Joshua Kimmich has defended Marc-Andre ter Stegen and the German Football Association (DFB) from Uli Hoeness' criticism but insists Manuel Neuer is right to be considered the national team's number one.

Bayern Munich president Hoeness hit out at the federation for a perceived failure to support 2014 World Cup winner Neuer in the debate over Germany's goalkeeper spot.

Neuer's nearest positional rival, Barcelona's Ter Stegen, had expressed frustration with a lack of international opportunities, which prompted a public exchange between the pair.

The Bayern star sought to quell the tension last week and club team-mate Kimmich joined him in smoothing over relations as he sympathised with Ter Stegen. 

"There was nothing bad about what Marc said," Kimmich told German broadcaster ZDF.

"He didn't attack Manuel or anyone else, he just said he was disappointed. I can understand that. I don't know what he was told or promised.

"There is no question about who is in goal, Manuel is rightly the number one, although Marc has delivered world-class performances for many years. Healthy competition is a good thing."

Neuer regained his place for Germany at last year's World Cup in Russia after missing almost the entire 2017-18 season because of a recurring foot injury.

The 33-year-old has since started each of Die Mannschaft's six games in 2019 and performed well in Bayern's comfortable 4-0 Bundesliga victory over Cologne on Saturday.

"I think the DFB and especially our coach, Joachim Low, stuck by Manuel during a difficult phase," Kimmich said.

"He was injured for a long time and still stood in goal at the World Cup. From a DFB perspective, Manuel was always the clear number one."

Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac believes competition between Manuel Neuer and Marc-Andre ter Stegen is good for both goalkeepers as the feud surrounding the two Germany internationals continues.

Germany captain Neuer took exception to Barcelona's Ter Stegen expressing frustration over being unable to dislodge the Bayern star as the national team's number one.

Speaking ahead of Barca's Champions League draw at Borussia Dortmund, Ter Stegen criticised Neuer's comments but expressed a desire to move on from the matter.

This was something Neuer echoed, only for Bayern president Uli Hoeness to wade into the debate after his club's 3-0 win over Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday.

Keen to avoid any further barbs from either side, Neuer then insisted: "I don't want to talk about it anymore."

However, Kovac predictably found himself fielding questions around the topic at a pre-match news conference for Saturday's Bundesliga match against Cologne.

"As a professional at Bayern, you always have pressure," Kovac said. "In the national team, [Neuer] saved sensationally well against Northern Ireland [in Germany's 2-0 Euro 2020 qualification win in Belfast earlier this month]. You forget that quickly.

"Both play well for their clubs, that's clear. But Manu is number one. There used to be one A and one B. And now? What can you do there?

"I do not know. I believe the pressure is beneficial for both."

RB Leipzig are the team applying the most convincing pressure to long-reigning Bundesliga kings Bayern.

Kovac's men had to settle for a 1-1 draw in eastern Germany last weekend, despite taking an early lead through Robert Lewandowski, and they are two points behind early pacesetters Leipzig.

"It's two points, we do not have to dramatise," Kovac said, pointing out Bayern hauled in a far greater deficit to Borussia Dortmund to win a seventh consecutive domestic title last time around.

"I remind you, it was nine [points to Dortmund]. We played out a draw in Leipzig. They are a team that plays for the championship.

"What haunts me is the game against Hertha Berlin [Bayern's season-opening 2-2 draw]. We should have won. These are the two points we currently lack. It's normal to take a point away from home against a championship rival."

Cologne are winless after three draws in their first four Bundesliga games and should prepare to face Joshua Kimmich, who Kovac expects to recover from a twisted ankle sustained against Red Star.

Winger Kingsley Coman (neck) and defender Lucas Hernandez (ankle) will be assessed.

Manuel Neuer moved to protect his relationship with Marc-Andre ter Stegen after Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness admonished the Barcelona goalkeeper.

