Manuel Veth –
The transfer of 16-year-old Ryan Johansson from FC Metz to FC Bayern München continues a recent Bundesliga trend. Faced with the financial riches from China, and England, German clubs now focus on bringing in ever younger players in order to stay competitive.
Borussia Dortmund has taken this to a new level by signing the very young Ousmane Dembélé, and Emre Mor last summer, as well as the Swedish striker Alexander Isak in January. Bayern München, in the meantime, signed the talented Portuguese midfielder, Renato Sanches.
At the same time, there has been a feeling at Bayern that the youth system has been lacking in recent years. Uli Hoeneß, who has recently returned as the club’s president after serving time for tax evasion, has been adamant that Bayern’s youth academy will become a priority during his term as president of the club.
It has been some time since the last crop of talents broke into Bayern’s first squad. The last high profile players that Bayern was able to develop into superstars were David Alaba, Thomas Müller, and Holger Badstuber. Louis van Gaal discovered all of these players but, since the Dutchman has left the club, Bayern’s youth pipeline has run dry.
Bayern München are going to make major changes to their academy
Bayern have, therefore, recently begun to re-organize their Nachwuchsleistungszentrum (NLZ). The club has now allocated €20 million to €30 million a season towards the NLZ, and will also reconstruct a new training centre for its youth players for €70 million. The new academy will be under the guidance of current assistant head coach Hermann Gerland, and Jochen Sauer, who has been hired from Red Bull Salzburg.
As part of the re-organization, the club has increasingly targeted young players to bolster the youth ranks of the club. This was already evident in the fall of 2014 when the club failed in its pursuit for talented Norwegian midfielder Martin Ødegaard.
Recently, the club has failed to sign 17-year-old Luxembourg midfielder Vincent Thill from FC Metz. Now, however, it turns out that Thill was not the only young Luxembourger on the radar of the Bavarian giants.
According to the Luxemburger Wort Ryan Johansson has signed a contract with Bayern, which will kick in in the coming summer. The current U-17 Luxembourg national team player, who is also eligible to play for Sweden or Ireland (the home countries of his parents), has expressed his excitement over the transfer;
“I am very happy to join FC Bayern in the summer, and I am also excited for the coming years.” Bayern’s head scout Timon Pauls, meanwhile, told the media: “With Ryan we were able to land a highly talented player. He was able to confirm our first good impressions during training sessions at the club.”
Ryan Johansson could become the first player from Luxembourg to wear a Bayern shirt in the Bundesliga
Ryan Johansson could therefore become the first player from Luxembourg to wear the Bayern München shirt in the Bundesliga, and the fifth player in Bundesliga history from the tiny state.
It will, however, still take some time until Ryan Johansson will see time in Bundesliga. The 180cm tall midfielder completed a stint at the FC Metz football academy in the summer, and recently trained with the football school of the Luxembourg Football Association FLF, as well as the first team of the Luxembourg based club Jeunesse Esch.
It was, however, during his time at FC Metz that Bayern München noticed the midfielder. The Futbolgrad Network was able to speak to Cappie Livier, who runs the popular FC Metz blog Grenate Factory. Livier points out: “We have one of the best academies in France. Each year FC Metz spent €4 million on the academy, and we also have a partnership with an academy situated in Senegal called Generation Foot. Through Generation Foot we were able to discover players like Sadio Mané, and Diafra Sakho.”
Metz’s reputation as a top academy has meant that the club has not only been become a prime destination for players from Senegal, but also for players from the BeNeLux states. Located not far south of the Luxembourg/Belgium border the club also has a strong link to Luxembourg with former Luxembourg national team players Nico Braun, and Jeff Strasser having played for the club—coincidentally both also have played in the Bundesliga.
Metz were also the youth team of Juventus Turin star Miralem Pjanić, who at the time actually played for Luxembourg’s youth national teams. Pjanić, who was born in Bosnia, grew up in Luxembourg, and switched national team allegiances during his senior career.
With Metz’s history of developing bright talent it is therefore not surprise that Bayern have kept a close eye on the developments in North France. Furthermore, the redevelopment of Bayern’s academy, and the fact that Bayern were already linked to Metz talent Vincent Thill could also mean that Ryan Johansson will not be the last player to make the track from Luxembourg City to Bavaria.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist, and podcaster for WorldFootballIndex.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States”, which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @homosovieticus.