Denials, negation, and fortitude in his position. Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke displayed it all, shooing off all the hearsay that FC Bayern Munich would take away his prized Polish point-man, Robert Lewandowski.
Lewandowski met this staunch stance from his employer with slight sadness when talking with Sport Bild on Tuesday.
"Like always, I gave it my all for BVB during the second part of last season. I played and scored, thinking I was allowed the switch in the summer.
"After the talks we held I was convinced I’d be allowed a free decision about my transfer. Then everything changed. Sadly the situation now is I have to stay here. I am surprised about their dealings, but if BVB wants to give up on a lot of money for me, I have to respect that."
Robert Lewandowski, Sport Bild via ESPN FC
Think about what Dortmund, and Watzke, are doing by keeping Lewandowski. According to transfermarkt, Lewandowski is worth €39 million, a loose estimate based on his performance last year. Considering that Lewandowski is in the last year of his deal, that number probably is unrealistic to expect from a palpable payment for the Polish international. A fee north of the €25 million, which Bayern unleashed to acquire Thiago Alcântara, would not have been unreasonable to estimate.
To say the least, Dortmund is bequeathing a lot of profit on their start striker, but that also speaks to their commitment towards Lewandowski. That is a lot of respect for a young man, which Lewandowski has articulated.
The end of Lewi-talk may not sit well with one man, Mario Gómez. While the Mario Götze purchase may have started the Gómez exodus, and Mario Mandžukić may have caused Gómez to appear obsolete, Gómez admitted that the Lewandowski chatter was part of the reason for his desire to move to Italy.
"My departure was an insidious process. The club’s wish for Robert Lewandowski intensified. During the second part of the season it emerged that everyone wanted it [Gomez’s time at Bayern] to end."
Mario Gómez, Sport Bild via ESPN FC
Gomez later admitted that the whole speculation "bothered" him. That part does not come as a surprise. How would you feel if the public was discussing your replacement? What was grand about Gómez's approach is the professionalism he brought during the whole process.
"I was neither hurt, nor did I want to hit out at the media," he said. "I had reacted to the Lewandowski rumours and said that the club had to be asked and not me. Then I was publicly told that us players should deal with the Lewandowski rumours in a relaxed manner.
"There was not any backing for the strikers who were at the club. We were told not to dramatise things. That’s when I said, ‘I will be relaxed, let’s see who answers those Lewandowski questions I get asked all the time’. Nobody did. Nobody was willing to answer two million questions about him. The other attackers in the squad were also irritated."
Mario Gómez, Sport Bild via ESPN FC
This begs the question: How much of the speculation could have been avoided? Bayern, who usually only come out to confirm transfers and signings, was pulled out of Säbener Straße to control the Lewandowski transfer rumors in late April, denying contact with the 24-year-old. Lewandowski's agent Cezary Kucharski drove a fair share of headlines, especially when he "confirmed" that his client had a deal with the Treble Winners.
The unfortunate part of the Lewandowski headlines is that it was all for not. It is like watching a movie, even though you already know the ending, and being disappointed at how predictable of a film it was. Transfer speculation is always hard to avoid, but in this case, Gómez appears a victim of the scuttle-butt.
In all, Gómez would have a hard time finding minutes in the deep Bayern team sheet, and AS Fiorentia is a new opportunity for him to take advantage of. Still, now matter how hard you take the band-aid off, it will always hurt at least a little.