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Robert Lewandowksi speaks about Barcelona’s Champions League aspirations, Ilkay Gundogan, being role model for youngsters

Robert Lewandowski’s impact at Barcelona has been nothing short of outstanding since his arrival last summer.

Despite some criticism, the talismanic Polish striker proved he is worth every penny Barca paid him for following a prolific 2022/23 campaign.

The 34-year-old was the fulcrum of Xavi’s system, netting a league-high 21 goals to guide the Catalan giants to their first La Liga title in four years.

Besides being a world-class performer, Lewandowski has also become a leader on the pitch and an influential figure who the young guns in the squad look up to.

The former Bayern Munich has struck up a good relationship with Ansu Fati, Gavi, Pedri and Alejandro Balde on and off the pitch, which has helped them bring out their best.

Speaking in an interview with The Athletic, Lewandowski said: “I enjoy the fact of being a sort of figure to look up to for youngsters.”

“But it’s also difficult because with my experiences I’ve seen many things. I can identify when things might be good but still can become better.

“And sometimes this means saying or doing things that not everyone appreciates. You need to find the right balance. Not being too pushy or angry – being as positive as you can be for the team.”

The 34-year-old is also confident that he can play at the highest level for two or three years.

“I think that, from a physical point of view, I’m going to be OK for the next two or three years,” he added.

“Maybe later someone close to me tells me that it’s enough – who knows? But right now, I don’t feel that, physically, I have the age I have. I don’t feel behind the rest.”

The Polish international is set to play alongside his former Borussia Dortmund teammate Ilkay Gundogan next season.

Lewandowski also opened up about the role he played in the German midfielder’s transfer from Manchester City.

“I have known Ilkay for a long time,” said Lewandowski. “When I spoke to him, he had not decided his future yet. 

“I asked and he was still having doubts. We spoke about our players and everything around the club. About the city, the life there. 

“I hope I made it easier to understand what it means to play for this club. He knows I spoke from my heart.”

One of the letdowns in an otherwise successful campaign was the failure in the Champions League, as Barca were eliminated at the group stage for the second year in the running.

Despite his best efforts, Lewandowski was in the firing line as he was widely seen as a player that was brought to restore Barca’s European glory.

However, the expectations have been increased once again following the La Liga triumph and the arrival of Gundogan, who won the Champions League with Man City last season.

But Lewandowski is more pragmatic as he feels it is too early to predict the outcome of their chances in Europe.

“Well, what everyone can expect is a team that will be fully focused on what happens before the end of this year,” Lewandowski said.

“That’s when the start of La Liga and especially the Champions League group stage is being decided. If we can win the group, then we will see.

“Within any season you have better and worse moments of form – you need to navigate them and take the best out of your team.

“But, for now, step by step. That’s what I’d tell people to expect from Barcelona.”

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