Bayern Munich produced a much-improved second-half showing to overcome Hertha Berlin 4-0 at the Olympiastadion and climb into second place in the Bundesliga.

Hertha entered Sunday's game unbeaten in four matches, keeping a clean sheet in three of those, and they held firm until the hour mark on Sunday when Thomas Muller opened the scoring.

Robert Lewandowski added another goal to his tally from the penalty spot and Thiago Alcantara scored a thunderous third as the reigning champions turned on the style in the capital.

A fourth top-flight win in a row was rounded off by Ivan Perisic's late header as Hansi Flick's men recorded back-to-back away league wins for the first time since March and leapfrogged Borussia Monchengladbach into second spot, four points behind RB Leipzig.

Lewandowski squandered a big chance to put Bayern ahead after 25 minutes, the Poland international poking wide when put under pressure by Rune Jarstein.

The Hertha goalkeeper was equal to Lewandowski's next attempt and also easily dealt with weak efforts from Philippe Coutinho and Perisic in a goalless first half.

Perisic twice went close early in the second half and played a big part in Bayern's eventual breakthrough, climbing highest to head Leon Goretzka's cross into the path of Muller, who rifled home on the half-volley.

Bayern were denied an instant second by VAR, with Lewandowski adjudged to have headed the ball out of Jarstein's hands before tapping it over the line.

However, Lewandowski did manage to double his side's tally with 17 minutes remaining, converting from the penalty spot after Lukas Klunter pulled Goretzka back in the box.

Thiago picked out the top corner to put Bayern out of sight after finding a pocket of space and Perisic rounded off an ultimately emphatic win with a back-post header.

Manchester City without Pep Guardiola?

Speculation over Guardiola's future is not going away, with Premier League champions City set to be dethroned by Liverpool this season.

And a move to Paris Saint-Germain could be on the cards…

 

TOP STORY – PSG PREPARE MAMMOTH GUARDIOLA OFFER

French champions Paris Saint-Germain are trying to lure Pep Guardiola from Manchester City, according to the Express.

Amid uncertainty over Guardiola's future, the Ligue 1 holders are ready to make a huge offer to tempt the City manager to Paris.

Guardiola, whose side appear set to finish some distance behind Liverpool in the Premier League, has also been linked with a return to Barcelona, despite their appointment of Quique Setien this week.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Mirror, Premier League leaders Liverpool and rivals Chelsea will battle it out for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

- Juventus midfielder and former Liverpool star Emre Can is wanted by Everton, reports The Mirror. Can is out of favour in Turin and has been previously linked to Manchester United.

- Il Corriere dello Sport claims Sevilla want to sign Inter midfielder Matias Vecino, who appears destined to leave Milan ahead of Christian Eriksen's reported arrival from Tottenham.

- Speculation over Bruno Fernandes' future is set to drag on. Although he has been tipped to join United, Sporting CP and the Red Devils are reportedly miles apart in their valuations of the captain. While United want to bring in Fernandes this month, the Standard says they are threatening to abandon their pursuit over fears it could damage Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's transfer plans at the end of the season. Over-paying for Fernandes has prompted concerns it could impact United's interest in Leicester City star James Maddison and Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho.

Real Madrid are unwilling to loan out James Rodriguez, with Marca reporting the LaLiga giants are only interested in selling the Colombia international.

Erling Haaland savoured his unforgettable Borussia Dortmund debut after capping his first appearance for the Bundesliga club with a quick-fire hat-trick.

Haaland came off the bench in the second half to score three goals in 20 minutes as Dortmund defeated Augsburg 5-3 following the midseason break on Saturday.

A €20million signing from Salzburg in January, the 19-year-old sensation replaced Lukasz Piszczek after 56 minutes and scored with his first touch 183 seconds later before eventually completing his hat-trick.

"It was a good day, I'm just happy. I'm currently very relaxed, I also don't know why," Haaland, who was also linked to Manchester United and RB Leipzig before joining Dortmund, told Sky.

"The statistics are pretty nice. I have good people around me at Dortmund, great team-mates, it's a fantastic club. I can laugh today, that's the most important thing."

Haaland became the first Dortmund player to score a hat-trick on his debut since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in 2013.

The Norway international netted 28 goals in 22 appearances across all competitions for Salzburg in the first half of 2019-20.

 

Borussia Dortmund enjoyed a hefty instant return on their €20million investment in Erling Haaland as the 19-year-old wonderkid produced a debut to savour on Saturday.

Introduced as a second-half substitute with Lucien Favre's side 3-1 down at Augsburg, Haaland promptly scored a hat-trick to inspire a 5-3 victory.

