Why Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski is still the best striker in the world
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has claimed his first European Golden Shoe after outscoring the entire field in 2020/21. It is unlikely to be his last...
Lewandowski capped his 11th season in the Bundesliga with a record 41 goals, going one better than the late Gerd Müller some 49 years earlier.
The Bayern striker registered five braces, four hat-tricks and one four-goal blitz. He only failed to score in four of the 29 matches he featured in, and never went more than one without finding the net.
Had Lewandowski been fit for the duration of Bayern's ninth successive title romp, the Pole would have ended the 2020/21 campaign closer to 50 goals. Not that the record champions' irrepressible No.9 needed the additional cushion at the top of the scoring charts.
Watch: Robert Lewandowski's historic season
As well as being the first player in history to score more than 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season, Lewandowski became the first to be named Bundesliga top scorer for four years running.
His nearest challenger in the Torjägerkanone race was Andre Silva. The Portugal international registered 28 goals for Eintracht Frankfurt, one more than Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland. In 42 of the previous 57 Bundesliga campaigns, Silva would have claimed the prize for himself.
The gulf between LewanGOALski and the chasing pack extended across Europe. Lionel Messi scored 30 times for Barcelona; Cristiano Ronaldo put away 29 goals in his final season as a Juventus player; while previous European Golden Shoe winner Ciro Immobile hit 20.
Lewandowski didn't so much as inherit the crown as take it by a goalscoring tour de force.
Watch: How Lewandowski outscored Messi & Co.
"This is a great accolade for Robert Lewandowski," commented Bayern president Herbert Hainer, after Lewandowski added the 2021 European Golden Shoe to his 2020 UEFA and FIFA Best Player gongs.
"Not just for his many, many goals but for the exemplary professionalism with which he gives everything for success every day. He’s deserved to become the second FC Bayern player after the unforgettable Gerd Müller to be honoured with the Golden Shoe."
Lewandowski has a happy knack of emulating the Bundesliga's record 365-goal marksman.
The 33-year-old is currently enjoying an 18-game scoring run in all competitions for Bayern, outdoing his acclaimed predecessor by three matches.
He is the first player to score in 13 straight Bundesliga home assignments - trumping another best-mark that once belonged to Der Bomber der Nation - and will equal Müller's gold standard of scoring in 16 consecutive Bundesliga games, if he does the business against Greuther Fürth on Matchday 6.
With seven goals at a rate of 1.59 per 90 minutes already this term, it seems almost inevitable. Besting Müller's record haul of seven top scorer's cannons - never mind matching - is surely a formality. Equalling his predecessor's pair of European Golden Shoes is a distinct possibility.
With 284 goals in 355 appearances, Lewandowski is the Bundesliga's record non-German scorer, second to Müller in the all-time department but top dog in terms of minutes per goal (100.4).
His eight-goal debut season total of 2010/11 the exception to the rule, the Poland international has comfortably hit double figures in each and every Bundesliga campaign since: 22, 24, 20, 17, 30, 30, 29, 22, 34 and 41.
That he is still peaking into his 30s is testament to his unwavering commitment to his craft.
"Every accolade documents what an exceptional player Robert Lewandowski is in world football," enthused Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
"In the more than four years that I’ve been in charge of the sporting side at FC Bayern, I've come to know him as a person who constantly wants to improve and who brings in his ideas in an open and demanding way.
"Robert always sets the highest standards, both for himself but also for everyone else. That helps us, and that's why I'm very happy that Robert is now receiving the Golden Shoe he's earned."
Watch: Lewandowski - a master at work
Lewandowski's routine goalscoring act promises further individual accolades and titles with Bayern. In seven full seasons at the club, he has top scored on five occasions whilst winning the Bundesliga, as a minimum, in every one.
Lewandowski's elite mentality and finely tuned physique, meanwhile, tease longetivity scarcely seen at the highest level. The former Dortmund frontman has played in at least 30 of 34 single-season Bundesliga games all but once since moving to Germany from Poland's Lech Poznan in summer 2010.
"Thirty-three is just a number. For me, it doesn't show how old I really am," Bayern's bionic man told Sportbild recently.
"I'm physically fit and I've got the right mentality, too. My numbers now at age 33 are better than ever. Not just in terms of fitness; every metric out on the pitch is better than it's ever been in my career. Maybe I can raise the bar a bit more."
Lewandowski can drop the conditional. From the simple to the spectacular, he has registered 305 goals in 336 competitive appearances for Bayern. One-hundred-and-thirteen since the start of the 2019/20 campaign alone is more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues across that period.
The fact such numbers are not headline news drives home Lewandowski's standing in the game. Goals by the bucket-load are very much the norm for the most extraordinarily consistent goalscorer in world football today.
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