Hansi Flick says it is not his position to analyse the merits of other coaches amid rumours Mauricio Pochettino could become Bayern Munich's permanent new boss.

Bayern, who sacked Niko Kovac earlier this month, have placed Flick in charge at the Allianz Arena until at least the Bundesliga's mid-season break.

Pochettino has been linked to the post after being sacked by Tottenham this week, although reports suggest Real Madrid view the Argentine as a successor to Zinedine Zidane at the end of the season.

For Flick, the only focus is on the immediate job in hand, which is Bayern's trip to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday.

"It is not my job to analyse coaching colleagues," he told a pre-match news conference. 

"The club now has all the options to look for the future, whatever they want. I'm doing my job now and trying to be successful with the team.

"Football is a day-to-day business, it can be different tomorrow than yesterday. We'll wait until the winter break, then we'll sit down together."

On being placed in charged for the interim, Flick added: "We prepare just as before. 

"I am completely satisfied with the solution. It is crucial that the club has time to think about what is right for the future."

VAR controversy, Leicester City's swashbuckling style, Liverpool's unrelenting charge to the title – these are all among the most prominent themes of the opening months of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

But arguably trumping all of them in terms of column inches has been Chelsea's use of young players, with Frank Lampard's return to the club as head coach coinciding with a new-found desire to bring youngsters into the first-team.

Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Christian Pulisic have all featured regularly, while Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James have recently returned from serious injuries.

Eden Hazard, Graeme Le Saux, Sean Dyche, Roy Hodgson and Petr Cech are just a few of the army of people to lavish Chelsea and Lampard with praise for this philosophy.

Although it is difficult not to be cynical of Lampard's insistence that he would have had the same approach even if Chelsea were not banned from signing new players, the fact remains they are giving young players a chance.

But how does their use of under-23 players compare to the rest of the teams in Europe's top five leagues?

PREMIER LEAGUE

It might surprise supporters to learn that among Premier League clubs, Chelsea don't lead the way for appearances (60), minutes (4,164) or assists (8) for players who were under 23 on matchday.

Manchester United have racked up the highest number of matches for players younger than 23 (84), one more than Leicester. The next highest is Bournemouth (67), while Arsenal and Norwich City are also ahead of Chelsea.

As such, United have given 5,801 minutes of Premier League football to young players, though Leicester lead the way with 6,164 and are also on top in terms of assists (15).

Chelsea's 20 goals from qualifying players is a division high, however, four more than United. Leicester are the third and final side to reach double figures.

And the Blues' average starting XI age of 25 years and 115 days is among the youngest, though Bournemouth are ahead on that front (25y 88d).

LALIGA

In Spain's top flight, only Real Sociedad (84) and Real Mallorca (68) have given more matches to young players than Chelsea. They're also the only clubs to accumulate more minutes played by youngsters than the Blues (5,341 and 5,944, respectively).

La Real also top the charts for goals (10), assists (8) and average starting XI age (25y 235d) in Spain, though none of those records better Chelsea's.

Therefore, it's fair to say LaLiga, renowned for its development of young players, is lagging behind Premier League in that regard at the moment.

SERIE A

Chelsea's 60 appearances by young players would put them fourth on those terms in Serie A, with Fiorentina (79), Genoa and AC Milan (both 72) out in front.

Those three have also given more minutes to under-23s, with Fiorentina (5,837) setting the bar again.

Genoa have had 11 goals set up by under-23 players, three more than Chelsea, while Milan's average starting XI age (24y 203d) is much lower than Lampard's men.

But in each of those two parameters, Chelsea would be second in the chart. They would lead for goals from under-23s, with Fiorentina top in Italy on 10.

BUNDESLIGA

RB Leipzig (80), Mainz, Schalke (both 70) and Borussia Monchengladbach (63) have been the most open to playing under-23s in the Bundesliga

Similarly, all four clubs have seen those players feature in more than 4,500 minutes this season – Leipzig unsurprisingly leading the way with 5,259.

Leipzig are also Chelsea's closest challengers in terms of goals. Their record of 17 may be slightly less than the Blues, but their 11-assist haul - level with Gladbach - takes them to 28 involvements, exactly the same as Lampard's side.

