If you were brave enough to read the sports pages on Monday after our Sunday loss, you were treated to the sight of Fleet Street in its natural habitat; fabricating a story where one doesn’t exist. And the stories were everywhere.
(NB.: these are different rumors than the ones from the summer, which were quickly shot down by Bayern.)
Yes, Chelsea connected to a super-talented striker who’s 29 going on 30, under contract to Bayern Munich and likely to command an eye-watering transfer fee. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
Not that he isn’t worth a fair amount of dosh. In 38 appearances in all competitions this season Robert Lewandowski has bagged 34 goals. That’s dizzyingly close to a goal a game. In seven Bundesliga seasons with BVB and Bayern he’s scored 171 goals, a 0.68 per-game ratio. He’s good in the air, good with his feet, he has a bit of pace about him and he has good size. Sounds ideal, really.
And he’s not coming here.
The stories began five days ago in his native Poland. That’s where media outlet Przeglad Sportowy (you pronounce it, I can’t) was the first to report that Lewandowski had changed agents. That report became the wellspring from which a thousand stories flowed and likely will continue to flow until he moves in the summer.
BREAKING: Po ponad 10 latach współpracy. Robert LEWANDOWSKI zmienia agenta. Z Czarkiem Kucharskim zrobili dużo fajnych rzeczy razem ale współpraca właśnie dobiegła końca. Teraz czas na światowy TOP.. Z kim zwiąże się umową Lewy? Mino RAIOLA? Pini ZAGAVI? A może Jorge MENDES?— Mateusz Borek (@BorekMati) February 21, 2018
(Translation: BREAKING: After more than 10 years of cooperation. Robert LEWANDOWSKI changes agent. They did a lot of great things with Chef Kucharski, but the cooperation just came to an end. Now is the time for the global TOP. Who will tie up with Lewy? Mino RAIOLA? Pini ZAGAVI? Or maybe Jorge MENDES?)
The key to the story, the key to understanding why the great Lewa won’t be a Blue, is the man he picked to represent him. Until now Lewandowski, who likes to keep it low-key, has been managed by Czarek Kucharski.
His career had been a simple one. From Poland to BVB, where he let his contract expire. Then to Bayern. But Kucharski was apparently deemed not up to the tricky task of negotiating an exit from Bayern and into one of the world’s super clubs. (That’s a hint about where he’ll end up.)
The man he selected as his new agent is Israeli Pini Zahavi. If you haven’t heard of him, that’s by design. His design. (If you’ve never looked at a superagent’s LinkedIn page, have a peek.)
Here’s what you need to know. Zahavi is friends with Roman Abramovich, helping to facilitate the sale of Chelsea. He’s friends with Alex Ferguson, eventually having a hand in a huge portion of Manchester United’s transfer business. He’s friends with... well, everyone important in football, apparently. Because that’s his super-power.
He started as a reporter and morphed into a powerful agent. Along the way he became a big-deal businessman, eventually tripping over his own ambition when he put the 2006 World Cup on pay-per-view in his native Israel. That didn’t go over well and he pulled his horns in a bit.
These days 74 year-old Zahavi is an eminence grise, the power behind the throne. He’s no longer a mover and a shaker. He’s a well-connected facilitator with the reputation for being agreeable, easy to work with, looking for a fair deal. And honest. Yes, an honest agent. Circuits blown. Excuse me while I reset my brainal fusebox.
He was a behind-the-scenes dealmaker in the Neymar transfer to PSG, for example. Likewise Mbappe to PSG, both thanks to his relationship with PSG’s Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. That’s how high he rolls.
His low-key, high-power style is exactly what no-drama Robert Lewanowski wants as he tries to leverage a move to his dream club... Real Madrid. Yes, in Poland it’s accepted that the only legitimate contender for the striker is the Spanish club with a slumping striker and a fading superstar.
“I am glad that Robert decided to cooperate with me.
“He is a great footballer. He is the best striker in the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that I have signals about the interest of his person in all major clubs.
“Will Robert go to Real Madrid?
“We’ll see. Now it’s time for me to do my job.”
The Polish newspaper goes on to claim that Real Madrid would be willing to pay €150 million for Lewndowski, who turns 30 in August.
€150 million. 30 years old. Multi-year contract.
Not coming to Chelsea.
That’s all you really need to know, Fleet Street’s carnival barking notwithstanding.