Robert Lewandowski had a good day in Bayern Munich’s dominating 6-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen. The Polish striker was thrilled on the pitch, celebrating with teammates as he scored an early brace to give Bayern a 2-1 lead. But after the match, when the goal celebrations on the pitch are over, an uncomfortable truth remains: Lewandowski almost certainly wants to leave Bayern Munich, and Bayern Munich almost certainly will not allow that to happen.
Real Madrid: All quiet on the transfer front
Lewandowski spoke briefly to Polskie Radio (in Polish) after the match about Bayern’s upcoming duel with Real Madrid:
If you want to win the Champions League, you have to beat the best. It will definitely be a tough fight, but I hope that we’ll play our brand of soccer and will be the better team.
The reporter also asked Lewandowski about the persistent rumors linking him to Madrid. Lewandowski denied even considering a transfer to Real:
Am I thinking about Real in terms of a transfer? No, not at all.
Lewandowski as Kovac’s challenge
But Lewandowski is apparently not thinking about anything beyond May 26, the date of the Champions League final in Kiev. He also declined to comment on incoming coach Niko Kovac:
For now, I am not thinking about it. The season isn’t over. We’re focusing on what is now, under our old new coach.
Suffice it to say that other teammates have been much more forthcoming about their thoughts on their future coach.
The need of professional athletes to focus on the present is a perfect answer to any number of speculative questions. In Lewandowski’s case, though, he has particularly little reason to speculate about his future with Kovac. It is presumably his new agent Pini Zahavi’s job to ensure that Lewandowski never plays under Kovac: Zahavi’s contract significantly ends on August 31, 2018, the final day of the summer transfer window.
Thus Lewandowski and Bayern Munich find themselves in a standoff: the club has refused to allow Lewandowski to transfer elsewhere, but insist that he honor his contract, which lasts until 2021. In an article by Sport Bild’s Bayern Munich contributors—including regulars Christian Falk and Tobias Altschäffl—the journalists characterize Lewandowski as even more “withdrawn” than usual:
Lewandowski, who already hardly had any private contact with his colleagues [i.e. teammates], now seems even more withdrawn.
They speculate that one of Niko Kovac’s first challenges will be to deal with the aftermath of Lewandowski’s failed effort to escape. As a player, they explain, Kovac was supposedly known for his directness: he will need that quality at Bayern. He has managed to transform Jerome Boateng’s mercurial brother Kevin-Prince into one of Frankfurt’s most important players this season, but can he win over a disgruntled star who seems to feel that he has outgrown his club?
It may be a long summer for Lewandowski.