That Robert Lewandowski was headed to Bayern Munich ahead of next season was the worst-kept secret in football.
Official: #FCBayern have signed Robert Lewandowski (25)! The striker has signed a 5-year contract until 2019. More soon on FCB.de— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) January 4, 2014
But that Bayern waited until now to do the deal—until there were only six months left on the Poland international’s pact at Borussia Dortmund—was an astute piece of business from a club that has developed a reputation for shrewdness in recent seasons.
The coming expiration of the 25-year-old’s current contract meant he could negotiate with any club he chose, and that Dortmund would receive precisely nothing upon his exit.
And Bayern, who already possess a top-end striker in the form of Mario Mandzukic, will go into the 2014-15 campaign with a pair of goalscorers they acquired for just over €10 million—the amount Wolfsburg charged for Mandzukic in 2012.
Bayern will now have two of Europe's best strikers next season and they only spent a little over 10m Euros. Doesn't get much shrewder.— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) January 4, 2014
Yes, Bayern have spent big in each of the last two summers, first signing Javi Martinez for €40 million and then triggering Mario Gotze’s buyout clause with a €37 million bid, but both players were specifically targeted by the club, and they are surrounded by talent that was assembled rather more economically.
The central defensive partnership that helped the club to its historic treble last spring, for example (Jerome Boateng and Dante), was put together for slightly more than €18 million, or 80 per cent the cost of one Joleon Lescott.
All the while Bayern have continued to populate their squad with players either developed by the club or brought into its setup by their 18th birthdays—players such as Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and David Alaba.
Framed another way, the starting lineup that took the club to Champions League glory last May was put together for roughly €140 million over six years, less than what Manchester City spend in a matter of months in 2010.
Or slightly more than one Gareth Bale and one Asier Illarramendi.
And they’ve improved that side by adding a world-class striker to it for free.