Julian Nagelsmann's Leipzig are also the youngest side in the Bundesliga, with their starting XI's average age just 24 years and 340 days. Mainz (25y 38d) are the only other top-flight German club to beat Chelsea in this regard.

LIGUE 1

France's Ligue 1 is by far the most accessible of the five major leagues for young players, with a total of 1,360 appearances from under-23 players across the 20 clubs, an average of 68 per team.

In comparison, the Premier League (871) averages 43.55 appearances per club and the Bundesliga's 18 sides afford under-23s 45.28 outings (815 total).

Nice make up the biggest share of the Ligue 1 appearances with a massive 121, but Lille (116), Lyon (99), Reims (96), Nimes (83), Toulouse (82), Rennes, Bordeaux (both 75), Metz (74), Monaco, Dijon (both 65) and Strasbourg (62) have all allowed youngsters to play more than 60 matches.

Of course, a key element of this is the lack of funds at many of these clubs and French football in general with the exception of Paris Saint-Germain, who, perhaps unsurprisingly, have entrusted the fewest games (30) to under-23 players in the division.

Nevertheless, only Nice (24y 41d), Lille (24y 111d) and Lyon (24y 288d) have a younger starting line-up on average than Lampard's Chelsea.

Are we about to see a Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic reunion?

Mourinho and Ibrahimovic worked together at Inter, before the Portuguese manager brought the Swedish star to Manchester United in 2016.

Now, new Tottenham boss Mourinho is reportedly eyeing the 38-year-old striker.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO TARGETING IBRA

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho is poised to make a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to the Telegraph.

Ibrahimovic is on the lookout for a new club after opting to leave MLS outfit LA Galaxy following two seasons in the United States.

The 38-year-old has been linked to AC Milan, Bologna, Napoli, Manchester United and Australian team Perth Glory; however, Mourinho reportedly wants to reunite with Ibrahimovic at Tottenham.

 

ROUND-UP

- Spanish newspaper Sport reports a close friend of Flamengo coach Jorge Jesus predicting he will get the Barcelona job if his side win Saturday's Copa Libertadores final against River Plate, who are led by another reputed Catalan target in Marcelo Gallardo. Ernesto Valverde is under pressure at the LaLiga champions.

Real Madrid are set to open talks with star striker Karim Benzema over a new contract, Marca reports. The 31-year-old's current deal expires in 2021.

- Out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic is wanted by LaLiga's Atletico Madrid, according to ESPN FC. Matic has struggled for game time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with AC Milan and Inter also interested.

- With Tottenham reportedly looking to hijack AC Milan's pursuit of Ibrahimovic, Sky Sport Italia says the Rossoneri are rivalling Inter and Borussia Dortmund for Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud.

- The Daily Mail reports that Leicester City have opened talks with James Maddison over a new contract. The 22-year-old England international has been heavily linked to Manchester United.

- Partizan Belgrade sensation Strahinja Pavlovic is on the verge of joining Ligue 1 outfit Monaco. Sportski Zurnal says the 18-year-old defender has undergone a medical ahead of a €10million transfer plus add-ons.

Jose Mourinho seemingly has Gareth Bale in his Tottenham plans, but he will have to wait until before the start of next season.

Mourinho was named Spurs head coach on Wednesday, a day after the Premier League club sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of talk around his potential movements in the transfer market – including a Tottenham return for Bale.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO EYES BALE, BUT CAN'T SPEND IN JANUARY

Mourinho's arrival at Tottenham offers Bale the perfect escape route from Real Madrid, according to AS.

The star attacker left Spurs for Madrid in 2013, but is set to leave the LaLiga giants at season's end, the report says.

Marca reports Madrid have ruled out a January exit for Bale. That would suit Mourinho, who has been told there is no money to spend in the January window, according to The Guardian.

ROUND-UP

- Mourinho has more pressing matters at Spurs. The Mirror reports Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, who are out of contract at season's end, are intrigued by the prospect of working under Mourinho and are open minded about their futures.

