Robert Lewandowski was briefly flummoxed by the question. Who does he rate as the best strikers in world football?
“It’s difficult to say exactly, because what does it mean ‘the striker’?” the Bayern Munich star wondered. “If you are speaking about the No. 9 …”
Well in the case of No. 9s, no one was more prolific last season than Lewandowski with 55 goals in 47 games — showing the ongoing value of a target man in ever-evolving footballing formations.
But even for Lewandowski, the role of central striker has changed from just being a goal scorer in the area.
“You have to do something new,” he said, “and to be part of the team also during the game and not only to wait maybe in the box, waiting for the ball and finish the situation.”
The 32-year-old Lewandowski’s finishing last season helped Bayern win the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League. Such a significant contribution should have put him in contention for the Ballon D’Or as world player of the year, but organizer France Football canceled the award due to the disruption caused to the season by the pandemic.
“To win the Ballon D’Or is for every player a dream,” Lewandowski said on a video call from Munich. “I think every player who won what we won, or scored so many goals (that) I scored .. should be in the Ballon D’Or, yeah, and maybe win this Ballon D’Or. ”
Reaching 55 goals again this season, which begins for Bayern against Schalke on Friday, could be tough for the Poland captain. The late start to the season due to the pandemic has created a congested fixture schedule that means he expects to be rested more often.
“I know that (rotation) will be very important and I’m sure that in my head it will be not that I have to play every single game, because playing every three days is difficult for every single player … to be fresh and not tired.”
The season should end with Lewandowski playing for Poland at the rescheduled European Championship, which starts in June.
“It will maybe be the most difficult season in our lives, that we have almost every three days games without a break,” he said. “Rotation will be very important and to stay fit, to stay with the best form.”
As for the No. 9s ranked as his biggest competitors? Lewandowski singled out Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Chelsea’s Timo Werner.
And they should have Lewandowski as a scoring rival for some years to come.
“I want to play maybe five or six years longer,” he said.
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