Bayern Munich can wait for Robert Lewandowski - the Champions League holders are beginning to click under Pep Guardiola

With a reinvented style of tika-taka an unexpected star is emerging under the former Barcelona manager

Robert Lewandowski has a knack of appearing in headlines. After Dortmund had lazily stumbled past a valiant 1860 Munich side in the German Cup on Tuesday, the Polish striker was briefly asked whether he would be able to say if he was going to Bayern on January 2. He answered, albeit with slightly confusing syntax, that he would be able to confirm then, as that was the date on which he was allowed to sign a contract with a new club.

So far, so in keeping with what we already knew. Fifa rules stipulate that a player can make a premature agreement with a new club six months before a contract runs out. That, presumably, is why the reporter asked the question, and certainly why Lewandowski answered the way he did.

Nevertheless, it was taken by many as confirmation that he was moving to Bayern. Even had that been the case, it would hardly have come as a surprise. Dortmund have long been resigned to he fact that the Pole will leave next summer, and he and FC Bayern's mutual appreciation for each other is now well documented.

Indeed, after all the toing and froing of recent months, it will probably be a deal beneficial to all. Dortmund will have been able to ease into his absence having had a year's warning (and attacking signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are already looking more than their money's worth), Bayern will get their last target for no transfer fee at all, and Lewandowski will join his dream club. Even if Dortmund will lose out on a potentially staggering transfer fee and the wage rise they are reported to have given him in his final year, that is not such a burden for a club with revenues of over €300m in the last year.

As for Bayern, they can wait for their superstar. They have plenty already, even with Götze, Thiago, Martinez and Badstuber all still out injured. It has taken a good few weeks and a barrage of criticism from Director of Sport Matthias Sammer, but Bayern are finally beginning to look like the unstoppable side many predicted them to be under Pep Guardiola. The German champions have won their last three games 4-1, 4-0 and 3-0, and will be looking to extend the winning streak this weekend against Wolfsburg, and then against Manchester City in midweek.

It will take something from either of those teams to halt Bayern in their tracks. The controversial changes Guardiola has implemented – most prominently reverting to one defensive midfielder and playing captain Phillip Lahm in midfield rather than at right back – are paying off as it stands. Bayern and Guardiola are finally clicking.

Mention the other FCB, though, and you will be met with a frosty reception. When asked how much of Barcelona was in the side's 4-0 win over Schalke, Lahm's response was decisive: "None. That was one hundred per cent FC Bayern."

He is right, too. For while their possession statistics may be beginning to resemble those of Guardiola's Barca, Bayern's play remains their own. Four of their last nine goals have been headers, while several more have come from the readily exploited creativity on the wing. If it is tiki taka, then it is a reinvented version.

Amidst all the worries and wobbles of Guardiola's early reign, it has been easy to overlook his apparently still functioning genius. Not just in how well he has adapted his own style to fit his new team, but also in his ability to create something out of nothing. Something, in this case, being Rafinha.

The Brazilian right back was signed by Bayern in the summer of 2011 as a solution to their recurring issues with the left back position. The theory was that Lahm would return to left back while Rafinha would fill his position on the right. Once Bayern had realised the quality of David Alaba, however, Rafinha was quickly demoted to the bench and has just about stayed their ever since – only getting up once in a while to be linked with a move away from Munich.

Rafinha in action for Bayern Rafinha in action for Bayern  

No one, though, could have predicted that two years down the line, Rafinha would be replacing Lahm at right back again, this time under Pep Guardiola. But the Catalan has put his faith in a player whom many had resigned to the dustbin of Bayern's fading squad fillers.

"Rafinha is a very good player. He's very intelligent, he works well out wide and comes in well too. He also very rarely loses the ball" said Guardiola this week.

Perhaps it is that final point which so endears Rafinha to his coach. Whatever the reason, he is certainly enjoying life under Guardiola, having played in nine games already this season. In the entirety of last year, he appeared in only seventeen, and in most as a substitute. All talk of Lewandowski and the other superstars aside, it may well be a humble Brazilian journeyman who proves to be Pep's master stroke this season.

Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star