Germany captain Neuer and positional rival Ter Stegen were locked in a public exchange in the lead-up to this week's Champions League matches after the latter ended the international break unhappy with being overlooked for a pair Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Neuer, 33, suggested his international team-mate was putting himself before the team, criticism which Ter Stegen described as "inappropriate".

The tension seemed to be easing until Hoeness hit out at Ter Stegen following Bayern's routine 3-0 Champions League win over Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday.

Hoeness accused sections of the German media of treating the 27-year-old as if he had won the World Cup "17 times" and insisted Neuer was the "much better" goalkeeper.

Though appreciative of his president's backing, Neuer refrained from adding to the sense of disharmony.

"It's always good to have some people support you in general," the Bayern skipper said when asked about Hoeness' comments.

"I basically said one thing about it because I got asked after a game.

"I don't want to have a debate and talk about who can do what better than the other. We are a team and I am a team player. We know that we have four good goalkeepers who play together and do everything for Germany.

"So, I don't want to talk about it anymore."

Hoeness' tirade involved a shot at the German Football Association for a perceived failure to adequately support Bayern players.

Earlier this year, Germany boss Joachim Low made the sudden decision to move forward without 2014 World Cup winners Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, who has since moved to Borussia Dortmund.

Neuer remains firmly in Low's plans and recently won his 90th cap international cap, 68 more than Barca star Ter Stegen.

Manchester United will not give up on extending Paul Pogba's stay at Old Trafford.

Pogba, 26, was heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid during the close season, despite being contracted at United until 2021, with the club also reportedly holding the option for a further 12 months.

The LaLiga giants are reportedly still interested in the France midfielder, but United have plans of their own.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA CONTRACT A PRIORITY FOR MAN UNITED

Manchester United are looking to sign Pogba on a long-term deal, according to the Evening Standard.

New contracts for Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Mason Greenwood are priorities for the Premier League giants, the report says.

It comes after United re-signed goalkeeper David de Gea and defender Victor Lindelof.

ROUND-UP

- Amid tension with fellow goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Manuel Neuer is considering his Germany future. Bild reports Neuer, 33, could end his international career after Euro 2020.

- Barcelona teenager Ansu Fati is set to get a Spanish passport next Friday, according to AS. Portugal have reportedly made advances for the talented 16-year-old forward, but Fati looks set to be ready to feature for Spain at the Under-17 World Cup beginning in October.

- Luca Pellegrini may be on loan at Cagliari, but his future appears to be at Juventus. The Serie A champions are keen to keep the 20-year-old defender for the long-term, according to Calciomercato.

- Chelsea have received some good news on the injury front. The Sun and the Mirror report midfielder Mason Mount could face Liverpool on Sunday despite suffering an ankle sprain in Tuesday's Champions League loss to Valencia.

- Bayer Leverkusen decided to reward midfielder Kai Havertz in the close season. According to Bild, the Bundesliga club handed the five-time Germany international a wage increase from €2m to more than €5m per season.

- Paul Mitchell has opted against returning to the Premier League. Sky Sports News reports Mitchell will leave his role as head of recruitment and development at RB Leipzig at the end of the month to become technical director of Red Bull's global soccer division. The report says as many as four Premier League clubs were after the former Tottenham and Southampton recruitment chief.

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness hit out at disgruntled Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the German Football Association (DFB) and the media amid the ongoing debate involving Manuel Neuer, who he believes is the "much better" shot-stopper.

Tension between Bayern keeper Neuer and Barcelona's Ter Stegen has been high after the latter voiced his frustration about the lack of international opportunities for Germany.

Despite 22-time international Ter Stegen's fine form with the LaLiga champions, captain Neuer is Germany's number one and started ahead of the 27-year-old during the latest round of Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Neuer – a World Cup winner with Germany having amassed 90 caps – accused Ter Stegen of putting himself before the team when he expressed frustration with the selection order, and his positional rival described the 33-year-old's criticism as "inappropriate".

