Bayern Munich and the Bundesliga are threatened with the loss of the last superstar. Robert Lewandowski doesn't want to anymore. The record champions are still fighting for him, but a future in Munich is no longer imaginable. When a player leaves, there's always trouble. Bayern are not used to departures.
Pit lane Monaco. Robert Lewandowski is also there, he is with Aston Martin. The FC Bayern Munich striker is preparing to leave and has announced new information for the next few days. Even then, the transfer saga has almost reached the highest level. Any opinion of an expert has the greatest relevance.
The impending loss of a top star is a local issue at VfL Bochum, but one of the highest national importance at Bayern Munich. The Bavarians split the country. There are those who love the club and defend it against everything, and those who have little more than contempt for the giants of German football. Love and hate as motivation. That works in football as in life. And in football, FC Bayern has perfected it over the decades.
Then a day later it happens. The transfer saga has almost reached the highest level of escalation. But now there's only a strike. Robert Lewandowski separates from Bayern, at least with words. After weeks of silence, of speaking through his advisor, the Pole becomes clear. "My story at Bayern is over," said the 33-year-old at a press conference for the Polish national team. A statement that is like an earthquake in the football world. So far, Lewandowski has not been the man of clear words. But there are no two interpretations here. The best attacker in modern Bundesliga history just wants to get away. Although he still has a year of contract.
Strictly speaking, the message itself is not the earthquake, but the urgency with which it was just pronounced by one of the protagonists. Why now, why like this? Colleague Tobias Nordmann writes about this here in his piece "The most aggressive Lewandowski ever". Nordmann says: The striker is on the defensive. This may be.
But the fact is: Robert Lewandowski will leave the Bundesliga, will not break the next Gerd Müller record and he will not leave Bayern in peace. In the past few weeks, they had repeatedly insisted on the existing contract until 2023, but of course they were secretly concerned with the impending departure. However, as Uli Hoeneß recently revealed in an interview with RTL/ntv, they failed at one point. There is no one who could immediately hit Bayern as a Lewandowski replacement. However, a way back for one last season seems impossible at the moment.
So now the mood is changing. As is so often the case with Bayern, who have never seen themselves as a sales club and have never had to learn the fine art of leaving a star. Bayern are not BVB, which has to give up its key players to bigger clubs year after year. Bayern are Bayern - Mia San Mia. The largest and most successful club in Germany. Why should you leave it? When that happens, it usually gets messy.
Like Niklas Süle, who is moving to Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer this summer and who cited the lack of trust and appreciation as reasons for this. And who ultimately left the club somehow in dissatisfaction. Süle wasn't nominated for the squad for the last game in Wolfsburg, but then he was and still didn't travel because he didn't feel ready for it. Both sides acted unhappily, a bland aftertaste remained.
Because it wasn't the first time. Last year, David Alaba left Bayern for Real Madrid, with whom he only won the Champions League on Saturday. He was looking for a new sporting challenge and had to listen to a lot on the way there. His advisor Pini Zahavi, who also represents Lewandowski from Israel, is a "greedy piranha," Uli Hoeneß hurled at him and certainly didn't cause a change of heart. Alaba left, the dispute was settled, but a stale aftertaste remained.
In 2014, the record champions did not act particularly confidently. At that time, world champion Toni Kroos left Bayern for just 30 million euros. His goal: Real Madrid. There he rose to become the most successful German player in Champions League history. Bayern didn't want him anymore, at least not under the conditions Kroos had in mind at the time.
"In retrospect, one can say for sure that one or the other regretted letting me go," Kroos said in an interview with Eurosport in 2020. "Even if FC Bayern is not used to a player leaving him voluntarily, that's how it was," said Kroos and in other interviews also complained about a lack of appreciation apart from financial matters.
With Lewandowski, too, the reasons are obvious. The theme here, of course, is a lack of appreciation. More precisely: The lack of respect from the club management, which negotiated with Erling Haaland behind the Pole's back and was not even successful. Lewandowski didn't like that at all.
Another reason is certainly the lack of recognition in the international world of sport. The better Lewandowski and Bayern became, the less important their national successes became. The already not very eccentric striker was internationally recognized as a goal machine, but only as one that works in the Bundesliga. With Bayern against second-class international teams. Another reason to flee.
When Lewandowski is in the pit lane at Aston Martin on Sunday, he actually wants to be somewhere else. A few meters further at the big racing stables. But they hadn't invited him into their world. Now the Vettel stable - but he wants to get out of Germany.