If things don’t go smoothly at FC Bayern, there’s quick talk of a “football earthquake”. But Robert Lewandowski’s break with his long-standing club actually makes one sit up and take notice. The problems with the record champions are obviously deeper.
Both sides would certainly have imagined the farewell after eight sensationally successful years together differently. Something with a lot of applause, mutual expressions of respect, maybe even a farewell game. But in the meantime Robert Lewandowski says sentences like: “After everything that has happened in the last few months, I can’t imagine further good cooperation.” And FC Bayern boss Oliver Kahn replies sourly: “Appreciation is not a one-way street.” The tablecloth has been cut and it has long seemed inconceivable that Lewandowski will appear again in the jersey of the club for which he scored an incredible 238 goals in 253 Bundesliga games – and so many more in the Champions League and DFB Cup.
The now probably inglorious end of the glorious era Lewandowski is a turning point in the history of FC Bayern. It was clear for a long time that this moment would come. Nevertheless, the club management around CEO Oliver Kahn and sports director Hasan Salihamidžić is either not sufficiently prepared or stumbled into this situation too casually. Because it was actually logical that Bayern had to gradually look for an adequate successor given Lewandowski’s age (33) – and BVB clipper Erling Haaland was also the logical choice. But after everything that has become public from Lewandowski, his advisor Pini Zahavi, Kahn and Salihamidžić, the Bayern bosses lacked such tact that Lewandowski now feels offended and wants to leave, Haaland changes to Manchester City and they Bayern themselves look like watered poodles.
Robert Lewandowski: More and more players want to leave
Even without praying who offered which contract to whom or not or who is said to have said what (publicly) when, one thing is clear: It didn’t go well at all – and the break of the most successful goalscorer in the club’s history with the club is quite clear the account of Kahn and Salihamidžić. Even more: Bayern experts such as record national player Lothar Matthäus, who played a total of twelve years for Munich, recognize a fatal pattern in the spectacular case: “It’s a shame and noticeable that more and more players want to leave FC Bayern. That wasn’t the case before “, judged the 61-year-old in his Sky column.
In it, Matthäus fails to mention the disagreements between Salihamidžić and ex-coach Hansi Flick about the transfer policy that drove the extremely successful Flick into the arms of the DFB the season before last and made him national coach. Matthäus remembers Niklas Süle, who will play for Bayern’s archrival Borussia Dortmund next season. The central defender didn’t feel valued either – and as if to prove it, club president Herbert Hainer called out “respectfully” to him publicly: “I don’t know what salary Niklas Süle gets at Dortmund, but I don’t think it’s a sporting promotion is.” Serge Gnabry, who is rumored to be associated with Real Madrid, is also said to be intending to move. David Alaba, who Matthäus also lists among the stars that FC Bayern could not keep (any longer), is already with the royal team.
FC Bayern: Not a good light on the development of the club
The reasons are certainly different from case to case, but: “This development certainly doesn’t cast a good light on this club. Some players don’t feel and don’t feel comfortable with the best German club anymore.”
Now it is important to close the Lewandowski cause in a way that saves face. Although Oliver Kahn had recently insisted that the Polish international had to fulfill his last year of contract with FC Bayern, Matthäus considers that unrealistic: “Now it’s too late to keep him,” said Matthäus at “Bild”. And further: “It’s not a win-win, it’s a lose-lose situation. Both sides would lose if Robert had to stay.” Lewandowski is probably drawn to FC Barcelona for his last big stop as a player. Barca are said to have already offered 32 million transfer fee. Bayern does not want to let the striker go below 40 million. Lewandowski’s market value is estimated at 50 million. Somewhere in this framework, all parties involved should agree.
Creeping Poison of Dissatisfaction
Overall, the Lewandowski case shows that the vague impression towards the end of last season that things are not right at FC Bayern has been confirmed. A full decade of almost unrivaled dominance and enduring championship obviously leaves its mark. Because contrary to all (certainly honest) assurances from Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Co. at FC Bayern, the championship is no longer a success, but a matter of course. And in the Champions League, Bayern are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the likes of Real, Liverpool, Manchester City and Paris St.-Germain.
A situation with which the ambitious club can only be dissatisfied. And dissatisfaction is a slow poison. “As a professional, you notice if things are changing in a club, if the backing is crumbling and if other things aren’t the way you were used to,” writes Lothar Matthäus. Sounds like FC Bayern urgently need to find the reset button. Possibly not least at the top of the club.
Sources: Sky; “Image” (paid content), DPA news agency