precisely because the top clubs in Europe are in turmoil. They come up with the idea of getting a player or coach from Gladbach or Leipzig even faster. And then it depends on the contracts and any clauses – and on the players and coaches themselves. Do you want to keep writing a story with your current clubs – or do you prefer a European top club?
Leipzig is of course a step further than Gladbach. RB was not put off by a 5-0 blow against Manchester United. You have taken the biggest step forward of all Bundesliga clubs, both nationally and internationally. They can certainly become national champions. In my opinion, they are internationally among the top ten in Europe. Close to a club like Manchester City, although they have completely different options. And for FC Barcelona, which just lost 3-0 to Juventus and is currently no longer in the top ten of Europe for me.
What the DFB can learn from the Bundesliga clubs
Is there a golden age in store for German football? This question can be answered positively for the Bundesliga – unfortunately not for the national team. It has to learn from the successful Bundesliga clubs to become attractive again to football fans. And to be successful. To win back hearts
What can she learn? Mainly structural matters.
The top clubs in the Bundesliga are very well positioned and have a lot of football knowledge. They have top people for every area who know exactly what to do. Whether in Dortmund with the licensed player boss Sebastian Kehl, director Hans-Joachim Watzke, sports director Michael Zorc and Matthias Sammer as a consultant, at least at FC Bayern or at Leverkusen with general manager Rudi Völler, sports director Simon Rolfes or Stefan Kießling as adviser to management.
The DFB image can only be described with one word
In the national team, there are only Oliver Bierhoff, Joachim Löw and no one around. That is far too little. The only thing that helps with the DFB is a new structure at the top of the association – and of course with new people. The image of the DFB can only be described with one word: bad. And that is the fault of those responsible. It started with the accession of press spokesman Wolfgang Niersbach as chairman. That continued with the summer fairytale scandal, with tax officers on the doorstep of Vice President Reinhard Rauball or Rainer Koch while investigating the perimeter advertising tax. That continued with the dispute between Reinhard Grindel and Mesut Özil or the affair over Grindel’s luxury watch. This currently culminates in Fritz Keller’s bad external image and the rashness of meetings.
After Bierhoff and Löw have now spoken out in detail, I also see Keller’s duty. When there’s so much discussion about the DFB and its indiscretions, I have to take a stand and, when in doubt, brush things off the table.
At the DFB, the performance principle has previously been suspended
I wouldn’t be surprised if the world’s largest sports association loses and shrinks many of its 7.2 million members in the coming years, as people no longer feel properly represented and simply cannot identify with them anymore.
Even with the players, you can certainly disagree with the national coach and the DFB in general. We don’t have to talk about Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller every week. After all, it is a tradition that the performance principle is suspended at the DFB. It was like this before when I was playing. That was the case a few years ago when a player like Max Kruse was not nominated – and that is the case with Max Kruse today. If it was a matter of performance, he would play for the national team.
The real leader at the DFB is Joshua Kimmich
But: you just have to fit into the DFB system. And that means it also takes four or five players who are just nice and don’t say anything. You don’t need Max Kruse with his own opinion.
Joshua Kimmich’s return after his injury is all the more important. I said last time that he is the real leader of the German national team. And that it is neither Toni Kroos nor anyone else. I am still pro Joachim Löw. But I also say: things must end in March that were once successful, but no longer.
Boateng has two options
Of course, this does not apply to Mats Hummels, Jérôme Boateng and Thomas Müller. They are successful and I am all the more excited to see where Boateng will go after the season. He is probably not allowed to stay with Bayern, so for him it is about the last major contract elsewhere. Where will he sign it?
The course actually leads abroad, which would of course be a shame for the Bundesliga. For example, he would look very good at Borussia Dortmund with his winning mentality. But: this is probably dreams. Besides moving abroad, I could well imagine a second option: Hertha BSC. The club has great ambitions, financial opportunities thanks to investor Lars Windhorst and is Boateng’s home club. A change would create an incredible atmosphere of optimism. He could sign a three-year deal and then take up a position with the club.
That would not be inconceivable. You didn’t expect Max Kruse to go to Union either.
If I was Neuhaus I would stay
In return, I am very excited about Bayern’s transfer efforts over the summer. If Boateng, David Alaba and Javi Martinez go, they’ll need some new players – possibly from the Bundesliga. A transfer from Dayot Upamecano for the defense is all too logical. Moreover, Florian Neuhaus, for example, has apparently aroused interest. However, I would advise against a change.
He shouldn’t go to Bayern, because he can also take the next step with Gladbach. You are now in the eighth finals of the Champions League and Neuhaus has a lot of confidence.
If I were him I would stay another year or two – and continue to whip up Europe with Gladbach.