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“I want a new challenge next season” Robert Lewandowski told Sport Bild in November. From then it was clear, he’d made up his mind to leave Borussia Dortmund.
It took only four days of the January transfer window for the inevitable to occur in Germany, Robert Lewandowski confirming a 5-year deal with Bayern Munich whom he will join in the summer from Borussia Dortmund. The Polish striker’s contract is up in the summer and despite Dortmund’s refusal, perhaps ired by Munich’s capture of Mario Gotze in May, to cash in then, the Bavarians have waited patiently to complete the deal, worth a reported 11 million Euros a year to the Polish striker, at no expense.
It is an excellent move for Bayern, so far unbeaten at the top of the Bundesliga, sitting seven points clear of Bayer Leverkusen, they have relied on Mario Mandzukic, scorer of 12 goals so far, to lead the attack.
Goals, 42 of them in the league so far, have come from everywhere, Thomas Muller has 7, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery 6 each and Gotze, the £32 million signing from Dortmund last summer, has 4. Lewandowski, with 65 Bundesliga goals to his name since joining Dortmund from Lech Poznan in 2011, will add further potency to an already frighteningly gifted front-line.
Josep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich juggernaut, which also breezed through their Champions League group as winners, are set to become even more dominant than they were last season when they processed to the German title by a margin of 25 points.
The Spaniard will find in Lewandowski a striker who will fit into his philosophy of excellent movement and intelligent link-play, not only a instinctive forward who lurks in the box for supply, but one who also drops off to orchestrate his own chances.
That Uli Hoeness, Munich’s ubiquitous president, dispensed with Mario Gomez, scorer of 93 goals in 2 years, for just 15 million Euros to Fiorentina, and how easily Guardiola has sought an alternative to Mandzukic, who has 35 goals in 18 months, is indicative that the direction the club is aiming to go will not accommodate strikers who deal in goals alone.
Lewandowski of course, is about so much so much more than goals. He was the lone mobile attacking hub of the double-Bundesliga winning Dortmund side, a central link to the fluid front 3 that took in Shinji Kagawa, Marco Reus, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Gotze over the past 3 years.
The diligent leader of the intense pressing system that made all the success possible under the innovative Jurgen Klopp and the prolific forward who became the first ever player to net 4 goals in a Champions League semi-final as he single-handedly demolished Real Madrid with a display of unerring finishing, the Pole possess every asset of a modern centre-forward. Arguably the most complete striker in Europe, coveted by Chelsea, Real Madrid and Arsenal amongst others, Bayern are set to yield his excellence for nothing.
This will all register with Klopp who will be aware that he is not only seeing his side weakened by the departure of another integral player, his top-scorer, but a player whose unique qualities are central to his system. Patrick Aubameyang, the £10 million signing from Saint-Ettiene in the summer, has 9 goals to his name so far, though Klopp prefers his electric pace on the left wing, his direct running perhaps too one-dimensional for a lone attacking role.
Klopp’s use of the transfer market has to date been exemplary, specialising in unearthing diamonds and moving them on for significant profit, and it will take another shrewd deal to substantially replace their outgoing striker.
Dortmund’s participation in May’s Wembley Champions League final, in which Lewandowski played, may seem a distant memory for the Black and Yellows as they look up at Bayern from league position of fourth, glancing envious eyes in the direction of their rivals 12 points above them. Not only have they struggled to replace Gotze, but Klopp’s philosophy of intent pressing, strained by last year’s 52-game campaign, has given way to a staggeringly unfortunate run of injuries.
Lukasz Piszczek, Mats Hummels, NevenSubotic, Marian Sarr, Marcel Schmelzer, Sven Bender, Ilkay Gundogan, Sebastian Kehland Henrikh Mkhitaryan have all missed a month or more due to injuries while Nuri Sahin has been asked to play through the pain barrier.
Marco Reus, unable now to share his attacking burden with Gotze, has suffered for form, whilst the summer’s two major signings, Mkhitaryan and Patrick Aubameyang, have been superb on occasion but unable to consistently produce that standard of performance on a regular basis.
While Bayern Munich have progressed and will continue to do so as they chase their aim of global dominance, Dortmund have notably regressed as the unbalance of power between the two clubs became so palpable with the contentious transfer of Gotze last year.
Lewandowski’s defection will only serve to intensify the ever-widening gap between the two clubs and with no sale-money available to reinvest, Klopp’s wise scouting eye will be called into action once more as he aims to rebuild a successful Dortmund.
With Lewandowski’s impending arrival, Bayern have become much stronger, Dortmund much weaker, so too you feel, has the Bundesliga as a whole.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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