The secret behind Hoffenheim’s success

The exodus of players at Hoffenheim this summer was truly staggering. Four of the team’s best players left the club at once, but the officials in the Kraichgau didn’t at any point push the panic button. Losing players such as Joelinton, Kerem Demirbay, Nico Schulz and Nadiem Amiri in the same transfer window was truly a huge blow, but Hoffenheim aren’t looking to compete for Champions League places every season.

Being able to survive financially, whilst securing the club’s existence in the Bundesliga is the main focus of the officials. That philosophy comes with its ups and downs in form, but it has seen the team rise to become one of the best talent producers in all of Europe.

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The four players that were sold on this summer arrived for the combined transfer fee of 6.9 million Euros (Amiri came through Hoffenheim’s youth ranks). It comes as little surprise that Hoffenheim is the side with the biggest transfer surplus since the team joined the Bundesliga in 2008. Over the 11 years the Hopp club has spent in the Bundesliga, 112.9 million Euros have been generated in net profit through the club’s dealings in the transfer market. This summer’s transfer window alone saw the club make earnings of an incredible 86.6 million Euros.

The money issue

Given the fact that Hoffenheim doesn’t generate an awful lot of money through traditional revenue streams, it comes as little surprise that the team needs to cash in on their players in order to stay financially viable. Selling key players is part of Hoffenheim’s business model.

However, these days most European clubs are keen to sign the best talent as early as possible. Money has also become an issue when it comes to securing the signatures of the best youngsters. Hoffenheim’s chief scout Bastian Huber told Bild:

“The top talents are right now only to be seen in France or England. There are things in other countries, that don’t exist in the Bundesliga. I’m talking deliberately about the money issue.”

Given those limitations there are a few things that Hoffenheim can focus on. The club has taken a keen interest in developing some of the best players through their youth system. Additionally Hoffenheim offer calm surroundings that are perfect for talents who want to develop in a calmer enviroment than elsewhere in the Bundesliga. Finally, TSG has also been known to give their youngsters the chance to play in the Bundesliga.

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All of those things combined make Hoffenheim an attractive club for talents according to Huber:

“We can score by emphasizing the TSG way. The chance to play in a calm enviroment, to develop further. Those are arguments that are known worldwide, and agents do know what they get from us. Those are the points we have to emphasize in the future.”

This approach has yielded great results at youth level. Hoffenheim are currently in the Bundesliga for the U19 and U17 age groups. The U17 side is currently topping the table of its division.

Looking elsewhere

Besides focussing on the talents that have found their way to the club already, Hoffenheim are also keen on signing interesting players with an upside from abroad. However, given that most European talents get a flurry of talent scouts and offers through their door, it is often times difficult for the club to compete with other European top sides.

Using scouting platforms such as Wyscout has become a vital component in the club’s work to secure some of the more interesting talents. Huber told Bild:

“The data can support us in the decision making process. Or, when it comes to gaining a preliminary overview. When the data shows us things that we didn’t spot with our eyes, it is possible to dig into that and maybe you find a match. We are very active in terms of data scouting, there are huge opportunities for us there.”

Additionally Hubner and his team consisting of eight scouts are also big fans of video scouting.

“One doesn’t have to airplane every time, there are platforms that allow us to download every match worldwide and that in turn means that we can start video scouting.”

Given the availbility of data from all over the world, Hoffenheim have decided to scout markets that aren’t really on the radar of most European clubs. These days the club is focussing on the South Korean and American youth markets according to transfermarkt.

The current approach saw the team sign two talented youngsters from abroad this summer. The American 18-year-old striker Quincy Butler joined from Sacremento’s youth academy, whilst 17-year-old Austrialian youngster Noah Botic was signed from Rockdale City Suns.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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