Just how different things might have been had the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud of 2010 not scuppered hopes of Lech Poznan’s Robert Lewandowski joining forces with Sam Allardyce at Blackburn Rovers.
‘I think about it every time I see him play,’ Allardyce was quoted back in 2013, clearly pained at missing out on a player who makes the case to now be considered the best No 9 in world football.
Lewandowski eventually went to Dortmund and thrived. Blackburn, meanwhile, dropped as low as League One before lifting themselves back into the second tier in recent years.
If Lewandowski is to be prised away from Germany this summer, Rovers won’t find themselves among the teams in position to land him.
Talk of Robert Lewandowski potentially leaving Bayern Munich this summer continues apace
The striker is at the top of his game but reports in Germany have shed light on frustrations
The chestnut with Allardyce aside, the notion of Lewandowski potentially leaving Bayern Munich is a fascinating one.
Since walking the well-trodden path from Dortmund to Munich back in 2014, the striker has gone on to win 17 major titles, as well as claim FIFA Best Men’s Player in 2020.
Even at 32, his stock is as high as it has ever been in Germany. He is preparing for the Bundesliga finale this weekend with the chance to break Gerd Muller’s single-season scoring record of 40.
Muller produced the total back in 1971-72 and to many it seemed unreachable, pure fantasy in the modern game until Lewandowski elevated to such a level that he appears unstoppable.
Lewandowski can finish 2020-21 season by beating Gerd Muller’s single season goal record
A goal against Augsburg would see him surpass Muller’s astonishing tally of 40 league goals
He will set a new Bundesliga best with a goal against Augsburg at the Allianz Arena in Bayern’s final fixture of the season, adding to his 276 goals in the German top flight.
And yet talk of an exit this summer refuses to quieten down.
It was Sky Sports Germany on Thursday that claimed Chelsea, managed by ex-Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel, have already sounded out the Poland international about a summer move.
They go on to add that the striker, who has his affairs managed by agent Pini Zahavi, is believed to be considering his future at Bayern.
Barcelona have been mooted as another landing spot, as has Paris Saint-Germain although France has been refuted as a potential destination.
Spain or England is reported to be ‘conceivable’ should he elect to take his talents elsewhere come the summer.
A SportBild report this week shed light on why talk of a Lewandowski exit, despite having two years left on his current contract, is gathering momentum.
At 32 Lewandowski knows that time is running out if he wants a big contract out of Germany
Thomas Tuchel (right) is having his patience tested by misfiring forward Timo Werner (left) and Chelsea have been the latest club to be linked for a summer move to bring Lewandowski in
Lewandowski has reportedly become unhappy with Bayern’s recent transfer policy, the report noting in particular that the loss of experienced players such as Ivan Perisic rankled with the Pole.
Perisic played a vital role in Bayern winning the Champions League last season and Lewandowski is said to have become ‘annoyed’ at a failure to properly strengthen in order to repeat in Europe.
The extent to which his unhappiness is true has proved fierce debate in Germany but it is acknowledged that Zahavi will sit down with Bayern’s executives come the end of the season for a meeting that, one imagines, will be a lot of verbal jousting for position.
Like any top player Lewandowski wants guarantees. For most of his time at Bayern he has had those, at least domestically with this year’s Bundesliga his seventh in a row. It is the club’s ninth.
But a trophyless Julian Nagelsmann arrives this summer to replace Hansi Flick, a manager Lewandowski is a huge supporter of, and Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus discovered with Andrea Pirlo how the crown can slip when managerial change occurs.
Hansi Flick’s (right) departure this summer is said to have disappointed Lewandowski (left)
Nagelsmann undoubtedly possesses more experience than Pirlo but if a young and exciting Borussia Dortmund team can stick together, coupled with limited funds made available to Nagelsmann to strengthen, Bayern’s credentials could be seriously scrutinised.
The question is could Lewandowski really pack up and leave the Allianz Arena? Not in the eyes of chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
‘Sure he stays!’ he exclaimed to SportBild. ‘Who sells a player who scores 60 goals a year?’
Well, nobody does. Bayern will have absolutely zero interest in moving Lewandowski on, especially after Oliver Kahn ruled out the possibility of signing Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland this summer.
Lewandowski is boasting a goal every 58 minutes this season and is toying with defences in Germany.
But at 32 time is ticking on earning that final big contract at a top team. If there is an itch to scratch to play outside of Germany once again, a changing of the guard is needed sooner rather than later.
He has won seven straight Bundesliga titles and Bayern have no intention of letting him leave
It remains a fascinating situation with Bayern keen to keep him but his intentions seem unclear
Real Madrid was long reported to be his dream destination but those links have since faded with Barcelona now the Spanish team targeting attacking reinforcements.
There would be the chance to join forces with Lionel Messi, provided he sticks around, but whether a club as financially crippled as Barcelona could actually finance such a deal remains questionable.
Chelsea went big on Timo Werner from RB Leipzig last summer for £52million and have found his struggles an eyesore on this campaign.
Lewandowski is the finished article, as polished as they come, but like many top stars he needs convincing to stick around.
A legend in Bavaria who simply wants to see more quality added around him as they target 10-in-a-row, Bayern may never forgive themselves if the Pole walks out the door to England or Spain.