Former Bayern Munich midfielder Lothar Matthaus believes Romelu Lukaku is the “only and ideal alternative” for Bayern Munich if Robert Lewandowski leaves the club this summer.
Bayern’s prolific Polish marksman looks set to depart Bavaria in the coming months, if not weeks after he declared his intention to leave the club and seek a new challenge, with Barcelona thought to be the front-runners for his signature.
Lukaku, likewise, looks destined to be wearing the colours of a new club for 2022/23, with Inter Milan hotly-tipped to re-sign a man they only just parted with last summer, though financial stumbling blocks are reportedly hindering the possibility of that deal going through.
If he does leave Stamford Bridge, following a difficult return to west London in which he struggled to find a stable and recognisable home in Thomas Tuchel’s wing-back system, then Matthaus believes his services would be best suited in the Bundesliga.
Despite failing to net double-digit goals in the league last season, the Bayern legend thinks Lukaku has all the credentials to alleviate Lewandowski’s seemingly inevitable void at the Allianz Arena.
“I still see Lukaku as the only and ideal alternative,” Matthaus wrote in his Sky Sport Germany column.
“[It’s that] or Nagelsmann does [a] Guardiola, and Bayern play with three attackers, but without a striker.
“You would then also break new ground here and deviate from the Bayern system, because basically there was always a real nine at Bayern: Gerd Muller, [Giovane] Elber, [Claudio] Pizarro, [Miroslav] Klose, [Mario] Gomez, Lewandowski and many more.
“I still hope that Robert stays, and then Bayern would be able to really attack the Champions League with this offensive.”
Is Lukaku the “ideal” Lewandowski replacement?
Lukaku appears a curious replacement for Lewandowski if Bayern were to be in the market for a clinical finisher of unnerving composure, which they obviously will be. The Belgian struggled in the final third for Chelsea last term, though that may be down to Tuchel’s system rather than the player himself.
At Inter, in which Lukaku bagged 64 goals in 95 games, he was afforded plenty of support, not least from partner in crime Lautaro Martinez. The duo were perfectly in sync and linked up to devastating effect. At Chelsea, he often cut an isolated figure up front as Tuchel’s side struggled to get the ball to him.
That’s certainly reflected in his player radar from last campaign, which compares his key attributes with other forwards in Europe’s top leagues. In almost every important statistic, Lukaku’s output pales in comparison to Lewandowski’, apart from his aerial duels won, which won’t be the key trait Julian Nagelsmann is after in a post-Robert world.
His form from Inter would suggest Lukaku can reach high-scoring numbers, but Nagelsmann would have to do what his compatriot in west London failed to do last season: build a system around Lukaku, and not the other way around.