Bayern Munich's German players are "very much looking forward" to Leroy Sane joining the club, according to striker Robert Lewandowski.

The Manchester City winger has been linked with a move to the Bundesliga champions following the departure of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, and Lewandowski added more weight to the rumours during a close-season tour of China.

Sane started just 21 Premier League games for City in 2018-19, six fewer than in the previous campaign, but the 23-year-old is nevertheless valued far higher than the £45million City paid Schalke for him in August 2016.

Asked about Robben and Ribery, Lewandowski told reporters: "They are legends, and of course their departure is sad.

"But Bayern will also sign more and better replacements. I believe that the winger Bayern sign in the future will be as good as Robben and Ribery.

"Bayern's German players are now very much looking forward to Sane's signing, but we have to wait and see what is going on."

Bayern coach Niko Kovac has begun the process of making space in his squad, with South Korean midfielder Jeong Woo-yeong moving to Freiburg for an undisclosed fee.

Gareth Bale is "very unlikely" to join Manchester United and will not leave Real Madrid in a loan deal, according to his agent.

Bale joined Madrid in 2013 after emerging as one of the Premier League's best players at Tottenham, commanding what was then a world-record transfer fee of €100million.

His first three seasons were a success, as he scored 47 LaLiga goals in 81 appearances and helped Madrid to two Champions League titles.

However, from an individual perspective, the following three campaigns have been rather more difficult, as Bale has been troubled by fitness problems and struggled to hold down a place in the starting XI.

Madrid are reportedly willing to let him leave and United – who are said to have wanted him when he was at Southampton and Spurs – have been tentatively linked, but a move seems improbable.

"He could fit in there," Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett told Sky Sports News when asked about a potential move to Old Trafford.

"I think he could do very well - he is still one of the best players in the world, but it is very unlikely."

Given Madrid's valuation of Bale and his huge wages, media reports had suggested a loan move away from the Santiago Bernabeu might be more realistic than an outright sale, with Bayern Munich said to be interested.

But Barnett dismissed such a scenario out of hand, adamant only a remarkable offer – and not a loan – would persuade Bale to leave Spain.

"A loan move is not going to happen, there's more chance of me winning Ascot," Barnett added. "I don't think he wants to go out on loan.

"He's got a lovely life and home in Spain. I think it would take something exceptional for him to leave and loans are not on the menu. Obviously, Gareth's situation at Real hasn't improved."

Leon Goretzka and his Bayern Munich team-mates would be "ecstatic" if Leroy Sane joined from Manchester City.

Sane has been touted as a top target for the Bundesliga champions with experienced wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery leaving the club at the end of the season.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness confirmed their interest but acknowledged it would take an "insane" fee to prise the Germany international away from City, where it is hoped he will sign a contract extension despite seeing a decrease in his starts under Pep Guardiola in 2018-19.

Goretzka would be delighted to reunited with his former Schalke colleague, who joined City in 2016 for a reported £37million.

Asked for his thoughts on Bayern plucking away Sane, one of the Premier League's leading stars, he told Bild: "I think that Bayern can definitely keep up in that regard.

"It's still one of the best and biggest clubs in the world. Leroy knows that. He's felt really good in England in the past few years. Now he has to decide for himself what the right move is.

"Leroy knows that Munich is a very beautiful city, so I don't have to tempt him. He knows he can always contact me if he needs advice or wants to hear my opinion.

"We would all be ecstatic if he comes. But I'll be damned if I put him under pressure or influence his opinion. I was in a similar situation last year. I had to make a decision for myself and felt it was best to do it alone."

From Madrid to Munich? Gareth Bale could be set for a new challenge.

Out of favour at Real Madrid, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are reportedly eyeing the Wales star.

With Madrid looking to trim their wage bill and raise some funds, Bale appears headed for the exit door…

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN WANT BALE

According to The Sun, Bayern Munich are ready to offer Gareth Bale an escape from Real Madrid.

Having already signed Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao and Rodrygo Goes, Madrid are looking to sell as Zinedine Zidane continues his overhaul in the Spanish capital.

And with Niko Kovac's Bayern keen to bolster their attacking options on the flank following the departures of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, the German giants are reportedly prepared to take Bale on loan.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- Radio CRC in Italy reports that Napoli have moved closer to signing James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, which would reunite the Colombia star with Carlo Ancelotti after he was lured to Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal in 2017.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba will submit a transfer request in an attempt to force through a move to Real Madrid, according to ABC. Meanwhile, the Mirror claims the French World Cup winner is prepared to go on strike.

- The Mirror also says Mohamed Salah will weigh up his Liverpool future at the end of the 2019-20 season, despite reported interest from Juventus and Real Madrid.

