In what is shaping up to be one of the biggest transfer sagas of the summer, Robert Lewandowski remains a Bayern Munich player (for now) and Barcelona keep being linked with him.
Lewandowski has made it clear publicly that he wants to move to Barcelona, and Barcelona have made it clear that they want to sign him — and yet, a deal does not appear close.
So where do Liverpool come into the equation? Well, having agreed to sell Sadio Mané to Bayern Munich for a fee that could reach £35m (but is initially less than £30m minus the add-ons), there is more than a little hypocrisy at play.
Mané is almost four years younger than Lewandowski. Both forwards have (or had, in the case of Mané) a year left on their contracts, and both wanted to leave.
But while Liverpool fairly quickly found a replacement and granted Mané’s wish to move on, things have played out very differently with the Bundesliga champions — even though in the Senegalese, they have a replacement of their own.
Barcelona, despite having very limited finances to work with to put it mildly, have an interest, but whether they can meet Bayern Munich’s demands remains to be seen. The goalposts appear to change with every passing week.
Sky Sports now report that Bayern want to receive a transfer fee of €60m (£52m) for their Polish striker (other reports had suggested a figure of around two-thirds of that only a week or two ago), despite Lewandowski publicly making it clear he wants out.
It remains a possibility that Lewandowski could stay. Bayern Munich would point out that he is under contract for another season and therefore has no choice — though while he would be unlikely to kick up too much of a fuss and would probably settle for staying another 12 months rather than wasting a year of his career, it seems counterproductive in the long-term.
What if, in 2024, a year before his contract with Bayern runs out, Mané decides that he wants to move to Spain, for example, to experience another league, having won, say, two consecutive titles in Germany and the Champions League?
What if other Bayern Munich players are not allowed to leave when they want to, despite having offered years of service? Perhaps then it would become more difficult to convince players to sign there to begin with.
Bayern Munich, Liverpool and others do not want to become stepping stones for other destinations, but there is a fine line between taking a stance on transfers and letting that dictate the future.
As Lewandowski continues to push for a move, Bayern Munich should take a leaf out of Liverpool’s book. In the long-term, letting a player go when they are so adamant that they want to depart is usually the best course of action.