Robert Lewandowski was Barcelona’s huge post-Messi gamble. It hasn’t totally settled

” Whatever Robert won at Bayern Munich, the objectives he scored, it was all with the objective of winding up where he is now: betting Barcelona

Robert Lewandowski‘s profession has actually had lots of targets, however 2 summer seasons ago he satisfied what is reasonable to refer to as his supreme aspiration. The quote above originates from a source really near the 35-year-old striker– who, like all those mentioned in this short article, chosen to speak anonymously to safeguard relationships.

Signing for Barca was a longstanding objective of Lewandowski’s. However because signing up with for EUR45million (₤ 38.5 m; $48.7 m at present rates) in July 2022, not whatever has actually turned as rosily as he may have anticipated. This season has actually not been his biggest, and unpredictability has actually established around his position at the club– although today’s Champions League round-of-16 very first leg at Napoli comes as he has actually started to reveal much better type in front of objective.

Lewandowski was the star of the program in Barcelona’s La Liga success at Celta Vigo on Saturday, scoring a brace that consisted of a 97th-minute winner from the charge area, and he now has 4 objectives from Barca’s previous 3 matches.

This current momentum, nevertheless, appears as an uncommon intense area when recalling throughout what has actually up until now been a really frustrating project at Barcelona. Lewandowski has actually not been the only gamer underperforming, however his status as a marquee finalizing opens him approximately additional analysis, and broader issues over his viability have actually been growing for a long time.

Lewandowski’s arrival at Barca was implied to signify the real beginning point of a brand-new job under Xavi. Among Europe’s many respected goalscorers was to function as a good example for a brand-new generation and assist the club forget Lionel Messi‘s terrible departure.

Now, that ‘job’ has actually basically currently folded, with Xavi to step down at the end of the season. And Lewandowski looks set for a tense transfer window in the summertime, with some at the club currently dealt with to looking for a sale– unless he can show the skeptics incorrect.

” A great deal of individuals think Barcelona require to have a franchise gamer. A go-to male who offers t-shirts, represents the general public picture of the group and ends up being a factor to bring in fans to the arena. Deep down, that was the thinking behind Lewandowski’s finalizing in 2022.”

This is how a senior club source explains the gamble Barcelona took 2 summer seasons ago with Lewandowski’s finalizing from Bayern. The previous summertime had actually seen the club’s greatest legend, Messi, leaving in tears, while other essential figures such as Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba appeared to be reaching the lasts of their professions in Catalonia. It was chosen the Camp Nou required a brand-new idol, and president Joan Laporta wanted to Lewandowski.

The offer to bring him did not entirely get away criticism at the time. In the summertime of 2021, Barcelona chose not to extend Messi’s agreement, with terms currently concurred, in order to assist resolve the club’s monetary issues. One year later on, they invested EUR45million on a 33-year-old Lewandowski, signing him to a three-year handle an alternative for a 4th. This August, he will turn 36.

If the Messi offer had actually been finished, the Argentinian would have made EUR20million in the very first year of his brand-new agreement, before then seeing his wage boost considerably. Lewandowski’s yearly wage, as an average over 4 years, is apparently set at EUR26m.

However Lewandowski struck the ground running. Over 2022-23, he scored 33 objectives and offered 8 helps in all competitors. He was La Liga’s leading scorer with 23 as Barca won their very first league title in 4 years. In spite of when again suffering Champions League failure (they were removed at the group phase) Barca fans had some factor to hope they were seeing the start of something larger.

Yet, you might likewise see the early indications of issues starting to develop to where they are now.

The 2022 World Cup was plainly the turning point in Lewandowski’s launching season. Before its start, he scored 13 objectives in the very first 15 La Liga matches of the season, likewise getting 5 Champions League objectives.

After returning from a frustrating display screen with Poland (he scored 2 objectives and they were knocked out in the last-16 by France), absolutely nothing was rather the exact same. Lewandowski lost a little bit of his stimulate, which can be regular in a season, however as it ended up, it never ever actually returned.

Lewandowski played 19 more video games in La Liga after Qatar 2022, scoring 10 objectives, of which 4 included the title currently protected. Stress in the dressing space began to appear, in addition to aggravation with himself. However many substantial of all, it likewise ended up being clear that the very best variation of Xavi’s Barcelona was not completely suitable with his favored design of play.

Barca’s Supercopa de Espana success over Genuine Madrid in January 2023 is still perhaps the most persuading display screen under Xavi’s period. They beat their Clasico competitors in a 3-1 win fired up by a tactical tweak: compromising one winger for another body in a four-strong midfield.

Xavi was persuaded it offered the course to follow, in spite of the impact it had on Lewandowski.

” I comprehended this group required more control and less shifts which’s why we altered our technique a bit,” he stated on the day Barca were crowned league champs following success over city competitors Espanyol, in Might in 2015.

” We felt much better managing the ball and I prioritised the gamers that didn’t lose belongings. That’s how I comprehend football, it comes from that type of gamers: the midfielders who are constantly able to keep the ball.”

Lewandowski didn’t see things rather so favorably. In a special interview with The Athletic throughout Barca’s pre-season trip last summertime, he explained how he had actually been left annoyed by the modification. He understood losing a winger implied less opportunities to get balls and crosses into package, the greatest location of his video game.



