This is a story we’ve been reluctant to cover because it seemed a little too outlandish (and not in a funny way) but people started asking about it. So, it’s time to do a breakdown.
According to Sport, FC Barcelona have agreed personal terms with Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who is yet to extend his current contract with the German champions. The report by Sport actually sources Sport Italia, which is a TV channel in Italy. As you can see, their website doesn’t contain a source, so Sport’s report is the only one we’ve got.
What to make of this? Well, let’s break it down.
The first step to evaluating any rumor is to determine the trustworthiness of the source. Normally you’d use a tiered rating system — i.e. Tier 1, Tier 2, etc. compiled on sites like Reddit, but no one can vouch for the reliability Sport Italia so that’s a no-go. What about Sport (ES)? Well, they’re conveniently based in Barcelona and are known for pushing pro-Barca propaganda, so maybe it’s best not to take them seriously, especially when the rumor is effectively unsourced.
In terms of Spanish journalists, only Bruno Alemany of Cadena Ser has said anything on the subject:
(LEWANDOWSKI): In Europe, there is a talk of very high chances for Robert Lewandowski's transfer to Barcelona being carried out.— Barça Buzz (@Barca_Buzz) March 28, 2022
• Negotiations are ongoing.#FCB
Via: @brunoalemany [ser] pic.twitter.com/Hsl0PZjjmH
That info was presumably in a podcast, which is also in Spanish, and is hard to verify. At the very least, it doesn’t go as far as to claim that personal terms are done. Negotiations could well be underway regardless of whether a transfer is feasible or not, so Alemany has himself covered no matter what happens.
Let’s go further and evaluate the original (Italian) source logically. First of all, no German journalists have come forward to verify the claims, though they haven’t refuted them either. Not even Mr. Christian “Not True” Falk has anything to say, but he seems more inclined to save his tidbits for his podcast nowadays (because everything has to be a podcast). Generally, an absence of noise tends to indicate an absence of activity, at least when Barcelona is concerned.
Secondly, why exactly would an Italian TV channel have insider info on the transfer dealings of FC Barcelona and Robert Lewandowski? Well, there’s a simple explanation for it ...
Pini Zahavi, Robert Lewandowski’s agent, is a masterful manipulator of the media. Unlike Mino Raiola, he likes to maintain a low public profile, preferring to release tidbits of info via random reports in various outlets. The normal German journalists who cover Bayern don’t seem to be in his pocket, which is why he may have gone to Italy to spread this rumor.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not true. There’s every chance that Zahavi really is negotiating with Barcelona for Lewandowski. As the player’s agent, he would be remiss to not look for potential destinations for his client. But leaking this info to the media also helps him put pressure on Bayern to act faster and give into Lewandowski’s salary demands, which is likely the endgame of this whole exercise.
There’s always more than one party to a transfer. Would FC Barcelona even entertain Zahavi’s overtures (assuming he made them)? The answer is ... complicated. For the Catalans, making a move for Lewandowski would come with pros and cons. Just to summarize, the pros are as follows:
- They would sign a proven goalscorer who could seamlessly slot into the number 9 spot in their team.
- Joan Laporta would get a huge win by signing a player of Lewandowski’s caliber (an important thing for Barca’s presidents — they’re basically politicians and have an electorate they need to please). After all, it’s looking like the Haaland transfer isn’t going to happen.
But the cons, in order, are:
- Barca already have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who is doing a fine job at the #9 spot so far, and the young Ansu Fati waiting in the wings as well. Signing Lewandowski right now seems like a luxury.
- Lewandowski is the highest paid player at Bayern and is looking for a pay-rise, while Barca are still in a precarious financial position (but not broke, as some would have you believe). When stars like Ferran Torres are being brought in at cut price deals and players are being convinced to take deferred salaries, it doesn’t seem like Laporta would be any more likely to fulfill Zahavi’s demands than Bayern would.
- Lewandowski still has a year left on his contract, so to sign him this summer Barcelona would have to pay a significant transfer fee to Bayern. They would better served using that money elsewhere.
Still, it doesn’t mean that Barca couldn’t be engaged in negotiations with Zahavi. It’s just that those negotiations are likely to be difficult at best (and pointless at worst).
Based on all the information available to us, no — Barcelona won’t sign Robert Lewandowski this summer. The rumor doesn’t make much sense logically, as there’s just too many holes for it to make sense. What’s more likely is that this is a case of an agent using the media to put pressure on an opposing party (Bayern, in this case) during negotiations.
Barca probably don’t want Lewandowski right now. However, as long as the contract standoff continues, expect more plausible candidates to enter the fray. Manchester City are getting Haaland and Real Madrid have all but signed Mbappe, but teams like Manchester United or PSG could certainly put in the kinds of financial offers that Lewandowski wants. Who knows, if Chelsea find a buyer soon, maybe they could get in on the Lewy story as well.
This random transfer story is just the beginning. Expect more in the coming weeks.