• Drew Farmer


RB Leipzig are a money driven powerhouse

RB Leipzig Stadium

Fears in Germany that the Red Bull Energy Drink company owned club, RB Leipzig, would use their vast fortune to buy up the best footballers in the world to offset the dominance of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have been greatly exaggerated. Now, in their fifth season in the Bundesliga, RB Leipzig continue to be one of the best models of what a professional football club should be.

Rather than use the vast sums of energy drink money at their disposal, the club (like its sister clubs around the globe) have exploited a vast scouting network to find some of the most promising players available. RB Leipzig have not spent large sums of money compared to their rivals in the Bundesliga or elsewhere. Instead, they have signed good, young prospects and sold them for large sums.

Remarkably, for a club with so much money behind them, RB Leipzig have spent over £20 million just once on a player. The club’s record signing remains Naby Keita, who was bought for £27m from Red Bull Salzburg. Keita was sold two seasons later for nearly £50m to Liverpool.

So, how have RB Leipzig become the ideal club model in world football? The Germans have put an emphasis on buying young, cheap players, developing them and selling them on. Seems simple, but if it was then most clubs around the globe would make massive profits each season, right? Like Manchester City, RB Leipzig have made use of sister clubs that are affiliated with them in different countries.

In 2005, Red Bull Salzburg became the first Red Bull-owned team. The company’s purchase of Austria Salzburg and the rebranding of it made many long-time fans angry. However, the club suddenly became the best in the country nearly every season using a similar recruitment policy as RB Leipzig.

A year later, Red Bull bought the hapless New York/New Jersey Metrostars, one of the worst named football clubs in the world at the time, in the United States. Much of Major League Soccer’s growth has come with a Red Bull team in the division. In 2019, the company began a partnership with Brazilian club Bragantino and this year, the South American club officially took on the Red Bull name.

The ability to work with all of these clubs doesn’t just allow for a pipeline of talent to freely move from one team to the next. It enables the teams to have a larger scouting network around the globe.

Looking at RB Leipzig’s squad, it is easy to see the players that went from Red Bull Salzburg to the German team. Keita, Amadou Haidara, Dayot Upamecano, Hwang Hee-Chan, and Marel Sabitzer all played at Salzburg prior to moving to Leipzig. Champions League 2019-20 quarterfinal scorer Tyler Adams began his career at New York Red Bulls before moving to Germany with RB Leipzig.

The Red Bull teams have even traded coaches and allowed them to learn under others in the Red Bull system to develop. Current Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch started out with New York Red Bulls before joining Leipzig as an assistant under Ralph Rangnick. When Salzburg coach Marco Rose left to take charge of Borussia Monchengladbach in 2019, Marsch was promoted to take over the Austrians. In his first year in charge, Marsch led Salzburg to a domestic double.

RB Leipzig may be the most hated club in Germany, but much of that hate is due to the club’s success. That success has come in spite of the billions of pounds at their disposal.

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