Polish outlet Onet Sport recently obtained an incredible document: an unsigned contract, in Spanish, between Robert Lewandowski and Real Madrid. The date: December 9, 2013, less than a month before Lewandowski could officially sign with Bayern Munich. Lewandowski had made an oral agreement to join Bayern, but the offer gave him second thoughts. Should he join Los Blancos and live in Madrid? In the end, Lewandowski kept his word and became a Bayern legend.
The contract with Real Madrid
The terms Real Madrid were offering were impressive: a six-year contract from July 1, 2014, to just over a month ago, June 30, 2020. The contract was worth €8.6 gross annually, and on top of that Lewandowski would receive a signing bonus of €10.9 million.
Onet Sport: The contract Real Madrid offered Lewandowski in December 2013 including a €10.96m signing bonus + €9.6m yearly wages until June 2020.— M•A•J (@Ultra_Suristic) August 2, 2020
Prohibited from riding a motorbike, skiing, going on a motorboat, paragliding and climbing. pic.twitter.com/kP3aDWh7Rr
Another agreement guaranteed Lewandowski even more money for his image rights, a one-off payment of €1.9 million and another €1.5 million gross annually.
The entire contract was worth €75.5 million gross and included a buy-out option of €150 million euros. Onet notes that, “The contract offered to the sniper was fairly standard; it did not contain unexpected clauses, although Real forbade the competitor from riding a motorcycle, motorboat riding, skiing, parachuting, and any kind of climbing.”
But Lewandowski could not sign it until January 1, 2014, six months before his contract with Dortmund ended. He had told Bayern he would sign with them. Would he keep his word?
Bayern’s number 9 or Benzema’s backup?
Borussia Dortmund was eager for Lewandowski to sign with Real Madrid: they were resigned to the fact that he was leaving the club, but it would be far better to lose him to La Liga than to their perennial rival Bayern Munich, especially with the sting of Mario Götze’s transfer to Munich still fresh.
Lewandowski’s agent Cezary Kucharski met with Real’s representatives several times for talks. Lewandowski was interested: Kucharski recalled, “He wanted to go to Real and withdraw from his contract with Bayern. He liked the idea of living and playing in Madrid.”
Bayern’s sporting director at the time, Matthias Sammer — now an advisor to Borussia Dortmund — got wind of the talks and gave Kucharski a call: “I heard from the club officials in Munich — sporting director Matthias Sammer called me, furious.”
Fans of Bayern Munich will recall that one aspect of Bayern’s pitch to bring Lewoy Sané to Munich was a number: the club promised him the coveted number 10 jersey. Bayern did the same thing with Lewandowski: Bayern promised him the number 9 jersey, but not Real Madrid. Karim Benzema is still wearing that jersey today.
Kucharski laughed off the idea that Pep Guardiola would have no use for Lewandowski: Bayern had always had brilliant center-forwards, and he believed Lewy would become one, too.
“I thought Bayern was the best option for Robert from the start. Robert had to be the number one at his new club. I couldn’t let him suddenly become a backup in his position, even if it was Real,” Kucharski said.
A Bayern and Bundesliga legend
Real turned on the charm: Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos both told Lewandowski, “You have to play with us!” he later said. But in response to Real’s pressure, Bayern increased their salary terms, and Lewandowski signed as promised, albeit on slightly worse terms than he would have received from Real Madrid.
When Real came calling yet again and tried to pry Lewandowski away, Bayern outright ignored their offer of €50 million for the striker. In the end, Lewandowski signed another extension, keeping him at Bayern Munich until 2023, where he has gone from record to record.
We think Lewandowski made the right decision.