The likely departure of Gabon forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is causing widespread debate about the value of the German Bundesliga. The 28-year-old striker is expected to leave Borussia Dortmund soon to join the Premier League side of FC Arsenal. The German Bundesliga is about to lose another star attraction and attention-getter on the international stage.
For years, Bundesliga managers were proudly peddling the image of the German league as one of the leading leagues worldwide. After the poor performance of German clubs on the international stage with only Bayern Munich surviving in the 2017/2018 Champions League campaign, the situation has changed and the self-reflection has turned critical.
Only Dortmund and RB Leipzig qualified for the last-16-round of the Euro League after missing the knock-out stage of the Champions League.
Christian Seifert, the league’s association CEO, has warned the clubs not to accept mediocrity but instead stay open regarding strategies enforcing commercialism. Seifert demanded the clubs to open doors for investors and did not entirely insist on the 50 plus one rule that disallows clubs from selling the majority of shares.
Seifert’s statement indicates a quality problem.
“To try to wash without getting wet does not work,” Seifert commented.
Seifert argues that the Bundesliga is continually losing ground against other European leagues such as the Spanish Primera Division, the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A and the French Ligue 1.
Seifert said the Bundesliga needs more competition among its clubs. To just have Bayern Munich ready for international competition and dominating the national league is not enough, according to him. “We need shining beacons attracting attention,” Seifert demanded.
According to Football Observatory, a Swiss-based research group for sports studies, currently, only six Bundesliga players are among the top 100 players when it comes to their transfer value. The company mentioned Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Christian Pulisic and Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund).
Seifert compared the German national team’s World Cup curtain-raiser from 2010, the 2014 final and an international against France in November 2017 to underline the decline. At the South African World Cup, the German starting eleven contained eleven players playing for German clubs. In the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, only nine remained. Last November, in Germany’s friendly against France, only four German-employed players were on the pitch.
The Berlin-based newspaper “Die Welt” argues that a club like Borussia Dortmund has to accept to have developed into a supplier of stronger leagues and clubs in Europe.
Only Bayern Munich is potent enough to face international challengers competing in the race for the best players, the Berlin-based tabloid Bild stressed. Dortmund, the paper argued, can’t hang on to its stars and mentioned Aubameyang as the latest example.
The striker is rumoured to be trying to pursuade Dortmund to allow him to leave despite a valid contract lasting until 2021. Aubameyang recently missed several essential team meetings, deliberately aiming to cause trouble.
Other prominent figures in German club football support Seifert’s position. Bayern Munich head of board Karl-Heinz Rummenigge demanded more creativity regarding investments. German national team manager Oliver Bierhoff says he is comfortable with Seifert’s criticism, and that Bundesliga needs to take concrete steps to improve its attractiveness.