'Lewandowski isn't a dodgy purchase'

The striker has been criticised for his performances since joining Bayern Munich, but retains the support of one of the club’s former stars

Robert Lewandowski’s critics are deluded if they think the striker is a “dodgy purchase”, according to Bayern Munich legend Stefan Effenberg.

The Poland international, 26, was left on the bench for the first leg of the club’s last 16 Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk last week having scored just once in his last five Bundesliga appearances.

However, Lewandowski was back in the starting XI on Saturday and scored twice as the reigning champions thrashed Paderborn 6-0, with Arjen Robben also bagging a double to add to goals from Franck Ribery and Mitchell Weiser.

Effenberg, who had two spells with the Bavarians during his playing career, is adamant the striker is the same player who blossomed at BVB and says he offers much more than just goals.

“People who say that Lewandowski was a dodgy purchase have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to football,” he told Sky. “He is extremely important to the team.

“The charisma and quality that he had at Dortmund, he has at Bayern. The difference is that at the Allianz Arena he has three or four other world-class attackers alongside him.”

Bayern are back in Bundesliga action on Friday when they host Koln.

'Ibrahimovic wanted Madrid move to spite Guardiola'

The striker had a rocky relationship with the Spaniard at Barcelona and was prepared to join their arch-rivals to get back at him

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola says the PSG star almost joined Real Madrid after leaving Barcelona in a bid to exact the “perfect revenge” on his former boss Pep Guardiola.

The striker moved to Camp Nou in 2009 but departed after just one season following a series of bust-ups with the 44-year-old.

And Raiola claims that Ibrahimovic wanted to reunite with his former Inter coach Jose Mourinho at the Bernabeu in a move he says would have been the perfect response to his ill-treatment. 

“Zlatan wanted to play for Real when he left Barça. It would have been the ideal move. The perfect revenge against Guardiola,” Raiola told Marca.

“Real Madrid is a political club and not a normal club. I don’t understand the way they do things.

“It would have been the perfect club for him because he’s a great player, he’s passionate and because he can do something amazing at any moment.”

Raiola went on to describe current Bayern Munich boss Guardiola’s behaviour as “shocking”, insisting the Spaniard was to blame for Zlatan’s early exit from Camp Nou.

“Only ‘The Philosopher’ [Guardiola] knows [What happened between him and Zlatan],” he said.

“As a person, his behaviour was terrible, shocking. He’s a great coach. He was calling Zlatan for one year. About 10 times.

“At Barcelona he told him whatever he needed or wanted he would be helped with. Then all of a sudden he stopped talking to him.”

Guardiola hails Bayern after another 'big' win

The Spaniard’s side have scored 14 goals in their last two Bundesliga games, leaving the coach impressed with their attacking efforts

Pep Guardiola saluted a “big victory” for his Bayern Munich side after they put six goals past relegation-threatened Paderborn on Saturday.

Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben both scored twice, while Franck Ribery and Mitchell Weiser also scored to complete another resounding win for the Bundesliga champions.

Last weekend Bayern thrashed Hamburg 8-0, but it was their performance on Saturday that had Guardiola purring after the game.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “I’d like to congratulate the players. We’ve taken a big step forward today.”

Lewandowski’s two goals mean he now has 14 for the season from 31 appearances in all competitions and Guardiola was thrilled with their attacking efforts.

“We scored a lot of goals and are delighted with the result,” he added.

The result leaves Bayern 11 points clear of second placed Wolfsburg, who take on Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Guardiola: Xabi Alonso the worst defender in the world

The Spaniard was sent off against Shakhtar on Tuesday night for two rash challenges but his boss says he is not in the team for his tackling ability

Pep Guardiola has described Xabi Alonso as the worst player in the world from a defensive perspective, but pointed out that Bayern Munich did not sign the midfielder to recover the ball – but keep it.

Alonso was sent off in Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first-leg clash with Shakhtar Donetsk, after picking up a first-half booking for a mistimed tackle on Alex Teixeira and the earning a second yellow for pulling back the same player with 25 minutes remaining.

The Spaniard’s sending-off obviously left Bayern in a perilous position but the Bundesliga leaders held on to claim a 0-0 draw and Guardiola refused to criticise Alonso for his ill-discipline.

“We want to keep the ball with us for as long as we can,” he told reporters on Friday, “so that’s why I want players like Xabi and Thiago [Alcantara]. 

“But when it comes to running after another player, Xabi Alonso is the worst player in the world!

“But then, that is not what we signed him for.”

Guardiola also insisted that his decision to start Robert Lewandowski on the bench against Shakhtar was not an expression of his dissatisfaction with the striker’s poor form, with the Pole having netted just once in his previous five Bundesliga appearances.

“I am very happy with Robert,” the Catalan said. “He knows my opinion on his performances and his quality. I do not doubt him. 

“But I have five top strikers and we always have to adjust to the opponents. It is not easy to play with five or six attackers in Europe!”

Meanwhile, Thiago Alcantara returned to training on Thursday, after nearly a year out of action with knee ligament damage, and Guardiola is optimistic that the midfielder will soon be ready to return to first-team action.

“Maybe he can train with us again in two or three weeks,” the former Barcelona boss added. “Then we have to see how his knee reacts. 

“But the doctor and Thiago are optimistic and so am I. He is on a good path. This is the last phase of his treatment and his knee is okay.”