Robert Lewandowski’s criticism of Bayern Munich’s transfer policy in a surprise interview with Spiegel sent shock waves through the fanbase and club. Now CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has returned fire in the form of blisteringly critical remarks made to Bild (Bild+ behind a paywall; for further sources, see below).
Rummenigge addressed the implicit idea in Lewandowski’s criticism that Bayern Munich’s current squad may not be strong enough to be competitive in the Champions League, since the most Bayern spent was €41.5 mil for Corentin Tolisso, rather than a much higher sum for someone like Alexis Sanchez or Ousmane Dembélé:
Robert apparently let the Paris transfers irritate him. He’s employed by us as a footballer and earns a great deal of money for that. I regret his statements.
Far from joining the spending frenzy, Rummenigge stood by Bayern’s financial philosophy and reiterated his confidence that European regulation will check the exploding transfer market:
We have long maintained a serious and successful philosophy and have achieved great success with it. I’m rather of the same opinion as the chancellor [Angela Merkel] than Lewandowski; she says that these sums should be regulated and reduced.
Rummenigge further dismissed Lewandowski’s contention that the power of players is growing with a pointed jab at his own contract:
I also do not consider the power of the players to be so great, as Lewandowski can see for himself with a glance at his contract. He has signed until 2021 without a release clause.
If Lewandowski thinks that money and success is more important than loyalty,
It would be a real shame if he sees things that way. Loyalty is in Bayern’s DNA and important for our fans.
Rummenigge placed the blame for Lewandowski’s remarks partly on his agent, Maik Barthel, whom he identified as the spiritus rector - the “guiding spirit” - behind the Spiegel interview. Rummenigge noted, “The interview was deliberately organized so as to bypass Bayern Munich. [Barthel] hurts Robert in doing this.”
Rummenigge also has not forgotten Lewandowski’s “inaccurate criticism” of his teammates for failing to support him in his quest to win the Torjägerkanone in Bayern’s final match of the 2016-2017 season. It was none other than Barthel who publicized Lewandowski’s frustration in remarks to kicker.
And just for good measure, if the grass seems greener on the other side of the Pyrenees, Rummenigge lashed out at Lewandowski's irritation with Bayern's much-maligned preseason tour of Asia:
If Lewandowski complains about the Asia trip we make, he should know that his hypothetical dream club Real Madrid was traveling 24 days in the heat this summer - twice as long as us.
In terms of discipline, Rummenigge stated that sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić had spoken with Lewandowski. No further action appears imminent. That does not change the fundamental lesson here:
Whoever publicly criticizes the coach, club, or his teammates will henceforth catch hell from me personally.
Mia san mia is not all fun and games.