- It could have been different for Spurs. According to the Daily Mail, Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers was Tottenham's first choice before they turned to Mourinho.

- Meanwhile, the sacked Pochettino may not be out of management for too long. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are ready to pounce for the former Spurs manager, according to The Sun. Ernesto Valverde is under pressure at Camp Nou, while interim boss Hansi Flick will coach Bayern until at least the end of the year.

- Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be getting closer to sorting out his future. Sky Sport reports AC Milan spoke to the departing LA Galaxy striker's agent Mino Raiola on Wednesday about the possibility of a return to San Siro.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in no rush to renew his Arsenal contract and with good reason. Sport reports the forward is waiting to find out how serious Barcelona's interest in him is before extending a deal that runs until 2021.

- Needing a striker, Manchester United are considering a January move for Roma's Edin Dzeko, according to ESPN FC. Dzeko has scored five goals in 12 Serie A games this season, and United are looking to finally bolster their attack after losing Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in the close season.

- Olivier Giroud has made just one Premier League start for Chelsea this season and the striker could be set for a January exit. La Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are considering a move for Giroud in January as they look for a back-up for Lukaku.

Lucien Favre urged Borussia Dortmund to forget their Der Klassiker humbling as they prepare to host Paderborn on Friday.

Dortmund were crushed 4-0 by Bayern Munich in their final game before the international break and are sixth in the Bundesliga table.

Favre, who is under pressure at the helm, is eager for Dortmund to put that result behind them as they prepare to resume their campaign.

"We played badly against Bayern Munich, that is clear," the head coach told a news conference on Wednesday.

"We still had the previous victory against Inter [in the Champions League] fresh in our minds. Not all players, but some.

"But such a loss can happen. We have to look ahead. We still have eight games, we have to keep going and think about our performance from game to game."

Thomas Delaney (ankle) has been ruled out until January for Dortmund, while Favre was unsure about Nico Schulz's availability but said Marco Reus trained "OK" during the week.

With the international break over, Favre wants Dortmund focused on club duties for the rest of 2020.

"We still have eight games until Christmas. We have to focus on those games," he said.

"We have six league games and two Champions League games. Dortmund will be their sole focus now until the end of the year.

"The players should no longer have their national teams in mind. That is important."

Dortmund are sixth in the Bundesliga, but just six points off league leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

Michael Cuisance's lack of game time at Bayern Munich shows he should never have left Borussia Monchengladbach.

That is the view of Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl, who reluctantly sanctioned the French midfielder's €10million switch in August this year.

Cuisance has made a pair of Bundesliga substitute appearances for Bayern, remaining unused on the bench on 11 other occasions in all competitions.

Minor adductor and groin setbacks have also hindered the 20-year-old, whose former club sit four points ahead of Bayern at the top of the table after 11 matches.

"We told him for three months that he would have been better staying here because he had found in Gladbach a club where he could develop," Eberl told Sport1.

"He had a great development last season. He did not want to settle for that and had other goals in mind for himself, which he has now pursued."

Cuisance will hope the installation of interim head coach Hansi Flick brings about a change of fortunes.

Marco Rose's in-form Gladbach travel to the Allianz Arena to take on Bayern on December 7.

Robert Lewandowski is enjoying an outstanding start to the season with Bayern Munich but insists there is room for him to get even better.

The Poland international has 23 goals in 18 club matches so far this term, more than any other player in Europe's top leagues.

However, Lewandowski believes he is only now approaching his peak and can improve further, insisting he does not feel his 31 years.

"I worked very hard for this form. Currently it is going perfectly, my body feels good," he told Sport Bild.

"It's good to have that in mind, but it does not mean that I'm resting. I want to get even better.

"I know when I can do more and when I need to slow down. My passport says: 'Robert Lewandowski, 31 years old'. But that's not how I feel.

"My best spell is just starting now and hopefully will continue for some more years. The best is yet to come."

Lewandowski is set to return to club action following the international break on Saturday, as Bayern visit Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Thomas Delaney has suffered torn ligaments in his right ankle and will be out of action until January.

