Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm has dismissed the notion Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain can buy the Champions League title.
Lahm will lead out Bayern at Juventus Stadium on Tuesday night for his 100th appearance in European football’s elite club competition as the German and Italian champions meet in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie.
The 32-year-old has spent his entire career at Bayern, bar a two-year loan spell at Stuttgart, and believes players who identify with a particular club provide a backbone on which success can be built.
“Looking back at my matches since 2002, there is one main criteria for me which marks a club that is successful in the long-term: big players, who grew with their clubs, whose names are tied to the success and who have a 100 per cent identification with the team, the club and its history,” he said.
“When I think about the matches and competitions, I immediately think about the clashes with these kind of clubs and their great players.
“With Barcelona it was Xavi and Andres Iniesta, with Real Madrid it was Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos.
“When I played for Stuttgart, I met Manchester United and Chelsea. With United I immediately think of the duels with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes and with Chelsea it was John Terry. Those players are symbols of their clubs and the success they had at that time.
“I am convinced that all big teams had these symbols and I am convinced that future big teams need them as well. Big teams need a core of players who have their roots at their clubs, who grow with their clubs and who embody the culture, representing it on the pitch and off it as well.”
Backed by Middle Eastern investment, PSG and City have spent heavily to land their first Champions League crown with little success.
“I don’t think you can buy a really great team with money, like Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City are trying. AC Milan would never have been the same club without Paolo Maldini or Franco Baresi and they certainly would have never had the same amount of success,” Lahm told Goal.
“When two big teams meet on the big stage, there are certainly two expensive teams with a huge amount of individual quality. In the end the club that will win the game is the one that has more players on the pitch who want success no matter. And not only for themselves, but for their clubs too.
“When we won the Champions League in 2013, we managed to do it with a team that had worked for that success for years. A team that wanted to win it. Not only for them, but for their club as well.
“And I count Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in on this one. Over the years, they have internalised Bayern’s identity. Identification is not a matter of nationality, it is a matter of admitting to something completely.
“And that is why I am looking forward to meeting Juventus, with players like Gianluigi Buffon. Buffon is Juve.
“It will be a match against a big club. My 100th match in the Champions League. In FC Bayern’s jersey, that I’ve grown into since 2002.”