Hoeness fiercely weighed into the Neuer and Ter Stegen debate following Bayern's 3-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

"I think that this is a joke and especially the Munich press I think it's not okay what they do," Hoeness told reporters. "The West German press is heavily supporting Marc-Andre ter Stegen as if he won 17 times the World Cup. And from the South German press I don't see any support.

"I think it's impossible to make such a topic public because he has no claim to play there [in the national team]. With the goalkeepers it's different than with the other.

"He [Neuer] was the best goalkeeper in the world for many years. Now he was injured sometime but it was clear that if he becomes the old one again – and he is the old one again - there is no discussion if just him can be the number one. I hoped for more support from the German football federation. We frequently have troubles with DFB.

"First of all, I remember how our three players were kicked out in a very bad way of the national team [Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and former defender Mats Hummels] and now this with Manuel Neuer is the same. I don't know how you cannot do something against it when a player goes public with a topic that he should only discuss with [head coach] Joachim Low. This is not okay.

"We have our opinion and we won't let this happen in the future that our players will be damaged without reason because Ter Stegen is a good keeper but Manuel Neuer is much better. And has more experience. There is no discussion necessary. Nobody in the world can have doubts with Manuel Neuer being Germany's goalkeeper. Neuer can play as long as he stays healthy. He will always be the best. There is no discussion about it."

Manuel Neuer moved to end his public exchange with Marc-Andre ter Stegen as Niko Kovac gave a strong endorsement of the Bayern Munich man's form.

Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen this week described it as "inappropriate" for Neuer to criticise him for speaking out about a lack of international opportunities.

Germany captain Neuer started ahead of Ter Stegen during the latest round of Euro 2020 qualifiers and accused his positional rival of putting himself before the team when he expressed frustration with the selection order.

Joachim Low continues to insist the younger keeper's time will come and the experienced Neuer sought to defuse the tension on Tuesday.

"We always talk to each other," Neuer said when asked whether he had made contact with Ter Stegen.

"I don't really want to say anything about it anymore, it was something I said after the [Northern Ireland] game and I've been approached several times now because of that.

"I gave a statement and now I'm going to focus on the games, on the club and on the pitch. That applies to Germany as well as Bayern Munich. You won't hear any more statements from me."

Though under pressure to hold his place for Germany, Neuer faces no such concern at club level.

Bayern boss Kovac has been pleased with the 33-year-old's recent performances and his handling of the Ter Stegen situation.

"I think it was a very clear statement from Marc and then from Manuel," Kovac said.

"I know it's all blown out of proportion. I understand it, I'm not stupid, I know why it's all blown out of proportion, but really I think we should leave these guys alone to do their jobs and they're both doing a fantastic job.

"I said this last season and it's confirmed more and more: Manuel is in absolutely top shape.

"He gave us a sensational performance against RB Leipzig and and he did so for Germany.

"It's difficult and unfortunate for Marc, he's a world-class goalkeeper as well, and unfortunately there is only one goalkeeper per country."

Neuer and Bayern are preparing to host Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Wednesday, their first European outing since losing to Liverpool in the round of 16 last season.

"We were unlucky to go out against the Champions League winners," Kovac said.

"Now it's a new season, everything is back to square one and we want to survive the group stage. I am convinced we will progress further than last season."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen says it was "inappropriate" for Manuel Neuer to criticise him for speaking out about a desire for more game time for Germany.

Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen described it as a "massive blow" not to feature for his country against Netherlands and Northern Ireland in the international break.

The 27-year-old has had to serve as back-up to Neuer for most of his international career, despite increasing calls for him to be given the number one spot ahead of the Bayern Munich star.

Neuer accused Ter Stegen of being unhelpful by expressing his frustrations in public and suggested he had shown something of a lack of respect towards Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp, who likewise are battling for more Germany playing time.

Ter Stegen, who has returned to his homeland for Tuesday's Champions League clash between Barca and Borussia Dortmund, thinks Neuer has been unfair but wants to draw a line under the issue.

