Robert Lewandowski has been banging in the goals for fun in 2019/20, breaking all manner of scoring records along the way as he looks to spearhead Bayern Munich’s renewed charge for silverware.
Given that nobody had ever found the net in each of the first 11 games of a season, or had 16 goals at the same juncture, the inevitable question has arisen: is he Bayern’s best striker ever? bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the contenders…
The Polish marksman has scored at least 20 times in seven of his nine full Bundesliga campaigns to date and already has well over a double century of goals in the German top flight. He averages a goal every 109 minutes, a feat bettered only by Gerd Müller and his astounding record of a goal every 105 minutes.
But the current Bayern No.9 has had to do it against faster and fitter opponents, with the added scrutiny and expectation of the media-fuelled modern era. The Bundesliga's leading foreign scorer, Lewy's all-round contribution to Bayern's success since his arrival in 2014 simply has to earn him top spot in our chart.
Watch: Lewandowski's goals so far in 2019/20
2) Gerd Müller
The exacting demands of 21st-century football mean Lewandowski is unlikely to better Müller's 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games for Bayern, a top-flight record. A penalty-box predator par excellence, the 1970 Ballon d'Or winner lifted the Torjägerkanone seven times - netting an incredible 40 goals in the 1971/72 season alone - and was named 'Most Valuable Player in Bundesliga History' by the DFL in 2003.
"Without him, we'd still be getting changed in a wooden cabin," said former teammate Franz Beckenbauer, when assessing Müller's contribution to transforming Bayern into a football powerhouse. 'Der Bomber' won the Bundesliga and DFB Cup four times each, and was instrumental in the three European Cup triumphs of 1974-76.
Werder Bremen's evergreen striker Claudio Pizarro held the distinction of being the Bundesliga's top non-German scorer between October 2010 and March 2018, when he was finally overtaken by his friend and former protégé Lewandowski. The 41-year-old Peruvian boasts 197 goals in almost 500 top-flight appearances, and could yet join Lewy and Co. in the 200 club before calling time on his illustrious career at the end of 2019/20.
He grabbed 87 of his Bundesliga goals in two spells with the Bavarians, contributing to no fewer than six league titles. He was part of the treble-winning squad in 2012/13, and stands alone as the only man to have scored in 21 consecutive years in the Bundesliga, a phenomenal run stretching back to 1999. In February 2019, he also became the German top flight's oldest goalscorer at 40 years, four months and 13 days.
Watch: Pizarro's Bundesliga highlight reel
4) Giovane Elber
After making his name at VfB Stuttgart, the Brazilian's partnership with Carsten Jancker proved to be a thorn in the side of the rest of the league after he moved to Bayern in 1997. Four top-flight titles and a UEFA Champions League win followed in the next six years, and he claimed the Torjägerkanone as the league's top scorer in 2002/03 with 21 goals.
Like Pizarro, Poland-born Miroslav Klose made his name at Bremen, but then employed his considerable powers to devastating effect at Bayern. Though not the most prolific name on the list – 24 goals in 98 Bundesliga appearances for FCB – the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner's tireless harrying of opposition defences was integral to a brace of domestic doubles during his four-year stint at the Allianz Arena.
Watch: The standout moments from Klose's playing career
6) Luca Toni
Top scorer and a double winner in his first season at Bayern, the Italian's 24-goal haul of 2007/08 included a 'perfect' hat-trick against Hannover. In total he registered 39 goals and 11 assists in 46 competitive outings for the Reds in a stunning maiden campaign in Germany.
The 6'4" forward was hampered by injury the next year but still netted 14 goals in 25 games, before falling out of favour after the arrival of Louis van Gaal as head coach in 2009. He eventually joined Roma on loan shortly afterwards – albeit with his reputation as a fan favourite and scorer extraordinaire firmly intact at the Allianz Arena.
A Bundesliga, Germany and world football legend, Jürgen Klinsmann’s spell at Bayern may have been brief but it was goal-filled and crowned with success. The record Bundesliga champions made an exception to their usual policy of recruiting players under the age of 30 when they signed ‘Klinsi’ as a 31-year-old from Tottenham Hotspur in 1995 and were richly rewarded with 31 goals in 65 appearances. He helped the club lift the UEFA Cup in his first season and the Meisterschale in his last, in 1997.
8) Mario Gomez
Mario Gomez made his name at boyhood club Stuttgart, where he averaged a goal every other game and helped the side to their third – and to date last – Bundesliga title in 2007. Bayern, in need of a replacement for Toni in 2009, made sure they won his signature and the 6’2” striker continued his fine form in Bavaria, smashing in 75 goals in just 115 Bundesliga matches, spawning a double (2009/10) and an unprecedented treble (2012/13) for the club before joining Fiorentina in 2013.
9) Carsten Jancker
The battering ram flip-side to Elber's finesse, the 6'4" colossus may not have been the most elegant of players, but he had the crucial knack of knowing where to be at the right time. After all, you don’t get to spend six years at Bayern (1996-2002) without having a certain something in your skill set. He was not the most prolific of attackers, but his 48 goals in 143 Bundesliga games still yielded four league titles, as well as a UEFA Champions League winner's medal in 2001.
10) Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Now a deft mover in the boardroom, club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was also smart on his feet on the pitch. The former striker scored 162 league goals for the club – putting him ahead of Lewandowski and behind only Müller in Bayern’s all-time chart – and helped the Bavarians claim successive European Cup titles (1975-1976) and Bundesliga crowns (1980-81), as well as winning the Ballon d'Or in 1980 and 1981.