It was brought to my attention during the match between Bayern and Juventus yesterday, that although you might consider Bayern to be the far bigger force in European football at the moment, Juventus actually lead the German club in terms of their respective wages (or at least did in 11/12, the season for which figures are last available – look at the glorious Swiss Ramble website for further information). As you’ll no doubt be aware, the correlation between wages and performances is so strong that this information feels a little skewed. As such, I figured it might be worth having a look at their respective teams and see if there’s any obvious trends one or the other is following in terms of player recruitment. I used the starting XI for the second leg (though the suspension of Lichtsteiner bringing Paul Pogba into the Juventus team might skew data a little, it only produces the truth).
Maybe its because of the success of Milan, or maybe the veneration of Buffon and Pirlo colours the impression, but Juventus feel an older team than their youthful opponents – with the likes of Neuer, Dante et al-aba. That carries a grain of truth through last night’s game.
The Juve team, as you can see, was exactly a year older than the Bayern team – considering, as I mentioned, that Paul Pogba (at 20, the youngest Juve player by a few years) was only drafted into the XI as an emergency. Juve, then, are older, but not by as much as you might think.
Thinking a little harder about the age of Juventus’ team (Chiellini is only 28?) I was also drawn to how long the players had been with the club; Buffon joined 12 years ago, Chiellini himself was 8 years…had Juve been holding onto their players, perhaps, building their squad?
Well, no. Four of Bayern’s starting XI came from their youth system; the total of 36 years’ experience with the one club is one that everyone, perhaps even Manchester Utd, might struggle to match, and that’s from a mere four players. There’s more to draw from that than you might imagine.
If I put up the transfer costs of both teams (there’s a division in the Juventus one, for reasons you’ll see), there’s a huge discrepancy. Importantly, the top half of Juve’s figure is the price they paid for Buffon alone – an interesting quirk, but moreso in that it indicates how much talent Juventus were missing in terms of talent from the starting XI last night – the likes of Matri (£13.6m), Vidal (£11.0m) from last season alone.
Where Bayern benefit, though, is that by incorporating those three youth players (and Alaba, who signed a week after his sixteenth birthday), they’ve saved (averaging what they paid for the other seven first teamers), perhaps £60,000,000 of transfer fees but have players equal to that value. Its reasonable to think that those players have probably had smaller wages comparatively than the players they’ve paid to bring in. It is reasonable too, to think that the value that saving represents, as well as players who’ve moved on (that seems to average around £4,000,000 per season over the last few years) from the Bayern youth system, means the club is running quite a decent operation in that sense; freeing up the funds for the extravagant signings of recent times. So yes, both clubs spend freely, but Bayern get more bang from their buck because they have fewer places to fill with the money they have.
We learn, more and more, about clubs’ transfer policies in English football and, again, I thought it might be well worth seeing if there was any disparity in the age players were signed by their respective clubs. Again, the four youth players perhaps skew the figures, but they were still signed on by Bayern then – the trust they put in their youth has come to flower – and that tells a story, too. Here’s the graph for the average age at signing.
From the XIs who faced each other on Wednesday night, Bayern buy players younger, pay more for them, and keep them longer than Juventus. That they are able to do that for wages that remain lower than the Italian clubs is a surprise. That they can do that and be comprehensively better than the Turinese side is testament to how well this system works. There’s another aspect to Bayern that hasn’t been considered here. In the summer, they will be taken over by the man who has built the most feared football team in recent years, largely from using whatever resources were available inside the club, and supplementing with a big money signing – a certain Pep Guardiola. For Barcelona, read Bayern Munich. The Germans are coming, folks, and they won’t be going away any time soon.