Barcelona are set to sign Lewandowski from Bayern

Barcelona are set to sign Lewandowski from Bayern

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona is set to sign Poland striker Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich after the clubs reached an agreement in principle for his transfer, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal, said formal confirmation of the deal could come on Saturday.

Spanish media reported that the transfer would cost Barcelona around 50 million euros ($50.4 million).

Lewandowski, 33, one of football’s greatest scorers of the past decade, will greatly boost Barcelona’s chances of rebuilding a competitive team after winning nothing last season following the departure of Lionel Messi.

Lewandowski scored 312 goals in 384 Bundesliga games for Bayern and previous club Borussia Dortmund. He scored 35 goals in 34 games last season to become the Bundesliga’s top scorer for the fifth consecutive season and seventh overall.

Barcelona also gets a proven winner. Lewandowski helped Bayern win the 2020 Champions League after humiliating Barcelona 8-2 in the quarter-finals. He also won 10 Bundesliga titles, four German Cups and a Club World Cup with the Bavarian powerhouse.

Only the dominance of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has perhaps prevented Lewandowski from receiving more personal accolades.

But Lewandowski said in late May that “my story with Bayern Munich is over” after talks over a contract extension with Bayern broke down. He had one more season left in contact with Bayern.

He will now join a team coached by Xavi Hernandez that relied on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres after joining last winter.

Barcelona is saddled with debt, but it recently received a cash injection by selling 10% of its Spanish league television rights for the next 25 years for 207.5 million euros ($207.5 million).

It helped sign Brazilian winger Rafinha from Leeds and Ousmane Dembele to a new contract last week as it hopes to challenge Spanish and European champions Real Madrid in the coming season.

Now, with an experienced player like Lewandowski soon, the club managed by Joan Laporta is betting on winning the title again in the short term. Last season, Barcelona finished a distant second to Spain’s Madrid and failed to get out of the Champions League group stage.

The sale allowed Bayern to cash in next month for a 34-year-old who would have become a free agent next year and made clear his desire to leave.

If the fee is confirmed, it would be a club-record sale fee for Bayern, surpassing the 40 million euros ($40.3 million) received from Juventus in 2018 for German champion Douglas Costa.

Replacing a player who has been the Bundesliga’s top scorer in each of the past five seasons – and who set a league record 41 goals in 2020-21 – will be no easy task.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Motting is Bayern’s usual backup to Lewandowski but rarely starts, while other forwards such as Sadio Mane, Leroy Sane, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry can play central roles when needed but are primarily wide players.

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AP Sports writer James Ellingworth contributed to this report from Düsseldorf, Germany.

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