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Firmino transfer confirms Bundesliga's worst fears

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Firmino transfer confirms Bundesliga's worst fears
Roberto Firmino. Photo: DPA
16:20 CEST+02:00
Liverpool confirmed the purchase of FC Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino on Wednesday for €41 million, breaking a German record and striking fear into German pundits in the process.

Germany has long known that the English Premier League has more money to chuck around than its own more modestly-financed top division.

But the fact that a club not even good enough to qualify for European football last season has just bought a footballer for a record German transfer fee has brought home just how impotent the Bundesliga is in the face of the Premier League's financial muscle.

Already this winter German Football League (DFL) boss Christian Seifert observed that the Premier League has the money to “buy every Budnesliga club out.”

"From the point of view of English clubs our leagues are like a bargain basement," complains Phillip Selldorf in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, describing the English resources as “like something out of an Oriental fairytale.”

Liverpool are the third English club to swoop in to capture a talented Bundesliga player already this close season, after Tottenham Hotspurs and Stoke city bought players from Cologne and Hanover, respectively.

And the flight may well continue, as rumours swirl that Chelsea are prepared to pay €28 million for Augsburg's Baba.

The difference in financial clout is illustrated by the fact that English Premier League bottom club Queens Park Rangers earned €35 million more in television rights than German Champions Bayern Munich last season, according to Kicker magazine.

There is also the possibility English clubs - whic have recently signed a a new deal on international broadcasting rights - will start demanding exclusivity on kick-off times, pushing Bundesliga clubs down the agenda, writes WAZ journalist Peter Müller.

“That would be no utopia,” he argues.

'No great threat'

But not all German pundits see England's money piles as a bad thing.

Jörg Jakob, Editor-in-Chief of Germany's leading sports magazine Kicker, told The Local that there were positives and negatives to England's interest in Bundesliga talent.

“Sure, the Bundesliga is afraid that English clubs can come in and buy many of the best players. But on the other side the money can be used for player development and to improve training facilities,” he argued.

Besides, he said, Firmino justifies the price tag.

“He is not a superstar, but he is an excellent player with a lot of potential. He can play number ten or “9 and a half”, he's got plenty of creativity, he gets loads of assists and he's physically strong,” he said.

“It was always the case that the English clubs have had more money, certainly over the last ten to 15 years. But I don't see any great threat.

"No English club has reached the Champions League final in the last few years – money doesn't necessarily equal success,” Jakob concluded.

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