Premier League clubs’ collective spend in the summer transfer window totalled a record-breaking £835m, but despite the enormous outlay, the richest prize in the game – the Champions League – won’t be heading to England this season.
Punters blinded by patriotism can back a Blighty-based side – one of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal – to have their name etched onto Ol’ Big Ears in May, but savvier wager-makers will be all over the 11/4 about a German representative claiming the crown.
A paltry (by comparison) £250m was spent by Bundesliga outfits, but the two fattest cats in the basket, who were already formidable in stature by all accounts, strengthened in the right areas and are set for much improved fortunes in club football’s premier competition.
Bayern Munchen’s total outlay resides around the £40m mark, but world-class acquisitions in the shape of Robert Lewandowski (free) and Xabi Alonso (£10m) has reinforced an already superb FC Hollywood side.
Pepe Reina – a £2.5m arrival from Liverpool – will act as understudy to Manuel Neuer, the world’s best goalkeeper in what is arguably the finest net-minding one-two in the business.
To further cement FCB’s standing as a near-complete side is £21m acquisition Mehdi Benatia, one of Europe’s most sought-after centre-backs, with highly-regarded Spanish youngster Juan Bernat also added to the rearguard.
Then there’s last season’s quarter-finalists Dortmund, who look to have spent shrewdly too.
If Shinji Kagawa can recapture the form that earned him a move to Manchester United over two years ago, the Japanese international will be something of a coup at around £6m, while the permanent return of another stalwart of their 2010/11 title-winning team, Nuri Sahin, is equally important.
Ciro Immobile fired 22 goals in Serie A last term, while 20-year-old defender Matthias Ginter is one of the most lauded prospects amongst the current crop of German youngsters.
Adrian Ramos is another who improves their firepower after notching 16 for Hertha Berlin last term; he’s scored one in just 17 minutes of action for Jurgen Klopp’s men this time around.
Their outgoings topped around the £40m mark too, but perhaps their best move was keeping hold of Mats Hummels and Marco Reus.
While Schalke stock some talented players too, it’s one of these two that will be challenging for the Champions League laurels and their summer shopping suggests Germany’s price to provide the tournament winner is very good indeed.