The sad end of Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski is still a Bayern Munich player. The transfer to FC Barcelona seems only a matter of time. Little will remain of the best striker in modern Bundesliga history.

On the day it became clear that Robert Lewandowski never wanted to win the championship again with FC Bayern Munich, the Kurt Landauer Foundation sold retro shirts by Gerd Müller in a fashion store in Munich. Even the Pole had advertised the shirts in advance. The “bomber of the nation” who died in 2021 continues to move the hearts of an entire nation, his goals are burned into the collective memory of old West Germany.

The seconds of his goal to make it 2-1 in the 1974 World Cup final are as iconic as Willy Brandt’s kneel in Warsaw in December 1970. Müller is part of German history in the 1970s and is forever associated with Bayern Munich and the Bundesliga. Those born later can also enumerate the stages of his life. Gerd Müller was always there and he will always be there. Even his death couldn’t change anything.

On April 23, 2022, FC Bayern Munich won its tenth championship in a row and thus achieved something unprecedented in the top European leagues. It was again against the favorite opponent Borussia Dortmund, who has not even tried desperately to challenge the record champions for years. Year after year, Germany’s number two travels south and comes back with a defeat, and Robert Lewandowski always scores. He is always particularly motivated against his former club: 23 goals in 16 league games since joining in 2014.

The humiliation in November

Eight years later, on the evening of April 23, 2022, Robert Lewandowski was alone at the edge of the penalty area. Won the game 3:1, brought in the next championship. Lost in thought, far away from the women in traditional costumes who lugged beer mug after beer mug into the Allianz Arena, he petrified for a moment. Once again he sucked in the atmosphere. A little later he sent the first poison arrows in the direction of Bavaria. “Not a word has been said about my contract or my future,” he said, hurt and aggressive.

At the press conference after the game, coach Julian Nagelsmann will dance around the question of Lewandowski, as well as that of Erling Haaland, who is still a realistic option at Bayern at the time. And that was for a long time. Since November 2021, the day of humiliation for the Pole. First Lionel Messi – and not him, the favorite – gets the Ballon d’Or and then there may be a first meeting between the Bayern bosses and Haaland’s team. This rumor has persisted so far.

So on the day when everything goes wrong anyway, the club he gifted his goals to may be negotiating with his potential successor. In the end, he will switch to Pep Guardiola in Manchester, but Bayern have signed Sadio Mané and courted him like a world star, which he is. The management team around board boss Oliver Kahn, sports director Hasan Salihamidžić and the mostly invisible president Herbert Hainer is almost bursting with pride. The obligation is a liberation and the presentation is something that Lewandowski never experienced in Munich.

End of a marriage of convenience

Less than three months after Lewandowski’s lonely moment after winning the championship, the “point of no return” has long been passed. FC Bayern Munich and its star striker no longer have much to say to each other. Formally, the Munich team continues to insist on their “Basta”, which was spoken in May, the Pole, on the other hand, is on vacation, accidentally meets Xavi Hernandez, who may be his new coach at Barcelona, ​​in a restaurant and is silent.

In the background, his powerful adviser Pini Zahavi, who was once described as a “greedy piranha” by honorary president Uli Hoeneß, is staging the transfer show. Lewandowski’s new dream club FC Barcelona wants to raise money somehow. To do this, they peddle their future and make desperate attempts to sell their surplus players. In Munich, you sit together without much pressure and look at the offers that will come in from Spain at some point and that have already happened.

Perhaps the 117 million euros that Juventus transferred to Real Madrid in 2018 for the then 33-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo will also serve as a benchmark for Bayern. There’s no going back for Barcelona anyway. In Munich, people are probably happy about half the amount. One thing seems clear anyway: Lewandowski’s path will not continue at Bayern Munich. The community of convenience, which rarely went beyond the status of an employment relationship, is too cold.

And since there is no love there, only business, the break is marked by all kinds of disrespect. Every little thing has been inflated into a world sensation in recent weeks, a phone call between sports director Hasan Salihamidzic and the renegade club legend landed minutes later on the boulevard, the ex-advisers of the Pole happily sprinkled in a few quotes again and again, they said that Lewandowski had always dreamed of Real Madrid and also about their daring plans in 2013.

Records fall…

At that time, Lewandowski faced a very similar problem. He wanted to leave BVB, but they didn’t want to let him go. There was even a strike, in the end there was a hefty salary increase and lucrative bonus payments of 30,000 euros for each scorer point. That’s why, it is said, Lewandowski grabbed the Bundesliga top scorer for the first time in his career at the end of the 2013/2014 season.

In the summer of 2014 he went to Bayern on a free transfer because there had been an agreement on this for a long time and Real Madrid, who also wanted to sign him, had no chance. The Lewandowski team turned the money screw again, got a higher starting salary and the triumphant procession began. Champions every year and always new goal records, new salary records too. The 33-year-old currently earns 24 million euros plus any bonus payments. Nobody earns more in the Bundesliga. And Lewandowski paid back: in goals. 344 in 375 competitive games for Bayern, plus 72 assists. Incredible numbers.

So many goals, so many titles too. But, and that’s Lewandowski’s problem, who remembers individual goals? Who remembers important hits? To those who changed the static of an entire season or to those who will never disappear from collective memory again? Sure, there are the five goals in nine minutes against VfL Wolfsburg, but otherwise? For Dortmund he once scored four goals against Real Madrid. He announced himself on the big stage, but very few even remember his three goals for BVB in the 5-2 win against Bayern in the 2012 DFB Cup final.

… but no one remembers

FC Bayern fans say: “He didn’t score any Robben goals”. Robben goals were spectacular and decisive. Like back then in the final of the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund. A year after its low point. After the missed penalties against BVB and in the Champions League final. A year after which fans wanted to chase seals from the yard. fractions. resurrection.

Lewandowski goals were seldom spectacular and far less decisive. Others scored in the big games in European competitions, but in the Bundesliga simple goals are no longer of interest. A victim of his own marksmanship. Too often he cheered, too rarely did he stand out.

In addition, a hopeless struggle for love, for recognition. There was always respect. But no matter how hard Lewandowski tried, everything remained in a conservative world that offered no starting points and no breaks. His career? A single path uphill to the peaks of absolute world class. No downtime, nothing.

There, with the big stars of international football, he seemed awkward, alienated from the world in which he belonged and belongs and in which someone like Lewandowski cannot shine. There, too, the Pole radiated the coldness that made him a goal machine in the penalty area, but it was out of place here. When he showed up at a gala in a suit, it seemed hard at best, sometimes just plain sad. If he wanted to shine with his videos on TikTok, it was news from a strange, undesirable world.

What will remain of Lewandowski

So what remains of a player who broke Gerd Müller’s all-time record of 40 goals this season in a ghost stadium, which is only 53 goals away from Müller’s legendary career goals. One who is the finest in modern league history and who has given his club’s supporters something to celebrate every year? The sobering answer: From Robert Lewandowski only the numbers will remain. That’s damn little.

On the day it became clear that he never wanted to win the championship again with FC Bayern Munich, his comments heralded a transfer spectacle that had been simmering in the background for a long time. One unworthy of both parties. A spectacle that seems grotesque and drifts off into the ridiculous. Lewandowski is someone who somehow ended up in the Bundesliga and now wants to go far, far away.

Who – unlike Gerd Müller after his “escape” to the USA – will never return. He is one of whom fans like the well-known blogger Christian Nandelstädt say: “Robert Lewandowski is not one of us!”

Stephen Uersfeld

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