Borussia Dortmund confirmed the nature of the 28-year-old's injury on Wednesday after he returned from international duty.

Midfielder Delaney was substituted 13 minutes into Denmark's crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Republic of Ireland on Monday, unable to assist his country as they secured a 1-1 draw to qualify for the finals.

Delaney has played six times in the Bundesliga this season, having appeared 30 times last term following his move from Werder Bremen.

Bayern Munich have tied 19-year-old goalkeeper Christian Fruchtl to a new contract that keeps him in Bavaria until 2022.

The Germany Under-20 international's deal with the Bundesliga champions had been set to expire at the end of the season.

Fruchtl, who joined the club in 2014, is yet to feature for the Bayern first team but has been named on the bench 12 times since the start of 2017-18.

"It’s a great feeling that the best club in Germany has put its faith in me," he said. "I want to continue making a name for myself this season in the third division [with the reserve team] and push for the first team.

"When you train with world-class players on a daily basis, you also mature as a person. That's always been something special for me."

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic added: "Christian is a true Bavarian boy and has grown up here in the club. We're very pleased to have him.

"He's shown continuous development and we want to continue that together. We're certain he's got a great career in front of him."

Joshua Kimmich gave a strong endorsement of Mauricio Pochettino's coaching ability after the rumoured Bayern Munich target departed Tottenham.

Spurs brought Pochettino's well-regarded stint in charge to an abrupt end on Tuesday, dismissing the man who led them to the Champions League final following a poor start to the new season.

The development could have ramifications in Bavaria, where the Argentinian is said to be held in high regard.

Bayern were reportedly interested in Pochettino even before they parted company with head coach Niko Kovac at the beginning of November and could now pursue him as a free agent.

The Bundesliga champions have entrusted Hansi Flick with overseeing the team until the end of 2019 but have not committed to a long-term appointment.

"I do not know if he is a candidate for us," Kimmich told reporters when asked about Pochettino after Germany's win over Northern Ireland in Euro 2020 qualifying.

"What you can say is that Tottenham were fighting at the top for years. They have had huge consistency.

"He's a top coach, but I do not know if he's an option for us."

Flick has won each of his two matches since taking charge on an interim basis, the second a 4-0 thrashing of Der Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge last week said: "We decided that he will be coach at least until Christmas and possibly beyond. We trust Hansi Flick."

Bayern have reportedly identified Ajax boss Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Tuchel as their preferred candidates but would likely struggle to prise either coach away from their clubs before the end of the season.

Jose Mourinho had also been linked with the Bavarian club, but he was appointed Pochettino's successor at Spurs on Wednesday.

Manchester City are going to great lengths to keep Raheem Sterling.

Though contracted until 2023, the England international's exceptional form has led to links with Real Madrid.

But it could earn him a fresh extension to his bumper deal at the Etihad Stadium.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SEEK STERLING INSURANCE

Premier League champions City have opened contract talks with star forward Sterling, according to the Mirror.

The 24-year-old agreed a new three-year extension a mere 12 months ago but City are taking no chances with his future amid rumours of interest from LaLiga giants Madrid.

Sterling has scored 14 goals in 17 club appearances this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Corriere dello Sport says Juventus are preparing a €100million offer for Valencia winger Ferran Torres, who has also been linked to Liverpool.

- Bayern Munich are interested in Tottenham teenager Troy Parrott and Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, reports the Daily Mail. Parrott, 17, has caught the eye, while Henderson is on loan at Sheffield United.

- Napoli have offered Fabian Ruiz a contract extension through to 2025, claims Mundo Deportivo. Barcelona and Madrid are rumoured to want the Spain international midfielder.

- According to reports in Spain, Athletic Bilbao want to re-sign Javi Martinez from Bayern Munich. Martinez left the Basque club for Bayern in 2012.

Kingsley Coman was back running at Bayern Munich's training ground after leaving the France squad early with a muscle problem.

Coman was forced off in the 88th minute of France's 2-1 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Moldova on Thursday. He was sent home early by France, meaning he missed Sunday's 2-0 away win in Albania.

