On August 17th, Werder Bremen sold their highest rated player and German World Cup star Mesut Ozil to Real Madrid.  It was one year ago that Werder did a similar transaction with their then Brazilian-born playmaker Diego who brought the club to the UEFA Cup Final in Istanbul and who led Bremen to it’s sixth German Cup, was then sold to Italian giants Juventus.  The similarities of the transfers are easy to see, allowing for the athlete to grow and prosper and even lead the club to trophies and high league positions, and selling these athletes at their zenith of their powers.

Mesut Ozil with Bremen

But why does Bremen do this, when they could quite easily compete on the field with the likes of league rivals and record German Champions, Bayern Munich if they kept their stars?  The reasoning is easy, it’s all about the money.

Bremen are good enough to finish in the top seven in the Bundesliga year in and year out, which allows them to qualify for European competitions like the UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Champions League.  By qualifying for these competitions the club then has a chance to make between seven to 50 million euro.  With the European club competitions potential earnings in mind, Bremen probably see competing for the Bundesliga is not worth the money in wages and transfer fees for a star studded team that could win the Bundesliga year in and year out like Bayern can.

Borussia Dortmund tried this back in the late 1990s and failed miserably.  They did win the Bundesliga three times between 1994-2002 but then found itself in big financial trouble with a staggering debt.  Dortmund then sold many of it’s star players and found itself instead of battling for the Bundesliga Shield and Champions League places, they found themselves fighting to stay in the Bundesliga!

Bremen’s transfer policy may be frustrating for fans, but they can boast a consistent club that can finish near the top and still be viable in cup competitions.  The teams manager, Thomas Schaaf, has been the hallmark of this success, he won the Bundesliga in 2003-2004, and the German Cup three times as manager of the club.  But probably his most impressive achievement has been his ability to qualify for the Champions League and keep the funds flowing at Bremen. In the end, trophies and championships are nice but for Werder Bremen, money is king.

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