The pitfalls of Robert Lewandowski’s transfer saga at Bayern

Robert Lewandowski is likely to leave FC Bayern this summer. Independently of where he goes, the upcoming transfer could have a negative impact by redefining the value of contracts.

If you missed the news, you should know that the Polish striker’s agent, Pini Zahavi, told SportBILD that Lewandowski is looking for a “new challenge”. Where? We don’t know yet.

Months ago, rumours that Lewandowski wanted to go to Real Madrid looked like run-of-the-mill tabloid noise. Now, we have the confirmation that the Pole wants out for real.

The loss of a star striker is problematic for Bayern and their fans, of course. Lewandowski has been highly productive. However, it is not the end of the world. FC Bayern have the stature and the resources to sign a new striker. Transfers are also inevitable in this sport. Few players commit to finishing their careers at a club.

What all football fans should be worried about is the idea that contracts aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

Risky transfer

Lewandowski’s departure would be perilous. His deal at Bayern is set to run until June 2021. By tearing it up, the Bavarians would renounce three full seasons.

The Reds would be in the same fix than Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2017. The Bees were between a rock and a hard place when FC Barcelona knocked on the door with a request to buy Ousmane Dembélé. The Catalans were flush with cash after losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain as the winger had four years left on his deal. They cared little about Dembélé’s own contract, which coincidentally had four years left. BVB initially suspended the player after he missed training, but they gave in and sold him.

At the time, it was foolish for anyone to think that BVB’s standing in the European food chain was the reason why it happened. The Ruhr side may not be a “top three” club, but it remains a damn good one for almost any player. So are FC Bayern, which can be considered as the third biggest side after Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

If Bayern sell Lewandowski, three major football clubs will have put a knee on the canvas in two years. No one would be safe from players’ and agents’ bullying as those guys seek, respectively, higher wages and transfer fees.

Is this what we want to see on Planet Football?

Besides, every time such a transfer takes place, it’s a slap in the face for fans who adulate players and spend hard-earned money to buy shirts with their names on them.

Dangerous denial

Although I expect Bayern to sell Lewandowski. by now, you can reasonably argue that the club can force the Pole to stay in Munich.

The Bavarian outfit does not include releases clauses in its contracts. It is legally impossible for another club to take a player away without an agreement. Thanks to that policy, Franck Ribéry’s wish to leave turned into a five-year extension signed in the spring of 2010.

That approach is fraught with risk when it comes to Robert Lewandowski. The Pole has three years left on his deal while Ribéry had only one left at the time. If they don’t cash in now, Bayern face a far more dangerous problem than a free transfer in 2019. They risk having a rotten apple that will spoil the bunch.

If Robert Lewandowski does not get his way, he may lose motivation and contaminate teammates in the dressing room. Problems started in the late stages of the 2017-18 season. Amid rumours, the striker scored only twice in his last six matches. His body language betrayed either lack of interest or frustration. Or both.

Should this scenario materialize in the future, Lewandowski would be an underused asset for FC Bayern on the pitch. He would also lose market value.

For those reasons, a transfer in the summer of 2018 makes sense, but it brings us back to the risks associated with dealmaking far ahead of contract expiration.

Final thought

Contract extensions losing their meaning beyond wage increases for the players would be terrible news. The trend may already have started, and there are no simple solutions in sight.

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Born Canadian and once a journalist, Michel now calls Germany home and works as an internal communications editor. The likes of Oliver Kahn have made him a staunch Bayern fan, to the extent that he founded and managed Bayern Central for seven years. Now he runs Straight Red He's a beer and coffee snob who likes to bike around Europe. You can follow him on Twitter.


  1. It would be nice to fix his attitude, otherwise it’s better to let him go… I have no idea what to do. Bosses will decide.

  2. Just the contrary: look at the morale of Dortmund players and the attitude of Aubameyang after Dembelé got away with this behaviour. If you are one of the best clubs, you have to make a stand

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