An examination by Bayern's chief medical officer Dr. Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt revealed a muscle hardening in his thigh.

Bayern said the former Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus forward would undertake a reduced training programme following the injury but he appeared to making progress at the club's Saebener Strasse training ground on Tuesday.

The defending Bundesliga champions are third in the table, four points adrift of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

Bayern visit Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday, before travelling to Serbia to face Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.

Paul Pogba has decided where he wants his next move to be, while Mauricio Pochettino is nearing a Tottenham exit.

Pogba, 26, was linked with a Manchester United departure during the close season but ended up staying at Old Trafford.

However, the France midfielder's future remains a talking point.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA PREFERS JUVENTUS RETURN OVER MADRID MOVE

Pogba would prefer to return to Juventus but would not say no to Real Madrid, according to Tuttosport.

The Serie A champions and LaLiga giants were the two clubs most heavily linked with a move for Pogba – who is contracted until 2021 – during the close season.

A potential Juve deal for Pogba could see Mario Mandzukic head to Manchester United, the report says.

ROUND-UP

- Pochettino has held "crisis talks" with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy as he nears an exit, according to The Telegraph. Spurs have struggled this season and sit 14th in the Premier League table through 12 games.

- While Mandzukic is wanted by United, Borussia Dortmund are ready to compete for the striker, according to Kicker. Mandzukic starred during two seasons with Bayern Munich before leaving the Bundesliga in 2014.

- Spain have offered Luis Enrique a chance to lead the nation at Euro 2020, according to AS. The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have called a news conference for Tuesday, with Luis Enrique reportedly set to replace Robert Moreno at the helm.

- Manchester United are preparing to try to sign both Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and RB Salzburg's Erling Haaland in January, according to Goal. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to try and strengthen his squad with United nine points adrift of the top four in the Premier League.

- Chelsea attacker Willian and Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz have slowed contract talks with their respective clubs amid interest from Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo. Willian is out of contract at season's end, while Fabian's deal runs until 2023.

- Manchester City are considering making a move for RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, according to the Mirror. The Premier League champions lost Aymeric Laporte to a knee injury in September and may look to strengthen, although the Frenchman is expected to be back in early 2020.

Bundesliga strugglers Cologne have announced Markus Gisdol as their new head coach, while Horst Heldt has been appointed sporting director.

Gisdol has signed a contract that runs until June 2021 and replaces the recently sacked Achim Beierlorzer, who returned to work on Monday with German top-flight rivals Mainz.

Beierlorzer lost his final four games at the helm to leave Cologne 17th and at risk of relegation from the top tier.

Gisdol will be joined by a new sporting director in Heldt, who has also penned a one-and-a-half-year deal, in the hope major changes can lead to an upturn in fortunes.

Former Hoffenheim and Hamburg boss Gisdol told the club's official website: "Cologne is a top club in German football. 

"The current situation is not easy, but I know these challenges and I am totally convinced that we can overcome these. I want to help the team as quickly as possible, to come back to their undoubted potential."

Cologne return to action after the international break with a trip to second-place RB Leipzig at the weekend.

Achim Beierlorzer has been named the new Mainz head coach just nine days after being sacked by Bundesliga rivals Cologne.

The 51-year-old has signed a contract until the end of the 2021-22 season, having been dismissed by Cologne in the wake of a four-game losing run that started with a 3-1 loss to Mainz last month.

Beierlorzer takes over from Sandro Schwarz, who departed after a 3-2 home defeat to Union Berlin that left Mainz in 16th place in the table.

"It's funny how football can work out; a week ago I was still at Cologne and now I'm head coach here at Mainz," Beierlorzer told his new club's website. "Things can happen quickly in this business, especially when you come to an agreement so easily.

"Mainz is a special club with a great history, which I really respect. It's a team with a very clear football philosophy and it's one I totally agree with - we want to play a fast game with lots of running and we want to play with a lot of passion. That's how we want to entertain our fans.

"I am looking forward to getting to know my team and the rest of the club and I am excited to become a part of the Mainz family."

Beierlorzer's first match in charge will be away to Hoffenheim - the team he faced in his final game with Cologne - on Sunday.

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