Haaland part of Dortmund's plans amid fervent transfer speculation – Kehl

By Sports Desk April 03, 2021

Borussia Dortmund are planning for life with Erling Haaland next season despite their star striker being linked with a host of Europe's leading clubs. 

The Norway international is in high demand after netting 49 goals in 49 appearances for Dortmund, attracting interest from the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Haaland's agent, Mino Raiola, is reported to have been in contact with a number of clubs as speculation over the 20-year-old's future grows.

But, according to BVB director Sebastian Kehl, the Bundesliga outfit have no intention of letting him go.

"Our position is clear: we are planning with Erling," Kehl told Sky. "We are very relaxed about the situation."

Asked about Raiola's trip to Spain to reportedly hold talks with Barca and Madrid, former Dortmund captain Kehl revealed the club had spoken with the player's agent and his father, Alf-Inge.

"Of course we have been following the situation," he said. "But we had a very, very good talk with Mino and [Haaland's] father just recently.

"I don't want to go into those talks now. From a certain point on, we may no longer be able to influence what the future will bring.

"I have seen the boy in training in the last two days and I have seen how hungry he is and what a sparkle is in his eyes."

Haaland has scored 21 goals in as many Bundesliga games this term, adding another 10 from six games in the Champions League, a competition in which he tops the scoring charts.

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  • Rangnick outlines transfer strategy as Man Utd boss warns against unrealistic expectations Rangnick outlines transfer strategy as Man Utd boss warns against unrealistic expectations

    Ralf Rangnick believes Manchester United should focus on signing younger players as the interim Red Devils manager outlined his transfer strategy.

    Rangnick will take charge of his first match when United welcome Crystal Palace to Old Trafford in Premier League action on Sunday.

    The 63-year-old has been appointed until the end of the season, with former RB Leipzig boss Rangnick set to move into a consultancy role until 204.

    Rangnick has earned a reputation for identifying young talent during his work with Red Bull-owned clubs Leipzig and Salzburg and as the January window approaches, he provided an insight into how he operates.

    "One does not exclude the other. The team has, with Mason [Greenwood] and Marcus [Rashford], two players who are homegrown and have come from the youth ranks," said Rangnick after United signing 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo and 28-year-old Raphael Varane ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, having also lured Jadon Sancho, 21, to Manchester.

    "It's about recruitment but also at a club like Man United, with a top academy, we should make sure that every year we have one or two players who are good enough to make it into the first team.

    "On the other hand, with signing players for transfer fees, it's a question of what you want. If you pay big money for a 30-year-old and he's still good enough to make you successful, I don't mind that.

    "But you have to be aware the money you invest is only being invested in the potential success over the next two or three years, you won't get any return.

    "This is where I always think it always makes more sense to sign a player at 21 or 22 and if you then have to pay a big fee, at least you have the chance to develop him into a player who is worth even more."

    At Leipzig, after spells with the likes of Hoffenheim, Hannover and Schalke, Rangnick – known for his high pressing – took charge of the team in two different spells, having initially joined parent company Red Bull as director of football in 2012.

    Under Rangnick's leadership, Leipzig had gone from the regional league to Champions League qualification by 2017.

    Rangnick – who will become only the sixth German to manage in the Premier League – was promoted to the head of sport and development for Red Bull in 2019, before eventually joining Lokomotiv Moscow earlier this year.

    Rangnick has never managed outside of his native Germany, taking charge of five different teams in the German Bundesliga in his career. The last side he managed was Leipzig, winning promotion with them from 2.Bundesliga in 2015-16 before returning to the club for the 2018-19 top-flight season and leading them to third place.

    Across 294 Bundesliga matches, Rangnick has a winning percentage of 41. He first took charge in the top flight in May 1999 at Stuttgart, losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich, while his last game in charge in the competition came 20 years later in May 2019 at Leipzig, a 2-1 defeat to Werder Bremen.

    His best top-flight finish as a coach is second, achieved in 2004-05 with Schalke, a side he took over mid-season and led to a runners-up position and also to the final of that season's DFB-Pokal, ultimately losing 2-1 to Bayern.