He told a news conference: "I would like to say something about this. You cannot say we have competition for the goalkeeper position and then expect the players to be happy with the situation if they don't play. Football is about happiness but also disappointment.

"Manuel Neuer does not need to comment on my personal feelings and measure them, I'd say. It's my own opinion. If you think about the last few years, you realise that I always behaved well and what Neuer and other people have said is not fair.

"His remarks were inappropriate but I don't want to say much more. I want to end this controversy."

Ter Stegen's immediate priority is to help sure up Barca's defence, with the Catalans having conceded seven goals in their opening four LaLiga games of 2019-20.

"We're trying to stop the goals going in but things haven't come off," he said. "It's not what we expected. We have to improve. There have been mistakes that we can easily correct. We've spoken about it."

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac urged his side to be more ruthless after they were held 1-1 by RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Emil Forsberg scored from the spot to equalise for Leipzig after Robert Lewandowski's 199th goal for Bayern had put the visitors ahead.

Bayern are in third place in the Bundesliga table, two points behind leaders Leipzig.

"We have to do more with our superiority," Kovac said.

"In the end, the result is annoying. We had more chances, played well, but unfortunately two points less than planned.

"We played sensationally in the first half, that was the best performance so far. After that, we got ourselves into trouble.

"We're pulling the positives out of the game - we played a really good game."

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was disappointed with the reaction from his team-mates to Forsberg’s leveller.

"The 1-1 has thrown us back a little because we were so clearly superior," Neuer said.

"We did not recover from it well. We have to take the good points and analyse the bad things carefully."

Forsberg said nobody at Leipzig was getting carried away with their impressive start to the season.

"We are still developing," he said. "But to be the league leaders after four matchdays is very nice.

"The first half we ran a lot, but had little possession. Bayern have played very strong again.

"In the second half we were much better and got our game on the pitch as well."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has expressed frustration with being overlooked by Germany head coach Joachim Low.

Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen was on the bench for both of Germany's Euro 2020 qualifiers during the international break.

Manuel Neuer conceded four goals in a Group C defeat at home to Netherlands, but then kept a clean sheet in an away win against joint-leaders Northern Ireland.

Ter Stegen deputised for Neuer during the 2018-19 season when the Bayern Munich captain was sidelined long-term due to injury.

Neuer has regained the gloves since returning to full fitness, though, and Ter Stegen accepts he is in a frustrating situation.

"It is not easy to find an explanation as I am giving the best account of myself in each game to make the decision more difficult," Ter Stegen said.

"I am trying [to become first-choice] anyway. But this trip with the national team has been a tough blow for me."

Ter Stegen, 27, has played 22 times for his country, who are on track to qualify for Euro 2020 after joining Northern Ireland on 12 points after five games.

Manuel Neuer will call time on his career as soon as he feels Germany and Bayern Munich no longer need him.

Neuer, 33, has been first-choice Germany goalkeeper for the best part of a decade, while he has been of similar importance to Bayern since joining them in 2011.

But the Schalke academy product has endured injury problems more frequently in the past three seasons, missing almost the entirety of 2017-18 with a broken foot.

Neuer was also absent for a chunk of last term with thumb and calf issues, though he remains the go-to man between the posts for club and country, starting all but one of Germany's 11 post-World Cup matches and Bayern's three games of the new Bundesliga campaign.

Once that regularity disappears, however, Neuer expects to retire because he will find it a challenge to remain motivated.

"When you are no longer needed and you feel it, it is difficult to get up and motivate [yourself] each day," Neuer told Welt am Sonntag. "When your experience is needed and your players need you, that drives you on.

"I have the feeling that I am very much needed here in the national team and that everyone is happy that I'm here. It's clear that I have to show it in my performance.

"[My durability] is a result of my love for this sport. It excites me a lot when I'm on the pitch training or playing. It's a great fulfilment for me. I'm 33 years old, but when I'm on the pitch I always feel that I can improve on my goalkeeping.

