In transfer windows, elite teams generally spend more money than their lesser counterparts. This is due to more success and larger war chests. Bayern Munich has pulled something of a U-turn on that school of thought.

The team had to spend a justifiably large wad of cash on AS Roma center back Mehdi Benatia, but other than that were very economical with their spending. The same double successfully economic and greatly improving type of spending was not present for the rest of Europe’s elite as teams like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Barcelona all spent exorbitant amounts of cash. And while the respective additions of James Rodriguez, Angel di Maria and Luis Suarez will all undoubtedly help the clubs on the pitch, the money spent on those players takes a financial toll.

As a result of exceptional depth, Bayern could pick and choose their spots in terms of signing players. Sure, they had needs, but the team that they had before the additions could have won a great deal of silverware on its own. Nonetheless, additions were made. Everyone has to not only keep up with the Joneses, but also not be complacent with their teams. Improvements have to continually be made to succeed in European football.

The German giant’s best work may have been done signing players for no money at all. In addition to the utilitarian Sebastian Rode, all-world striker Robert Lewandowski was also signed for free. The fact that the Polish hit man was signed from arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund made the signing even sweeter.

In addition to the two Bundesliga veterans, Bayern signed a trio of Spaniards—promising, young left back Juan Bernat and long-time Spanish national team pillars Pepe Reina and Xabi Alonso. Bernat, at 21, cost a mere €10 million and fits in perfectly with Pep Guardiola’s system. Able to line up on the left of a four man back line and as a left wing back and midfielder in a configuration with three at the back, Bernat’s speed and all-around ability makes him a great acquisition. Alonso’s metronome qualities and pinpoint passing also fit seamlessly into Guardiola’s style of play. Like Bernat, the former Real Madrid star cost a mere €10 million. Reina was the cheapest of the bunch. Liverpool received £2 million pounds for their longtime goalkeeper—which equates to about € 2.5 euros. The World Cup winning ‘keeper was a starter for Napoli just a season ago and has just about as much experience as you can get as a net minder. Reina immediately becomes one of the finest backup goalkeepers in Europe.

What’s tremendous about Bayern’s dealings, and depth, is that they sold Toni Kroos to Real Madrid for €25 million. Kroos is an extremely similar player to Alonso. The Spaniard is the more experienced of the two World Cup winners and in terms of Kroos’ sale money and Alonso’s cost, netted Bayern €15 million. €15 million that paid for Bernat and Reina with €3 million left over.

If you thought that was shrewd, the signing of Lewandowski makes the German’s bank accounts swell even more. Not only did he cost nothing to sign, but the man he replaced (Mario Mandzukic) cost Atletico Madrid €22 million. Bayern seem to cycle through world-class strikers—first Mario Gomez’s place was taken by Mandzukic who was then later shipped out in favor of Lewandowski. It certainly represents strength-to-strength for Bayern. The striker swap pockets them €22 million and provides them with an upgrade.

At a time where other large clubs like Real Madrid are in massive debt, Bayern Munich has done well for themselves to not only improve their squad, but also to make money in the process. In their dealings listed above they spent €22 million on five players (if you throw in Rode and Lewandowski who signed for free) and sold two players for €47 million. Bayern made €25 million, while they have arguably upgraded the positions of the players they sold (Alonso over Kroos in central midfield and Lewandowski over Mandzukic up front) and added depth, potential and elite quality, to an already absurdly deep squad.