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Bayern Munich’s change in focus threatens to negate stellar youth academy

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his Bundesliga campaign has been a continuation of the last for Germany’s dominant force Bayern Munich, with Pep Guardiola’s men strolling towards the title once more.

With the German top flight ever-increasing in popularity, Die Roten are one of the top sides in world football and will have Champions League glory in their sights this term.

However, with the appointment of arguably the most prestigious head coach in the world in the summer of 2013, there appears to have been something of a shift in focus in Bavaria.

The Allianz Arena outfit’s turnover has increased from €373.4 million in 2012 to €528.7m last year, while the likes of Mario Götze, Mehdi Benatia, Javi Martínez and Thiago Alcântara have all been signed for significant transfer fees.

This week the powers that be at the Bavarian club have been puffing their chests out to some degree.

Finance director Jan-Christian Dreesen revealed that not one single player has rejected a move to Bayern in his time at the club and stated that the Bundesliga giants are currently in a position to spend €100 million on a new superstar signing if they so wish.

Although you might expect Bayern to behave in such a way given their wealth, status and ambitions, the German team’s affluence and prolificacy in the transfer market threatens to inhibit a major asset.

The youth ranks at the Allianz Arena have produced some stellar graduates not only over recent years but throughout the last century, with the current crop of future stars facing an intimidating task to catch Guardiola’s attention.

Looking at the current Bayern squad, it is undoubtedly loaded with world-class stars, but a considerable number of them have cost the club nothing by being nurtured through the internal ranks.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp LahmCaptain and deputy Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger emerged from the Bavarian youth teams and have gone on to be some of the most distinguished and notable players of a generation – and World Cup winners to boot.

David Alaba, Thomas Müller and Holger Badstuber are all important players in Guardiola’s current set-up having joined the club as fresh-faced youngsters and evolved in the junior ranks.

The market value of this triumvirate alone would be frightening and Bayern would surely be best advised to have an attentive eye on the next generation of young stars to bolster their first-team contingent.

Toni Kroos was also cultivated into the world-class, cultured footballer he currently is at Bayern, before being stolen away by Real Madrid.

However, given the influx of readymade superstars and the promise of more extreme expenditure, Die Roten risk missing out on the next Lahm, Müller or Alaba.

A handful of graduates of the Bayern youth team have been forced to leave Bavaria to make an impact and would now cost the Allianz Arena outfit a pretty penny to bring back.

Mats Hummels and Emre Can are two notable names to not be given a chance at the current Bundesliga champions, only to leave and thrive elsewhere.

Both would surely fit seamlessly into Guardiola’s squad now given their attributes and it appears that Bayern have missed a trick to some degree by letting these stars slip through their fingers.

Gianluca GaudinoOf the next generation of youngsters vying for a chance to don the famous red jersey, Gianluca Gaudino is arguably the brightest prospect.

Having been on the club’s books since the tender age of eight, the 18-year-old made his senior team debut in the pre-season Super Cup and started the first Bundesliga game of the campaign against Wolfsburg.

With the supremely gifted central midfielder excelling in both games and not looking out of his depth, the stage was seemingly set for the teenager to become the next world-beating Bayern youth graduate.

However things have not exactly gone to plan for Gaudino, who since the opening day of the season has only made three more Bundesliga appearances, all from the bench, and finds himself back playing with the under-19 side currently.

At most other clubs the Hanau-born starlet would be in with a chance of semi-regular action given his prodigious talent, but Bayern are not most clubs.

For this international star in waiting to be selected he must contest a place in the Bavarian midfield with Schweinsteiger, Alcântara, Martínez, Xabi Alonso, Lahm, Alaba and Sebastian Rode.

There is little patience at the elite level of modern football and an emphasis on instant results, which in turn leads to the top teams being reluctant to give youth a chance.

However, with Bayern having oodles of cash to spend this summer, two names that would not look out of place on their potential wishlist are Hummels and Can; the Allianz Arena faithful will hope Gaudino and other young starlets don’t have to leave Bavaria to catch the club’s attention in the near future.

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