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Red alert! How Lewandowski has become the world’s most complete No.9

1:00 PM GMT+4 19/02/2019
Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich 09022019
The Bayern Munich frontman takes on former manager Jurgen Klopp on Tuesday, having developed into the

In the past few weeks, Dietmar Hamann has had to do more defending than former club Liverpool's makeshift backline.

The former Bayern Munich midfielder became the centre of attention for calling Robert Lewandowski a problem for his old club, as well as labelling the striker an individualist rather than a team player.

Hamann's claims resulted in a barrage of replies from Bayern's bosses, as well as the Pole's agent and even Lewandowski himself. 

"I am always focused on my job," the forward told ESPN. "I am not interested in what someone says about me, even more so if it's just flat-out stupid. I don't think he knows much about tactics."

The pundit's employer, Sky Germany, were forced to release a statement following the furore, but Hamann insisted that he believes what he said to be accurate: "I stand by my position — that, in the past 12 or 18 months, he is not the same player that he was before."

Hamann is actually correct in that sense; Lewandowski has changed. But instead of being more of an individual, he has become less selfish and is working for the team more than ever before.

With the injured Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in their mid-30s and becoming increasingly peripheral figures in Munich, Lewandowski has had to be a leader in attack, supporting young wingers Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry as much as they support him.

Already in 2018-19, he has seven assists in the league – his best return ever in Munich, and there are still 12 Bundesliga games remaining.

The improved assists figure should not come as a surprise as he is now creating more chances for his team-mates: 1.57 chances created per game; his previous best was 1.03 chances created per game back in his first season at Bayern, in 2014-15.

His goals tally has declined slightly in the Bundesliga – he has 13 thus far – with his club in a transitionary period under Niko Kovac, but thanks to a splendid Champions League campaign so far, Lewandowski has struck 25 times in 30 games in all competitions this season.

He tops the scorers' chart in Europe, showing his ruthless streak has not diminished despite being asked to be a creator as well as a finisher under Kovac.

Many strikers are worthy of consideration to be the world's best No. 9, but none of them are as complete as Lewandowski.

Harry Kane has one more league goal for Tottenham this season but just over half as many assists (four) as Lewandowski and far fewer chances created (23 compared to 33).

Luis Suarez was hailed as the best No.9 by former boss Luis Enrique, but even he has only created five goals in La Liga this term for Barcelona, while Paris Saint-Germain hotshot Edinson Cavani has just four Ligue 1 assists to his name.

Lewandowski is just one assist away from equalling his career high when he played under Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund. Klopp brought Lewandowski to Germany from Poland in 2010, but he only managed eight goals and a single assist during his first campaign.

However, his second season was a revelation, becoming the club's top scorer with 22 Bundesliga goals while also providing eight assists as Klopp guided Dortmund to the title.

Unsurprisingly, he credits Klopp for turning him into a more all-round attacker and previously revealed how they used to put €50 wagers on a training game which helped improve the forward's finishing but also made him more competitive.

"He released that striker's instinct in me and that allowed me to make the next step up," Lewandowski told the official Champions League website. "I didn't know that I still had so much potential, more than I thought, and that means he saw something in me that I couldn't see."

In 2017, Klopp named Lewandowski as the player who improved the most under his guidance.

When he was looking to sign him for Dortmund, Klopp went to Poland to watch the forward and even went in disguise while on scouting missions. After watching him more than 30 times, Dortmund eventually got their man, where Klopp set him on the path to becoming the world's best No. 9.

It cost Klopp a few hundred euros to turn Lewandowski into the player he is today, but it could cost the Liverpool boss a lot more when his former protege shows that talent at Anfield on Wednesday.