Lewandowski Talks Gavi, Pedri, Dembele, Raphinha, Araujo, Guardiola, Ancelotti, EL Clasico
Robert Lewandowski may have been a Barcelona player for less than ten months, but the Poland captain has already established himself as a key cog in the team as well as a favourite among the Camp Nou faithful.
Signed from Bayern Munich in the summer for a fee of around €45 million (plus variables), the 34-year-old hit the ground running in Catalonia and has been one of the main driving forces behind the team’s ascent to the top of the La Liga table.
The Barcelona striker is leading the goalscoring charts in La Liga currently with 15 strikes to his name. And even though his form has dipped a bit after the FIFA World Cup, the veteran hitman continues to be pivotal to Xavi and his plans.
Later this week, Barcelona face off against Real Madrid in a potential title decider, as a win would take the Catalans 12 points clear of their eternal rivals.
Ahead of this blockbuster clash, Lewandowski spoke to ESPN Deportes and discussed the match against Madrid, as well as his motivation to sign for Barcelona while also praising his teammates.
On why he chose to join Barcelona: “Because I always wanted to play in LaLiga. I knew that Barcelona have problems. But when I saw the path they wanted to take, I said, ‘I can be a part of this.’ I saw the challenge and told myself I was ready to take it on.”
On what makes facing Real Madrid difficult: “Because they have amazing players with a lot of experience. They have achieved everything so they have great confidence in themselves.”
On El Clasico: “El Clasico is the most important club match in the world because there are so many fans watching it. Even me, a few years ago, when I wasn’t in Barcelona, I was looking forward to El Clasico. Now I’m part of El Clasico and that’s amazing for me.”
On his advice to young players: “It depends on what kind of players we’re talking about. But since I see that every player is different, let’s talk about Gavi, for example. At first, he has to learn English. If you want to be an international star you have to learn English. I am now learning Spanish and look how old I am. So it should be easier for him to learn English.”
“If we talk about football, I always say to Gavi that it doesn’t matter what you achieved in the last game, the most important thing is the next game and what you can achieve.”
On Ousmane Dembele: “He is the man who surprised me a lot positively from the first training session in Barcelona, what a great talent he is, what quality he possesses, and how fast he is. For me, he’s really the guy who can be the best player in his position. He’s already among the best, but sometimes he gets injured.”
On Pedri: “He’s the guy who has a great way with the ball, but I tell him the goal of the ball is for goals. You have to score more goals. You have to think not only about goals, but also about assists. I always tell him not to be afraid and to attack.”
“If we score one goal, why can’t we score the second? That’s what I say to Pedri and also to Gavi, I tell them we scored one goal but well I don’t think that’s enough, I think we can score the other goal. If we score two goals, why don’t we score three goals and so on.”
On Raphinha: “When I first saw Rafinha in training I said, ‘This guy has something special!’”
On Ronald Araujo: “For me, Araujo is one of the best defenders in the world. Very powerful and fast.”
On Carlo Ancelotti: “Ancelotti gave me incredible self-confidence. He gave me something that I didn’t have before. He’s an amazing human being, a man who takes care of you. For him, the most important thing is to be a good guy, not to talk about tactics. He’s a man to learn from.”
On Pep Guardiola: “Pep made me change my view of football. Pep is someone who thinks about football 24 hours a day. The person who tries to find the best solution tactically.”
“I used to talk to him a lot, and I remember one day he said to me: ‘I can only help you build your movement and how you build the ball, how you get the ball into the penalty area. But what you’re going to do with the ball is something I can’t help you with because you know that better than I do.’”
On Jurgen Klopp: “He’s the one who can be like a father, like the one who can help support you all the time, but he’s also the one who tries to push you. You give him more than you told him you could. So, this is the guy you can talk to.”
“He touches your heart, he finds the solution and tries not to leave you if you have any problems. And this guy isn’t just a coach, he’s someone you can learn from. even in your life.”
On his childhood dream: “Not only did I dream of playing in the biggest stadium in the world, but also in the biggest club in the world. At that time, I didn’t know if this was just a dream or if it would come true in the future.”
On Barcelona’s struggles in recent years: “I know that the past years in Barcelona were not easy and that the club was suffering from major problems and we are still on the way to improvement, but I see development and the project is on the right track.”
“I knew that my first season here would not be an occasion to think about individual awards because the most important thing is to help the club get back on the right path and also help my teammates, most of whom are very young and winning titles is very important.”
On his decision to leave Bayern Munich: “I’m happy with everything I achieved with Bayern Munich, but in the end, you think of football as your life, not just football. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and I asked myself, I could still win more titles here, but does this make me a happier person? Does it make me different? I was thinking maybe I need to change.”
On his age and continuity: “I may be 34 but it’s just a number and I know I can play for several years at the highest level, I don’t know exactly how many but I’ve always been happy to play. I care more about the mental than the physical.”
On the objectives at Barcelona: “I hope we win more titles. The last two years Barcelona had big problems but now we are going well and I am sure we will achieve our goals in the end.”
On the struggles in Europe: “This season we had problems in the Champions League and this is what we must correct, but so far we are not ready to fight at the highest level for the three titles: the Champions League, the League, and the Cup. It’s impossible, it’s legitimate. In football, it is impossible to change something in a week or a month, you need time.”
“We have a good team. Maybe a change or two would make it stronger, not perfect, but more competitive.”
On evolving in football: “Football is constantly changing. 10 years ago all teams wanted to play tiki-taka. Now the teams are better at the tactical level, how they prepare and move in defencee and how they change their style during the game.”
“It’s important to adapt to change and take a step forward and not try to play in just one style if you don’t have the right players to play in that style. Everyone wants to imitate Pep’s Barcelona. Now if you watch City they don’t play that way anymore.”
On playing at Camp Nou: “I was tired because of the pressure of the matches, but when I go to Camp Nou, I get extra strength. When you see the crowd chanting your name, you say, ‘Come on, I’m ready, I want to play, score and win.’ Camp Nou, although old, has a special charm that you feel when you are on the field. When you enter you say ‘Wow, I play here!’”