Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski confirms he requested a transfer this summer after receiving heavy criticism from poor late-season performances in big games.
Lewandowski bagged 29 goals in 30 Bundesliga appearances last season, but he was goalless in both legs of Bayern’s Champions League semifinal loss to Real Madrid, and had missed opportunities in a surprising DFB-Pokal Final loss to Eintracht Frankfurt. Having turned 30 just two days ago, Lewandowski told German publication Sport that he handed in a transfer request just before the World Cup, but ultimately was convinced to stay by new head coach Niko Kovac.
“When everything is going well it’s taken for granted what I do. If it goes badly, Lewandowski is to blame,” Lewandowski said. “That was how I felt at the end of the season. In April and May, almost everyone was having a go at me, I felt alone in this situation and didn’t enjoy any protection from the club. That disappointed me. I was an easy target because I failed to score in two or three important games. Suddenly it was a case of everybody laying into Lewandowski. I had the feeling that no one was behind me — none of the bosses defended me.”
Much of the criticism focuses on Lewandowski’s performances in big games over the last few years, especially in Champions League play. Bayern has bowed out of the Champions League in either the quarterfinals or the semifinals each of the last four years, with five individual 90-minute defeats in that span. In those five defeats combined, Lewandowski has scored just one lone goal.
“It wasn’t working out and everything came at once,” Lewandowski said, referring to this spring and early summer. “I felt as if I had been at Bayern for just one season and enjoyed zero credit at the club. That’s why I thought about leaving. That was the point when I thought: if everyone here has a problem with me and thinks I am not good enough, why should I stay here any longer? Everything came to a head before the World Cup. It was a difficult time for me. I thought about offers from other clubs.”
However, he is back on board, thanks to his new boss Kovac. “I had very good talks with Kovac,” he said. “The club will not consider selling me and is trying to keep me at all costs. That was the point when I said to myself: ‘I want to give everything to this club again.’ I’m now 30. I know how important I am and still have three years on my contract. I will never go on strike nor fight with the club. I will not waste any time thinking about [moving] abroad. Yes, I had problems but not with Munich nor the people here. My heart beats again for Bayern. I’m looking forward to my future at the club and the city.”
Lewandowski joined Bayern from rivals Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2014 on a free transfer and has scored 155 goals for the club across all competitions in 197 appearances.
Back in good spirits and ready to play this season, Lewandowski scored a hat-trick in the season-opening DFB-SuperCup against Eintracht Frankfurt and then bagged the lone goal in a 1-0 DFB-Pokal win over fourth-tier club SV Drochtersen. Bayern begins its Bundesliga title defense against Hoffenheim on Friday.