The Norway international's first moments in Dortmund colours are sure to live long in the memory and he is in good company when it comes to elite strikers announcing their arrival with a bang.

Here, we look back at some other standout debuts.

Wayne Rooney

The 18-year-old Rooney arrived at Manchester United from Everton amid huge fanfare after starring for England at Euro 2004, but he also suffered a metatarsal injury early in the Three Lions' quarter-final defeat to Portugal. Fenerbahce's September visit to Old Trafford was his first match back and it proved an unforgettable Champions League debut, with Rooney tucking away two terrific finishes before completing a hat-trick with a delicious free-kick. United won 6-2, the Stretford End had a new hero, and the rest is record-breaking club history.

Sergio Aguero

Aguero's club record-breaking run on the other side of Manchester began on a balmy August evening in 2011. A Premier League campaign that would end with City's then club-record signing snatching the title in career-defining style began with him on the bench and his new team-mates labouring, 1-0 to the good against newly promoted Swansea City. He slid in Micah Richards' cross within 10 minutes of his second-half introduction and, after a clever overhead assist for David Silva, Aguero brought the house down by sealing a 4-0 triumph with a 30-yard piledriver.

Romario

A hat-trick with all three assists coming from home favourite Pep Guardiola ensured Romario was an instant hit at Barcelona. The pick of the bunch saw him spring the offside trap and control a Guardiola pass on his chest before looping a volley over Alberto Lopez from 20 yards to seal a 3-0 home victory over Real Sociedad in Barca's 1993-94 LaLiga opener. The Blaugrana went on to win the title and Romario took the Pichichi with a tally of 30 goals.

Ronaldo

After a memorable but injury-plagued spell at Inter, Ronaldo returned to Spain in 2002 and joined former club Barcelona's arch-rivals Real Madrid. Following concerns about his weight and fitness, he made his highly anticipated debut against Deportivo Alaves over a month after signing. Ronaldo replaced Javier Portillo and took just 61 seconds to make his mark before slotting home a second to complete a 5-2 triumph at a jubilant Santiago Bernabeu. He finished the season with 23 goals and silverware in LaLiga and the Intercontinental Cup.

Fabrizio Ravanelli

The Riverside Stadium was treated to a thriller in August 1996 when £7m signing Fabrizio Ravanelli scored a hat-trick on his Middlesbrough bow in a 3-3 draw with Liverpool. Having joined from European champions Juventus, the 'White Feather' brought Boro back on terms three times, first lashing home a penalty and celebrating in trademark shirt-over-head style, and then sliding home a second from close range to make it 2-2. Robbie Fowler's second-half strike looked to have won it for the Reds until Ravanelli guided in his third of the game 10 minutes from time.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Dortmund and Augsburg fans could be forgiven for feeling a strong sense of deja vu on Saturday after Aubameyang's exploits when the sides met in 2013. After joining from Saint-Etienne his first attempt on goal in the Bundesliga resulted in a goal as he converted a diving header. Aubameyang followed that up after the break with a lovely turn of pace and strike into the far corner. He made it a hat-trick by coolly rounding the goalkeeper as Dortmund thumped Augsburg 4-0.

Christian Vieri

The term "much-travelled" is one that very much fits for Vieri, who joined Inter for a then world-record sum of £32million after helping Lazio win the Cup Winners' Cup in 1999. They were his ninth different club in as many professional seasons. Reuniting with Marcello Lippi, who he played for at Juventus, the man affectionately known as 'Bobo' started a prolific spell at San Siro with a treble against Hellas Verona and went on to score 123 goals in 190 Nerazzurri appearances.

Lucien Favre called Erling Haaland "incredible" after the striker came off the bench to score a hat-trick against Augsburg on his Borussia Dortmund debut.

Inspired by Haaland, Dortmund rallied from 3-1 down to record a 5-3 away win on Saturday that will live long in the memory.

The Norway international came on for Lukasz Piszczek after 56 minutes and netted with his first touch 183 seconds later with a low shot into the far corner.

Haaland doubled his tally with a tap-in and got his third with a cool finish, with Dortmund's creative trio Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard and Marco Reus all getting an assist apiece.

The 19-year-old joined BVB for a reported €20million from Salzburg amid competition from Manchester United and a host Europe's top clubs.

Favre knew he had a top prospect on his hands, but could not believe Haaland's exploits, especially given the youngster had limited training time due to a knee injury ahead of his substitute appearance.

"He has started very well," Dortmund head coach Favre told Sky. "He immediately showed his strengths with his runs in behind, and of course he scored three goals which is incredible. 

