Bayern Munich have perhaps not been as reliant on one player since Bastian Schweinsteiger or Oliver Kahn as they are on Robert Lewandowski. But what impact will the striker's latest public comments have?
Robert Lewandowski will be playing for Bayern Munich this season. Given that the Pole is the central figure in attack and has scored 155 goals in just 200 games for Bayern, that's clearly good news for the club. The last few months have been unsettling for both striker and team though, and while the waters have now calmed, concerns still linger.
"In April and May everyone was taking shots at me and I didn't get any protection [from the club]. I felt left alone. I didn't score in two or three big games and suddenly it was: open season vs Lewandowski," the striker said in comments published in this Wednesday's edition of SportBild. The recently turned 30-year-old alsoadmitted he had handed in a transfer request because he had the feeling he had no credit at the club.
"I didn't see anyone who was supporting me. None of the bosses defended me," Lewandowski said.
In publically voicing this displeasure, Lewandowski has perhaps somewhat broken with the club's unifying concept of Mia San Mia (we are who are), almost certainly to the displeasure of CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and President Uli Hoeness. This feels much more like Lewandowski "is who he is," not that that's a surprise. Lewandowski undoubtedly also enjoyed his time at Borussia Dortmund, but it would perhaps be a jump to say that it had been a case of Echte Liebe (true love).
Big game concerns
Domestically, Lewandowski has been a monster. In his last seven Bundesliga campaigns, he has only once scored fewer than 20 goals. On the bigger stage though, he hasn't been as successful. In last season's Champions League semifinals, Lewandowski missed chances that could have knocked Real Madrid out. That was where the criticism started, and it only continued after a poor World Cup with Poland.
One conversation with new Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac later, it seems Lewandowski now has no intention of leaving. The striker said he was "back at Bayern with my heart" and that he'd realized he feels wanted after all. This might be hard for Bayern fans to believe, and may leave some feeling as though they really should have sold him in the summer.
But Bayern need Lewandowski, and his startling hat trick in the Super Cup reminded them that they have always needed him in recent years. The only difference now seems to be that the striker, for whatever reason, has come to realize that he needs Bayern just as much as they need him.