One of the biggest problems coming to the fore during Chelsea’s unsuccessful defence of their Premier League title arose up front.
Alvaro Morata, perhaps predictably, was an inadequate replacement for the now Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, whilst Michy Batshuayi was shipped out on loan to Borussia Dortmund after Olivier Giroud arrived.
In fairness to the former Arsenal striker, he made a marked difference to Chelsea’s performances, acting as an able target man and arguably usurping Morata -who suffered repeat injuries, off-field tragedy and subsequent loss of form and confidence- in the hierarchy.
Goals, nonetheless, remain an issue at Stamford Bridge. It’s for this reason that the Blues have reportedly made Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski their top priority over the summer.
Superficially this deal looks a non-starter, but the Pole’s agent -Pini Zahavi- revealed to Sport Bild that Lewandowski “feels that he needs a change and a new challenge.”
Is Chelsea the “challenge” Lewandowski so desperately craves?
The beauty of Bayern lost on Lewy
When you’ve won it all, what’s the reason to stay at a certain club?
Robert Lewandowski is no stranger to success since arriving in Bavaria from their nearest and dearest Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014 for free -that’s right, free.
A six-time Bundesliga champions across his stints at both clubs, two-time DFB-Pokal winner and three-time top goalscorer, perhaps the Pole has simply fallen out of love with Germany.
The only draw keeping Lewandowski at Bayern Munich in terms of silverware to be won is the Champions League, with the striker only appearing in one final, with Dortmund in 2012/13, when they lost to -yes, you guessed it- Bayern. Ironically, this was the last time Bayern won the Champions League.
At 29 years of age, it’s not unreasonable for Lewandowski now to feel as though his time in Bavaria has run its course, thus seeking a new challenge.
With three -maybe more- seasons left at the absolute pinnacle of football, there brews an existential crisis: ‘Have I achieved everything I can? Am I fulfilled? Does my career have a purpose here? Will my legacy be valued?’
When the time is right…
There were certainly more options on the table last year for the striker, but he’s not exactly short of suitors this time around, with Chelsea leading the race for his signature.
Manchester United attempted to sign him when managed by Louis van Gaal, but with Romelu Lukaku arriving last summer for £75 million, it’s unlikely that the board will sanction another big-money move for a striker.
French champions, Paris Saint-Germain, are similarly linked, but Lewandowski will have to compete with Edinson Cavani for a starting berth, as well as the larger-than-life personality of Neymar. Moving from Germany to France, moreover, isn’t much of a challenge.
The leagues are similar in standard and simply don’t make for comparison to the level of competition in England. Ligue 1, like the Bundesliga, is too much of a comfort zone for the Pole.
With England the best destination for the “challenge” Lewandowski’s agent speaks so fervently of and Manchester United unlikely to bid, Chelsea, therefore, seem ideal.
From red to blue
Lewandowski is one of the world’s best strikers and could easily swap Bavaria for Madrid -provided Los Blancos were interested-, but what challenge is that?
Yes, the Pole would most likely win his first Champions League title and there’s a testing element in usurping Barcelona for the La Liga title, but at the Santiago Bernabeu, he’s just another piece to a puzzle.
Perhaps the difference at Chelsea is that Lewandowski is the missing piece, the undisputed starter.
The Pole would arrive as the flagship signing of the new era at Stamford Bridge, with the next manager -expected to be Maurizio Sarri- likely to build a team revolving around himself and Eden Hazard.
The task is to drag Chelsea back to the top of the Premier League and Europe’s top table, whilst competing in Europe’s toughest league and domestically against Harry Kane and former foe Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Now, that’s a real challenge. A chance to prove himself further.
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