"He moves well between the lines, which gives us another way of attacking. He was very good and did very well. 

"At 19 years old, he has a huge potential for improvement, that's the most important thing. It was a crazy game."

Dortmund play Cologne on Friday and Favre was asked whether Haaland would land a place in the starting line-up.

He added: "The players always say they are ready to play, but he didn't train at all in December because he had a knee injury and couldn't do much in our training camp for three or four days.

"He was not yet ready to play 90 minutes [against Augsburg]. We will see about Friday."

Dortmund captain Reus was equally excited about the early signs from Haaland.

"Erling is very calm, but very ambitious," said Reus.

"He trains incredibly hard. I think the last person to make his debut in Augsburg was Auba [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang], and he also scored three goals.

"He has made a good impression and had a great debut."

Barcelona and Juventus are in talks about a possible swap deal involving Ivan Rakitic and Federico Bernardeschi.

Rakitic was linked with an exit from Camp Nou during the close season, but ended up staying at Barca.

But he could be on his way to Turin and Bernardeschi may be heading in the opposite direction.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA, JUVE IN RAKITIC-BERNARDESCHI SWAP TALKS

Barcelona and Juventus are discussing a possible swap deal involving Rakitic and Bernardeschi, according to AS.

The report says Rakitic – who has made just six LaLiga starts this season – has already agreed personal terms with the Serie A giants.

However, the clubs are yet to reach an agreement, with Rakitic six years older than Italy international Bernardeschi.

ROUND-UP

- There is still work to be done if Bruno Fernandes is to find his way to Manchester United. The Daily Mail and The Sun report United want to pay Sporting CP £34million (€39.9m) with a further £25.5m (€29.9m) in add-ons, including bonuses for the English club winning the Premier League and Champions League.

- Atletico Madrid are not giving up on trying to land Edinson Cavani in this window. The LaLiga side are still eyeing a move for the Paris Saint-Germain forward, according to Marca, although they are hoping to negotiate a lower price than the €30m the Ligue 1 club are reportedly wanting.

- The wait continues for Inter as they try to sign Christian Eriksen. CalcioMercato reports Eriksen's agent Martin Schoots is scheduled to meet Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy in London next week as the midfielder tries to get his move to the Serie A giants.

- Chelsea are favourites to sign RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to The Sun, but it may take a £68m (€79.8m) deal to land the 23-year-old.

- Arsenal are set for talks with Athletico Paranaense to negotiate a deal for midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to Globo Esporte.

- Staying at Arsenal and France Football reports Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa has agreed to join the Premier League club for free at season's end.

- Javier Hernandez will become one of the highest paid players in MLS. Sports Illustrated reports LA Galaxy will pay Sevilla $9.4m (€8.5m) for the forward, who is set to earn $6m annually, with the potential for that to rise due to bonuses.

Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick has softened his stance on wanting new players in January as Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry have returned to fitness.

Bundesliga top goalscorer Lewandowski had groin surgery following the 2-0 win over Wolfsburg in December and could not take part in the mid-season training trip to Doha.

Gnabry hurt his Achilles during the camp and only returned to full training this week ahead of the second half of the Bundesliga season.

Flick had stated publicly he wanted new signings to bolster Bayern's trophy push, comments that left sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic "surprised".

However, with Lewandowski and Gnabry ready to face Hertha Berlin on Sunday, Flick no longer appears desperate to bring in new faces in the transfer window.

"The injury situation has improved. Robert Lewandowski is back, so too Serge Gnabry, with a new haircut!" he told reporters on Friday.

"Robert is close to 100 per cent. He is an absolutely top professional and, when we were in Doha, he worked very well individually. Even when he was shooting, he didn't feel any pain.

"Lucas Hernandez will train on the pitch today. Javi [Martinez] and Kingsley [Coman] are a few weeks away. The goal is to have everyone together again in February and March, because then the tough weeks begin.

"It's true that I said [we need signings], but something has changed in the meantime. With the return of Serge and Robert, we've got two additions.

"I had a good conversation with Hasan and we both want to work successfully. When it comes to arrivals, it's important that players come to help us. I trust Hasan and his scouting department to make it possible for us.

"But that also has to be done carefully. You can't do anything crazy."

Bayern head to the capital in third place in the table, and they could be seven points adrift of leaders RB Leipzig by the time they kick off if Julian Nagelsmann's side beat Union Berlin on Saturday.

"We have to make a strong start. It's very important we start the second half of the season well," said Flick.

"We're all looking forward to it. We face a difficult task against a team that are very compact defensively. We must be prepared for that.

