Toni Kroos and Bayern – The Mistake of the Century

Toni Kroos and Bayern – The Mistake of the Century

Manuel Veth –

The Bayern world seemed back to normal on Tuesday night. Der Rekordmeister just had dispatched Schalke 04 0-3 at the Veltins Arena. It was a remarkable display that featured an inform James Rodriguez. But instead of the triumph much of the media attention was based on an interview given by Stefan Reinartz to the Bleacher Report on why Toni Kroos left the club following the 2013-14 season.

“Toni is a friend of mine, and I know the whole story, Reinartz told Bleacher Report. “It was little bit about money. Bayern München offered Toni a new contract Toni knew what Mario Götze was earning at Bayern Munich; Toni and Mario Götze are [roughly] the same age. Bayern didn’t want to pay Toni more than €10 million.” This much has been common knowledge in Munich.

Toni Kroos after he was signed by Real Madrid in the summer of 2014. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Toni Kroos after he was signed by Real Madrid in the summer of 2014. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Bayern did not grant Toni Kroos the same kind of salary than the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller were earning at the club. Kroos was disappointed about that, and although he has often emphasised that him leaving Bayern was not about the money, there is a certain amount of status that comes with being one of the best players at the club. There was indeed a chance that Kroos would have signed even for a smaller sum. According to Reinartz, however, there is more to the story. “Bayern München CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Toni: ‘We won’t pay you more than €10 million a year because you’re not a world-class player.’ If you know Toni, it’s not about the money. He needs the confidence of other people. He knew he was a very good player, a world-class player. That was the breaking point.”

Toni Kroos to Real Madrid the Steal of a Century

What followed next was the steal of the century. Following Germany’s World Cup triumph in Brazil Bayern sold the midfielder for €25 million to Real Madrid. At the time Kroos was valued €45 million according to and considered one of the key players in Germany’s triumph in Rio de Janeiro. Pep Guardiola was later furious about the transfer, and even the addition of Xabi Alonso did little to calm the Catalan coach, who saw Kroos as a key player for Bayern to win another Champions League trophy.

There are even suggestions that in the long-term Guardiola decided that he would not extend his contract at the club as he was not involved in the decision-making process over Kroos’ future at the club. In retrospect, the question has to be asked whether Bayern took Kroos for granted.

Signed at the age of 16 from Hansa Rostock Kroos was quickly identified as the biggest talent of his generation. Sporting director, and later President, Uli Hoeneß then told the German media that he had already reserved the number 10 shirt for the playmaker, who was turning heads at Bayern München’s academy.

In 2007 he was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The world seemed to be ready to receive another world-class player.At the same time breaking into Bayern’s squad is not easy. Then coach Ottmar Hitzfeld struggled to integrate the midfielder.

At the same time breaking into Bayern’s squad is not easy. Then coach Ottmar Hitzfeld struggled to integrate the midfielder. Instead, Kroos was loaned out to Bayer Leverkusen where he made a big step forward under Jupp Heynckes. In his 18-month loan spell under Heynckes Kroos quickly became one of the most interesting midfielders in the league and then Bayern coach Louis van Gaal was adamant that he expected Kroos to return.

Under van Gaal and then again Heynckes, who took over from van Gaal in 2011-12, Kroos became Bayern’s midfield motor. In 2013 he won the treble with the Bavarians and also became a starting player for Germany’s national team. Often misused by Bundestrainer Joachim Löw on either flank Kroos finally was given the number eight roll at the World Cup in Brazil and Kroos dazzled.

Kroos Never Fitted in With Bayern’s Mia San Mia Mentality

Since the World Cup Kroos has become the silent leader on the pitch—Kroos is not someone known for great theatrics or bold statements. Instead, he leads by example letting his almost perfect performances speak for itself. Unfortunately, that sort of attitude does not always fit well with the mia san mia mentality in the Bavarian capital.

It was always an uneasy marriage between the magician from the Greifswald and the Bavarian decision makers at the Rekordmeister. There is something bombastic about the Bavarian mentality, an attitude of big statements, which to the horror of the rest of the republic is often underlined with strong actions. Bayern are the only club that not only speak of winning titles but demand it. It speaks for itself that they almost get their way too.

That sort of mentality is not for everyone, and the Bayern bosses did not always favour Kroos’ calm demeanour. They wanted more from the midfielder, who was accused of going quiet during big matches. In the end, they probably just did not understand Kroos and his potential value to Bayern.

Toni Kroos is a leader for die Mannschaft. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Toni Kroos is a leader for die Mannschaft. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Real Madrid in the meantime knew exactly what they were getting. They wanted a player, who would string together their backline with their Galactio attacking line. Someone, who could piece together the likes of Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo. Real are a bit of a royal club a complete opposite of the boisterous Bavarian mentality.

In the end, Kroos worked out perfectly for Real Madrid. The German national team player is easily the most valuable player at the Spanish club and has since won two more Champions League titles. He has also signed a contract that makes him the eighth highest paid player in the world with an annual salary of €23.5 million. It makes him the highest paid player in German history and reflects his worth for Real Madrid on and off the pitch.

There is no doubt today that Kroos is a world-class player. Furthermore, Bayern paid €40 million for midfielder Corentin Tolisso this season, who perhaps one day could come close to reach the level that Kroos displays today.

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at 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 @ManuelVeth.