It is difficult to decide what to make of a new report by ESPN FC’s Stephan Uersfeld regarding Robert Lewandowski. According to the report, an anonymous source now claims that Lewandowski is upset that he has not received enough playing time at Bayern Munich.
Although it is impossible to know the context in which the remarks were made, they seem calculated to supply a reason why Lewandowski was so conspicuous by his absence in his performances against Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal:
Robert’s rhythm was clearly broken. He played almost every game over the past few years [and] even played with a shoulder injury at Real last year and he scored. He played with a face mask against Barcelona in 2015. He does not have this rhythm in 2018. He was left out of the Frankfurt match between the Madrid ties.
Whatever the merit of the claims or their source, it was obviously Lewandowski himself who pointedly told the press in fall of 2017 that Bayern Munich needed to sign a backup striker to give him some much needed relief. Lewandowski told Bild at the time,
It would definitely be an option to sign a hungry, young striker who wants to learn from an experienced player. It would be a relief for me to play 15 or 20 minutes less in a game, then you have more energy for forthcoming games and a higher probability of staying fit and minimizing the risk of injury.
Bayern did precisely that, signing their own youth-academy product and late-bloomer Sandro Wagner from Hoffenheim. In a word, Wagner has been brilliant for Bayern, scoring 9 goals and 2 assists for the club since his transfer. And Wagner’s loyalty to his childhood club is beyond doubt.
The report of Lewandowski’s alleged discontent also surprised head coach Jupp Heynckes. He stated,
He never told me that he felt he hadn’t played enough. I have repeatedly heard that we had an extremely stressful and intensive fixture list, therefore I gave him regular breaks with the big games in mind. For example, if he didn’t play a game in eight days, that’s a normal rhythm and he wouldn’t lose any playing rhythm.
If he had had got injured again during the decisive phase [this season], then Sandro Wagner would have had to play without any playing time at all.
Whoever the source “close to Robert Lewandowski” may be, the complaint appears to be baseless.