"I'm still as annoyed with things that don't work out as they did nine or 10 years ago and I'm still happy about things that work out.

"These are signs that mean something to me. Namely, how ambitious I am still. [I want to] play as long as my body can do it, I'm having fun and I'm needed.

"At a young age you don't have to do so much to keep fit. It's changing. I've already noticed that, so I pay close attention to what I do and how I approach things."

Robert Lewandowski felt Bayern Munich were not at their best in the 3-1 DFB-Pokal win over fourth-tier Energie Cottbus.

Lewandowski opened his account for the season with a close-range finish at Stadion der Freundschaft, where Kingsley Coman and Leon Goretzka were also on target.

Goretzka fouled Berkan Taz to give away a stoppage-time penalty that the same player converted – a moment in keeping with some other moments of lacklustre play from Niko Kovac's men

"I think we showed what we want to do. I'm glad we won," Lewandowski said.

"Maybe it was not an amazing game for our side, but we had to do our job."

Captain Neuer also feels Bayern, who lost 2-0 to rivals Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup, have room to improve before Friday's Bundesliga opener against Hertha Berlin.

"We should have passed the ball a little bit quicker in the first half but, all-in-all, we should be satisfied," he said.

"I just spoke to their goalkeeper [Lennart Moser], he did a really good job and that's why we did not score more goals.

"There are still some things to improve and it's never easy to know where you're standing before the league kicks off. I'm quite positive. We will see what happens on Friday."

Lewandowski, who finished last term as the Bundesliga's top scorer for the fourth time in the past six seasons, added: "It's been a long time between the last game in the Bundesliga and now and I think it will be a great night in Munich."

David Wagner has named Alexander Nubel as Schalke's new captain as the goalkeeper continues to follow in Manuel Neuer's footsteps.

Nubel made 18 Bundesliga starts last season and enters the new campaign as the undisputed number one following Ralf Fahrmann's move to Norwich City on a season-long loan.

The 22-year-old will also don the armband, which Neuer did for Schalke before moving to Bayern Munich eight years ago.

Comparisons have been drawn between the pair and Bayern are said to have a high opinion of Germany Under-21 international Nubel.

Head coach Wagner also confirmed defender Benjamin Stambouli and midfielder Omar Mascarell as joint vice-captains.

"I'm very excited that these three will lead our team during the new season," the former Huddersfield Town boss said.

Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer has declared himself fresh and pain-free after two seasons tainted by injury.

Germany goalkeeper Neuer battled thumb and calf problems last term after missing almost the entire 2017-18 season due to a metatarsal fracture.

Rumours of retirement spread during April but the 33-year-old dismissed that possibility and regained fitness in time for the DFB-Pokal triumph over RB Leipzig in late May.

Three pre-season appearances have followed, giving the World Cup winner confidence for the campaign ahead.

"I feel really good right now," Neuer told the official Bundesliga website.

"I'm not in any pain and can take part in everything we're doing. I'm really looking forward to the new season."

Neuer's authoritative presence on the pitch will be crucial for the Bundesliga champions following the loss of several experienced players.

Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Rafinha and Mats Hummels have left since the end of last season, making space for new leaders to emerge.

"We've got a lot of players who are established and know each other well, but also some guys who will have bigger roles to play because of the departures," Neuer said.

"They have to prove they can take on leadership roles."

Eden Hazard made his Real Madrid debut as the LaLiga giants were beaten 3-1 by Bayern Munich at the International Champions Cup in Houston.

Hazard wore the Madrid jersey for the first time since his big-money move from Chelsea, while fellow recruits Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo Goes also made their bows for Zinedine Zidane's side.

But Corentin Tolisso, Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry stole the show as Bayern put Madrid to the sword in the second half, which saw Zidane make 11 changes at the interval.

