January roars on and the transfer window continues to be a source of intrigue and drama for fans of the beautiful game. For fans, the transfer window is exciting because it represents the opportunity to see new faces arrive in a favorite squad, or to see players who have overstayed their welcome find employment somewhere else. For the coaching staff and club administration, the transfer market is a period to broker massive deals that can make or break a club’s profit margin. This time we’ll be taking a look at the German Bundesliga, the most prestigious league in Germany, which is ranked third in Europe. The Bundesliga, like most European leagues, is composed of 18 teams that operate under a system of promotion and relegation, with the bottom 3 clubs being replaced each season by clubs from the lower-tier league 2. Bundesliga. Traditionally less dependent on expensive imported players than La Liga and the Premier League, in recent years the Bundesliga has experienced success in European competition and an increase in international viewership and level of prestige.
The recent success of the Bundesliga has been driven largely by Bayern Munich, the most dominant team in the history of the league. Bayern Munich has recently made its case as possibly the best club in the world, strengthening their squad after a record-breaking 2012-2013 season by appointing Pep Guardiola, the man who engineered the dominance of Barcelona, as new head coach. The other Bundesliga teams, such as Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04, ensure that the league remains fiercely competitive. Because of this, international interest in the German league is at an all-time high, so this winter transfer period could feature some big names in the headlines. Without further ado, let’s examine the most expensive winter transfers in Bundesliga history.
10. Ivan Perisic – €8,000,000 ($10.8 million USD)
Then 23-year-old Croatian winger Ivan Perisic made a surprising transfer to Vfl Wolfsburg from Borussia Dortmund halfway through the 2012-2013 season. There was some speculation as to why the young player would leave Dortmund, arguably the second most successful German club behind Bayern Munich, to play for Vfl Wolfsburg. Ultimately, what most likely caused the move was Perisic’s public accusations of player favoritism by Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, which Klopp denied and decried as an unprofessional outburst from one of his players. Given the circumstances, the €8 million move made sense for both parties. Perisic moved on to a club he felt more comfortable with and Dortmund received a nice sum of money as consolation.
9. Emile Mpenza – €8,500,000 ($11.6 million USD)
Our 9th, 8th, and 7th entry are all tied at €8.5 million, but we’ll start with Belgian striker Emile Mpenza, who made headlines when he moved from Belgian side Standard Liège to Schalke 04 in January of 2000. His transfer fee was, at the time, the largest sum ever paid for a player in the Bundesliga during the winter transfer period. Mpenza spent three years with Schalke 04, nearly bringing them to the league championship, before returning to Standard Liège in 2003.
8. Ricardo Rodríguez – €8,500,000 ($11.6 million USD)
Swiss defender Ricardo Rodríguez was only 19 years old when he transferred from Swiss club FC Zurich to Vfl Wolfsburg halfway through the 2011-2012 season. His hefty €8.5 million price tag was due in large part to his young age and potential for improvement. It appears Wolfsburg have long term plans for the now 21-year-old player, allegedly rejecting offers from Premier League club Sunderland among others.
7. Lúcio – €8,500,000 ($11.6 million USD)
Defender Lúcio (born Lucimar Ferreira da Silva) was 22 when he moved from his first team Sport Club Internacional in his native Brazil. German club Bayer Leverkusen were the ones who shelled out €8.5 million and it proved to be a worthwhile buy as he flourished in Europe, reaching the finals of the Champion’s League against Real Madrid and scoring their only goal in the 2-1 defeat. He would eventually move on to Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich in 2004, then to Inter Milan, where he would make up for the lost Champion’s League final by winning the competition in 2010 with Internazionale.
6. Breno Borges – €12,000,000 ($16.3 million USD)
The next entry features yet another Brazilian defender, this time with the €12 million purchase of Breno Borges (known as Breno) by Bayern Munich from his Brazilian club Sao Paulo halfway through the 2007/2008 season. Breno, only 18 at the time of the transfer, would have a tumultuous career. Injury frustrations led to alleged psychiatric distress, which culminated in an act of serious arson on his own villa. He was convicted in 2012 to three years and nine months in jail. In 2013 he was granted day release, and was hired by Bayern Munich as a trainer for the under-23 squad, although his playing career is effectively over.
5. Papiss Demba Cissé – €12,000,000 ($16.3 million USD)
English squad Newcastle United paid SC Freiburg a handsome sum of €12 million for the services of Senegalese forward Cissé in January 2012. Cissé had scored an impressive 22 league goals in the 2010-2011 Bundesliga campaign and had attracted the attention of the Newcastle, who were in need of firepower up front. He has yet to display the same potency for Newcastle as he did during his time with Freiburg.
4. Tomás Rosicky – €14,500,000 ($19.7 million USD)
Then 20-year-old Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky joined Borussia Dortmund in January 2001 from Czech club Sparta Prague, who took home an impressive €14.5 million for their sale of the young midfielder. Rosicky simultaneously became the most expensive player in Bundesliga history and the most expensive Czech player of all time, although both records have since been broken. Rosicky wasted no time helping Dortmund win the 2001/2002 Bundesliga title in his first full season with the club. He later joined English club Arsenal in 2006, where he remains to this day.
3. Luiz Gustavo – €17,000,000 ($23.1 million USD)
The Bundesliga’s infatuation with Brazilians continues, with the €17 million purchase of Luiz Gustavo coming in at #3. Bayern Munich put down a hefty amount to fellow German club 1899 Hoffenheim for his services in January of 2011. The defensive midfielder would go on to play for two-and-a-half seasons with the club, and was part of the squad that won the 2012-2013 Champion’s League. He departed from the club in August, 2013 to join Vfl Wolfsburg, where he currently plays.
2. Nigel de Jong – €18,000,000 ($24.5 million USD)
Manchester City was purchased by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 and instantly became one of the wealthiest clubs in the world. They quickly got to work purchasing the best players money could buy, including Dutchman Nigel de Jong from Hamburger SV in January 2009. The defensive midfielder provided some much needed feistiness to the Sky Blues, and his old club Hamburger SV benefited from the €18 million cash injection.
1. Edin Dzeko – €37,000,000 ($50.3 million USD)
Manchester City swept into the Bundesliga once again during the winter transfer period of the 2010-2011 season, this time with Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko in their sights. Dzeko had led his club Vfl Wolfsburg to the Bundesliga title in the 2008-2009 season, and had consistently been one of the most prolific strikers in the Bundesliga during his tenure at Wolfsburg. His sensational performance attracted the attention of Manchester City, who broke the bank and paid €37 million for the then 24-year-old, making him by far the most expensive winter transfer in Bundesliga history. Dzeko would go on to help City win their first Premier League title in 44 years during his first full season with the club.
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