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'Bayern poach talent to weaken rivals'

14 May 2013, 10:29

Munich -  Bayern Munich's signing of Germany star Mario Goetze is set to weaken rivals Borussia Dortmund next season, but the Bavarians have recruited top talent to see off their rivals for years, admits ex-coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Goetze, 20, dropped a bombshell on Champions League finalists Dortmund last month when it was revealed he had actioned a clause in his contract to join Bayern for €37 million to work with new coach Pep Guardiola.

The attacking midfielder will follow the path trod to Bayern in recent years by stars such as Brazil centre-back Dante, from Moenchengladbach, and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, from Schalke 04.

Both arrived in Munich only to see their previous clubs' form drop off after their departure.

There are fears the Dortmund side, which won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12, will start to break up if Poland striker Robert Lewandowski also quits for Bayern at the end of the season.

"Honestly, it's not our intent to weaken other teams," Bayern president Uli Hoeness said in February 2012 before backing that up in Sport Bild recently by adding: "We have done that a few times in the past, but it's a side issue now."

But just a quick glance through Bayern's recent purchases from their Bundesliga rivals makes Hoeness' words sound hollow and Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has a different view of Munich's recruitment policy.

"I think Bayern have followed the same calculated scheme for many years, which is to weaken the competition," said Watzke with Dortmund to face Bayern at Wembley on May 25 in the Champions League final.

"We reckon on more attacks from Munich."

Former Bayern trainer Hitzfeld, who coached Dortmund to the 1997 Champions League title, before leading Bayern to their 2001 European title, agreed with Watzke.

"It's Bayern Munich's strategy to not only strengthen their own team, but to also directly weaken their direct rivals," said the 64-year-old.

"And Dortmund are the main competition. So there is a clear strategy."

Of the many examples, striker Karl Del'Haye was the first player Bayern bought to weaken their rivals when he arrived from Moenchengladbach in 1980 to find himself benched behind Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Dieter Hoeness.

Likewise, rising Germany star Jan Schlaudraff was signed from Aachen in 2007 to stop him going to rivals Werder Bremen.

Yet he only made eight league appearances in the 2007-08 season before Bayern sold him to Hanover and he was never called up to the national squad again.

"You have to show sometimes that no one can hold a candle to FC Bayern," Hoeness said at the time as the Bavarians also lured Germany striker Miroslav Klose from Bremen, which kept Schlaudraff on the bench.

Before then ex-Germany captain Michael Ballack and Brazil's Ze Roberto were snapped up from the Bayer Leverkusen team which reached the 2002 Champions League final – and finished just a point behind Bayern in second-place in the Bundesliga.

Days before the Goetze deal came to light, Hoeness made some poorly-timed comments calling for 'solidarity' in the Bundesliga so that the German league avoids a "Spanish experience" where two teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid, tend to dominate.

But Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, has said he fears more of a "Scottish experience" in Germany, after Celtic, shorn of traditional rivals Rangers, are this season's champions – for the 44th time.

"I just hope we can get a piece of the pie in future," said Klopp after Dortmund won the 2010-11 and 2011-12 league titles, but finish second this season.

- Sapa - AFP


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