Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has hit out at Robert Lewandowski for his criticism of the club’s transfer policy.
Lewandowski, 29, demanded in an interview with Spiegel Online over the weekend that Bayern sign more world-class players to compete with the world’s elite.
The striker added that he believed money and success are now more important than loyalty in football — a view Rummenigge does not share.
“It would be a shame if he sees things that way,” Rummenigge told Bild. “Loyalty is in the Bayern DNA and important to our fans.”
This summer, France international Corentin Tolisso became the German champions’ record signing when he joined from Lyon for €41.5m, surpassing the €40m paid to Athletic Bilbao for Javi Martinez in 2012.
Lewandowski arrived at Bayern in 2014 on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund and has since won three successive Bundesliga titles. However, he has been frustrated by the club’s lack of Champions League success in recent seasons.
“Bayern will have to come up with something and be creative if the club wants to keep bringing world-class players to Munich. And if you want to compete at the top, you need to have these quality players,” Lewandowski told Spiegel.
“To date, Bayern Munich have never spent more than around €40 million for a player. In international football that has long since been more of an average [price] than a top price.”
Though Lewandowski feared Bayern would be left behind if they did not invest heavily in the transfer market, Rummenigge responded: “We’ve had a serious and successful philosophy for a long time and enjoyed great success with that.
“Rather than Lewandowski, I share the viewpoint of the Chancellor [Angela Merkel], who says we should regulate and reduce the amounts.
“Clearly Robert has been affected by the PSG transfers. Nevertheless, he is employed by us as a footballer and earns a lot of money. I regret his comments. Anybody who criticises the trainer, the club or his teammates will immediately be in trouble with me personally.”
Lewandowski hit the 30-goal mark for the second season in succession last term but one of his agents, Maik Barthel, bemoaned a lack of support in the race to finish ahead of Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the Bundesliga’s top scorer, and Rummenigge was not ready to forget these comments either.
“After the Freiburg game in the second half of the season, he made incorrect accusations about his teammates that he didn’t receive enough support,” he said.
In the Spiegel interview, the Poland striker maintained that player power was on the rise, with players increasingly capable of forcing a move if they really wanted. But Rummenigge played down this viewpoint and again blamed Barthel for stirring the pot.
“I don’t think player power is that big,” Rummenigge said. “Lewandowski can determine this himself by looking at his contract — he’s signed until 2021 without a buyout clause.
“Unfortunately his agent is often the ‘spiritus rector’ [guiding spirit]. This was again the case here with the interview deliberately organised without Bayern’s knowledge. He is harming Robert.”
Last season, Manchester United and Chelsea were both linked with a move for Lewandowski, with reports claiming the two Premier League clubs had already spoken to his representatives over a potential move.
This prompted Bayern to issue a statement saying Lewandowski is not for sale and threatening to go to FIFA if clubs made an approach.
Rummenigge was also critical of Thomas Muller, who recently addressed his frustration at a lack of game time in the media.
“What Muller said against the coach in Bremen was also not OK,” Rummenigge said. “We need more efficiency and seriousness again. Dissatisfaction with being on the bench is OK, but no public criticism of the coach will be tolerated.”
Muller has also said it is “possible” he could leave Bayern in the future and that he had considered a move to Manchester United two years ago.