- According to Sky Sports News, Manchester United are interested in West Ham defender Issa Diop. The Red Devils are reportedly willing to pay £45million plus a player. It comes as United struggle in their pursuit of a centre-back as they continue to be linked to Leicester City's Harry Maguire and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also reportedly persevering in his efforts to prise Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace.

- Premier League champions Manchester City have moved ahead of rivals Manchester United and Atletico Madrid in the race to sign Benfica sensation Joao Felix. That is according to the Daily Mail, which claims City's willingness to loan the 19-year-old – who has a £105million release clause – back to the Portuguese champions has tilted the transfer battle in their favour.

- The Daily Star reports Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann will reject Manchester United's advances to team up with Lionel Messi at LaLiga champions Barcelona.

- According to Sky Germany, Mats Hummels is close to re-joining Borussia Dortmund from Bayern Munich. The 30-year-old defender left Dortmund in 2016.

Bayern Munich should enjoy a smooth entry into the new season after being drawn against fourth-tier Energie Cottbus in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.

Niko Kovac's men completed a domestic double by crushing RB Leipzig 3-0 in the final in May and begin their defence of the trophy with a trip to Brandenburg in early August.

Their opponents, former Bundesliga side Cottbus, are at a low ebb, having been relegated back to Regionalliga level just 12 months after winning promotion to the third division.

Beaten finalists Leipzig will visit Osnabruck – newly promoted to the 2. Bundesliga – while Borussia Dortmund are set for a reunion with former player and ex-Germany international Kevin Grosskreutz at Uerdingen.

First-round matches are scheduled to be contested between 64 teams from August 9 to 12.

Bayern Munich buying Leroy Sane would be a boost to the Bundesliga, according to Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke.

Manchester City winger Sane has been linked with a switch to Bayern, who are seeking to improve their wide options due to the imminent departures of experienced duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness said it would require an "insane" sum to buy Sane, though, while chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge indicated the 23-year-old needs to decide for himself whether he wants a move.

Sane, who joined City from Schalke for a reported initial fee of £37million in 2016, scored 16 goals in all competitions for the Premier League champions last term but only started 21 top-flight matches, six fewer than in the 2017-18 campaign, as he seemingly lost Pep Guardiola's trust.

The winger refused to answer questions about his future after helping Germany hammer Estonia 8-0 in Euro 2020 qualifying this week.

But even if it might damage Dortmund's chances of unseating Bayern at the summit, Watzke feels Sane's arrival would benefit the Bundesliga.

"I think it would be very good if Bayern bring Leroy Sane back as a Germany international," Watzke said to Bild.

"Because that would further increase the appeal of the league."

Dortmund have added to Lucien Favre's squad for the 2019-20 season by signing Thorgan Hazard, Nico Schulz and Julian Brandt, although Christian Pulisic has left for Chelsea.

Manchester City star Leroy Sane shut down questions about Bayern Munich's interest in him while on international duty with Germany and offered a cryptic response over where his future lies.

Sane scored Germany's final goal in Tuesday's 8-0 Euro 2020 qualifying demolition of Estonia in Mainz, impressing throughout in attack.

The winger had an indifferent season at club level with Premier League champions City, scoring a respectable 10 goals, but only starting 21 matches, six fewer than the 2017-18 campaign.

Sane subsequently emerged as a primary target for Bayern, whose rebuild job will continue in the close-season after the departures of long-serving duo Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.

Bayern have rued City's "insane" valuation of the winger, though Sane failed to commit to Pep Guardiola's side post-match.

When asked about the Bayern speculation, Sane told reporters: "I'm going on holiday now. Everything else will be seen.

"That's it with the questions about Bayern Munich."

Sane, 23, has been at City since 2016, when they reportedly paid Bundesliga outfit Schalke an initial £37million.

Bayern Munich winger Alphonso Davies does not fear the prospect of extra competition for places if Leroy Sane joins the club.

Manchester City star Sane continues to be linked with a move to the Bundesliga champions despite club president Uli Hoeness admitting the cost of such a deal could be beyond their reach.

Davies joined from Vancouver Whitecaps in January and scored one goal in six league appearances, all of which came as a substitute.

The 18-year-old is expected to play a bigger role under Niko Kovac next season, with veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery leaving the Allianz Arena.

Sane's arrival would present a sizeable obstacle to the first team for the rising Canada star, but he believes working alongside such players can only be a positive.

"The bosses see something in Leroy; they see something in me. That's why they bought me. That's why they might buy him," he told Bild.

"I want to develop here. If Leroy were to come to us, I could learn a lot from him. He's a top winger for his club and his country."

