Football is ‘sick’ says Perez as Real Madrid chief again pushes for change in European competition

Robert Lewandowski has been overwhelmed by Barcelona’s glut of young talent and believes there is no better place for young footballers to thrive.

The 34-year-old Poland captain was brought in from Bayern Munich in a bid to provide a quick remedy and provide Barcelona with a reliable goalscorer at short notice.

But there’s a long-term vision at Barcelona too, with the likes of Pedri, Gavi, Ansu Fati and Alejandro Balde all emerging as first-team players while still in their teens.

Pedri arrived from Las Palmas in 2020 and was quickly included in the senior line-up, bypassing the system at La Masia, Barcelona’s academy, because he was already considered so advanced.

However, most have completed years of training in the academy system, which produces top footballers at a rapid pace.

Lewandowski now counts on such players as teammates and says their style of play, coached on Barcelona principles, is ‘noticeably different from other young players in the game’.

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“I’m impressed how you could be so mature in football at that age,” Lewandowski said in an interview with Polish online sports channel Kanal Sportowy.

“I don’t mean mentally mature. I mean if they thought differently about football. I wouldn’t even compare if there are differences.

“A man cannot change his age. People abroad who are 18 cannot think as if they were 26. People here live and grow the same way. But thanks to these academies, they have it much easier.

“Well educated at 18 and very talented, they can reach a higher level. Also, they know the world of football very well, which Polish players miss.”

Lewandowski touched on a variety of topics in the interview and said he intends to remain active after his playing days in the sport.

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Perhaps one day he will find a coaching role and his experience at Barcelona should stand him in good stead.

“For a young player, watching experienced footballers is the best way to later become one of them,” said Lewandowski.

Such players also hint at a bright future for the Spain national team as a new golden generation may emerge.

At first-team level, Barcelona are trying to unseat Real Madrid from the throne.

Madrid won the LaLiga title last season and added the Champions League, while Xavi’s mid-season arrival began to turn around a Barcelona side that had gotten off to a rocky start under former head coach Ronald Koeman.

Xavi’s Barcelona are level with Madrid on 19 points in the first seven rounds of this season and the two current leaders will face off in the first Clasico of the season at the Santiago Bernabeu on October 16.

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Lewandowski scored the only goal at Real Mallorca on Saturday, with a hard-fought 1-0 win that shows Barcelona are tenacious to add to their more obvious flair.

The end-of-season signing said he was “positively surprised” at how intense his early training experiences at Barcelona had been after last season’s “tough” experience for the club.

Lewandowski is confident Xavi has a firm grip on what needs to be done to make Barcelona trophy winners again.

“He’s aware of what went wrong last season versus what he dreamed of and I see he wants to do better,” said Lewandowski.

“Mentally they were very focused but their bodies just couldn’t take it. I think we’ll grow with every week and every game and I’m sure it will get better with time.”