Tolisso opened the scoring in the 15th minute and Bayern completely dominated in the second half, with substitutes Lewandowski and Gnabry condemning Madrid to defeat in their ICC opener on Saturday.

Madrid did have something to celebrate when Rodrygo capped his debut with a stunning 84th-minute free-kick after Sven Ulreich was sent off for bringing down the former Santos youngster.

Gareth Bale was left out of the Madrid squad amid ongoing uncertainty over his future, with the Welshman linked to Bayern. While there was no room for Bale, Jovic, Rodrygo and Mendy were on the bench.

It was an entertaining and end-to-end first half, with Bayern's Manuel Neuer the busier of the two goalkeepers at NRG Stadium.

After Neuer managed to make a goal-line save to deny Karim Benzema in the 11th minute, Bayern broke the deadlock four minutes later via Tolisso.

A low cross from Kingsley Coman found a way through to Tolisso, whose initial shot was stopped on the line by Thibaut Courtois, but the Frenchman made no mistake with the rebound.

Madrid huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser – Benzema, who failed to capitalise on a pair of consecutive close-range chances, in the thick of the action but unable to put the ball over the line.

Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Hazard also had opportunities for Madrid prior to half-time, however, Bayern managed to preserve their advantage.

Madrid controlled possession early in the second half but Bayern were a threat in attack and the German giants sent a warning when an unmarked Thiago Alcantara drove into the box, however he was unable to direct Coman's cross on target approaching the hour mark.

That warning went unheeded as centre-back Niklas Sule picked out Lewandowski with a ball over Madrid's defence in the 67th minute and the Polish striker produced a stunning piece of skill to control it before turning and finishing into the bottom corner.

Gnabry completed the rout two minutes later when the German found himself unmarked in the area and he had time to take a touch and fire a half-volley past Keylor Navas.

Bayern ended the match with 10 men after Ulreich was red carded for a foul on Rodrygo outside the area in the 81st minute following Joshua Kimmich's sloppy back-pass and the Madrid signing converted his own free-kick to pull a goal back.

Bayern Munich are taking a patient approach in the transfer market, confident they can still compete, according to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

The Bundesliga champions have already brought in Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, the latter in a club-record €80million deal.

But further recruitments are needed, particularly with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben having departed, and Bayern have so far been frustrated in their pursuit of the likes of Leroy Sane.

Club chairman Rummenigge remains confident, though, content to maintain a watching brief for the time being.

"Internationally, the competition is greater and the market has become more global," he told a news conference. "Nevertheless, Bayern still have much to offer. We have a beautiful city, a nice stadium.

"But you have to say the buzz is different. We are speaking in the nine-digit range almost as if it is normal.

"There are almost two months left until the transfer market closes, and these two months will bring many more uncertainties.

"Everything is waiting for the dominoes to fall and then there will be this effect. Then let's wait and see what Bayern will do."

Asked specifically about top target Sane, Rummenigge said: "The status is that he comes back from vacation this week and did not want to talk during the vacation time.

"Now you will have to wait in peace and quiet to see if something moves in this direction.

"It is well known that we are still looking for a wide player. We lost Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, two players who have shaped the face of Bayern."

Bayern must also take care of the future of stalwart Manuel Neuer, whose agent has questioned the club's ambition.

However, Rummenigge defended the Germany goalkeeper.

"I had a telephone call with Manuel Neuer this morning," he said. "Thomas Kroth [Neuer's agent] was not his mouthpiece, this was a purely private opinion of Kroth.

"We took note of that, I found it a bit strange. So far, we have always had a serious and good relationship with him."

Rummenigge added: "It is very important that we work with a clear mind, a cool head and patience. I am not nervous in any way, nor are my colleagues.

"At the end of the day, we will have a team that will compete very, very competitively in all three competitions. We will have to make some transfers, but our goals do not change.

"We have brought in top people like Lucas and Pavard. I do not want to lower expectations. I can tell our fans not to worry about having a team that will not do a great job."

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