Robert Lewandowski deserves better than being told to shut up by Bayern Munich Robert Lewandowski

The big problem for Robert Lewandowski is that he is a professional. He has one year left on his contract at Bayern Munich and he wants to leave, but no one believes he will tear down tools and create a stir if they choose to stay with him for another year. He likes his job. He likes his colleagues. He has a level of self-respect that means he will continue diligently even if his bosses treat him scandalously. He doesn’t want to leave anyone, let alone himself.

This, after all, is a forward who is so dedicated to his business and self-improvement that he eats his meals the other way around, dessert first, because he believes it maintains his body fat. He turns 34 in August, but looks younger. Since 2013 he has missed just 24 games due to injury. He will not strike or interrupt. He will not go through the motions while focusing on his golf. When he stayed a season longer than he wanted at Borussia Dortmund before moving to Bayern, he hit 20 in 31 league starts.

That makes him exploitable – and football is a dirty world in which, after all, everyone wants to exploit everyone else. Loyalty and team spirit are celebrated, players are hailed for being great club servants, but no one should doubt that the owners will overthrow them when it comes to that.

That’s why players need protection and agents are a necessary evil – even if the current economic situation of football can increasingly mean the best thing to do. Kylian Mbappé did and ran down their contracts to raise wages.

Lewandowski signed with Pini Zahavi in February 2018 and since then there have been repeated rumors about him wanting to leave Bayern. Zahavi is a former journalist who realized early on that the best way to maximize his earnings was to change a newspaper every four or five years.

Money is part of it, of course, but there is also a sense that Lewandowski needs a new challenge. He won 10 Bundesliga titles, eight of them in line with what is by far the richest club in Germany. 11th probably won’t add much to his sense of satisfaction. Nor is there a sense of unfinished business or search waiting to be finished: Bayern have taken the Champions League in 2020. Maybe he could stay for two or three years, score another 100 goals, collect a few more medals, but what? would any of it mean?

Robert Lewandowski celebrates with the European Cup after Bayern Munich's victory over PSG in the 2020 Champions League final
Robert Lewandowski celebrates with the European Cup after Bayern Munich’s victory over PSG in the 2020 Champions League final. Photo: M Donato / FC Bayern / Getty Images

But the truth is that this is as much about Bayern as it is about Lewandowski. Their handling of the situation was characteristically awkward. The sporting director, Hasan Salihamidzic, has always struggled with the political side of the work. When Hansi Flick left to become national coach last summer, it was noteworthy that Salihamidzic’s name was omitted from the long list of people he thanked.

Their relationship broke down when Jerome Boateng no new contract was offered, the decision being presented to Flick as fulfilled without him having any chance to offer his opinion.

Lewandowksi was troubled by Erling Haaland’s Bayern chase during negotiations over his contract extension. He let his concern be known after the final league game of the season, saying no “concrete offer” had been made. Salihamidzic’s response only blew the flames. “He got an offer,” the sporting director told Sport 1. “We had a conversation and explained very clearly how we imagined the future, with a very clear sum and conditions. He has a consultant who turned his head and turned it all year. It’s not clean. ”

That same weekend, Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn bluntly stated that Lewandowski had a year left on his contract and would be expected to fulfill it. He replaced Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the role only last summer and, although there has never been a surplus of diplomacy at Bayern, there is a feeling that his predecessor may have behaved differently. Lewandowski, who scored 50 goals last season, was injured. “Bayern,” a source close to Lewandowski said, “lost him not as a footballer but as a man.”

Perhaps this is a version of events composed by Lewandowski and his people, all part of a longer process of negotiation. But what is clear is that Lewandowski’s tone changed two weeks ago. Where Zahavi had turned down offers, they were suddenly welcomed. Barcelona seems to be the preferred destination (although it is not clear how they could pay him due to his financial situation), but there has also been interest from Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal – although it is unlikely he would move to a club not in the Champions League. Link.

“As of today, my story at Bayern is over,” Lewandowski said on Tuesday. “After what has happened in recent months I don’t see an opportunity to continue my career at the club. I hope they don’t make me stay just because they can. “

Robert Lewandowski wins for Bayern Munich against Arsenal in November 2015.
Robert Lewandowski wins for Bayern Munich against Arsenal in November 2015, during his second season at the Bavarian club. Photo: Boris Streubel / Getty Images

Kahn retorted. “Public statements like that don’t get you anywhere,” he said, in a public statement that ignored the fact that he was excited by the bad feeling. “He should know what he has at Bayern. Appreciation is not a one-way street.”

Maybe not, but the way Bayern fell with David Alaba and Niklas Süle before losing both in free transfers suggests that the problem with traffic flow may not be in the direction they believe.

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Uli Hoeness, the club’s honorary president, explained that he thought Bayern should keep Lewandowski on his contract and keep him for another year (and, at 34, he may have fewer suitors and be more likely to sign an extension). But that is rooted in the belief that Lewandowski will continue to play to his full potential.

It may not be unreasonable to expect players to honor the contracts they have signed, but, after eight very productive years at Bayern, it is also reasonable to think that Lewandowski deserves better than being ordered to remain silent and do as he said. It is a miserable world in which decency and professionalism should count against a player.

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