It’s no secret that Bayern Munich dominates the Bundesliga. The Bavarian giants have won the last eleven Bundesliga titles, shattering records during that span: longest winning run, longest unbeaten run, most points, most wins, and more. Many have pointed to the club’s financial advantage, with the club breaking the bank this summer to sign English striker Harry Kane and South Korean defender Kim Min-jae.
Money is far from the only reason Bayern is successful. After all, during this eleven-year stretch, they have twice won the Champions League, the most prestigious trophy in European soccer. Bayern’s recruitment has often been noted, with the club regularly signing talented players for bargain prices — or sometimes for free. Just look at Joshua Kimmich, who arrived from the 2. Bundesliga, or Alphonso Davies, who was signed from MLS.
However, one area that Bayern excels in is often overlooked — the academy. They may not have the prestige of Barcelona or Ajax’s respective academies, but they have consistently churned out top players. World Cup winners Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, for example, were part of the academy before having lengthy and successful careers in Bavaria.
Other talents have passed through their academy, including many of the biggest stars in Europe right now. But, importantly, if Bayern was unable to spend big on new signings and forced to rely on their academy players — currently at the club or not — they would still be able to build a very strong team. Here’s an academy-only starting XI for the club.
GK: Christian Früchtl, 23, FK Austria Wien
Since arriving in Munich in 2011, Manuel Neuer has kept his position as starter and captain of Bayern. As a result, no goalkeeper has challenged him for the starting spot. Christian Früchtl briefly looked like he could be Neuer’s successor, even winning the 3. Liga with Bayern II. Last summer for more playing time, having made just one appearance for the first team. He’s doing well with FK Austria Wien — don’t rule out a return someday for the promising goalkeeper.
LB: David Alaba, 31, Real Madrid
David Alaba is a Bayern legend. The Austrian defender made his debut in 2010 and made more than 400 appearances for the club before leaving in 2021. During that time he won the Bundesliga ten times and the Champions League twice while cementing himself as a fan-favorite. His exit was controversial, to say the least — Alaba refused to renew his contract and joined Real Madrid for free — but he accomplished great things in Germany.
CB: Marco Friedl, 25, Werder Bremen
Marco Friedl is a very underrated player. Another Austrian defender, he spent years with Bayern’s reserves, making just two appearances for the first team before joining Werder Bremen on loan. Friedl became a regular starter, and, after a successful loan, Bremen made the move permanent. In five seasons, he has made over 100 appearances and captained the club.
CB: Mats Hummels, 34, Borussia Dortmund
Hummels has had a strange career. He spent more than a decade in Bayern’s academy before joining rivals Dortmund on loan in 2008. Dortmund signed him permanently, and Hummels became a key player for the club. In 2016 he returned to Munich for €38 million, spending three years in Bavaria. However, he moved back to Dortmund in 2019 — just in time to miss Bayern’s treble-winning season. While he might not be loved in Munich, Hummels is still a great defender.
RB: Josip Stanišić, 23, Bayern Munich
Stanišić might not be a regular starter, but the talented defender is a fan favorite. He debuted in 2021, and, over the past two seasons, has been praised for his work rate and professionalism. He’s also put in impressive performances in clutch games — notably shutting out PSG in the Champions League Round of 16 last season, also locking down France star Kylian Mbappe in the 2022 Nations League. He should have a long, successful career in Bavaria.
CM: Toni Kroos, 33, Real Madrid
The career of Toni Kroos is very similar to Alaba’s. He made more than 200 appearances and was a part of the treble-winning team in 2013. However, after winning the World Cup in 2014, he felt undervalued and underpaid. He forced a move to Real Madrid where he became a club legend, winning four Champions League trophies. On his day, he’s one of the best midfielders in the world — unfortunately, he reached his prime in Spain, not Bavaria.
CM: Emre Can, 29, Borussia Dortmund
Emre Can is one of few players that Bayern should regret selling. He made just seven appearances for the first team, leaving for Leverkusen in 2013 for more minutes. One season later, he earned a move to English giants Liverpool, staying for a successful four-year stint. He then moved to Italy with Juventus, winning the Serie A twice, before returning to Germany with Dortmund in 2020. He’s struggled at times but overall has enjoyed a strong career.
LM: Jamal Musiala, 20, Bayern Munich
Jamal Musiala is one of the best players in the world right now. He joined Bayern’s academy in 2019 and remarkably made his Bundesliga debut less than 12 months later. The next season, he became a regular in the squad, but it was last year he showed his full talent, scoring 16 goals and assisting 16 more in all competitions. And he won Bayern Munich their eleventh-consecutive title with a late winner against Köln. He is the future of Bayern and German soccer.
CAM: Thomas Müller, 33, Bayern Munich
Mister Bavaria. Thomas Müller is an absolute Bayern legend. He was a Bayern fan as a kid, joining the academy when he was 10. He made his debut at 18 and scored a brace against Borussia Dortmund when he was 19. No player has more Bundesliga titles than Müller (12). He’s won the treble twice, the World Cup, the World Cup Golden Boot, and many other trophies. Müller is one of the most underrated players in history — and he’s one of Bayern’s best.
RM: Karim Adeyemi, 21, Borussia Dortmund
Karim Adeyemi is one of the most promising players in the world right now. After several great years in Salzburg, Adeyemi moved to Dortmund, scoring nine goals and assisting six in his debut season. Next year, he could be even better — but he could have been improving with Bayern. He was one of the club’s most promising talents, but they released him because of his frequent disciplinary problems. He never made any appearances for Bayern’s first or second team.
ST: Joshua Zirkzee, 22, Bologna
Zirkzee was seen as Lewandowski’s successor after he scored in three of his first four Bundesliga games. However, a year later, he had scored just one more goal and was loaned out. After an unimpressive loan with Parma, Zirkzee was loaned out to Anderlecht, where he scored 18 goals. Last summer, he was sold to Bologna, where he struggled — but he’s gearing up for a bounce-back season. Bayern reportedly has a buy-back, so a return isn’t unlikely if he does well.
Final Analysis: The glaring weakness of the squad is the same that Bayern’s real squad has: goalkeeper and striker (although Kane will change that). Früchtl is decent but not yet Bundesliga-ready, while Zirkzee hasn’t been able to find the back of the net consistently. Ultimately, I think this team would still win the Bundesliga — the defense is strong, the midfield is great, and the attack is good.
This team may struggle in Europe, but that’s why Bayern makes the signings they make — to challenge for the Champions League. However, as Bayern’s academy continues to develop world-class players, big-money signings will become less and less common.