Robert Lewandowski is one of the finest finishers of his generation, particularly in German football, but will the prolific Pole see his legacy stand the test of time? Many at Bayern Munich will speak fondly of him long after farewells have been bid to the Allianz Arena, with history books being rewritten in Bavaria.
It does, however, remain to be seen whether 30, 40, or 50 years from now tales are still regaled about how a man from humble beginnings in Warsaw went on to become a striker who defined an era. Unfortunately for him, not enough entries have been made on a global honors board.
That is through no fault of his own, with Lewandowski one of many to have been left cursing his luck at occupying the same era as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. A frontman who would have expected to collect at least a couple of Golden Balls at any other time is priced at 33/1 in Ballon d’Or odds to break that duck in 2022.
Having been denied an opportunity to top that chart in 2020, when many expected him to get the nod, while then being pipped to the post by Messi’s seventh triumph a year later, fate has never been on Lewandowski’s side.
He has registered over 40 goals again for Bayern in the current campaign – the seventh time he has achieved that feat in as many seasons – but once again he finds seemingly unworldly efforts being eclipsed by the exploits of others.
The general consensus is that the most prestigious of individual prizes will end up in French hands this year, with Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema emerging as a strong favorite to claim a first Ballon d’Or of his own.
His fellow countryman, Kylian Mbappe, is also expected to come into the mix during World Cup year, while Liverpool team-mates Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane continue to maintain remarkable standards across domestic and European competition at Anfield.
Out of luck
Lewandowski does have plenty of medals and personal prizes to his name – many more than the vast majority of players collect over the course of a career – but it is impossible to ignore the one glaring omission on his glittering CV.
A couple of FIFA Best trophies prove that he is deserving of standing among the very best in the business, with nobody having claimed that award on more occasions than he has managed – not even Messi and Ronaldo.
He also boasts top scorer prizes aplenty, with that chart topped in Germany on an annual basis, but will all of that be enough to keep him in mind once he eventually slips out of sight? It will not take long for another goal-getting machine to come along and a new flavor of the month to be warmly embraced.
It would be incredibly harsh on Lewandowski if he became little more than a footnote in 21st-century soccer, but he has struggled to step out of the shadows cast by Argentine and Portuguese icons, leaving him with plenty of Golden Boots but no ball to play with.