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Lewandowski’s Bayern contract doubts take focus away from Champions League

Bayern Munich might be better off focusing on their mid-week Champions League clash of the past 16, but with Robert Lewandowski agitating for a new contract, transfer speculation about the Polish striker’s future is clouding the matter.

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Bayern host Red Bull Salzburg in a Champions League last 16 return leg on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw in Austria.

Unusually for him, Lewandowski has failed to score in his last three games and off the pitch his future after this season seems a little unclear.

Over the weekend, there were reports that Manchester United led a list of Premier League clubs that had contacted Lewandowski’s agent Pini Zahavi.

Lewandowski, 33, like Bayern veterans Manuel Neuer, 35, and Thomas Mueller, 32, will not expire in June 2023.

But while Neuer and Mueller have reportedly been told personally that the club wants to renew, Lewandowski has not.

Last month, Bayern director Hasan Salihamidzic publicly announced that the club does not want to sell him. “No way. Robert is a very important part of the team.”

Still, the news surprised Lewandowski.

“I’m hearing that for the first time,” he said.

The Polish international will turn 34 in August, but his rigorous fitness regime means Lewandowski is at the top of his game.

He has scored 39 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions this season.

In his weekly Bild column, German legend Lothar Matthaeus was shocked that Bayern has not yet determined the future of their top scorer, who was named FIFA’s best male player for the second year in a row last December.

“When the world’s best footballer reveals to the camera that he hasn’t been told that (Bayern) wants to keep him, I’ll prick up my ears,” Matthaeus grumbled.

Ahead of Saturday’s tie with Leverkusen, Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn said Lewandowski, like Mueller and Neuer, will be given a new contract once certain targets are met.

“We now want to focus 100 percent on what is at stake: becoming German champions and the return leg against Salzburg. Then let’s go and see,’ Kahn insisted.

However, Matthaeus believes Bayern’s hesitation with Lewandowski could also be due to Erling Haaland hinting that he could leave Dortmund before next season.

Kahn held talks in Monaco with Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola.

“Yes it is true. It is very normal to meet a player’s agent,” said Kahn, who declined to give details.

After losing David Alaba on a free transfer to Real Madrid last season, Bayern are reportedly eager to prevent the same from happening to Lewandowski, who was released from arch-rival Dortmund in 2014.

Bayern estimates the value of Lewandowski at around 50 million euros (55 million dollars).

He will be nearly 35 when his current contract with Bayern expires, but Lewandowski recently told France’s Telefoot program that he would like to continue playing for “at least another five” years.

In addition to reported Premier League interest, Lewandowski’s future is a source of speculation in Spain.

Marca has claimed that Bayern are interested in signing Atletico Madrid’s 22-year-old Joao Felix, which could allow Lewandowski to go the other way at Atletico.

Speculation aside, it is clear that Lewandowski will decide where to play next season.

“With all my experience, I am calm,” Lewandowski replied when asked about a contract extension.

“I am open to everything, but everything that has to do with contracts is secondary and remains in the background.”

As former Bayern coach Felix Magath recently put it on a Sky talk show: “The player (Lewandowski) is the one who decides what happens, not the club”.

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