The era of Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich is coming to an end.
The Poland striker, who has scored 344 goals in 374 competitive games for the German side, has made it very clear he wants to leave this summer.
“My story with Bayern is over. I don’t see any possibility to play for this club anymore,” Lewandowski said during a press conference with the Poland team.
These are harsh words coming from one of Bayern’s mainstays during the past 10 years. Lewandowski, advised by agent Pini Zahavi, has chosen confrontation over dialogue with his club to force a move.
In recent weeks, Bayern’s management repeatedly stated Lewandowski is not for sale, pointing at his contract that runs until 2023.
However, the striker, who will turn 34 in August, intends to sign one last lucrative deal this year and has chosen Barcelona as the destination for what will likely be the final stage of his career.
He has a verbal agreement with the Catalan club over a three-year deal. The potential move could become a drawn-out affair though, as Barcelona are under strict financial supervision by the Spanish league and cannot easily pay a likely transfer fee of about 40m euros (£34m).
Lewandowski’s exit is only one issue, though, for a club considered a European superpower for more than a decade but one now in danger of falling even further behind the continent’s top clubs.
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Bayern have already made peace with the fact they will lose their top striker this summer and are planning for a future without Lewandowski. According to sources within the club, their plan includes playing with a fluid three-man attack and not a ‘target man’.
While Bayern are interested in traditional number nines such as Austria’s Sasa Kalajdzic and the 19-year-old Slovenian Benjamin Sesko, the club’s executives and manager Julian Nagelsmann know they will not be able to replace Lewandowski adequately.
There are only a handful of strikers on Lewandowski’s level and none of them are available to Bayern.
So, Nagelsmann is planning for a three-man attack like Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, because Leroy Sane, Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman and Jamal Musiala are suitable for such a set-up.
Bayern have also approached Sadio Mane’s management and are working hard on a deal with the Senegal forward, although there are still some financial issues to resolve in those negotiations.
He would not be a Lewandowski replacement, but he could be seen as a statement signing for the German side and possibly prevent Bayern from falling behind even further on a European level.