The transfer saga has finally come to an end. Robert Lewandowski will leave Bayern Munich and join Barcelona. First reported on Friday afternoon by transfer market, the news spread like wildfire throughout the evening, with several media outlets reporting the conclusion of the transfer.
Lewandowski, who earns up to $24m a season at Bayern, is set to sign a four-year contract with the Catalan club. Barcelona will pay up to $50m for the transfer – $5m are easy to reach bonuses. The deal is highly anticipated to ensure the Rekordmeister will receive payments from a Barcelona side in the news for financial difficulties.
The impending transfer will bring much-needed planning security to Bayern. Lewandowski returned to training on July 12 and completed his medical fully fit. But Bayern travel to the United States on Monday and a team presentation is scheduled for Saturday at the Allianz Arena. Lewandowski and the club have come to the conclusion that the player’s presence at both would have been inconvenient.
For Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, the transfer is also a form of emancipation. For years the club was run by former president and manager Uli Hoeneß, who still had significant control over the club as a member of the board. Hoeneß was categorically against a transfer.
Although Kahn and Salihamidzic publicly expressed their opposition to Lewandowski’s sale, internally they saw the situation differently. This was a business deal for them, an opportunity to sell an aging asset above market value. When completed, Lewandowski will become the second most expensive player over 32 behind Cristiano Ronaldo—Juventus paid nearly $130m for the 33-year-old Portuguese striker in 2018.
With that in mind, it’s a bargain for Bayern. The club will now take the funds generated from the sale of Lewandowski buy Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus. The German and Italian clubs were still somewhat separated during the last negotiations, but Lewandowski’s money will help bridge that gap.
When it comes to filling the hole on offense, Bayern could very well look both internally but also bring in a young striker. Stade Rennais striker Mathys Tel has been heavily linked, but the French youngster is a long-term replacement rather than a short-term option. Instead, the Rekordmeister is likely to put the brunt of the 35-40 goals provided by Lewandowski on many different shoulders.
Expect Sadio Mané to play largely in the center of a three-man attack which will also include a rotation of Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnarby and Leroy Sané. Gnabry, in particular, could see a higher role in the squad. Bayern are now close to signing a new contract with the Germany international, and Gnabry would love to step into the No.9 role.
Off the pitch, Lewandowski will be harder to replace. The Polish striker has broken numerous records, including Gerd Müller’s record 40 goals scored in a season in 2020/21. There’s no doubt the 33-year-old was a Bundesliga star, and the league will be less entertaining without him.
Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and Area Manager USA at transfer market. It has also been featured in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth