Karl-Heinz Rummenidge may have done his best to quell rumors that Robert Lewandowski could leave Bayern Munich this summer, but the player’s camp may not be ready to give in.
According to a report by ESPNFC, a source close to Lewandowski said the Polish striker is unhappy about the playing time he has received this season.
Lewandowski, who will be 30 around the start of next season, scored a whopping 29 league goals this season as Bayern stormed to yet another monstrous Bundesliga title, but he saw spotty playing time down the stretch.
“Robert’s rhythm was clearly broken,” the ESPN source said. “He played almost every game over the past few years [and] even played with a shoulder injury at Real last year and he scored. He played with a face mask against Barcelona in 2015. He does not have this rhythm in 2018.”
Looking at the numbers, it’s a bit of a dubious complaint. Sure, he was rested for a good portion of the latter stages of the league season – since the turn to the 2018 calendar year, Lewandowski put up just five league 90-minute performances, scoring in four of those, including a pair of hat-tricks – however Bayern cruised to the Bundesliga finish line to win the league by 24 points and manager Jupp Heynckes will have wanted to rest his star striker for a deep Champions League run. Supporting that, Lewandowski played 505 of a possible 540 Champions League minutes in 2018. He also played every minute of their DFB-Pokal crown, grabbing a brace in the win over Bayer Leverkusen in the finals.
“He never told me that he felt he hadn’t played enough,” Heynckes told reporters on Friday to rebuff the reports. “I have repeatedly heard that we had an extremely stressful and intensive fixture list, therefore I gave him regular breaks with the big games in mind. For example, if he didn’t play a game in eight days, that’s a normal rhythm and he wouldn’t lose any playing rhythm.”
Despite his stunning league form, Lewandowski received criticism this season for his Champions League output. While he scored three goals in league play and another pair in a 5-0 win over Besiktas to start the knockout round, he was blanked after that, putting up five straight goose eggs as Bayern was booted in the semifinals by Real Madrid. Through his Bayern career, Lewandowski now has 11 goals in 21 Champions League knockout matches, but he has mostly failed to deliver when the team needs him the most.
Lewandowski’s contract with Bayern Munich runs through the summer of 2021, so any move would either have to be initiated by the club or forced by the player.