Jupp Heynckes (l.) says Bayern Munich goal machine Robert Lewandowski (r.) fully merits his place among the Bundesliga's top three all-time scorers. - © imago images
Jupp Heynckes (l.) says Bayern Munich goal machine Robert Lewandowski (r.) fully merits his place among the Bundesliga's top three all-time scorers. - © imago images

"World-class Robert Lewandowski deserves to overtake me in the all-time scoring charts" - Jupp Heynckes

Jupp Heynckes has hailed Robert Lewandowski as "world class" after the Bayern Munich striker overtook his former coach in the Bundesliga's all-time scoring charts.

Lewandowski, who played under Heynckes at Bayern in 2017/18, scored his 19th goal of the current campaign and 221st overall in the defending champions' 3-1 win at Freiburg on Wednesday.

The Poland international, 30, now occupies third place in the German top-flight's list of leading marksmen, relegating Heynckes - who registered 220 goals in 369 Bundesliga appearances in the colours of Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hannover - to fourth.

"He deserves to overtake me," Heynckes told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "It was a privilege for me to have worked with him. What impressed me about Robert was his professionalism, ambition, passion, drive and fitness levels. He's shown, particularly this season, what a world-class player he is."

Praise indeed from a man who himself won two Bundesliga top scorer's prizes in the 1970s - but there's no doubt whatsoever Lewandowski has earned it.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker claimed his third career Torjägerkanone on Heynckes' watch in 2017/18 and, after defending his crown last season, is on course to make it three on the spin (five overall) after plundering a league-leading 19 goals in his first 16 appearances of the campaign.

The legendary Gerd Müller - the Bundesliga's record goalscorer - is the only player in the league's history to have achieved that feat. The 365-strike 'Bomber der Nation' - a seven-time Bundesliga top scorer across his 427 top-flight appearances - is also the only Bundesliga player past or present to register 40 single-season goals.

Prior to his days as a treble-winning coach with Bayern Munich, Heynckes was an exceptional goalscorer, chiefly with Borussia Mönchengladbach. - imago/Horstmüller

It's another best-mark Lewandowski - already the Bundesliga's record non-German goalscorer and having recently become the first player to find the net in 11 consecutive matches to start a season - has in his crosshairs.

He is averaging a goal every 74 minutes in the Bundesliga this term, while his overall league average since moving to Germany from Lech Poznan in summer 2010 is only five minutes down on Müller's (one goal every 105 mins compared to one every 110).

Seeing as the fittest man in football has never missed more than two consecutive league games since joining Bayern in summer 2014, it is fair to assume he will at the very least reel in Klaus Fischer (268 goals in 535 Bundesliga appearances), if not the Bundesliga's goal-scoring pacesetter, Müller, in the years ahead.

Watch: A tactical analysis of Lewandowski and Müller

Lewandowski will have the chance to add to his eye-watering tally when Bayern host Wolfsburg in their final match of the year on Saturday.

The Bayern No.9 famously scored five times in one record-breaking nine-minute spell against the Wolves back in September 2015, and has more goals in meetings with the Auto City club than any other opposition: 21 goals in 18 matches.

Wolfsburg might be the proud owners of the stingiest defence in this season's Bundesliga with only 16 conceded, but Lewandowski is a nigh-on certainty to knock the 2008/09 champions down a peg or five at the Allianz Arena...