Robert Lewandowski unique interview: ‘Barcelona is still the location to be’

There was a circumstance to fix here. From the group’s tactical point of view, they needed to discover a much better suitable for their star striker. From the gamer’s side, he required to recuperate the type he showcased in 2022.

Rather of an option being discovered, things just worsened.

Lewandowski’s 4 objectives in 3 matches followed a six-match drought (DAX Images/NurPhoto by means of Getty Images)

” We do not have the quality of 2010 Barcelona, we simply do not. We require to run our socks off. If we do not run like animals, we will not win video games. If we can’t be scientific, we require to have soul as a group. This is Barcelona, things require to alter.”

After his side’s last league match of 2023, Xavi directed his most vital words as Barca supervisor. They had actually simply handled to get away with a scrappy 3-2 win versus La Liga’s bottom side Almeria, in a video game they were drawing 1-1 at the break.

A couple of days later on, it emerged that Lewandowski had actually come in for strong criticism from Xavi in a half-time dressing-room address that railed versus an absence of strength and aggressiveness amongst his gamers.

By that point, training personnel sources had actually currently begun to explain Lewandowski’s goalscoring efficiency as listed below what was anticipated. They likewise believed he had actually lost a few of his strength in private battles, and were worried by his getting worse link-up play.

Comparing his La Liga statistics for this season and last (according to, Lewandowski has a comparable rate of balls miscontrolled per video game (around 2.7) and aerial battles won (53.6 percent last season; 52.8 percent this season). However his passing success rate has actually reduced considerably.

For brief passes, there’s a drop from 83.9 percent last season to 77. 7 percent this season, while medium-range passes fall from 77.1 percent to 71.4 percent, and long-range passes from 65.2 percent to 55.6 percent.

His anticipated objectives (xG) information does not look regrettable at this moment. Over 2022-23, he scored 23 objectives from 24.3 xG in La Liga, while this season he is on 12 objectives from 14.6 xG.

Nevertheless, it deserves explaining that, before his 4 objectives from Barca’s last 3 league video games, he was on 8 objectives from 12.1 xG and had actually just scored 3 times in the competitors because September (with 2 matches out hurt).

Lewandowski has actually up until now scored 17 times and offered 6 helps throughout 33 video games in all competitors this season. His match-winning strike versus Celta on Saturday was his 50th for Barca.

And yet this term Xavi has actually subbed him off 4 times with the group illustration and in requirement of objectives (versus Genuine Sociedad, Las Palmas, Genuine Betis and Villarreal). It is likewise clear that team-mates have actually been having a hard time to get in touch with him. Last season he balanced 34.3 touches per league video game. His typical up until now this project is 26.7.

Is Lewandowski totally to blame for having somewhat lower numbers at this phase of his profession? Most likely not– and plainly Xavi’s modification of system likewise had a result.

However off the pitch, there have actually been concerns too.

Lewandowski and Yamal, envisioned in September (Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Lewandowski is understood to be a sincere character. As quickly as he thinks something is incorrect, he will state it. This has actually caused some minutes of friction.

In February in 2015, dressing-room sources stated that after Manchester United knocked Barca out of the Europa League at Old Trafford, Lewandowski had a spoken exchange with Ansu Fati, who he criticised for being too self-centered and not integrating with team-mates when he had much better choices than to shoot.

This season, in November versus Deportivo Alaves, we likewise saw Lewandowski grumbling to 16-year-old Lamine Yamal when the winger chose to shoot rather of crossing.

However this friction does not expose an essentially bad relationship, and nobody in the dressing space has actually ever questioned Lewandowski’s dedication to the group. When Xavi personally informed gamers of his choice to step down, a day after he revealed it at a January post-match interview, Lewandowski revealed his gratitude for the work he had actually performed in a hard minute for the club. Xavi was especially moved by that.

Hours later on, Lewandowski revealed he might still be counted as one of the dressing-room leaders by arranging a group supper at his home in Castelldefels, which all the first-team gamers participated in. It was a team-building activity, accepted the approval of the club, to assist focus minds on the remainder of the season to come.

So what’s next for Lewandowski at Barcelona?

With Barcelona requiring to offer gamers before considering how to improve their team this summertime (and select a brand-new supervisor), several senior sources at the club state they would invite a financially rewarding deal for him.



Barcelona need to offer this summertime – so who might they aim to proceed?

However, here– similar to a number of others of those Barca would preferably like to proceed– the power is on the gamer’s side. Under agreement till a minimum of 2025, he has no desire to leave. He likewise completely thinks he can conquering his current dip in type and returning regularly to his goalscoring best.

Lewandowski dreamed for several years of signing up with Barcelona, and sources near the gamer state they comprehend how the environment around the club can turn especially bitter when things do not go to strategy.

In regards to his agreement, he has another year completely ensured before an alternative for a 4th that will be instantly activated if he plays over 55 percent of Barca’s video games throughout 2024-25.

All the exact same, we can anticipate pressure may can be found in the summertime, in the type of media reports recommending how helpful his departure might be for the club’s financial resources. Lewandowski’s camp is completely familiar with what occurred with Frenkie de Jong in 2022, when Barca invested the summertime attempting to require him out.

However, for the minute, in spite of the doubts amongst a training group that is set to leave, in spite of the additional stress and analysis his position brings, Lewandowski remains in the precise location he wishes to be. And for him and Barcelona, there ought to be no instant issue more important than Wednesday’s journey to Naples.

( Leading picture: DAX Images/NurPhoto by means of Getty Images)

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