Munich - Tuesday night’s international friendly between England and Germany provides another opportunity to see two of the world's leading footballing nations in action.
Made in Germany
However, as bundesliga.com finds out, it becomes clear that the Bundesliga has not only caught up with the Premier League, it has left it in its wake.
"Of course I can imagine that," said Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger when asked, prior to his side's UEFA Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund, whether he can picture more German players in his squad in the future. With Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld, Wenger has already proven his penchant for German starlets.
Leander Siemann (18) and Gedion Zelalem (16) are two more German youngsters rising through the ranks at the Gunners, increasingly 'Made in Germany', and for Wenger, it is hardly surprising that he and many other English clubs are turning to the Bundesliga’s treasure trove of talent. "Germany is producing many young players," said the French coach. "They get a chance earlier there, which is why you hear about them."
Ripe for the picking
Former FC Bayern München defender Markus Babbel was one of the first Bundesliga favourites of the modern era to make the trip across the Channel, gaining an invaluable insight into the two countries' footballing cultures during spells at Liverpool FC (2000-03) and Blackburn Rovers FC (2003-04). Much like Wenger, he is convinced that the German variety is number one.
"The Bundesliga has stolen a march on the Premier League," he said. "The reason for this is the philosophy of the German clubs who, to a great extent, put their faith in young, German players." Take Maximilian Arnold (VfL Wolfsburg), Max Meyer (FC Schalke 04), Timo Werner (VfB Stuttgart), Jonathan Tah (Hamburger SV), Niklas Süle (1899 Hoffenheim) and Niklas Stark (1. FC Nürnberg) for example: Although still eligible to play for their club's youth teams, all six are already making waves at senior level.
'A fantastic philosophy'
So while Bundesliga sides are investing in youth, their Premier League counterparts tend to look elsewhere, largely beyond the national boundaries, for their future stars. Indeed, 70 per cent of Premier League players are foreign compared to 45.5 per cent in the Bundesliga. The German model, according to Babbel, is the way forward.
"The big foreign superstar should remain the exception," he told bundesliga.com. "The fans find it easier to identify with youngsters from their own youth team. This is a fantastic philosophy which is considerably better than the Premier League's, and also increases the attractiveness." Pairings such as Bayern’s Franck Ribery and Thomas Müller attest to that and are but one of a multitude of trend-setting facets that continue to drive the Bundesliga brand, and its competitiveness, to the very top.