Bundesliga, Germany’s premiere football league, is the most visited club football league around the world. Since it’s founding in 1963, a total of 52 teams have competed so far, with Bayern Munich winning the league title the most times with a total of 22. However, the Bundesliga has seen other champions as well, with Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hamburger SV and VfB Stuttgart among the most celebrated winners. The league, unlike other top football leagues in Europe, is contended by 18 clubs and operates on a promotion-and-relegation system.
Bundesliga is one of the most competitive and eagerly anticipated leagues in the world of club football. It ranks 3rd in Europe, according to the UEFA’s League Coefficient ranking, based on the recent European performances of a league’s teams. Bundesliga is the top football league in the world in terms of average match attendance. Out of all sports, its average of 45,134 audience members per match during the 2011-12 season was the second-highest of any sports league in the world. Today, it is broadcast on television in over 200 nations worldwide.
With the sheer competition between the clubs in the league, accompanied by the huge support of fans inside and outside the stadium in Germany, there’s nothing like a clean sweep for any team in the Bundesliga. The league’s so-called rich clubs have often spent millions during the summer and winter transfer sessions to buy skillful, talented and passionate players who can maintain their peak performance for their clubs. So, here we list the top 10 most expensive signings in the history of Bundesliga.
10. Roy Makaay (Deportivo La Coruna to Bayern Munich) – €19.75 million ($27 million)
For his ability to score goals out of nowhere, Roy Makaay picked up the nickname “Das Phantom” (The Phantom) during his stint at Bayern Munich. The retired centre-forward was well renowned for his aerial prowess and quick drives into the net where he was equally capable of putting the ball away with either foot. In 2003, Bayern Munich paid Deportivo La Coruna €19.75 million (including add-ons), a then club-record fee for the Dutch goal machine. Makaay scored 78 Bundesliga and 17 Champions League goals during his four seasons at Munich. He won the “European Golden Boot” in 2003 for being the top goalscorer in Europe.
9. Arjen Robben (Real Madrid to Bayern Munich) – €24 million ($32.8 million)
Another Dutch footballer in the list, Arjen Robben, is an eminent figure as a winger with exceptional dribbling skills, crossing ability, speed and his accurate left-footed long-range shot from the right wing position. Bayern Munich bought him in August, 2009 for a fee of €24 million from Real Madrid. He scored two goals on his debut, helped Bayern win the league title in the same season, and was named the “Footballer of the Year in Germany” in 2010. The 2012-13 season was his best, although he suffered through injuries for about half of the season. Robben was formidable in Bayern’s treble wining season, and was named the “Man of the Match” in the 2013 Champions League Final.
8. Thiago Alcântara (Barcelona to Bayern Munich) – €25 million ($34.2 million)
Born in Italy, Thiago Alcântara represented Spain’s Under-19 and Under-21 teams before making his full international debut in 2011. The 22-year-old central midfielder joined Bayern Munich on 14 July, 2013 for a transfer fee of €25 million on a four-year contract. Thiago scored his first competitive goal for Bayern in the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup Final. He won the “UEFA U-21 Championship Golden Player” and “UEFA U-21 Championship Team of the Tournament” awards in 2013.
7. Franck Ribéry (Marseille to Bayern Munich) – €25 million ($34.2 million)
Franck Ribéry is one of the very best French players of his generation. Zinedine Zidane called him the “jewel of French football”. Ribéry is known for his pace, energy, precise passing and fast, tricky and excellent dribbling with phenomenal control with the ball at his feet. The 30-year old talisman signed for Bayern Munich in 2007 for a then club-record fee of €25 million. Since then, he has won three Bundesliga titles, three German Cups, one Champions League title and one FIFA Club World Cup. Besides that, his individual honors with Bayern include “German Footballer of the Year” in 2008, “UEFA Champions League Best Player” in 2012-13, “UEFA Best Player in Europe” in 2012-13, “Bundesliga Player of the Year” in 2012-13 and “FIFA Ballon d’Or: 3rd Place” in 2013. He also won the “French Player of the Year” awards in 2007, 2008 and 2013.
