Robert Lewandowski’s desire to one day play in Spain has been clear for years. In 2018, the Polish striker changed agent with the intention of pushing through a move to Real Madrid who were looking for a successor to Cristiano Ronaldo at the time. Pini Zahavi had close links to the Spanish club and was hired by Lewandowski to make a transfer happen.
He didn’t get his way in 2018, but there is a growing sense Lewandowski will finally join a La Liga club this summer with Barcelona reportedly keen to sign the 33-year-old. Lewandowski has publicly announced his wish to leave Bayern Munich where he has just one year left on his current contract and claims his “story is over.”
Lewandowski has good reason to desire a transfer to Barcelona. While last season was a difficult one, the Catalans are heading in the right direction again under Xavi Hernandez. Barca have a core of exceptional young players and are widely expected to challenge for titles and silverware next season after a full pre-season.
From Barcelona’s perspective, though, Lewandowski’s signing would raise questions about how much they have truly learned from the troubles of the last few years. The Camp Nou club got into financial difficulty by spending big on players they didn’t really need – see Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann among others.
Recent reports state Barcelona will have to pay at least €40m to prise Lewandowski from Bayern Munich’s hands with the Polish striker also demanding a salary that would make him the highest-paid player at the Camp Nou. He won’t come cheap, certainly for a club that is still laden with more than $1 billion of debt.
What’s more, Barca already have a top quality and experienced centre forward after the addition of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January. The Gabonese striker netted 11 goals in just 17 La Liga appearances in the second half of last season and instantly forged relationships with the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Ferran Torres. Why would Barcelona spend big to strengthen a position they are already so strong in?
Xavi and Barcelona president Joan Laporta have more than once claimed their club has rediscovered its identity, but their pursuit of Lewandowski calls this into question. Barca have built a young team full of players that have Barca in their blood and it’s difficult to envisage how a 33-year-old centre forward, even one as good as Lewandowski, fits into their long-term vision.
Tactically, i’s not even clear how Lewandowski would fit into Xavi’s side. Aubameyang has been so successful so quickly for Barcelona in large part due to his ability to drift out wide. This creates space for teammates to burst into and helps unsettle opposition defences. It’s reminiscent of the role Thierry Henry once performed for the Catalans.
However, Lewandowski has never demonstrated a willingness or ability to do this. He is a penalty box poacher and is better at playing a part in possession play than many give him credit for, but Xavi’s team requires relentless movement in the final third. Lewandowski would undoubtedly strengthen their squad and provide an excellent option, but he could be something of a misfit.
If Xavi is eager to add experience to his young squad this summer, he would be better targeting a centre back to replace the fading Gerard Pique or a left back to provide cover for the increasingly injury-prone Jordi Alba. Barcelona might have staved off the immediate threat of financial peril, but their situation still requires shrewd decision making. The signing of Lewandowski wouldn’t be a shrewd decision.