Robert Lewandowski has continued with business as usual despite disappointment at the 2021 Ballon d’Or awards, according to Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann.
Lewandowski had to settle for second place and an inaugural Striker of the Year accolade at the France Football award ceremony, with Lionel Messi collecting a record-extending seventh crown.
The Bayern striker may have felt hard done by, given he has scored 14 more times than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues in 2021, with 55 goals across all competitions to his name so far.
The Poland international also missed out last year due to the coronavirus-enforced cancellation of the 2020 Ballon d’Or, which he was favourite for after breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing Bundesliga record following 41 goals in 29 league games last term.
But Nagelsmann insisted that Lewandowski – who again leads Europe’s top five leagues with 27 goals this term across all competitions, seven more than second-placed Mohamed Salah – has not let the Ballon d’Or snub impact his performances.
“I haven’t noticed a big change in terms of hunger for goals, regardless of the Ballon d’Or decision or new records,” Nagelsmann, whose side face Mainz on Saturday, told reporters at his pre-match news conference.
“I think he was in an incredibly good mood lately with very good body language. He also does his job defensively very neatly. I think he just wants to be successful with FC Bayern.”
Bayern, inspired by the likes of Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry, sit four points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga as the reigning champions prepare to host Mainz.
Nagelsmann is also eyeing a landmark of his own, with a potential 100th Bundesliga win awaiting him in just his 199th game as a top-flight boss.
Should he do so, he will become the fastest to a century in the German top flight but the former RB Leipzig head coach claimed he did not even know he was approaching a milestone as he praised his team’s recent efforts.
“Thanks for the memory, I didn’t even know that,” he added. “That’s a nice number, I’m happy.
“The players are in a good mood, I think. The atmosphere is also good on the pitch and in the dressing room.
“I think we have mastered the difficult autumn quite well so far, even with the many injuries and failures. We want to win the rest of the games and keep the gap to Dortmund in the league. We will drive ahead with full speed.”
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) December 10, 2021
Nagelsmann, however, will be without Joshua Kimmich, who will miss the remainder of 2021 with a lung problem as he continues to recover from coronavirus.
But the Bayern head coach defended his player, who is yet to be vaccinated for COVID-19, after suggestions Kimmich was causing problems.
“Basically, it’s always good if you ask him that yourself,” he continued. “Of course, as a thoroughbred athlete, he always wants to be on the pitch, especially because he’s always been fit.
“You have to allow opinions here in Germany. He has made his decision, you have to accept it.”