For Robert Lewandowski things are no longer going well after leaving FC Bayern. Although he is with FC Barcelona close to the first LaLiga title in four years. But from a personal point of view, the two-time world footballer looks back on a weak spring in Catalonia so far. Why is that?
Robert Lewandowski delivered exactly what the Barca bosses had hoped for after the €45m transfer last summer: goals on the assembly line, and without any teething problems.
After eight years at Bayern, during which he rose to become the second-best goalscorer in the club’s history after Gerd Müller, the center forward with the Catalans initially continued his outstanding form of previous years.
He scored his first brace on the second matchday, and Lewandowski scored 13 times in the first 12 games in the Spanish championship. So everything as always with the FIFA World Player of the Year 2020 and 2021, it seemed.
Drop in performance after the World Cup in Qatar
In late autumn 2022, however, there was an inexplicable drop in performance for the 34-year-old. Things have been sluggish for Lewandowski since the World Cup in Qatar, to put it mildly.
In 14 La Liga appearances since November, he has netted just four more for the Blaugrana. Measured by the claims of a seven-time top scorer in the Bundesliga, that means an almost catastrophic goal quota.
The previous low point was reached last Sunday. Barca won 1-0 against pursuers Atlético Madrid at their home Camp Nou thanks to Ferran Torres’ golden goal and eliminated the last doubts about the 27th championship title nine games before the end.
The topic of conversation among the almost 81,000 spectators was, above all, a blatantly missed goal chance by Lewandowski, who had previously blown a hundred percent opportunity to win the decisive 2-0 win against Atleti. He was negative, especially with exaggerated selfishness, denied his teammate Raphinha a shot at the orphaned guest goal.
At least since this miss from last weekend, the view of Lewandowski in Spanish reporting has changed. He was accused of a “strange game” with “a big blunder” (“Sport”), an “unforgivable” miss (“Marca”) and “nothing but desperation” (“as”).
What has happened since the World Cup, which was also sobering for Lewandowski with Poland’s knockout round against France (1: 3)?
Having failed to score in six of the last seven La Liga games has visibly eroded the superstar’s demeanor. Lewandowski’s walking paths no longer seem as natural as they were in the autumn of last year, and his body language sometimes came across as helpless or at a loss.
The stuttering goal machine currently lacks a sense for the right spaces, Lewandowski even seemed strange at times in the dominant build-up game of his teammates.
This became particularly clear in the last Clásico against Real Madrid, when he had no chance in the 0:4 smack in the cup. At the latest after this game, the criticism of the veteran increased significantly. So much so that recently even head coach Xavi felt compelled to publicly defend his regular player.
“It’s always a question of success, like he’s had for most of the season. He’s not there now, but the goals will come again. Lewandowski is the top scorer in the league with 17 goals,” emphasized the club icon. Knowing full well that the rumor mill has long been fired up in the impatient environment of the prestigious Catalan club.
Brazil jewel traded as Lewandowski successor
After only two goals in ten competitive games – by the way, the worst Lewy yield in seven years – new alternatives have long been played out in the Spanish-language media.
Lewandowski could be sold again after just one season at Barca, making his contract, which runs until 2026, forgotten. Of course, there is no shortage of new hope and old acquaintances.
The dream of a return campaign by record scorer and club legend Lionel Messi recently received new nourishment. The world champion is still without a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain from the summer, possible comeback plans have long been exercised in the Catalan metropolis. For financial reasons alone, there would probably be no more room for top earners Lewandowski.
The Spanish portal “El Nacional” has repeatedly mentioned a supposedly ideal candidate for Lewandowski’s successor in Brazil’s jewel Vitor Roque. The 18-year-old top talent is currently still playing at home with Athletico Paranaense, having made his debut for the Selecao last month.
Juventus clipper Dusan Vlahovic, Benfica striker Goncalo Ramos and vice world champion Randal Kolo Muani from Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt also appear on the alleged wish lists of Barca bosses again and again.
If the form crisis of RL9 does not culminate in a resale after just one year at Barca, at least one more backup and competitor should be brought into the team. Among other things, the names of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Chelsea FC), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool FC) and Marcus Thuram (Borussia Mönchengladbach) were rumored.
First speculation about a return campaign by FC Bayern
Those responsible for President Joan Laporta and coach Xavi should still be behind their center forward, who has a total of 27 goals in 38 competitive games for the club. Should the current dry spell continue, last summer’s star transfer would no longer be untouchable at Blaugrana.
First sources even suggest a possible return to Bayern this summer. After all, a return campaign by the German record champions would make sense for all three parties at first glance.
With 344 goals in 375 competitive games, Lewandowski is an absolute club legend for Munich and has been sorely missed since the second half of the season.
According to the current state of information, thoughts about a comeback for the Pole for FC Bayern are nothing more than wild speculation – for now.
Mats Yannick Roth