Robert Lewandowski, the best player without a Ballon d’Or

Robert Lewandowski sat on the outside looking in for a decade. Ten years of a duopoly when it came to individual brilliance.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo won nine of the 10 Ballon d’Ors. Since 2008, they have 11 of 12. Messi has a record-six, Cristiano has five and Luka Modric won in 2018. A new contender entered their name into the conversation in 2020.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the tradition of presenting the Ballon d’Or due to shortened seasons across Europe. France Football scrapped the coronation as their own domestic league did not finish out their season. Hypothetically, the award should have gone to Robert Lewandowski.

“Someone had to decide that this year there would be no Ballon d’Or,” Lewandowski told Daily Mail in December 2020.

“Maybe they decided too early because every [other] trophy has been decided. So many players, coaches, journalists know that, for me, it was the best season.”

Robert Lewandowski and a flawless 2019/20

The captain of Poland’s National Team led Bayern Munich to their second treble in club history. Additionally, Lewandowski accomplished a treble of individual feats. The Pole led three competitions in goals. Thirty-four goals led all Bundesliga scorers and six in the DFB-Pokal Cup. Also, he scored the second-most goals in European Cup history with 15 as Bayern won the Champions League.

More remarkable, perhaps, is the amount of games Robert Lewandowski did this in. A 50-goal season is a rare feat to begin with. Then, add the fact that each competition experienced a shortened season, and Lewandowski shows his true brilliance. Fifty-five goals in just 46 games. That is roughly 1.2 goals per game.

“We did what we did, and it was spectacular,” Lewandowski said, I’m glad everyone has seen it.

“These awards are something nice, amazing. But I also know that every personal trophy is for the team.”

Lewy, as he’s affectionally called by friends and fans, followed up the best year of his career with a campaign that was even stronger. With 41 goals, the forward broke the Bundesliga’s record for most goals in a season. His 41 goals in 2020/21 surpassed Gerd Muller’s mark of 40 that stood for 49 years. The 2020 FIFA Best Men’s Player scored in the final minutes in the last game of the season against Augsburg in dramatic fashion.

Another feat that makes the accomplishment more impressive is that Muller played in 34 matches to score 40. Comparatively, the nine-time Polish Player of the Year bagged a record 41 in just 29 matches. For the first time, Robert Lewandowski won the Golden Shoe, presented to the leading scorer across Europe’s top five leagues. The award Muller won two times and led the Bundesliga in goals seven times, a record.

Unclear future at Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski warms up during a Champions League game in 2015.

On August 15, Muller, an icon of world soccer, passed away at the age of 75. Muller is undoubtedly one of the greatest soccer players of all time. Two days later, Bayern played their fiercest domestic rival in the German Super Cup. Der Bomber’s former club defeated Borussia Dortmund in another edition of Der Klassiker, 3-1. Robert Lewandowski scored a brilliant header for his first goal in the 41st minute and added another goal in the 74th minute. Everything seemed to be going well in Bavaria, but reports stated otherwise.

Sky Sports has stated that the second all-time leading scorer in Bundesliga history is seeking a new challenge. The 2019-20 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year has played in Germany for 11 years. He turns 33 on the weekend, meaning he is no prospect anymore. Despite his elite play, he awaits a contract extension offer from Bayern Munich. Due to Lewandowski’s age, now would be the best time to make a move to another league. His contract expires in 2023. By then, the prolific goal scorer will be 35. We just saw the leading candidate for the 2021 Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi, move to Paris Saint-Germain. Messi is 34 and unusual circumstances caused his departure from Barcelona.

If this season is the third all-time leading scorer in Champions League history’s last dance at Bayern, then Robert Lewandowski will make the most of it.

Lewangoalski, as Thomas Muller called him, continues to deliver, and remains the best striker in the world.

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