Tottenham’s continued pursuit of a prolific goal scorer was always likely to lead towards Signal Iduna Park and Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski. The young Polish striker, who had his breakout year last season with the German Champions, has successfully taken over the responsibilities in attack since Lucas Barrios was relieved of his first-choice duties and subsequently sold. If there was ever a striker for any club, not just Tottenham, to pursue with long term ambitions in mind, it’s Lewandowski.
The striker was much more of an impact player in Dortmund’s 2010/11 title-winning season, coming off the bench for the most part but still contributing to a good degree. It showed the amount of faith manager Jurgen Klopp had in the Polish striker when he opted to give him a starting and starring role in Dortmund’s starting XI last season. The injury to Barrios paved the way, but the excellent work ethic of Lewandowski did more than enough for him to be considered an important figure.
His record last season of 33 goals is no great surprise; the Dortmund team is awash with outstanding attacking talents who are able to provide for their strikers from a number of areas of the pitch. Along with Lewandowski’s predatory instincts, the high return of goals was to be expected.
But is there reason for clubs, specifically in the Premier League, to be concerned over his ability to transfer his good form into another league? The real case in point is that Lewandowski has only produced like this in one season. His natural, comfortable environment now is the Bundesliga, and it’s likely he will have another season of similar numbers playing with Dortmund. However, transferring to the Premier League brings a number of problems for the striker, namely the issue of adapting to English football and, of course, the pressure and expectation to produce.
It’s been reported that a hypothetical number Dortmund would be willing to listen to approaches is 35 million euros. However, that’s Dortmund’s valuation of their striker; he’s an integral piece to their title defence and they are now light in that area considering Lucas Barrios has recently departed. But that’s not to say that Lewandowski’s market value necessarily points to north of 35 million euros. Again, it’s unlikely that he would transfer his 30 goals a season performance into another league immediately, and it remains to be seen whether Tottenham are willing to part with that kind of money for a player.
But as for the player and style he represents, he is certainly in the right mould of what Tottenham should be looking for. His ability to play as a lone striker with heavily attack minded players on either flank does greatly suit him. Lewandowski has performed with this formation for the entirety of his career at Dortmund, and the Polish national team has also lined up in a similar formation to suit his strengths.
The desire of many clubs on the continent to ditch the traditional 4-4-2 formation in favour of five players operating in the midfield—Spurs being included—has opened up the market considerably to players who are capable of playing in similar systems to great effect. His height and strength is a significant plus, as is his technical ability and movement. Again, he had a wonderful season scoring a variety of goals, but it was just one season. The Dortmund team are engineered to create many, many chance in games, some of which come from unlikely sources on the pitch. The need will be to see if he can reproduce in what would technically be his “sophomore” season.
The real elephant in the room with this story is Dortmund’s lack of willingness to part with another one of their key players this summer. The need to sell Nuri Sahin last summer was obvious—the player had one year left on his contract. But the team replaced him and carried on in similar fashion to retain their league title. This summer has been another case of allowing one of their stars to move on. Shinji Kagawa is likely to be replaced in the same manner Sahin was, and other than Barrios’ departure, it’s unlikely we’ll see much more significant movement out the door at Dortmund.
The club have a smart way of running their club without disrupting the balance in the squad too heavily, and at this stage there is really no financial need for the club to part ways with Lewandowski.
The admiration from Spurs for one of the most lethal finishers in Europe last season is understandable, and he absolutely represents the type of player the club should be looking to pursue: A young, hungry talent with plenty to prove. Players like Emmanuel Adebayor just do not fit that description.