Robert Lewandowski guarantees a bucket load of goals and was prolific in his two years with Pep… Man City may have won the league last season without a No 9, but with him in their team Liverpool, Chelsea, United and Co will be QUAKING in their boots
- Manchester City are weighing up a summer transfer for Robert Lewandowski
- The Bayern star hitman played under Pep Guardiola for two years in Munich
- He scored 25 goals in his first season before increasing that tally to 42 goals
- Yet City won the Premier League last season playing mostly with a false nine
- So, how would the 32-year-old fit in should a transfer to the Etihad go through?
With a move for No 1 target Harry Kane looking increasingly unlikely – as Tottenham refuse to play ball – Manchester City have turned their attention elsewhere. But their alternative ain’t half bad.
Sportsmail reported on Wednesday night that City are weighing up a shock swoop for Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, who in the past two years has been the most prolific goalscorer in Europe.
What’s more, there’s history here between player and manager. Pep Guardiola signed the Poland captain in 2014 at Bayern, and coached him to two Bundesliga titles and a German Cup in two illustrious seasons at the Allianz Arena.
Robert Lewandowski had two successful seasons under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich
Man City boss could turn his attention to the Pole after seeing a bid rejected for Harry Kane
Trophies: 3 (Bundesliga x2, German Cup)
After making the move from Borussia Dortmund, Guardiola took Lewandowski’s all-round game to the next level.
His chief No 9 in a typically fluid system, Guardiola utilised Lewandowski to supreme effectiveness, with the Pole’s pressing and intuition of the game undeniably improving.
In fact, Lewandowski referenced as much when Guardiola left in 2016, saying: ‘I can only say that every player – no matter how long he was with us – has learned a great deal from Pep. He improved every single player.
‘Guardiola’s footsteps are big. I can only say good things about Guardiola.
‘These two years with him have been a great time, and I have learned many things.’
Goals-wise, the first campaign was slow but steady, with 25 conversions in 49 matches in all competitions. Nonetheless, a German title was secured, though it was disappointment in the Champions League as they succumbed in the semi-finals to a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona.
The pair won two German titles together and Lewandowski has been complimentary of Pep
Remember the Argentine turning Jerome Boateng inside-out at the Camp Nou? That’s the one.
The following year was similarly contradictory for Pep’s Bayern: double success at home this time, but again an agonising semi-final exit in Europe, this time at the hands of Atletico Madrid.
But this time, in 2015-16, Lewandowski had then the best goalscoring season of his career, netting 42 times over 51 matches.
Then again, with Pep it’s never just about goals. Speaking in the midst of that season, the striker said: ‘I don’t think the coach approaches me differently when I score more goals.
Lewandowski has noted it is not all about personal accolades when playing under Guardiola
It’s the same. I’m sure he is happy with my goals, but he also wants me to play good football and help my team-mates.
‘I know that I don’t have to score in every single game for the coach to be happy with my performance. Sometimes my movements on the pitch are more important for him, how I exploit the space and how I generally perform.
‘Goals not only help me, but the whole team. They’re something the coach doesn’t just expect from me. I am not a striker who is only waiting in the penalty box to score a goal. I move, make passes and look for opportunities for others.’
So, there’s no doubt Guardiola aided Lewandowski’s own game and since then, his record and prowess has only increased.
The Everest moment was in 2020, when he won the Champions League for the first time and was named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year. If anything, he was unfortunate that the Ballon d’Or was cancelled due to Covid-19 – he was surely a shoo-in for the prize.
Lewandowski has won the lot at Bayern, including claiming the Champions League in 2020
The Bayern striker was also named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in 2020 after a stellar season
Yet his future at Bayern is seemingly not as concrete as one may think. Lewandowski, speaking in May, did not discount the idea of moving on for a new challenge.
‘I am always curious to learn a new language, a new culture,’ he said. ‘But whether it will be in football or after my career, even I don’t know.’
His contract is up in two years and, amid links to Real Madrid as well as City, Bayern may think about his sell-on value this year, as opposed to a cheaper price next summer, with Lewandowski also reaching the latter stages of his career – he turns 33 next month.
Guardiola could capitalise on Bayern thinking about Lewandowski’s potential sell-on value
But, on paper, a move to the Etihad would be a hell of a coup for the Premier League champions, looking for a world-class centre forward following Sergio Aguero’s departure.
Yet it may not be as simple as that. After all, City won the top-flight at a canter last season without, for the most part, playing with a traditional No 9.
Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne often filled in the role of false nine, particularly in the midst of their record-breaking run from December-March when they strode away from the rest of the field.
Furthermore, Guardiola still has Gabriel Jesus at his disposal, as well as Ferran Torres who performed admirably when playing in a central role last season.
Yet Guardiola still has Ferran Torres (L) and Gabriel Jesus (R) as excellent options up front
How would Lewandowski fit into that system? For all that he learned under Guardiola, he is not in that mould of false nine – he is as traditional as they come in terms of his effectiveness as a natural forward, capitalising on any chance which comes his way in the penalty area.
But the most impressive aspect of Guardiola’s coaching – and the way his systems evolve – is his adaptability to his players. If Lewandowski moved to Manchester, with De Bruyne assister-in-chief, it would only add to City’s unbelievable attacking firepower.
So, let’s watch how this one plays out. Because if the move does indeed materialise, Liverpool, United, Chelsea and Co will be quaking in their boots, wondering how on earth they stop this City team if it’s only improved from last season’s title-winners with the Bundesliga’s record goalscorer.
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