"We have the quality to become champions. Bayern showed last year under Niko [Kovac] that they can catch up. But we have to think from game to game.

"I don't feel any more pressure now than I did before the break. I really enjoy working with my team and coaching staff, but of course you're always under pressure, regardless of the situation."

Peter Bosz is staying with Bayer Leverkusen for another two years after earning glowing praise from Rudi Voller.

The former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund head coach is 13 months into his reign at the BayArena, and earned swift acclaim last season by leading Leverkusen from mid-table into a Champions League place.

This term they sit sixth, just two points behind fourth-placed Dortmund.

Bosz is the coach Leverkusen believe will continue to deliver progress, prompting them to announce a new two-year deal for the head coach on Friday.

A statement on the club's website said: "Bayer 04 Leverkusen are keeping faith with head coach Peter Bosz and his fellow coaches. The Bundesliga club and the Dutchman extended the employment contract, which was due to expire at the end of the current season, until June 30, 2022."

Voller, the former Germany striker and head coach who is now Leverkusen's managing director of sport, praised Bosz's work.

He said 56-year-old Bosz had shown himself to be "a coach whose thumb print is evident in every training session and every game".

Voller added: "He has the crucial ability to continually develop a team.

"Peter's approach to the game fits in perfectly with us as Bayer 04 have played aggressive and high-tempo football with joy for many years.

"Both sides are happy that our partnership will continue after the end of this season. This mutual desire was evident early on. Now was the right time to make it happen."

Bosz welcomed confirmation of his new contract, saying: "We're working hard every day to create the conditions to win titles and look forward to continuing to make progress with Bayer 04."

The Bundesliga returns from its mid-season break this weekend, with Leverkusen away at Paderborn on Sunday.

Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre will make a late call on whether to hand Erling Haaland a Bundesliga debut at Augsburg this weekend.

Dortmund beat off interest from a host of heavyweight European clubs to land the 19-year-old striker last month, paying a release clause of €22.5million to Salzburg.

Haaland netted 28 goals in 22 appearances for the Austrian champions this season but Favre conceded to concerns over his match fitness after missing the start of Dortmund's mid-season training camp.

"As I said, we'll see. Now, I can't say," Favre told reporters.

"But he didn't train from December 10 until the end of December. At the beginning of our training camp in Marbella he didn't train, too.

"The time for the preparation was also really short. But yesterday he ran a lot and it was okay."

Favre might be tempted not to rush Haaland with club captain Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard set to bolster his frontline, having returned from their respective muscular injuries.

"The injured players trained a lot. Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard trained every day," Favre added.

"They were every day here. We'll see if they can play.

"In terms of injury, Marcel Schmelzer can't play on Saturday, Tobias Raschl didn't train this week and Thomas Delaney can't play, too."

Dortmund sit fourth in an intriguingly poised Bundesliga table, three points behind champions Bayern Munich and seven shy of leaders RB Leipzig at the halfway stage.

Serge Gnabry completed full training on Thursday ahead of Bayern Munich's Bundesliga clash with Hertha Berlin.

The champions head to the capital on Sunday for their first game in the second half of Germany's domestic season.

Gnabry was forced to miss part of the mid-season training camp in Doha due to problems with his Achilles tendon, which he sustained at the start of the month.

However, Bayern confirmed on their website that the 24-year-old winger completed the full 90 minutes of training on Thursday, including a match.

The news comes a day after top scorer Robert Lewandowksi returned to team training, the striker having undergone surgery following the 2-0 win over Wolfsburg on December 21.

Gnabry has scored six times in the Bundesliga this season and set up a further six goals. Only Thomas Muller (11) has provided more league assists for Bayern this term.

Hansi Flick's side face Hertha knowing they could be seven points off the top of the table if leaders RB Leipzig beat Union Berlin on Saturday.

RB Leipzig star Timo Werner admits he considers the Premier League to be "the most interesting" of the major top flights in Europe.

The striker has been linked with a move away from Leipzig in 2020, such has been his form for the Bundesliga leaders.

Werner has scored 18 goals in 17 league games for Julian Nagelsmann's side, prompting talk of interest from a host of foreign clubs as well as domestic champions Bayern Munich.

Chelsea and Real Madrid are two of the most prominent sides said to be considering a bid for the 23-year-old, who reportedly has a release clause that could be activated in January.

While Werner has no desire to push through a move before the end of the season, he has suggested the Premier League could be tempting, as could following in the footsteps of former Madrid midfielders Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.

"The Premier League is certainly the most interesting league, you have to say," he told Bild. "There is a certain flair to watching the English league and playing there.

