The entrance of Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League final in such spectacular fashion has not been without its bittersweet side. On the one hand, the success of a club far short of the financial muscle boasted by the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich to make Europe’s biggest club clash is obviously a matter of great pride for BVB, none more so than for Jurgen Klopp, who has constructed a feared unit on a relative shoestring.
The downside, though, is that those same economic giants have fixed their eyes firmly on the stars in yellow and black; and none more so than prolific scorer and revelation of the 2012-13 season, Robert Lewandowski.
The Poland international’s goal exploits were not exactly unknown before the year began. After a slow start with Dortmund following a move from Lech Poznan in 2010, Lewandoski came to prominence with an impressive haul of 30 goals in 47 games in his second season, including 22 in the Bundesliga, which earned him the top-scorer title for the league and also helped his side retain the title.
But it was his four-goal haul against Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal, the verve and precision with which he destroyed Jose Mourinho’s men and his sheer calm in front of the net that truly announced him as one of the world’s best.
With just one year left on his Dortmund contract, the Germans may be tempted to cash in now and avoid their sharpshooter leaving for free next June; the big question is where will he go?
The fourth goal had barely entered against the Merengue when strong interest from Bayern began to appear. The agent of Jupp Heynckes led the charge, stating that Lewandowski would be joining Josep Guardiola and Mario Gotze next year in the Allianz Arena.
"Bayern have signed Lewandowski," he explained to COPE. "Yes, right now, they have Lewandowski and Gotze. The problem is that Bayern has a lot of money. They are doing what they did with [former Athletic star] Javi Martinez.”
Looking deeper, though, it is difficult to see how such a move would benefit either the player or club.
With Mario Mandzukic and Mario Gomez already in the squad as orthodox centre-forwards, not to mention a wealth of other attacking talent that now includes the Bavaria-bound Gotze, it begs the question as to why Bayern would break the bank to meet the striker’s release clause when the money could be better invested elsewhere.
For Lewandowski as well, accustomed to playing almost every game, rotating the position with two fellow striker’s would be a step down in hierarchy.
One of the more interesting destinations rumored is Stamford Bridge, directly linked to the man so comprehensively humiliated by the Pole. Jose Mourinho allegedly texted Lewandowski after the match to offer him a move to Chelsea, if an expected move back to West London materializes for the man already known to be leaving the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season.
It is a fascinating link; Chelsea have been in need of a penalty-area poacher ever since Didier Drogba left the club, and though Lewandowski is a less physical presence than the Ivorian, the idea of him linking up with stars such as Oscar, Juan Mata and Marko Marin would certainly tempt him, especially with the continuing under-performance of Fernando Torres holding the Blues back.
Bayern and Chelsea are just two of a host of clubs said to be in the running. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed his interest in a recent interview, while pouring cold water on Die Roten talk:
"If the right player comes along you have to be prepared to make a move," the veteran explained. "I can find room for anybody here as long as they have the required quality. I am not sure Lewandowski will be sold to Bayern now. The Dortmund fans are not going to be happy and I don't think they will sell to their main rivals. I think they will either let his contract run out, or sell him somewhere else."
Juventus, on the verge of being crowned Italian champions but disappointing in Europe, also emerge as an option as they analyse how to revamp their game for a more successful Champions League tilt.
Dortmund have understandably closed camp in the face of the speculation, preferring to concentrate on the game of their lives in Wembley that is fast approaching.
Lewandowski, too, has stayed silent on the subject, preferring to focus on how to take down Bayern; becoming the hero for his current team would certainly make for an interesting introduction to the Allianz Arena should he make the switch across Germany’s two biggest football clubs.
Daniel is a football journalist based in Buenos Aires, who specialises in covering the South American game. You can follow him on twitter at @DanEdwardsGoal