Robert Lewandowski believes playing under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich represented the ideal preparation for his move to Barcelona, as he compared Blaugrana boss Xavi to his former coach.
Guardiola was a year into his three-season spell at the Bavarian giants when Lewandowski joined from rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, with the forward scoring 67 goals in 100 appearances in all competitions under him.
After ending his Bayern career with 344 goals in all competitions, Lewandowski – one of several new faces at Camp Nou – scored his first for Barca three minutes into Sunday’s 6-0 thrashing of Pumas UNAM in a friendly.
While Xavi looks to lead Barca to a title challenge in his first full season at the helm, Lewandowski has identified similarities with Manchester City manager Guardiola.
“I think Guardiola’s philosophy and his style of caring and managing the team was basically Barca in Bayern Munich,” Lewandowski told Sport.
“Xavi is very similar to Guardiola. They were both ‘sixes’, they worked together. They think the same about football.
“With that memory in mind, Barca was the only option for me and it was a great preparation when I was there.
“I didn’t speak to Guardiola before signing. But when I was with him at Bayern it was like a great preparation to get to Barca one day.”
“All the staff were Spanish, there were eight Spanish players. I had a very good relationship with Thiago [Alcantara] and Javi Martinez during that period. They both congratulated me when I signed for Barca.”
Lewandowski had indicated his desire to leave Bayern on several occasions before completing his move to the Camp Nou, reiterating that his €45m move was primarily motivated by a desire to test himself in Spain.
“I feel like a little kid walking into a huge new toy store,” he said. “What I feel so far in Barcelona is pure happiness and motivation to start this new chapter.
“I missed new challenges in Munich. I won many titles and I admit that I felt less and less intensity. I needed another challenge, a boost, a change of environment.”
“I always wanted to play in LaLiga, live in Spain, see what life is like here. Twelve years in Germany is a long time.”
“I achieved everything there. I didn’t want to stand in front of the mirror in 12 years and say, ‘Why didn’t you try?’ There would be many unanswered questions.”
Lewandowski will be hoping to make his competitive Barcelona debut when they host Rayo Vallecano in their LaLiga opener on Saturday, with president Joan Laporta confident the Blaugrana will be able to sign up their new players despite ongoing financial problems.