"But many Germans have also been very successful in Spain, such as Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil.

"As of now, I have no desire to look for a move elsewhere."

Leipzig are two points ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach at the top of the table ahead of the second half of the Bundesliga season, which gets underway this weekend.

They host Union Berlin on Saturday in their next match.

Jean-Clair Todibo has signed for Schalke on loan from Barcelona, with the Bundesliga club having the option to make the move permanent at the end of the season.

Barca signed centre-back Todibo from Toulouse in January 2019, but the Frenchman has played just four times in LaLiga.

He will now spend the rest of 2019-20 on loan at Schalke, who have paid Barca a €1.5million loan fee and will cover Todibo's wages for the remainder of the campaign.

Schalke will also be able to make the deal permanent should Todibo impress, with Barca confirming a fee of €25m – plus €5m add-ons – has been agreed. 

Should Schalke decide to sign Todibo, Barca – who on Monday replaced head coach Ernesto Valverde with Quique Setien – have included a buy-back clause of €50m, plus €10m in variables.

"We said during the training camp in Spain that we would only be active in the market if something opened up that would help us," Schalke coach David Wagner said.

"That's definitely the case for Jean-Clair, who is one of the best young central defenders in Europe. Since Benjamin Stambouli's recovery is taking a little longer than we had all hoped, it makes sense to bring in another central defender. He can also play in defensive midfield.

"We will all do our best to support him in the development of his clear potential. We’re looking forward to having him."

Todibo was also linked with Serie A side Milan, with negotiations reportedly collapsing due to Barca's insistence that a buy-back option was included.

Schalke sit fifth in the Bundesliga and face second-place Borussia Monchengladbach at home on Friday.

Napoli have bolstered their midfield options with the reported €24million signing of Stanislav Lobotka from Celta Vigo.

The length of the 25-year-old's contract is yet to be confirmed by the club, but he is said to have signed until 2024 and becomes Napoli's second signing of the month following Diego Demme's switch from RB Leipzig.

Napoli are reported to have paid an initial €20m, with another €4m in variables and clauses.

Lobotka joined Celta in 2017 from Danish side Nordsjaelland and the Slovakia international quickly established himself in Juan Carlos Unzue's team, playing every match in the 2017-18 campaign and starting 34 of them.

He remained a key player until his departure, often earning rave reviews with his enterprising blend of technical quality and combativeness.

The last Slovakian player to represent Napoli was Marek Hamsik, who went on to become a club icon after spending almost 12 years in Naples until last February.

Lobotka leaves a significant hole to fill for Celta, who are languishing just above the relegation zone in LaLiga, with goal difference the only metric keeping them out of the bottom three.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey has been unable to take part in training with Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen due to an unspecified muscular problem.

The 22-year-old winger has been plagued with injury issues for the last several months. After suffering a hamstring injury towards the end of last season, Bailey sat out of a full month of action early this season after suffering a thigh muscle injury during the Champions League.

After returning in November, the player again had a brief spell on the sideline.  The player’s latest minor set-back will not impact his chances of appearing for the club as the club resumes the Bundesliga campaign against Paderborn on the weekend. 

Bailey is currently serving a three-match after being sent off against FC Koln.  The card was the player’s second of the season after also picking one against Borussia Mönchengladbach earlier this season.  The player was also fined €20,000.  The dismissals were the first of the player’s career.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc insisted no decision had been made on Mario Gotze's future at the Bundesliga club.

Gotze, 27, is coming out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a move away, having made just five Bundesliga starts this campaign.

The 63-time Germany international is in his second stint at Dortmund, but Zorc said the parties would wait to make a decision on the attacker's future.

"That has not yet been decided," he told Ruhr Nachrichten.

"It is of course also the case with him that he would like to have more minutes. We are talking to Mario.

"I spoke to his father before Christmas. I spoke to him again in Marbella. We will surely get together in the spring and then make a final decision."

Another player linked with a move from Dortmund is Achraf Hakimi, who has impressed on loan at the club from Real Madrid.

Zorc said he would like to keep the Morocco international for longer, with Hakimi having joined on a two-year loan deal in mid-2018.

"I always like to stick to facts. According to the contract, he will return to Real Madrid in the summer because his contract will take effect on July 1," he said.

"Our contacts are himself and Real. Of course we would like to see him with us longer, that's clear too.

"But we cannot influence it alone. I think Achraf knows very well what development he has taken with us. He just took is from us, not anywhere else.

"According to his own statement, he also feels very comfortable. Everything else will clear up in the spring."

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