Reigning Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund have hinted striker Robert Lewandowski may leave the club at the end of the season. The 24 year old Polish international is contracted till the end of the 2013/14 campaign and his excellent performances last year have led to growing rumours of a switch to a Premier League heavyweight, with continental powerhouses like Spain's Real Madrid also mentioned.
Discussions with the player over extending his present contract have stalled in recent weeks. The club did indicate, earlier this season, they would rather keep the forward for an extra season and risk losing him for free than sell him now... but that stance may have changed.
"If Robert does not extended his contract, we will proceed as always," the club's chief executive, Hans-Joachim Watzke was quoted as saying, "Us three [coach Jurgen Klopp, general manager Michael Zorc and himself] will sit down together and discuss what to do next. The result is totally open."
This is in contrast to earlier comments that categorically denied any chance of the player leaving the club.
Lewandowski transferred to the Signal Iduna Park in the summer of 2010 but had a muted first season with the German club. It was only after the injury to Paraguayan forward Lucas Barrios the Pole really began to shine and last season, alongside other stars like Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa (now with Manchester United), he led the club to a second successive league title. Lewandowski scored 30 goals in 46 appearances last season and was credited with a further 10 assists. This season has been no different, with five goals and six assists in 15 games.
His continued excellent performances have earned him praises from a number of top managers, including Madrid's Jose Mourinho, whose side had great difficulty dealing with the Pole over the two Champions League group stage games between the clubs. Lewandowski scored against the Spanish champions in the memorable 2-1 home win and also grabbed a late winner for his side in another group stage game against Dutch champions Ajax. He was also hugely influential in the 1-1 draw against Manchester City at the Etihad and would have had more than one goal to his name on that occasion, except for the heroics of England No 1 Joe Hart.
Watzke refused to make any further comments about the player's future but has previously said he valued his star at a minimum of £35m. Concrete interest in the player has come from both Chelsea and United, with the former reportedly having a £17m offer rejected in the summer.
However, interest from United may be less than forthcoming this time around. With the acquisition of ex-Arsenal captain Robin van Persie, Sir Alex Ferguson now has England internationals Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck and also young Mexican Javier Hernandez to lead the line.
Chelsea may still be interested though. The Blues are struggling with only Spaniard Fernando Torres up front and the former Atletico Madrid striker, although he is having a better season than last year, remains some way short of the fearsome striker he was at Liverpool... and Chelsea have yet to replace Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba up front. Lewandowski might be the perfect addition to Roberto Di Matteo's side, who have also been linked with Vitesse Arnhem's Ivorian forward, Wilfried Bony.
At the end of it all though, Lewandowski may actually move elsewhere, if he does move. Madrid could use a third striker, with Mourinho having to rotate Argentine Gonzalo Higuain and Frenchman Karim Benzema up front. And with the latter injured and going through a slight dip in form, Higuain is now the only recognised striker in the Spanish capital... and, as was evident in the Champions League home game against Dortmund, the lack of options does tend to unbalance the side.