    Compared to countryman and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp due to their high-octane brand of football, Rangnick addressed the comparisons.

    "Well my football is definitely not a slow waltz!," said Rangnick, whose United have already been linked with Leipzig pair Christopher Nkunku and Amadou Haidara. "I am not that far apart from Jurgen in terms of our ideas about a style of football. That’s no secret.

    "But you have to be aware of what kind of players you have and where they stand. I cannot ask things of them that they can’t deliver right now.

    "I have to take them and accept where they currently are. They are experienced and smart enough to know that. I cannot turn the players we have into the pressing monsters I want them to be within two, three or four weeks.

    "The same happened to Jurgen when he came in the middle of the season and they finished eighth or ninth. Liverpool had a lot of injuries in that time - muscle injuries - because they were not used to that kind of training. So we have to be smart."

    United are seventh in the Premier League standings and 14 points adrift of leaders and defending champions Manchester City.

    The Red Devils have conceded in 15 consecutive home games in all competitions, their second-longest ever such run, after a 21-game streak ending in March 1959.

    Rangnick added: "I am more than optimistic, but I also have to be realistic. Five weeks ago, our team lost 5-0 against Liverpool - and it could have been a lot more if we are honest.

    "Against City it was 2-0 - but it could also have been more. It was important to win the point at Chelsea but the performance? I don't know. They had 24 shots on goal and we had three.

    "So right now, to say I will challenge the top Premier League managers in the next few weeks or months, is not realistic. Right now my focus is on Crystal Palace and then on Young Boys, then Norwich, then Brighton and Hove Albion and then Brentford.

    "The games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City will be in March and April - and that’s when I will answer the question about challenging them."

  • Der Klassiker referee Zwayer explains controversial moments in Bayern's Dortmund win Der Klassiker referee Zwayer explains controversial moments in Bayern's Dortmund win

    Der Klassiker referee Felix Zwayer explained the controversial moments in Bayern Munich's 3-2 win over Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.

    Dortmund succumbed to defeat at home to defending champions and leaders Bayern, with the second half seeing controversial decisions go in favour of Die Roten.

    Firstly, Marco Reus' protests were ignored when the Dortmund man was tripped in the Bayern box by Lucas Hernandez, before the visitors got their winner in similarly contentious fashion.

    Mats Hummels threw himself between two players in an attempt to reach a corner delivery, but he appeared to start stumbling and ultimately fell into the ball with his arm first.

    While replays showed Hummels was not looking at the ball, seemingly rendering it accidental, Zwayer pointed to the spot following a VAR check and Robert Lewandowski subsequently scored what proved to be the winning goal.

    Zwayer offered an insight into his decisions, telling Sky Germany: "It was contact in the upper body area, which is allowed to happen even at high speed.

    "The situation is not black and white, I decided against the penalty kick because of my line [of sight]. It was not necessary for me because I had a clear view.

    "Again, in the situation with the handball on Hummels I had a factual perception. In the other situation I had a complete view, if the video assistant had a second shot - like an arm that was out - he would have given me that on the ear."

    On the Hummels incident, Zwayer added: "The situation was a standard, corner kick. I see in the running game that it's about a touch by Hummels. In the game it was not clear whether the arm went to the ball.

    "I checked it after Cologne, then the arm position was checked. In the end, he clearly deflected the ball with his elbow. I came to the decision in the end that it was a penalty."

    It comes after Dortmund star Jude Bellingham questioned the integrity of Zwayer in a remarkable post-match rant.

    Bellingham suggested it was the standard of refereeing to be expected from someone who had "match-fixed" before, alluding to controversy earlier in Zwayer's career.

    However, Zwayer has never been found to have fixed a game.

    In 2005, Zwayer was caught up in a scandal that centred around fellow referee Robert Hoyzer, who was found to have fixed 2.Bundesliga matches.

    In one match, Zwayer was Hoyzer's assistant and was accused of taking a €300 bribe before he and three others turned Hoyzer in.

    Zwayer faced a German FA (DFB) disciplinary over the matter in 2006. In December 2014, German newspaper Die Zeit published documents that showed Zwayer was banned for six months, information that did not emerge at the time.

