LNTUP

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge slams Robert Lewandowski after the striker criticised the club’s transfer policy.

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Robert Lewandowski’s criticism of Bayern Munich’s transfer policy in a surprise interview with Spiegel sent shock waves through the fanbase and club. Now CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has returned fire in the form of blisteringly critical remarks made to Bild.

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Lewandowski, 29, demanded Bayern sign more world-class players to compete with the world’s elite.

“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 Online at the weekend. “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.”

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 was clearly underwhelmed by Bayern’s restrained spending, which saw them buy Niklas Sule from Hoffenheim for £17.4m and make permanent the loan of Kingsley Coman from Juventus for £19.1m.

They also took James Rodriguez on loan from Real Madrid and added other players such as Sebastian Rudy for nothing.

Lewandowski, who arrived at Bayern in 2014 on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund and has since won three successive Bundesliga titles, has been frustrated by the club’s lack of Champions League success in recent seasons.

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Lewandowski added in the Spiegel interview that he believed money and success are now more important than loyalty in football — a view not shared by Bayern CEO Rummenigge.

Speaking to Bild, Rummenigge said: “It would be a shame if he sees things that way. Loyalty is in the Bayern DNA and important to our fans.”

Rummenigge addressed the implicit idea in Lewandowski’s criticism that Bayern Munich’s current squad may not be strong enough to be competitive in the Champions League, since the most Bayern spent was €41.5 mil for Corentin Tolisso, rather than a much higher sum for someone like Alexis Sanchez or Ousmane Dembélé.

Rummenigge said: “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.”

Rummenigge also has not forgotten Lewandowski’s “inaccurate criticism” of his teammates for failing to support him in his quest to win the Torjägerkanone in Bayern’s final match of the 2016-2017 season. It was none other than Barthel who publicized Lewandowski’s frustration in remarks to kicker.

“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. 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.”