Having watched Lech Poznań's rise from afar, Artur Wichniarek is confident he can help push them further – even if the Polish champions must adjust to life without Robert Lewandowski.
Having kept an admiring eye on Lech Poznań's recent rise from afar, Artur Wichniarek is confident he can help push them further – even if the Polish champions are having to adjust to life without Robert Lewandowski.
The 21-year-old Lewandowski has underpinned Lech's success over the past couple of seasons, culminating in their sixth league title in May. A return of 32 goals in 58 top-flight appearances attracted the attention of BV Borussia Dortmund, who swooped last month. The job of filling his sizeable boots falls to a man 12 years his senior, a man that has been there and done that in Germany after 11 campaigns at DSC Arminia Bielefeld and Hertha BSC Berlin: Wichniarek.
"I am aware my task is to fill the void left by Robert but I'm experienced enough to do it," the striker told UEFA.com. "I will need some time to adapt myself to Lech's style, but definitely think I will be able to cover Robert's loss. It was one of the reasons why I decided to rejoin Lech. This club gave me first opportunity to shine and I want to pay them back. Money? It was not so important.
I did not come here to make a fortune. I came to make big results."
Starting, he hopes, with Tuesday's UEFA Champions League second qualifying round trip to face FC İnter Bakı. "We must be very careful in difficult conditions as summer in Azerbaijan is usually very hot but we are lucky to play the second leg at home," said Wichniarek, who started out with hometown club Lech before joining Widzew Łódź in 1997/98. "When I see this growing stadium with the best fans in Poland, I tell myself: 'Yes, you made right decision coming here'.
This city lives and breathes football and I want to give these people as much joy as I can.
"Lech has everything to do well in Europe: good organisation, an interesting team, fantastic supporters and a modern stadium. That is why I decided to join them even if my family stayed in Berlin where we will settle. Fortunately, the distance between Poznan and Berlin is not very big. What also makes me happy is the fact that the distance in football terms between Lech and bigger teams seems to be shorter as well. I hope we will prove it very soon."