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Bayern Munich

The case for the three candidates

Ballon d'Or
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 By Susie Schaaf

Lewandowski's arrival warmly welcomed at Bayern

Bayern Munich supporters have spent a season longingly glancing Robert Lewandowski's way after his stated intent to join the Bavarians from Borussia Dortmund. And while the move may not have been nearly as acrimonious as Mario Goetze's transfer was from die Schwarzgelben to die Roten, it's certainly another step towards solidifying the rivalry between the two massive German clubs.

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The Polish striker was formally presented by Bayern on Wednesday after spending his first day training at the Saebener Strasse, and handed the number 9 jersey. While it's not surprising that he got his preferred number, the timing of it is a little off considering former-number-nine wearer Mario Mandzukic is still officially a member of Bayern Munich -- at least for the next few days as he waits for his expected transfer to Atletico Madrid.

"Nothing's signed yet, but there are verbal agreements between FC Bayern and Atletico Madrid and between Mario and Atletico," said Matthias Sammer before Wednesday's practice, adding the Croatian striker "always behaved correctly and in an exemplary fashion" in his time with the club. Those not-necessarily-true words from Sammer wash over Mandzukic's troubles since manager Pep Guardiola took over, and the Lewandowski deal was made public.

Last season the striker got into trouble with Guardiola after the Bayern coach deemed his practices lacking, and was subsequently left off the roster. And bad went to worse as Mandzukic mocked the coach in the dressing room after Real Madrid's beat-down of the club in Munich. And although he notched 18 Bundesliga goals last season, he quickly became persona non grata as Guardiola would again leave him off the team for Bayern's cup final against Dortmund.

Meanwhile, Lewandowski scored 20 league goals for the Black-and-Yellows as the team was willing to let him walk for free -- denying the chance for Bayern to get one-up on them yet again. Flawed logic? Perhaps. But, in the end it worked out well for all sides as Dortmund progressed to the Champions League quarterfinals -- read: Champions League money, Lewandowski got his wish, and Bayern Munich got arguably one of the best strikers in the world. For free.

Striker Robert Lewandowski trained with Bayern Munich for the first time on Wednesday.
Striker Robert Lewandowski trained with Bayern Munich for the first time on Wednesday.

"It was time to take the next step," he said at his unveiling, "I knew that Bayern Munich are of the level where I can be an even better player and win even more titles."

One might argue that he is not quite the player ideal to Guardiola's version of Bayern as he's noted for being a true striker, while the Catalan coach would at times prefer a false nine, but that's disregarding the other aspects of Lewandowski's game. Not only is he brilliant going for goal, but his high pass rate and ability to defend makes him exactly the type of forward Bayern Munich needs.

His time at Dortmund saw him score 74 goals and set up 31 more in 131 league matches since joining from Lech Poznan in 2010, but the most impressive stat would be his 20 from last season. Despite knowing that his club would not entertain a deal with Bayern, he chose to be a quintessential professional; giving his all to Dortmund boss Juergen Klopp and Borussia when he could have pouted his way through his last year. In contrast, the Goetze-to-Bayern move just a year ago was much less graceful.

It is odd watching someone play for your enemies with the knowledge that they'll be picking up your kit soon, but Lewandowski handled it all in the best possible way. Willkommen in Bayern, Robert! And may all those trophies you speak of come to fruition.