Robert Lewandowski's move from FC Bayern Munich to FC Barcelona has apparently finally been bagged. A week-long change posse has come to an end.
Robert Lewandowski is no longer part of FC Bayern Munich. When the record champions present the squad to fans and media in the Allianz Arena in the afternoon, with which he wants to win the eleventh Bundesliga title in a row and, above all, the Champions League title, the Pole is missing. FC Bayern then agreed with FC Barcelona late on Friday evening to transfer the change-crazy goalscorer.
The big club, which has stumbled badly and recently also in terms of sport, has apparently still cabled the offer to Munich after many weeks, for which those responsible for the record champions said "Basta!" bought: 45 million euros plus up to five million more in bonus payments. Lewandowski will sign a contract until 2026, making him one of the happiest people in the football business.
The fact that Lewandowski would not have wanted to present the team anyway had already made the rounds. The communications department of the record champion should breathe a sigh of relief at the new development that the absence of the superstar, who should actually continue to be part of the team, does not have to be moderated at great expense. Instead of going to Washington with FC Bayern, Lewandowski is supposed to fly to Miami with Barcelona, who are also on a US tour, on Sunday once all the formalities have been completed. And not unimportant: The German record champions get fresh money and planning security in order to finally be able to adapt their squad to their own high standards. A great era ends prematurely, but not a second too late.
In 375 games for Munich, Lewandowski has scored 344 goals since moving from Borussia Dortmund to southern Germany in 2014, they have won the German championship eight times, won the Champions League and the Club World Cup, Lewandowski has twice been world footballer and scored 41 goals of the 2020/2021 season Gerd Müller's "eternal" record for the most goals in a Bundesliga season. The highly respected goalscorer never rose to become the darling of the crowd, and in his eight years he flirted with dissatisfaction and farewell thoughts too often for him to become a club icon. He has done his job. Highly paid, highly efficient, brilliant and impeccable. Lewandowski's quality is unique, the professionalism with which he pushed himself into new sporting spheres is unparalleled.
Now an exchange farce is coming to an end that has been making headlines and displeasure in all camps for weeks. Goal scorer Lewandowski had already made it very clear in May that he would like to leave the German record champions for Spain and had apparently still hoped for an amicable agreement - and just the quietest possible release from his princely contract in Munich. The paper, which is worth a good 20 million euros per year, is still valid until July 30, 2023, at least emotionally the second-best scorer in Bundesliga history no longer felt tied to it.
"I just want to leave FC Bayern. Loyalty and respect are more important than work," said the 33-year-old in the Onet Sport podcast during a trip with the Polish national team. The best way is to "find a common solution," emphasized Lewandowski. And a little later he added: "Something died in me, I want to leave FC Bayern for more emotions in my life." Lewandowski's advisor Pini Zahavi meanwhile told the "Bild" newspaper: "No one cares about the money, neither Robert nor me. He hasn't felt respected by those responsible for months, that's the truth. FC Bayern doesn't have the player Lewandowski lost, but the man Robert."
The background to the story should be that the people of Munich tried to get Dortmund's Erling Haaland. The storm force moves to Manchester City thanks to an opt-out clause. "Robert is a very intelligent person, not just the best striker in the world. He knows exactly what's going on around him and what Bayern had planned. So Robert knew all along that Bayern wanted to replace him with Haaland. Erling's father even confirmed it, telling him in a personal conversation some time ago: 'My son comes to FC Bayern for 50 percent.' The football world is big, but there are no secrets."
However, the football world also astonished Zahavi with his statement that Lewandowski had the opportunity "to fulfill a lifelong dream and to switch to the club he always dreamed of. Why is FC Bayern denying him this opportunity?" Lewandowski's former advisor Maik Barthel, who first brought the player to the Bundesliga and later to FC Bayern, commented on the statements on Twitter: "You want to go to Real Madrid all your life, maybe later to FC Barcelona? Ok!" In fact, in Lewandowski's era at FC Bayern, hardly a year went by in which a possible move to the royal team was not at least rumored.
Those responsible at FC Bayern, headed by CEO Oliver Kahn and sports director Hasan Salihamidzic, had withdrawn to the position at least publicly for weeks and with reference to the contractual situation: There is no reason to talk about a change request. "He will fulfill this contract - that's it!" Said CEO Kahn at the championship celebration in May.
The transfer coup, which was admired from all sides and landed with the commitment of Sadio Manés, was expressly not to be seen as an exit strategy in the Lewandowski case: "Of course, the top players in the squad look at what the club is doing for transfers. That shines inward. Everyone here wants the highest possible win, the Champions League," said CEO Oliver Kahn at the presentation of the top star, who came from Liverpool FC. "But we can't just say that, we have to live it. We want to field a team that can do it. Robert still has a contract and we're happy if he joins us at the start of training."
Those responsible for operations were seconded by the club's largest and last authority: "The way things are in Munich, which I've heard in several conversations, Barcelona can save themselves another offer," said Hoeneß in early July - and gave it up indebted traditional club with: "They are apparently financial artists who, despite the high debt burden, apparently still find a bank that gives them money to do something like that."
Lewandowski actually appeared at the start of training on Tuesday. But his attitude hadn't changed: "My story at Bayern is over," the top scorer said on May 30, and: "I hope they don't stop me just because they can." In June, Lewandowski stressed his club by already meeting with Barcelona coach Xavi in Ibiza. "I really want to train with you," he is said to have whispered to him when he said goodbye.
Of course, they shouldn't have been too optimistic at FC Bayern to really start the new season with their unwilling goalscorer. The farewell had been prepared too vehemently. But with their closed attitude, with which they unanimously stood behind the categorical "Basta!" had gathered, the transfer fee was raised "No" by "No". FC Barcelona is said to have made representations for the first time with 32 million euros, in the end it will be around 20 million euros more. Now they are allowed to vacate the "Basta!" position while saving face.
FC Barcelona has recently gained financial leeway by selling shares in club companies and the naming rights to the stadium, as well as moving forward with other lucrative deals. The club wants to earn an additional 200 million euros a year in the future just from the conversion of the Camp Nou and the entire surrounding club complex, including the Palau Blaugrana sports hall.
But one problem has not yet been solved: "As of today" Barça could not sign Lewandowski because of the financial constraints, league president Javier Tebas said at an event of the Spanish news agency Europa Press in May. "I don't know if they (Frenkie) should sell de Jong or Pedri, but they need to generate revenue and sell assets."
The transfer of the Dutch national player de Jong to Manchester United should bring FC Barcelona up to 85 million euros and, above all, free up a highly paid squad place. While there appears to be a consensus between the clubs, De Jong would like to continue playing for FC Barcelona - where he reportedly earns €21m a year. Even if neither de Jong's farewell nor Lewandowski's commitment has been officially announced: FC Barcelona has apparently done its homework.