Manchester United remain interested in Borussia Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski, according to a recent report from ESPN FC. Though it is unclear whether United will sign the Polish international, it is clear that Lewandowski would bring a multi-faceted and potent threat to the team's attack—even if he would not fill the most pressing need in United's squad.
Already a sought-after transfer target, Lewandowski secured his status as an elite European striker with his famous four-goal performance against Real Madrid in this season's UEFA Champions League semifinals. In 12 Champions League appearances this season, Lewandowski has scored 10 goals, second only to Real's Cristiano Ronaldo. In 31 Bundesliga appearances this season, he scored 24 times.
In April, the agent of Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes claimed Bayern had a deal in place to sign Lewandowski this summer (Goal.com via Yahoo! Sports). Lewandowski's contract with Dortmund runs one more season, and United remain interested despite the reports linking him to Bayern.
According to the ESPN FC article, United would increase their efforts to sign Lewandowski if Wayne Rooney decides to join Paris Saint-Germain this summer. Transfermarkt estimates Lewandowski's market value at €28 million.
So, what would Lewandowski bring to United if he signs with the club?
In a recent scouting report of Lewandowski for B/R, Joe Krishnan writes:
As Real Madrid discovered after his four-goal haul at the Signal Iduna Park last month, Robert Lewandowski is presently one of the most lethal finishers in front of the goal in Europe. A strong and powerful striker, Lewandowski possesses superb technical skills, including a deft first touch which allows him to race away from his marker.
With an infinite tank of energy and a raw, blistering pace, the Pole scored the first goal of Euro 2012 and at just 24, his goalscoring record shows why signing him would be a shrewd piece of business.
In other words, Lewandowski can hurt opposing defenses several ways. Most obviously, he is a strong finisher, especially with his favored right foot. His four-goal performance against Real Madrid demonstrated this in arresting fashion.
Standing 184 centimeters (about six feet), Lewandowski possesses good physical traits. A striker by trade, he can play deeper and help link the attack. He is strong in the air and wins back possession for his team. He also features an excellent first touch and close control.
His third goal against Real showed off most of those abilities.
Passing, however, is an area in which Lewandowski could improve. He completed 72 percent of his passes in the league this season while committing 2.7 turnovers and being dispossessed 2.7 times per match (WhoScored).
Combined with all those abilities, Lewandowski's ability to read a match makes him difficult for defenses to handle. His goal against Malaga in the Champions League quarterfinals illustrated this.
In a fast, flowing move that started around the midfield line, Lewandowski positioned himself well and read Marco Reus' defense-splitting flick expertly. Then, of course, he applied a lethal finish with his right foot after beating the keeper one-on-one with excellent close control.
Such anticipation and awareness can and often does torment opposing defenses.
Yet Another Forward
It is worth pointing out that a move to United would reunite Lewandowski with former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa. The two played together from 2010-12 and would benefit from a familiarity with each other on the pitch.
Yet it's not entirely clear United need another forward. Rooney, Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck currently compete for first-team minutes, and adding Lewandowski could over-stuff an already crowded attack.
Then again, Rooney could join PSG this summer, creating room for Lewandowski. But would incoming manager David Moyes pair Lewandowski with van Persie or rotate the two?
As B/R's Max Towle points out here, United's most pressing need this summer is a box-to-box midfielder with creative inclinations. Kagawa would benefit from the arrival of Lewandowski, but Michael Carrick was United's only true standout performer this season in midfield.
Signing Lewandowski would not fill that need for United, but he would bring a potent, varied threat to the Red Devils' attack. As one of the top strikers currently playing in Europe, Lewandowski would make a fine addition to any team. For the right price, United would be wise to sign him, even if other needs are more pressing.