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
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker