Poland's Robert Lewandowski is a wanted man all over Europe

Continent's top clubs are queuing up for the Dortmund striker but, as Robin Scott-Elliot explains, his scoring record is not all it might be

Robert Lewandowski is big in Warsaw, the city where he was born and raised. During Euro 2012 there was nobody bigger; a giant poster of Poland's golden boy covered one side of the Orco Tower, a 115 metre-high skyscraper in the country's capital. Now his face is ready to decorate another sort of poster: Europe's most wanted.

The 24-year-old Borussia Dortmund striker is wanted in Bavaria, Italy, Spain and most particularly in England. The new year will open with renewed speculation as to where Lewandowski will make his new home – it is taken as read that he will move, either in January's window or next summer because on his current deal with the German champions, who operate a rigid wage structure, he becomes a free agent in 2014.

Arsenal, Chelsea and in particular both Manchester clubs have been advanced as suitors for a player who scored 30 times last season to open Dortmund's route to a league and cup double. United had a £16m approach rejected last summer but given his dwindling contract it may not take millions more to swing a deal.

He comes accompanied by no shortage of references. Miroslav Klose calls him a "super player"; Franck Ribéry is another admirer, publicly instructing his bosses at Bayern Munich to recruit him; Leo Beenhakker, the much travelled Dutch coach who gave him his first cap four years ago, described him as "the future of Polish football". But it is the testimony of Jurgen Klopp, a man not given to hyperbole, that is most instructive. The Dortmund manager labels Lewandowski the "most exciting player I have seen in the last 10 to 15 years".

Klopp is instructive on Lewandowski's strengths. The Pole is an all-round package. At 6ft he carries an aerial presence – he scored the opening goal of Euro 2012 with his head – and he is quick enough, but it is when he has his back to goal that he carries most threat. Klopp lauds his technique and control, which allied to an instinct for goalscoring, make up a player able to damage most opponents.

Lewandowski's performance against Manchester City in the Champions League demonstrated much that is good about him, as well as cautioning that he remains a work in progress – his career at the top level is still in relative infancy. He missed chances against City, as he did during the Euros, notably in the game against the Czechs. Poland lost and made an early departure from their own tournament accompanied by a thunderous storm over Warsaw.

The capital is Lewandowski's home town. The son of a Polish judo champion and a volleyball player, he grew up in a sporting environment. His father also played lower league football and it was at that level that the young Lewandowski rebuilt his career after being let go by Legia Warsaw. He began to score goals, first in the third tier then the second, and that proved enough for Franciszek Smuda, the man who was to take charge of Poland's Euro 2012 campaign and then managing Lech Poznan, to take him away from Warsaw.

Lewandowski continued to score at the higher level and international recognition followed. He first pulled on his national shirt in 2008 at Molineux, winning an Under-21 cap in a goalless friendly against an England side that included Joe Hart and Ryan Shawcross.

Later that year, Beenhakker selected him for the full side and his faith was instantly rewarded with a goal on debut. It came against San Marino – of the 15 goals Lewandowski has scored for his country in collecting 48 caps, three have come in competitive games and two of those have been against the San Marinese. The goal against Greece that promised so much is his sole score in a competitive game of note. It is a statistic skewed by Poland's automatic qualification as European Championship hosts, but there remain questions over his effectiveness at international level.

Back home, there have been whispers that he reserves his best displays for his German employers. There is a simpler explanation: he is surrounded by better players at Dortmund than he is in his country's service, although his record in the Champions League is patchy. No player has had more attempts off target than Lewandowski's seven in his two games this season. He has scored twice in eight Champions League outings, including the winner against Ajax this season.

The two key providers for Lewandowski in the Poland side play alongside him in the Bundesliga, although Jakub Blaszczykowski will not feature tomorrow and the loss of their playmaker and captain to injury is a serious blow to the home side, now under the management of Waldemar Fornalik following Smuda's departure after the Euros.

Lukasz Piszczek will be in place if he comes through a fitness test. He sat out Friday night's friendly against South Africa, a 1-0 win for the Poles. A forward-thinking full-back, Piszczek, like Blaszczykowski, was an integral part of Dortmund's Bundesliga triumph last season. Lewandowski's goals were the result of much willing work by his compatriots. He scored 22 in the league and all from open play, shrugging off a wobbly first season with the club to earn the league's player of the year award. In Germany, fans and media have attached an admiring nickname, "Lewangoalski".

"We know England have had some defensive problems and we might just be able to surprise them," said Lewandowski. It would not come as a surprise to anyone in Warsaw, neighbouring Germany, nor even among those England defenders, were he to cause those problems; a wanted man is a dangerous man.

Pole stars: others to watch

Ludovic Obraniak

The 27-year-old was born in Metz and played for France's Under-21s but then switched allegiance to his grandfather's country in 2009. An attacking midfielder, he scored twice on his debut and played all three games at Euro 2012

Arkadiusz Milik

The 18-year-old has been fast-tracked into the national squad because of an over-reliance on Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski for goals. The striker, who made his debut on Friday against South Africa, has already been touted as a possible replacement for Lewandowski at Dortmund.

Adrian Mierzejewski

The midfielder attracted the highest price paid for a Polish league player when Trabzonspor spent £4.3m to take him to Turkey last year. The 25-year-old has scored twice, one in a friendly victory over Argentina and the other in a draw in Montenegro at the start of this campaign

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering