There’s a weird obsession among football fans where we feel obliged to compare modern-day players to those from years gone by.
It’s probably spawned from our dads just randomly claiming ‘yeah but he’ll never be as good as Pele was’ after watching something completely unrelated like Manuel Neuer make a save.
Alright dads, we get it, you’re older than us.
The rise of the football hipster hasn’t helped either, with your bearded, craft ale-drinking mate quick to scoff whenever you describe a modern-day player as ‘a great’ before they tell you they aren’t a patch on some bloke from the Ugandan league who once scored 351 goals in a season.
Anyway, ranting aside, there are some footballers who you should feel no shame whatsoever in describing as ‘a great’ and one of said players is unquestionably Robert Lewandowski.
The Polish hitman has been tearing Bundesliga defences apart for over a decade now, notching an incredible 276 goals in 349 German top-flight outings.
The most recent strike of his ridiculous haul saw him take his league tally for the current campaign to 40, subsequently equalling the 49-year-old record set by fellow former Bayern forward Gerd Muller – and by the way, he did so in six fewer games.
Aside from Muller’s success on the international stage – which is difficult to criticise Lewandowski for not replicating given the calibre of his national side – and Muller’s Ballon d’Or triumph – which Lewandowski would definitely have also won were it not for the 2020 event being cancelled – there isn’t that much to separate the pair’s respective careers.
Both scored an immense amount of goals for a prolonged period of time at Bayern Munich, and you can guarantee Lewandowski won’t be a million miles off Muller’s career goals tally by the time he retires – and would probably have surpassed it if he’d spent as long at Bayern has Muller did.
Lewandowski has scored more than 40 goals across all competitions in each of his last six campaigns, a stat that even the generational talents of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo can’t boast.
Critics will claim that the Poland international is plying his trade in a so-called ‘easier’ league than the aforementioned duo, though his performances on the continental stage in the Champions League mean any such suggestions should be instantly disregarded.
The 32-year-old’s haul of 56 goals in 68 Champions League outings is a truly phenomenal figure given the quality of the opposition in Europe’s premier club competition, and Bayern’s triumph in the 2020 edition of the tournament means Lewandowski’s won just about everything there is to win with Bayern Munich.
However, to be considered as a true great you need more than just eye-watering figures. You need to be able to produce in the clutch moments as well as having a quality all-round game, and Lewandowski undoubtedly ticks both of those boxes.
Time and time again the frontman has come to Bayern’s rescue in their time of need, while his role in Die Roten’s starting XI is so much more than just ‘the fella at the top end of the pitch who sticks it in the net’.
The former Borussia Dortmund man is integral to Hansi Flick’s side’s style of play, regularly dropping deep to knit up play with the midfield and showing the quality to feed his teammates with his superb hold-up play and distribution.
A brief check of his best career goals will tell you he’s so much more than just a goalscorer and the array of sublime finishes in his arsenal alone would make him worthy of the ‘world class’ tag.
With just one game of the German top-flight season remaining, Lewandowski has 90 minutes of football left to make the Bundesliga goalscoring record for a single campaign his own, rather than sharing it with Muller.
However, regardless of whether he scores his 41st goal of the league season or not, he should definitely be considered as one of the greatest strikers of all time.
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