Preparations for the new Bundesliga season are well underway but with just a few days to the opening round, careful accountants rather than eager coaches seem to be determining transfer policy.
While Leroy Sane cost champions Bayern 50 million euros (59.4 million dollars), that deal for the Germany winger was agreed early in the year.
It has however remains the high water mark for individual fees spent.
Instead many squads will be strengthened by players returning from loans and free transfers, rather from splashing the cash during the coronavirus pandemic.
Around 137 million euros has been spent so far by the 18 top-tier clubs in Germany, a massive reduction from 2019.
At this point last season, Borussia Dortmund had spent that amount almost on their own amid a league total of 700 million euros.
Andrea Agnelli, chief of the European Club Association (ECA) expects a 20-30 per cent reduction in the transfer market.
“This will be with small and medium-sized clubs most affected, though top players will not lose their value.”
Ulf Baranowsky, head of the VDV players union in Germany, said there was a trend to undo professionalism at clubs.
“Full-time (fourth-tier) regional league players are becoming paid free-time players on a mini-job basis,” he said.
Others are having to leave the game.
The contrary example is Kai Havertz leaving Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga for Chelsea in the Premier League.
The Londoners paid some 100 million euros for the midfielder and gave Bayer Leverkusen financial breathing space.
Other German players are also heading abroad, such as Timo Werner, Kevin Volland, Robin Koch, Luca Waldschmidt and Philipp Max.
2014 FIFA World Cup winner Mario Goetze is likely to join them after departing Borussia Dortmund.
Players yet to find a club have hope with the transfer window extended to Oct. 5 as a follow-on from the delay to last season.
Whether there are big money moves made late in the window, however, remains to be seen.
Even Bayern Munich, known for their savings account and high revenue streams, are watching their money carefully.
“As long as we have no fans in the stadium, Bayern Munich are down 50 million to 60 million euros,” honorary president Uli Hoeness said.
Eintracht Frankfurt are in a similar situation with a cut of 50 million to 75 million euros due to the coronavirus.
And this was calculated “conservatively” without transfer expenses, said sports director Fredi Bobic.
The coming year will see changes in the market, according to German football league (DFL) chief Christian Seifert.
“I don’t think that there will not be absolute top transfers again. But even they – I forecast now – would have been many times higher had it not been for the coronavirus.”