Davies does not feel there is any particular expectation from Bayern's management for him to establish himself quickly as a dependable first-team regular.

"There's no pressure whatsoever from the club," he said. "They want to build me up, that I get my game time and that I get used to the league. It's difficult to come over from Canada as a youngster and play for one of the best teams in the world. They're giving me all the time I need, and their plan has been very good so far.

"We've got a good crop of young players. KC – Kingsley Coman – Serge [Gnabry] and me are all young and hungry to play. I'm sure that everyone will get their chance to blossom and shine at this club."

Serge Gnabry would love to welcome Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich – with their special handshake.

Manchester City winger Sane has been linked with a move to the Bundesliga champions after seeing his regular starting spot come under pressure over the closing weeks of the season.

They appear the club most likely to prise Sane away from the Etihad Stadium should City decide the 23-year-old is an expendable talent, although president Uli Hoeness has cast doubt on the prospect of affording such a deal.

Bayern are parting company with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, with the departure of the veteran wingers leaving a gap in Niko Kovac's squad to be filled.

Gnabry has established himself as a threat from a wide role, and he would be thrilled to see Germany team-mate Sane also head to the Allianz Arena.

"I say hello to him with a special handshake," said Gnabry, when asked about Sane being linked to Bayern. "I've already asked him about this topic, but he is the only one who can tell us what will happen.

"I would love to have him in my team. We are getting along really well, also off the pitch."

Speaking at Germany's press conference on Monday, Gnabry added: "He would help any team and it's very fun for me to play with him.

"He would be a gain for Bayern Munich."

Gnabry is at the end of his first full season with Bayern's first team and admitted it has been a sapping campaign.

"I'm so ready to go on holidays," he said. "This season was quite tough, as we played a lot of games.

"I missed a couple of games towards the end, due to injuries.

"But overall, I am happy about meeting the expectations, which is most important to me.

"I was also happy about getting a lot of minutes and receiving that trust in my first year at Bayern. I just try to improve every day and to help the team."

Rafinha has returned to his native Brazil with Flamengo after eight years at Bayern Munich.

The right-back, 33, has signed a two-year contract with the Rio de Janeiro-based club.

Rafinha won seven Bundesliga titles while at Bayern after joining from Genoa, as well as eight domestic cups and the 2013 Champions League.

He began his professional career with Brazilian side Coritiba before joining Schalke in 2005 and spending five years in Gelsenkirchen.

Flamengo announced the signing on their website, stating Rafinha would have his presentation at the club on June 24.

His first-team opportunities were limited with Bayern last season, leading to his departure after their domestic double triumph.

He was joined by veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in bidding farewell to Bayern at the end of the campaign.

Leroy Sane "looks happy" at Manchester City and is unlikely to agitate for a move to Bayern Munich, according to Germany team-mate Julian Draxler.

Bundesliga champions Bayern want to sign winger Sane to replenish their attacking stocks following the departures of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.

The German club's chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, suggested the 23-year-old will have to declare his interest in leaving the Etihad Stadium before a bid is lodged.

Paris Saint-Germain star Draxler played alongside Sane at Schalke and cannot envisage him causing problems for Pep Guardiola.

"I don't feel like he is forcing a transfer, but in football anything can happen," Draxler said.

"I didn't ask him personally if he's going or not, but there have been some jokes. I've just said to him 'mia san mia' (Bayern's club motto) all the time in the last few days.

"When the media discusses a possible transfer of a great player like him, then you are curious.

"But you have to leave him alone and not ask him personally about what he will do. That would be too much.

"I think he would help Bayern a lot, like every other team in the world. I'm curious to know what will happen, but I think he looks happy at City and doesn't necessarily want to leave."

Draxler and Sane are set to share a pitch over the next few days as they attempt to help Germany past Belarus and Estonia in Euro 2020 qualifying.

The former is one cap shy of 50 for the national team and second only to captain Manuel Neuer for appearances among the current squad.

"We're on the path to building a completely new team with a new hierarchy," Draxler said.

"It remains to be seen who will take responsibility and put in the effort. There are many new players on the team.

"With [almost] 50 caps, I obviously have a certain level of experience, but far be it from me to say that I'll take over complete responsibility.

"Everyone has to help out in order for us to be successful again - that goes for me as well."

Marco Reus urged his Borussia Dortmund team-mates to use the pain of narrowly missing out on the Bundesliga title last season to inspire them to glory next time around.

Dortmund were nine points clear at the top of the table after beating Hannover 5-1 at the end of January, only to pick up just one win from their next five matches to allow Bayern Munich to pounce.

