Bayern Munich and LAFC announce partnership for player development

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich and MLS Cup champions Los Angeles FC will form a joint venture to bolster their player development efforts, the clubs announced on Monday.

The venture, which the two organizations call “global cooperation for the development of football”, is called “Red&Gold Football” and will be based in Munich, Germany. Each club will hold a 50% stake in the venture.

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“A partnership of this magnitude is the next step in our evolution as a club,” LAFC co-chairman and chief executive John Thorrington said in a statement. “We are extremely excited to be working with FC Bayern to identify and develop young talent in Southern California and beyond, and we believe this relationship will provide players in our systems with the opportunity to maximize their potential and see a clear path to first team football.”

Bayern CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management Oliver Kahn added: “Internationally, football is developing very fast and this is also evident in the transfer market. We see this partnership as an opportunity to strengthen FC Bayern in sporting competition with the best clubs in Europe and the Bundesliga.

“The fact that the 2026 World Cup will largely be held in the US, where we already have an office in New York, makes Los Angeles even more attractive. I expect an increase in quality and young talent in Major League Soccer, which will have a positive impact on our partnership.”

Thorrington, in an exclusive interview with ESPN, said there would be an exchange of best practices in player development and coaching. However, he added that the overarching goal of the partnership was “vertical integration” with the global transfer market. LAFC also hopes to take advantage of Bayern’s extensive scouting network.

“The transfer market is a big part of our business and I think Bayern Munich see great potential in MLS and LAFC and in this talent stream,” said Thorrington. “I think it allows us to pursue a more mature player, but when you push that all the way back to our academy, it basically broadens our path and then gives us a lot more opportunities to place players around the world.”

This could potentially include players moving from the LAFC academy to Munich, as well as Bayern players who are not yet ready to give their first team some time to play with the Los Angeles club.

Thorrington said: “Now for an academy kid who thinks he can be the next Alphonso Davies, as a young player growing up in LA through our academy who goes and plays in the Champions League for Bayern Munich, it’s a much more realistic vision now and path for such a kid. We hope this becomes a well-trodden path.”

He said both clubs envision working with other football clubs and development academies around the world as part of a global development initiative.

When asked if it was a way of following a similar path to organizations like the City Football Group – of which Premier League side Manchester City sits at the helm but includes many clubs including LaLiga side Girona FC as well as MLS side New York City FC — Thorrington said, “I think you can say that.”

He added: “The difference is that it is a joint venture. This is not capital sharing or buying. Neither club is bought by the other. But it’s our way of achieving some of the benefits that other clubs have that we don’t when operating independently.

“We think it’s the right balance of collaboration and of course we’re very focused on what LAFC is delivering to our support group here in LA, our players and everyone else. It’s very LA based. But I think to maximize what we can do here in Los Angeles, being part of a global ecosystem in this way will make LAFC better.”

Bayern, in addition to opening an international office in New York in 2014, had a previous partnership with FC Dallas from 2018.

Hasan Salihamidzic, Bayern’s sporting director, said: “The partnership with Los Angeles Football Club gives us the opportunity to develop talent internationally within our own system. Our campus, which remains the heart of FC Bayern’s youth development, will also benefit from this.

“In the future, we will be able to offer our young players an even more tailored career path and thus a better transition to our professional teams and professional football. This makes FC Bayern a more attractive youth development club.”

Thorrington said it was Bayern who first approached LAFC about the joint venture, and discussions became more advanced in March 2022 when he and LAFC CBO Larry Freedman became involved.

He said: “Of course there will be many overlays, but this joint venture will be funded by both parties and will be employed in a unique way to sit in the inter-club linkage and in this global network to work for the benefit of both clubs.”

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