In 2020/21, Bayern Munich were the Bundesliga champions, finishing 13 points ahead of RB Leipzig. And this season, they have recruited Leipzig's head coach, Julian Nagelsmann, their captain, Marcel Sabitzer, and their best defender, Dayot Upamecano.
Call it weakening the opposition, call it building from a position of strength, call it simply smart business, but what's certain is that Bayern Munich know what they're doing, they've done it before and will probably do it again.
The potential frustration of rival Bundesliga fans is understandable. What chance do you have of challenging Bayern - nine-in-a-row champions - if they snap up the best of the rest? On the other hand, arguably such a tendency keeps some of the best talent in the Bundesliga and is therefore a positive for the strength of German football.
Nagelsmann, for example, was a coach very much in demand, and if not Bayern then he may well have been coaching one of Europe's other top clubs this season.
Of course, if you are Bayern, you simply want to bring the best players to your club and make the squad as strong as possible. You have the best view of local talent and if the players - or staff - are available then it makes sense to bring them in. Naturally it is not a conscious effort to debilitate their rivals, Bayern are just doing whatever they can to compete with the other elite European clubs.
Every club has to look after their own interests and Bayern are quite happy to do that despite the criticism they inevitably draw when signing from title rivals. They have history here, of course.
In 2013, the Bavarian giants signed Mario Goetze from Borussia Dortmund, then their main competition for the Bundesliga, and the following year raided their rivals again for Robert Lewandowski. In 2016, they hit Dortmund hard again by signing captain Mats Hummels.
In 2019, it was reported that Dortmund had resolved never to sell another player to Bayern again. Next summer, Bayern may test their resolve by attempting to sign Erling Haaland, a player they admittedly have an eye on.
It's not only Dortmund and Leipzig, of course, although those clubs finished closest to Bayern last season, the Bavarians also like to sign players from other German clubs, building a strong squad by purchasing wisely in the domestic market.
Doing so is smart business, shopping where they know and stealing a march on foreign clubs who could potentially come in and offer more money.
Here are a selection of other current Bayern players signed from Bundesliga rivals, without mentioning Sabitzer, Lewandowksi or Upemecano:
- Leon Goretzka (Schalke, 2018) - free
- Serge Gnabry (Werder Bremen, 2017) - 10 million euros
- Niklas Sule (Hoffenheim, 2017) - 25 million euros
- Manuel Neuer (Schalke, 2011) - 25 million euros
- Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart, 2019) - 35 million euros
- Joshua Kimmich (Leipzig, 2015) - 7 million euros
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