Bayern went on to seal a seventh successive title triumph on the final day of the season with a thumping 5-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt as they finished two points clear of Dortmund.

And Reus, who has not lifted the Bundesliga crown during his seven years at the Westfalenstadion, is eager to learn from the experience of falling just short after leading the way for so long.

"It hurt, because the chance this time was just unbelievably big, there was a lot more in it for us," the Bundesliga Player of the Season told German outlet Kicker.

"I believe that it will help us in the future, which may be the positive thing about it - everyone has now gained experience. Our goal must therefore be to stay at the top of the table and then get the title.

"My greed has been extremely pronounced since my first day at BVB, but the closer to the end of my own career I get, the more intense it is. 

"Since coming to Dortmund, we’ve been close to it a few times, but in the next two or three years, things have to work out, and I’ll do anything for it."

Dortmund have lost Christian Pulisic to Chelsea ahead of next season, but they have used the funds wisely by adding Thorgan Hazard, Nico Schulz and Julian Brandt to their squad.

Reus knows Schulz and Brandt well from the Germany national side and is excited to link up with the pair at club level.

"I am glad that we have two top people from the national team, which is good for us. It means even more quality and depth," he said. 

"Especially in the second half of the season we were lacking the necessary power due to some injuries, so I think it’s good and right that the competition gets even bigger.

"If you have big goals - and we do - then you need a lot of top-class players. And we will certainly get them with [Schulz and Brandt]."

Renato Sanches is considering leaving Bayern Munich on a permanent basis after growing frustrated with a lack of playing time.

Signed ahead of an outstanding Euro 2016, midfielder Sanches has struggled to hit the heights expected of him since swapping Benfica for the Bundesliga.

The 21-year-old started only six times in all competitions this term and failed to figure in Niko Kovac's XI after November.

An unsuccessful spell with Swansea City in 2017-18 did little to advance a stagnating career and the Portugal international is not willing to entertain another a short-term stint away from Allianz Arena.

"I don't want to go on loan again. If I leave, it will be leave completely," Sanches told Sport Bild.

"I want to play more. I don't know if it makes sense to try again in Munich. I played too little, I'm disappointed.

"All the young players like Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman play, it's only me that doesn't.

"I've shown in training that I'm a good player. I think I got the fewest chances of the young players."

Sanches made three appearances for Portugal during the group stage of the Nations League but was overlooked for Fernando Santos' latest squad.

James Rodriguez paid tribute to the Bayern Munich support as he prepared to rejoin Real Madrid after the German champions opted not to sign him permanently at the end of his two-year loan spell.

The 27-year-old made 43 Bundesliga appearances following his arrival from Madrid in July 2017, and helped the club to back-to-back league titles during his spell in Munich.

But James failed to establish himself as one of head coach Niko Kovac's most important players and Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge bid him farewell after confirming his departure.

"I thank James on behalf of FC Bayern Munich for two successful years," Rummenigge told the club's official website.

"We have twice won the German championship and the DFB-Pokal with him. In addition, we reached the semi-finals of the Champions League with him last season.

"James made an important contribution to all these successes."

The Colombia international played 67 competitive games for Bayern, scoring 15 goals in total and providing 20 assists despite failing to secure a regular first-team place.

He now faces an uncertain future at Santiago Bernabeu, however, where he is not thought to be in head coach Zinedine Zidane's plans.

"My big thanks go to the entire club and the fans who have always given us great support," said James.

"It was two unforgettable years for me in Munich and I have always felt very happy here.

"I take the best memories and wish FC Bayern the best for the future."

Leroy Sane must decide he wants to join Bayern Munich before a bid can be submitted to Manchester City, according to the Bundesliga club's chairman.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says the German champions are ready to negotiate with their Premier League counterparts as soon as winger Sane makes up his mind on where to play next season.

The 23-year-old's future at the Etihad Stadium hangs in the balance, with stalled contract discussions disrupting Pep Guardiola's attempts to keep him.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness last week claimed a deal is unlikely because of the "insane" sums City are demanding, but Rummenigge insists the power rests with the player.

"We have not made an offer for Leroy Sane. It's not that far along yet," Rummenigge told Sport Bild.

"First the player has to decide whether he can imagine coming to Bayern.

"If that's the case, then we will negotiate with Manchester City.

"The player is the most important factor. Apparently, Leroy has not yet decided. [Sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic is leading the talks for us.

"I think he is an exciting player."

Sane joined City from Schalke in 2016 and has two seasons left to run on his contract.

The attacker has scored 10 goals in each of the past two Premier League campaigns, helping the club and former Bayern boss Guardiola to consecutive titles.

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