Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has offered his support to financially hit Schalke, praising their qualities of youth development and stating that they could have been Bundesliga champions had they not sold their talented academy products.
Bayern wrapped the German domestic season up on Saturday by winning a second double in succession as they overcame Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in the DFB-Pokal final, but Schalke had a more modest finish of 12th.
While there was little danger of relegation, they face an arguably greater problem for their long-term health due to economic issues brought on by the coronavirus crisis, which saw no professional football played in Germany for three months and the season finishing behind closed doors.
They suffered a further blow with Manchester City’s €49 million (£44.7m/$55m) sale of Leroy Sane to Bayern as they missed out on a sell-on profit after City had bought him for €50m in 2016.
With the likes of Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer and Ilkay Gundogan having also come through their ranks recently, they have been prolific producers of fine young players, though they have not been able to capitalise fully upon it.
“The pool of players to have come through their youth teams is one of the best in all of Germany,” Rummenigge recognised in an interview with Sport1 . “Schalke could have been German champions in the meantime if they could have kept the many players who they have trained well in their youth division.
“The fact is that they have always sold very promising players, such as Leroy Sane to Manchester City in 2016, to meet their financial needs.”
Rummenigge said that while Schalke might once have hoped Sane would be sold for a fee in excess of €100m, recent events mean that was never likely to be on the cards.
“A year ago, the transfer sums still had another dimension, but this year prices seem to be on a more rational scale,” he said.
“Nobody wants to be pitied. With a new concept, a new spirit and the necessary patience, Schalke will find their way back to their old strength. They are one of the traditional clubs in Germany and an important part of the Bundesliga.”
He also reacted to reports that Schalke will put in a self-imposed salary cap of €2.5 million per player next season.
“Every club has to find its own philosophy. The salary structure of the team is an extremely sensitive one,” he said.