    Dortmund head coach Marco Rose was sent off after BVB conceded a penalty to Bayern on Saturday.

    Having lost their last four matches at home to Bayern – their joint longest losing streak at home to a team, Dortmund are second and four points off the pace through 14 matches.

    "The first one [penalty], I still see it the same way. It would be a shame if we talk too much about refereeing decisions here now," Rose told reporters. "I saw both situations again, and now I can be accused, rightly of course, of wearing black and yellow glasses. But, for me, the situation with Marco Reus is different. Because Marco is clearly in front of the ball, the opponent not only pushes him from behind as the referee said and perceived, but he also runs him over.

    "And there is also frustration. You can see that in the way he falls. And so, for me, it is a clear penalty. And I have seen the second situation several times. It starts with Thomas Muller's hand on Mats Hummels' shoulder. Mats tries to protect himself a bit, which is natural, which is very natural, stumbles, doesn't see the ball anymore, dives somewhere and then the ball falls on his hand. In the first situation there was no video evidence.

    "The referee even said that he had received confirmation from Cologne that his perception was correct. This statement is incredible and not very comprehensible to me. And then, in the second situation, you look at yourself accordingly just with pity and bitterness. We have to talk about it very, very much. And of course, it also makes you emotional, that's clear."

  • 'Lewandowski paid Dortmund fans back for Messi chants' – Nagelsmann 'Lewandowski paid Dortmund fans back for Messi chants' – Nagelsmann

    Robert Lewandowski was spurred on by Borussia Dortmund supporters chanting the name of Lionel Messi ahead of Bayern Munich's clash with Borussia Dortmund.

    That was the verdict of Julian Nagelsmann, the head coach who saw his Bayern side prevail 3-2 in a thrilling Klassiker to move four points clear of their closest rivals at the Bundesliga summit.

    Lewandowski scored twice for the leaders, the second of those goals a late penalty, in the same week he missed out to Lionel Messi for the Ballon d'Or.

    Dortmund fans, who worshipped Lewandowski during his four seasons at Signal Iduna Park, taunted the striker by singing Messi's name while both sides were warming up.

    The Poland international took revenge with his double, however, taking his tally against BVB to 26 goals in all competitions – his most against a single side.

    Speaking after the game, Nagelsmann said: "All of this rather spurred him on. He scored the significant goals and paid the fans back after all the Messi calls in the stadium."

     

    Bayern were 2-1 up at half-time in Saturday's top-of-the-table clash after Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman struck to cancel out Julian Brandt's early opener.

    Erling Haaland hit back for Dortmund, who saw a couple of big decisions go against them in what could well be a defining moment in the Bundesliga title race.

    Lucas Hernandez avoided conceding a penalty despite appearing to commit a foul on Marco Reus, shortly before Mats Hummels was deemed to have handled at a corner.

    Lewandowski converted the resulting penalty, leading to strong comments being made by the Dortmund camp in regard to the performance of referee Felix Zwayer.

    Despite the controversial conclusion to the game, Nagelsmann felt his side were good value for their seventh successive win against Dortmund in all competitions.

    "I think we deserved to win, but I also understand the discussions over the two penalty situations," said Nagelsmann.

    "It was a very tight game that was worthy of its reputation. We could have scored more in the first half.

    "Dortmund did it well early in the second half, but we found our rhythm again and had good control."

    Bayern ended the game with an expected goals (xG) return of 2.27 compared to Dortmund's 1.44, backing up Nagelsmann's assertion that his side deserved all three points.

    Dortmund had more possession (53 per cent) and outshot Bayern seven to six in the second half, however, and Thomas Muller conceded the visiting side rode their luck in the end.

    "Dortmund's first goal has probably helped us," Bayern stalwart Muller told Sky Sport. "We got into the gaps relatively easily afterwards, with the goals scored after mistakes.

    "We should have taken the lead in the first half. In the second half, I don't know whether we deserved to win from the way we played.

    "The first-half display was definitely better – we moved the ball well and won our challenges. Based on the second-half performance, we didn't deserve it. It was more of a fight."

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