Barcelona’s number one target for this summer was the signing of a centre-forward. It was not something completely new because, since the departure of Luis Suarez, the team needed a world class No.9. When Xavi arrived on the bench, he explained to Joan Laporta the need a top striker.
There was a lot of talk about Erling Haaland, but with the economic situation of the club it was impossible. Above all because the Norwegian was not going to wait that long for Barcelona with Manchester City and Real Madrid pushing for his signature.
Laporta and Pini Zahavi
The next name was Robert Lewandowski. The president knew there was an opportunity for him to leave Bayern Munich. The Polish player had just one year left on his contract with Bayern and the player wasn’t overly keen on renewing. Laporta is a close friend of Pini Zahavi, the player’s agent, with whom he has done various business deals in the past.
In a conversation between the two, the deal began to take shape. They talked about the possibility of him leaving, the money he would earn at Barcelona, around nine million euros net, and he agreed to it even though he was losing money compared to what he could earn at Bayern. Then Laporta got the word that Lewandowski would wait, because clubs like Chelsea and PSG considered signing him, but were always met with a definite rejection from the striker.
The strategy from then on was clear. The player had to refuse to renew his contract by dragging his feet with his club until the end of the season. In the meantime, Barcelona knew they had to start looking for money because the transaction was going to be expensive. When the campaign came to an end, the second and most important step came. The player made it clear that he did not want to stay in Munich. He did so publicly: “My time at Bayern is over.” he said.
Bayern’s unsuccessful counter-attack
These declarations did not sit well with the German giants whose directors continued to say publicly that the striker would continue for one more season and would fulfil his contract. These statements were made public because behind closed doors they began to see that he was going to leave this summer after they travelled to Mallorca to try to convince him, but without success. Barcelona realised that with those statements they had taken the definitive step. “We can’t leave Lewandowski in the lurch,” they said internally at Barcelona.
Conversation with Xavi
The sporting department began to act. Xavi entered the scene and spoke personally with the player. He did so on several occasions. He outlined what the new-look Barcelona would be like and explained his role in the team. Another step forward. At the same time, Jordi Cruyff and Mateu Alemany were preparing the execution of the plan.
Then came the first offers from Barcelona, which was not formal. The Catalan club offered 35m euros plus variables, an amount that Bayern did not even contemplate. As time went by, the offer was raised, first to 40m euros plus variables, but Bayern rejected it. The German club had always considered that the asking price was 50 million. And Barcelona had known this for months.
With the activation of the second economic lever, which will possibly take place next week, but with the money already agreed, Barcelona launched its final offensive while the player was late for all training sessions in Munich. The day was set for Saturday, when the player was due to attend the official presentation of the club at the Allianz Arena and did not want to go. It was then that Barcelona made the formal offer that reached the 50 million that Bayern were asking for (45+5) and the definitive agreement was reached.