Bayern Munich are one of the biggest and most successful football clubs in European football history.
As such, the Bundesliga giants have employed some of the best players the sport has ever seen.
However, what makes Bayern’s successes all the more impressive is that they are known for their careful planning and excellent execution to ensure they get value for their money.
That said, in recent times especially, the Bavarian outfit haven’t been completely afraid of splashing the cash to secure one of their top transfer targets.
So who are the 10 biggest signings in Bayern history and have they always worked out well for the German club?
10. Sadio Mane – £35.3m (from Liverpool, 2022)
Sadio Mane completed Liverpool’s biggest transfer move out of the club in four years when he left to join Bayern in the summer of 2022.
Bayern signed the then-30-year-old in the hope that he would fill the void left by the coming departure of star man Robert Lewandowski.
It was a surprising deal given the form of Mane in the months leading up to its completion. He played a major role in the Reds’ victories in the League and FA Cups, while his displays for Senegal that helped them win the Africa Cup of Nations elevated him to the level of Ballon d’Or contender. He had already long graduated to the status of Liverpool legend.
Mane lasted only a season in Munich before being sold to Al Nassr for €30m. He never showed his Liverpool form at Bayern, scoring just 12 goals. He also fell out with teammate Leroy Sane, punching the ex-Man City winger after one game.
9. Arturo Vidal – £35.3m (from Juventus, 2015)
Having previously convinced fans and critics alike at Bayer Leverkusen before his move to Juventus, Arturo Vidal returned to the Bundesliga in 2015 as a star with clear expectations of winning silverware at Bayern.
Over the course of his three seasons in Munich, Vidal won the league title on each occasion alongside a German Cup in 2016. And had it not been for some overthinking on Pep Guardiola’s part, the Chilean midfielder may have been able to add a Champions League trophy to that list too.
Vidal’s time at Bayern was short lived before a persistent knee injury limited his role in the team and ultimately led to him leaving the club for Barcelona in 2018.
8. Javi Martinez – £36m (from Athletic Bilbao, 2012)
Signed in 2012 after breaking through at Atletico Bilbao, Javi Martinez arrived in Munich as one of the most exciting midfield talents in the world. And for the most part the Spaniard lived up to the billing at Bayern.
First as a thunderous box-to-box midfielder and then later on as a defensive midfielder and fill-in central defender, Martinez combined raw physical power with the technical gifts expected of a player that came through Spanish football’s famed youth academies.
In his time at the club Martinez picked up no less than 16 major titles with Bayern and countless others. There’s no question that he was worth a previous club record of £36m back in 2012.
7. Corentin Tolisso – £37.4m (from Lyon, 2017)
The player that broke Martinez’s record signing was none other than Corentin Tolisso, who made the move to Bayern as the most expensive sale in Lyon’s history until Alexandre Lacazette broke that record a month later by moving to Arsenal.
However, unlike Martinez, Tolisso’s time at Bayern has been a little less clearcut. While few could doubt that the France international is an exceptional midfielder when fit, the problem is that Bayern rarely saw the player in that state.
Since making the move to Munich in 2017, Tolisso has spent more time injured than on the pitch and he eventually rejoined Lyon in 2022, marking the end of a disappointing tenure in Germany.
6. Dayot Upamecano – £38.3m (from RB Leipzig, 2021)
Bayern said goodbye to defensive stalwarts David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez in the summer of 2021 so naturally new acquisitions were required.
After winning the 2020/21 Bundesliga the champions acted quickly to prepare for the defence of their title by plucking another star player away from one of their domestic rivals.
In this case, they triggered the €42.5 million release clause of RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, who became one of the most sought-after young players in Europe following his displays in Germany. The young Frenchman is an integral part of Bayern’s squad.
5. Leroy Sane – £40.5m (from Manchester City, 2020)
In the summer of 2019 Leroy Sane was strongly linked with a move to Bayern Munich, with the German giants eager to bring in reinforcements following the departure of Franck Ribery and the retirements of Arjen Robben.
Man City were unwilling to sell at that time, and any potential move collapsed when Sane suffered a cruciate ligament injury ruling him out for the majority of the campaign. He would eventually get his move in 2020 as Bayern made him their marquee signing.
However, even by his own admission, he hasn’t lit up the Allianz Arena so far and a host of injury problems have prevented him from reaching his true potential at the club so far.
4. Kim Min-Jae – £43m (from Napoli, 2023)
Bayern Munich paid the €50m release clause in Kim Min-Jae’s Napoli contract to sign him in the summer of 2023.
Min-Jae had been an absolute revelation in his one season at Napoli after joining from Fenerbahce in 2022 for just €18m.
He played a key role in Napoli winning their first Scudetto in 33 years.
Strong, aggressive and brilliant in the air, Bayern will hoping the South Korea star brings his Napoli form to Munich.
3. Matthijs de Ligt – £68m (from Juventus, 2022)
Matthijs de Ligt entered Bayern’s top 10 list of their most expensive signings of all time following his mega move from Juventus.
The Dutch international spent three years in Turin before seeking a transfer away in 2022, with Bayern his preference.
After weeks of negotiations, Bayern landed De Ligt for a fee of £68m (€80m) and he instantly slotted into the club’s defence, helping the club to yet another Bundesliga title in his first season.
2. Lucas Hernandez – £72m (Atletico Madrid, 2019)
While Lucas Hernandez was not a complete dud after moving to Bayern in 2019, there’s no doubt that the defender struggled to live up to the remarkable price tag the German club stuck on him when they signed him for £72m.
Brought to Germany after coming through at Atletico Madrid as a hardened, battle-ready left-back or central defender, Hernandez had to quickly adapt to a team that was always on the front foot and had to break most teams down from one week to the next.
Over the course of four seasons Hernandez’s versatility was put to good use but we never saw the France international really nail down a starting role at left-back or in central defence. He was sold for £39m to PSG in the summer of 2023 after a relatively disappointing spell.
1. Harry Kane – £104m (Tottenham, 2023)
Harry Kane smashed the Bayern Munich club transfer record in the summer of 2023 as he left Tottenham in a £104 million deal, with add-ons included.
In the process, Kane became the most expensive sale in the history of Spurs.
Kane was signed as the belated replacement for Robert Lewandowski, one year after the Bayern legend had left to join Barcelona.
The England international is the highest goalscorer in the history of Tottenham and for the England national team, so will be expected to score plenty for Bayern.