Is the Bundesliga Tax real?

Off the back of the Premier League postponing the weekend’s fixtures, many fans will be tuning into other leagues for football action over the next few days.

Much like during the lockdown period immediately after the initial COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the football community’s attention should be cast on the Bundesliga on Saturday ahead of the biggest fixture across Europe this weekend, RB Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund.

Given the huge audience bound to watch this match, now seems like the ideal time to pose the question: is the Bundesliga tax real?

Firstly, what is the Bundesliga tax? It is a fan-driven theory that suggests players have a more difficult time bagging goals and assists in the Premier League than they do in the Bundesliga.

Erling Haaland is currently scoring goals for fun in the PL with the striker on course to smash Mohamed Salah’s record. The Norwegian is a generational talent with an unprecedented ability to score goals at his young age. This has led many to exclude Haaland from the Bundesliga tax debate. However, it’s difficult to do so. In fact, the Man City superstar may have just ended the debate as a whole.

The Premier League has been lit up by some greats coming over from the German top-flight. Mesut Ozil spent seven years at Arsenal where, in the 2015/2016 campaign, he racked up 19 league assists. Just one shy of the all-time PL record. The German looked set to have smashed the record, sitting on an astonishing 16 assists in mid- January. However, poor finishing from his teammates cost Ozil the record during a PL campaign which saw him create the most chances since its inception in 1992.

Former Arsenal playmaker, Mesut Ozil

A player who has equaled the all-time assist record is Kevin De Bruyne, who joined Man City from Wolfsburg in 2015. At the time, KDB was labelled as a “former Chelsea flop.” The Belgian International has left all doubters eating their words as he’s won the PL four times. Many even consider KDB as one of the top 5 midfielders in PL history. Bundesliga tax, eh?

Headline of an edition from the Mirror back in 2015. Current Man City star Kevin De Bruyne on the front cover.

New Chelsea signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined Arsenal in January 2018. The striker bagged 10 goals in his first 13 PL appearances during the rest of that season before winning the golden boot the season after, his first full campaign in England. By the time he left Arsenal, Auba had scored an impressive 92 goals and provided 21 assists in 163 games for the Gunners.

There are many more examples of players that have come to England from Germany and lit the PL up, such as Leroy Sané, Michael Ballack, Jürgen Klinsmann, etc. Current players such as Ilkay Gündogan and Roberto Firmino have displayed immense quality over recent years, with both playing pivotal roles in championship winning sides. 

Leroy Sané, former Man City player.

Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Jadon Sancho’s difficult start to life in England gave the Bundesliga tax debate its legs. Werner returned to Germany at the start of this season where the striker began to find the form that made him one of hottest properties on the market a few years ago. However, his upturn in form since returning to the Bundesliga sparked further debate on the strength of the league.

But Haaland quickly extinguished the debate once again, even though there was sufficient evidence against it from the start. The Bundesliga tax is somewhat of a myth and can be seen as some sort of justification for a player’s inability to adapt to a new league. The bottom line is that quality footballers are able to adapt and play in any environment or league. Players such as Sancho and Havertz possess a lot of talent. However, time is running out for them to showcase their quality in England and to live up to their billing.

Edin Dzeko, former Man City Striker.
Roberto Firmino, Liverpool striker.