Bayern favourites as Bundesliga cuts cost
Bayern Munich remain strong favourites to defend their Bundesliga title this season despite keeping the purse strings firmly closed during the summer transfer window.
Louis van Gaal has decided against splashing out on strengthening his squad, instead preferring to tie World Cup Golden Boot winner Thomas Mueller to a longterm contract and recalling Toni Kroos from his loan spell at Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern's reluctance to spend is mirrored by most of the other Bundesliga clubs with total spending amounting to just 87 million euros (116 million dollars), 62 million less than a year ago.
So far, half of all Bundesliga clubs have given out less than 3 million euros.
VfL Wolfsburg are the Bundesliga's biggest spenders, with club manager Dieter Hoeness giving new coach Steve McClaren the green light to pay out 22.6 million for players while receiving just 10.45 million by moving others on.
McClaren's biggest signing has been Danish defender Simon Kjaer, who moved from Serie A side Palermo for 12 million euros, while Obafemi Martins was sold to Russian side Rubin Kazan for 9 million and replaced with Mario Mandzukic of Croatian club Dynamo Zagreb.
The former England coach, who led Dutch side Twente Enschede to a first Dutch title last season, is also hoping to secure the services of former Werder Bremen playmaker Diego, who is keen to leave Juventus, but is also being tracked by Schalke.
Wolfsburg remain confident of retaining striker Edin Dzeko and midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic for the upcoming season.
VfB Stuttgart are one of the few clubs to make a strong profit thanks to the 14-million-euro sale of Sami Khedira to Real Madrid.
SV Hamburg secured 12.5 million from Manchester City for Jerome Boateng while paying Schalke 04 a fee of 7.5 million for Heiko Westermann.
Younger players have been given priority this season with 34 players gaining promotion to senior Bundesliga squads from the youth ranks. Free transfers are also popular with over two-thirds of transfers taking place without a fee.
Michael Ballack and Real Madrid legend Raul are two examples of high-profile free transfers to the Bundesliga in the close season.
The ex-Chelsea star returns to former club Bayer Leverkusen while Raul will be looking to help last year's runners-up Schalke challenge Bayern again this season.
Schalke coach Felix Magath, who lost striker Kevin Kuranyi on a free transfer to Dynamo Moscow, has also secured defender Christoph Metzelder from Real Madrid on a free transfer while Sergio Escudero cost 2.5 million from Real Murcia.
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