A transfer battle that Manchester United need to win?
Robert Lewandowski has been able to forge his own path to the top in German football, taking over the striking duties when then first-choice option Lucas Barrios was side-lined with injury and subsequently moved on. The past 18 months have been significant for the Polish international, as he’s become known Europe-wide as one of the leading forwards in the game, helping Borussia Dortmund to a second consecutive league title and battling against Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Mario Gomez for the scoring title in the Bundesliga.
Manchester United’s interest in the forward is well-documented, with reports emerging earlier in the season that United were half way down the road to signing Lewandowski ahead of next season. A Bayern Munich with a newly-found swagger are set to disrupt that, however, as the Bavarians are looking to secure Lewandowski as one of the marquee signings for Pep Guardiola.
The thing is, do United really need Lewandowski? At this stage, it seems as though they have a full house of attacking options with some hardly able to get a game. When players like Javier Hernandez have been thrown in to deputise for either Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney, the Mexican has shown he is a reliable scorer in the Premier League. It would have also done a lot for both Alex Ferguson and Danny Welbeck that the England forward did so well in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid. Welbeck isn’t as glamorous or as lethal in front of goal as any of the prior mentioned, but Ferguson has spoken highly of him in the past when speaking of the collective strike force available at Old Trafford.
But that aside, why wouldn’t anyone want Lewandowski, even with options in abundance? You can understand Guardiola’s liking for the striker. He’s extremely mobile, links ups well with others in the attacking-third and will offer so much more than the first-choice at Bayern at the moment, Mario Gomez. That’s not to take anything away from Gomez; Lewandowski is just far more suited to the style of play Guardiola is likely to serve up at the Allianz Arena.
There is also a lot working in United’s favour on this one. Dortmund have expressed their desire to keep the striker beyond his current contract, which expires in 2014, but know they may have to part company this summer if they’re to maximise their return. However, considering the rivalry between both them and Bayern as the two power houses in German football today, they are unlikely to offer the forward to the Bavarians and would clearly much rather sell to a club abroad.
The problem is, it’s not always the selling club’s choice, especially with the player’s contract running down. You have to ask: who wouldn’t want to join Guardiola’s team at Bayern next season or in the coming years? The world will be watching, and FC Hollywood wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s incredibly exciting to think of the adventure and the prospects of titles both domestically and in Europe. This is a Bayern side who have been to two Champions League finals in three years and have identified the need for something different to push them over the line. Someone a bit special.
Isn’t it ironic that Pep Guardiola is arriving in Germany to battle against the power in Dortmund in the same way Jose Mourinho was brought to Spain to challenge the Spaniard’s dominant Barcelona side? The relationship between Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp is certain to be more sporting.
But the thing about United is that they don’t have to win this transfer battle. Sure, it would be nice to potentially call upon three of the leading names in Europe for your attack, even at the expense of either Welbeck or Hernandez. But is it absolutely needed?
You have to weigh up whether the Premier League will become that much stronger over the course of the next year or so. Yes, Manchester City could get their act together with a new manager and a host of new stars. However, that won’t cripple United, and Ferguson isn’t on the brink of losing any of his big or important names.
Even in a Champions League year where Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are scoring for fun; where Lewandowski and Marco Reus are playing exceptionally well at Dortmund; where the unpredictability of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and PSG is always a threat, along with many others; United still have one of the best attacks in the game. And let’s not get too drawn into the idea that Lewandowski is the young striker capable of producing in the way he does. It’s worth looking to clubs like Real Madrid where players such as Gonzalo Higuain may be moving on, as well as a special talent at Porto in James Rodriguez, despite him playing deeper than a forward.
Lewandowski isn’t a player who will force United to break the bank, as this is an opportunity for the Premier League leaders to pounce in the same way they did with Shinji Kagawa. But such is the strength of United’s attack and their draw for most of the top talents in world football that a defeat in this round wouldn’t be significant. A great signing potentially, but United’s immediate success isn’t resting of Lewandowski arriving at Old Trafford.