6. Márcio Amoroso (Parma to Borussia Dortmund) – €25 million ($34.2 million)
Márcio Amoroso in his prime was a prolific striker with excellent dribbling skills and goal-scoring ability. While representing Brazil at the international level, he played football for several teams in Greece, Italy, Germany, Japan and Spain, scoring a total of 133 goals in 321 appearances. He joined Borussia Dortmund from Italian side Parma in the summer of 2001 for €25 million, a Bundesliga record transfer fee at that time. Amoroso won the Bundesliga title in the same season, and was the league’s top goalscorer. During his spell at Dortmund, he scored 28 goals in 59 appearances for the club.
5. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Shakhtar Donetsk to Borussia Dortmund) – €27.5 million ($37.6 million)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan plays the midfielder role for the Armenian national team and the Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. He is Armenia’s all-time top goalscorer with 12 goals in 32 international matches. His transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk to Borussia Dortmund on a four-year deal for €27.5 million is the most expensive purchase in Dortmund’s history. Mkhitaryan was named the “Armenian Footballer of the Year” in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. He was included in the “UEFA Top 100” list of 2012.
4. Manuel Neuer (Schalke 04 to Bayern Munich) – €27.5 million ($37.6 million)
Manuel Neuer is the first choice goalkeeper for the German national team as well as the Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. He signed a five-year contract with Bayern on June 2011; a move that was worth €27.5 million including add-ons and other formality fees Bayern had to pay. With that, the 27-year-old became Germany’s most expensive goalkeeper of all time and the second most expensive goalkeeper (behind Gianluigi Buffon) in history. Neuer was already one of the best keepers around when he was at Schalke, well renowned for his reflexes, incredible shot-stopping abilities and distribution of the ball. He won the “Best Bundesliga Goalkeeper” award in 2007, the “Footballer of the Year in Germany” award in 2011, and was named “IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper” in 2013.
3. Mario Gómez (VfB Stuttgart to Bayern Munich) – €30 million ($41 million)
Mario Gómez currently plays for the German national team and the Serie A side Fiorentina. During his 6-seasons stint at VfB Stuttgart, Gómez scored a total of 63 goals in 121 Bundesliga appearances. In 2006-07 season, he contributed 14 goals and 7 assists to help Stuttgart clinch the Bundesliga title. He won the “German Footballer of the Year” award in 2007, at the age of 21. In May, 2009, Gómez was eventually transferred to Bayern Munich on a four-year contract for a then Bundesliga-record fee of €30 million. With Bayern, he scored 75 goals in 115 Bundesliga appearances and 24 goals in 41 Champions League games. He was the “Bundesliga’s Top Goalscorer” with 28 goals in 2011.
2. Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich) – €37 million ($50.6 million)
Matthias Sammer describes Götze as “one of the best talents Germany’s ever had”. His speed, play-making capabilities, and excellent technical and dribbling skills lured Bayern Munich to pay arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund a massive transfer fee of €37 million for the services of the attacking midfielder. During his time at Dortmund, Götze helped the team win the Bundesliga titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. He also won the “Golden Boy Award” in 2011. The 21-year-old was an eminent figure in the Dortmund team which reached the Champions League Final in 2013. Götze is currently the second-most expensive German player, behind Mesut Özil.
1. Javi Martínez (Athletic Club to Bayern Munich) – €40 million ($54.7 million)
Javi Martínez’s transfer from Athletic Club to Bayern Munich in August 2012 for a fee of €40 million made him the most expensive player in the 50-year history of the Bundesliga. He signed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga giants, and has been playing as a defensive midfielder or a central defender in the club. The 25-year-old was named the “La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year” in 2010. Over the course of six seasons in La Liga, he made 251 appearances in competitive matches, scoring 26 goals. A Spanish international since 2010, Martínez had already represented Spain’s U-17, U-19 and U-21 teams. He was also a member of the Spanish squad that won the “2010 World Cup” and the “Euro 2012”.
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