Robert Lewandowski is widely regarded as one of the most clinical strikers ever to grace the modern game, building a reputation as a Bundesliga legend due to his incredible goalscoring exploits.
At 33 years old, he shows no sign of slowing down after firing Bayern Munich to a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title in 2021/22.
Nevertheless, speculation is growing about his long-term future at Bayern, due to the nature of his contractual situation and appeal as a match-winner on the biggest of stages to keen onlookers.
Sporting News delves deeper into his predicament, examining the fundamentals of his contract, recent form and potential destinations should he decide to go elsewhere.
Will Lewandowski leave Bayern Munich?
On May 14, the final day of the 2021/22 Bundesliga season, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed Lewandowski wants to leave.
"I spoke to Lewa. During the conversation, he informed me he did not want to accept our offer to extend the contract and would like to leave the club," he told Sky in Germany.
However, it seems Lewandowski may have a battle to earn a transfer in the next window. "He has a contract until the summer of 2023," Salihamidzic said. "That's a fact. Our position is clear."
Salihamidzic was speaking ahead of Bayern's match with Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena, where Lewandowski famously scored nine goals in just five minutes in September 2015. Fittingly, he scored 40 minutes into this latest contest, taking his tally for 2022/23 to 50 goals in all competitions.
Lewandowski confirmed after the match that it was "probably" his final game for the club, insisting: "I will not renew my contract."
Is Lewandowski joining Barcelona?
With rumours abuzz about where Lewandowski may end up, it was reported in Germany in April that Barcelona were interested in the forward. It is claimed that Lewandowski hasn't handed in a transfer request but, with the striker looking ahead to his future, he could get a deal for two or three years at the Catalan club, potentially worth up to £33 million.
On May 12, it was claimed by Sky in Germany that Lewandowski had informed Bayern he would not be extending his contract at the Allianz Arena and, rather than wait until he becomes a free agent in 2023, he wants to join Barcelona before next season.
Amid suggestions a provisional agreement was in place with the player, Barca head coach Xavi said prior to his side's final La Liga game of the season: "He's one of the options. He said publicly that he wants to go.
"He'll have to talk with the club. It won't be easy given it's Bayern, but he's one of the options, yes."
Lewandowski will turn 34 before 2022/23 begins, meaning it's likely now or never if he wants one final payday at a big club. As for Barcelona, it's well known that they want a marquee forward. However, their well-documented financial difficulties mean a move for the priciest players have not been feasible — see, for instance, head coach Xavi's claims that they could not compete financially with Manchester City for Erling Haaland.
With Kylian Mbappe looking likely to move to Real Madrid on a free transfer or stay at Paris Saint-Germain, Lewandowski would make sense while Barca consider longer-term objectives.
Sky Germany reporter Marc Behrenbeck was previously quoted as saying: "There have been talks already. Xavi desperately wants a world-class striker, who can guarantee 30 or more goals a season." He also added that Lewandowski is open to a move to Spain, if contract talks at Bayern don't go well.
We did a lot of research in the last weeks and what we know is that Barcelona are highly interested in Lewandowski, especially because a transfer of Erling Haaland won't happen. And that is what we know at the moment: Barca want him, Lewandowski is open for Barcelona. It was always a dream for him to play in Spain - either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
What is Lewandowski's contract situation?
Lewandowski's deal at runs until the end of 2022/23, meaning he could walk away from the Allianz Arena as a free agent upon the conclusion of next season.
The veteran is on extremely high wages, reportedly taking home a handsome paycheque of £329,000 ($402,000) per week at the German champions.
Previously, it was thought the striker wanted a new contract at the club, reflective of his position as one of their star players and with guarantees of still being held in that regard for the foreseeable future. If not, he would be seriously ready to consider offers from elsewhere.
Though Lewandowski has been an indispensable cog in the Bayern machine, no such agreement has yet been made over extending his time at the club beyond 2023 and, as of now, it would seem he has grown tired of waiting.
Where will Lewandowski go if he leaves Bayern?
There have been multiple destinations all over Europe mooted as potential next steps for Lewandowski if Bayern do not secure his future.
PSG and Chelsea both held significant interest in the striker last year, as reported by Fabrizio Romano, with the former potentially going to be in the hunt for a new elite forward if Mbappe departs for Real Madrid.
It is Barcelona that appears the most likely destination for Lewandowski, though. Speculation has persisted for some weeks, with even rumours of a swap deal for the striker including full-back Sergino Dest gaining traction ahead of the transfer window.
Moving to link up with Xavi at Camp Nou would represent a blockbuster move for the ex-Dortmund star, potentially providing the Catalans with the final piece to the jigsaw as they aim to reclaim the league title for the first time since 2018/19. Qualifying for next season's Champions League will also have been key to their bargaining position.
However, should the Barca deal not materialise, Madrid could yet offer him the chance to move to La Liga. It has been claimed previously that Lewandowski "dreamed" of playing at the Santiago Bernabeu, not least as it could increase his chances of winning the Ballon d'Or. Should Madrid fail to sign either Mbappe, having already missed out on Haaland, Lewandowski would offer a cut-price alternative until a possible future bid for one of those younger stars.
‘There may be surprises.’— 888sport (@888sport) April 6, 2022
▪️ Interest from PSG and CFC last year
▪️ Has been waiting for a new contract ever since
▪️ Is ready to be tempted by a new challenge in the summer@FabrizioRomano reveals the latest on Lewandowski and Bayern in his new blog.
How many goals has Lewandowski scored this season?
Despite getting on a bit in age, Lewandowski looks as lethal as ever. In 46 appearances in all competitions this campaign, he has hit an unbelievable 50 goals, 35 of which have come in the Bundesliga.
In the Champions League, he has been a standout performer, netting a goal on average every 65 minutes and 13 times in total. These have all come from an average of 1.95 shots on target per 90 minutes, highlighting his ruthless nature.
He has scored over 40 goals in his previous seven consecutive seasons and will no doubt be looking to smash through the half-century mark before the campaign draws to a close.
Which trophies has Lewandowski won at Bayern Munich?
Lewandowski has won 19 trophies at Bayern, including eight Bundesliga titles (to go with two he won at Borussia Dortmund). He has also won three DFB-Pokal trophies, five DFL Supercups, and a solitary UEFA Super Cup back in 2020.
Lewandowski also won the Champions League in 2019/20, leading the line to great effect as his side triumphed 1-0 over PSG in the final in Lisbon. FIFA Club World Cup success came later that year, as Bayern defeated Tigres 1-0 in Qatar to claim the trophy.
Taking all of this into account, there is every chance the striker may feel that he could do with a new challenge before he reaches his twilight years as a footballer. Will Lewandowski be a Bayern player beyond next season? Only he can decide what the future holds.
🗣️ "I always dreamed of playing and scoring in the Champions League; the first time I was on the pitch, my entire skin felt different."— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 6, 2022
🇵🇱 Robert Lewandowski interview:
✅ On his footballing upbringing
✅ On becoming a European champion#UCL