Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has told GQ that English clubs’ methods of signing up young players in the search for “the next Messi” are “alarming.”
In 2016, Rummenigge claimed Premier League clubs’ attempts to sign youngsters verged on “kidnapping.”
He said that although Bayern had stepped up their scouting operations they were not prepared to compete “at all costs.”
“I have noticed that English clubs, in particular, are already scouting 10 and 12-year-olds and convincing them to sign by handing a lot of money to their parents. That is alarming,” Rummenigge said.
Bundesliga champions Bayern opened their new academy at a reported cost of €70 million in August.
“We are ready to compete, but not at all costs,” Rummenigge said. “We are scouting a lot more aggressively and are also prepared to spend a lot more money than we used to.
“But we are always faced with the question: when do you reach the point when you must take a step back, even though the whole world is searching for the next Messi?”
Rummenigge, a former European Clubs Association (ECA) chairman, again criticised UEFA’S financial fair play regulations and said they needed to be modernised.
“It should actually be a good financial controlling tool but it must be strictly and stringently enforced,” he said. “Drastically speaking, strict and stringent means that everyone who contravenes it or starts playing tricks gets into trouble.
“Unfortunately, that has never happened. UEFA has to accept these accusations, because it simply has never shown any real courage or desire to resolutely fight back.”
Rummenigge added that he expected TV football rights deals would continue to “rocket” and predicted more major global companies would become involved.
“U.S. firms like Apple, Amazon, Netflix will all come on board because for these firms it’s not decisive whether rights cost €500 million or a billion,” he said. “It’s decisive for them whether the rights are exclusive and adds to their dissemination strategy.
“The first new players have already arrived — Eurosport, Amazon and DAZN. They are making their first experiences. In the future they will get more heavily involved and target specific markets. Prices will rocket when everyone is fully on board.”
Rummenigge said, however, that Bayern would only spend a €100 million on a player when “necessary” and would never put up with a situation similar to those Borussia Dortmund encountered with Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Dembele went on strike to force a move to Barcelona, while Aubameyang’s final months at BVB before leaving for Arsenal involved several disciplinary problems.
“Players have to respect the club, its management and, above all, the coach,” he said. That is a combination of factors.
“I would never threaten a player with banning him to the grandstand, that only wipes out an asset. Assets perform on the pitch and don’t sit in the stands.”
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.