MERCATO – BAYERN MUNICH: DOES ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI DISRESPECT BAYERN
Robert Lewandowski, the 33-year-old Polish striker, is the embodiment of the individualistic failings of the centre-forward, and although his statistics have been impeccable since his arrival in Germany, he has never respected the Bavarian institution as anything other than a temporary ecosystem for his own personal performances. At the end of this logic, he has engaged in an uncertain arm wrestling.
The scene made a noise, in every sense of the word. Robert Lewandowski, on the phone, in the holy of holies of the Bayern dressing room, in May. In the conversation in Polish, everyone identified several times a word pronounced in a loud voice: “FC Barcelona, FC Barcelona”. The €30 million a year promised by Barça apparently sounded loudly on the line. Problem: the man with 238 goals in 252 Bundesliga games with Bayern is under contract. And if this detail has little meaning in the world of elite soccer, a small territory still resists the whirlwind of the absurd: Bavaria.
Unanimously, and with the support of their sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, the presidents Herbert Hainer and Oliver Kahn have said it: Lewandowski will complete his contract (June 2023). This is the end of the discussion, especially with what Barça is offering as a miserable transfer fee (€32 million). But, as he has already done in the past, the five-time top scorer in the Bundesliga is grumbling. Sometimes it was directed at his teammates, guilty in his eyes of not serving him enough balls, this time it is directed at the club itself, which amounts to the same thing. The “Ich-AG” (the rule of the self), which has been harshly criticized in Germany, is at work again.
TWO OUTRAGES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
As early as January, the Pole suggested that if he did not receive an extension offer from his employer before the end of the winter, he would leave. Barcelona had already positioned themselves, then. Lewandowski, it is said, took umbrage on August 8, 2021, with the televised statements of his sporting director indicating, however legitimately, that it would be unprofessional not to look carefully in the direction of Erling Haaland given the performance of the Norwegian with Dortmund.
“Lewandowski is so disappointed that his relationship with Bayern is well and truly over,” said the Polish forward’s entourage. His girlfriend even publicly mentions learning Spanish. The club, through its president Oliver Kahn and Salihamidzic, has made an “unequivocal” offer to the player’s agent, Pini Zahavi, for an extension until 2024. It was to keep the same emoluments. Non-negotiable. The Israeli, who demanded three years beyond the current contract, refused on principle.
However, only one more season is the strict and well-known standard for 30-year-olds at Bayern, as evidenced by the recent extensions of Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller or those of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben in the past, all of whom are largely as legendary as the Pole. “For Lewandowski, FC Bayern is now history,” said the 70-year-old, described as a “piranha” by Uli Hoeness. And added: “It’s not the player that Bayern has lost, it’s the man. Two outrages to the Bavarian family for the price of one. “Lewandowski has an agent who goes up his head all year long,” retorted “Brazzo” in a Sunday TV show, thesis confirmed by other sources close to the case. “It’s just not right.” No one can believe that the statements of his agent have not been validated by the player.
THIS IS THE TRUTH”.
On August 23, 2020, on the pitch in Lisbon and while Bayern has just won its sixth Champions League, Lewandowski whispers in the ear of his president: “Now we must build an era!” A wish that evaporated in a year and a half and that sounds, today, quite strange. The Bavarian leaders pretend to believe that the era in question can last another year, not hiding their disdain, even their condescension, towards a Barça that would still contort its debts to finance the arrival of the soon to be 34-year-old international. A Barça with little grudge against a player who has been courting Real for years, little grudge against the childish attitude of a star who skips a team building party in October 2021 out of sulk or who renounces in the same way, after an hour, to the celebration of the title of champion in the night of 23 to 24 April 2022. Childishness beautifully summarized by his agent: “For months, Robert does not feel respected by the leaders. That’s the truth.”
The truth is that Lewandowski is the highest paid player in the history of Bayern, which has made the greatest sacrifices for him. The truth is also this statement of the man in a press conference with the national team, on the occasion of the Nations League last week: “My time at FC Bayern is coming to an end. I can’t imagine a healthy collaboration with the club after what has happened in recent months.” Karl-Heinz Wild, the chief reporter for the bi-weekly kicker, called these words “undignified” and added: “It’s clouding his glowing image.”
The truth is a Lewandowski who, when he wanted to join Bayern in 2013, had obtained from Dortmund a salary extension of €5 million annually and €30,000 in pocket money per goal or assist – €930,000 on arrival. “The escalation that we are experiencing, that’s enough,” urges our colleague.
LACK OF RECOGNITION”.
Bayern has had some of the greatest strikers in the world of soccer in its history. The late Gerd Müller, Ballon d’Or winner in 1970, European champion in 1972, World champion in 1974, and elevated in Germany to the exclusive rank of “Bomber der Nation”, is obviously the most illustrious of them. He is not the only one, however, in a list that will undoubtedly include Uli Hoeness or Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, probably less Ruggerio Rizzitelli. And Robert Lewandowski? Since 2021, at least, the Pole’s Holy Shrine, stained from the start, is indelibly stained, without of course that he necessarily has all the blame.
In addition to Lewandowski, Niklas Süle and Serge Gnabry have also recently spoken of a lack of recognition from their clubs. The former left for Dortmund, the latter is reluctant to extend his contract and could follow the same path in a year if nothing changes. “Even without the FIFA World Player of the Year, life will go on,” says Karl-Heinz Wild, who has seen it all before. Perhaps even the young Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann would gain some freedom with the departure of his center forward. But that’s another subject…