Bundesliga gamble on youth sends transfer record tumbling

Berlin (AFP) – German clubs shattered Bundesliga winter transfer spending records in January, forking out close to 100 million euros ($107.6 million) and largely gambling on the potential of youngsters like Leon Bailey and Alexander Isak.

Promising Jamaican teenager Bailey joined Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday for a reported 12 million euros ($12.8 million), while Swede Isak — dubbed the ‘next Zlatan Ibrahimovic’ — turned down Real Madrid to sign for Borussia Dortmund.

France’s Dayot Upamecano swapped Red Bull Salzburg for RB Leipzig for a reported 10 million euros, yet the trio are all in their teens and untested in Europe’s top leagues.

The previous record set during the 2014/15 season saw Bundesliga sides pay out around 65 million euros, but that mark has been obliterated with several hours still to go before the deadline.

Throw 20-year-old Riechedly Bazoer, who joined Wolfsburg from Ajax for 12 million euros, and new Hamburg signing Walace, 21, into the mix and the focus on investment in youth is undeniable.

Wolfsburg have spent the most of any club by stumping up 33 million euros to try and salvage a disastrous season.

The 2009 Bundesliga champions drafted in five new faces — including French winger Paul-Georges Ntep — after offloading Germany international Julian Draxler to Paris Saint-Germain for around 40 million.

But despite the record outlay, the country’s richest club Bayern Munich have largely stayed silent with no new arrivals this month. 

However, the defending champions did complete a double swoop for Hoffenheim pair Niklas Suele and Sebastian Rudy, who will join the league leaders at the start of next season.

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