Bayern Munich are not interested in selling David Alaba, according to interim head coach Hansi Flick, who described the Austria international as a leader.

Alaba impressed at centre-back alongside Javi Martinez, Benjamin Pavard and Jerome Boateng in a string of Bundesliga victories before the mid-season break, and his performances fuelled speculation over a possible move to Chelsea.

But Flick, who has overseen five wins and two defeats in the league since being placed in temporary charge of the champions on November 3, said there were no plans to allow the versatile defender to leave the club.

"Alaba is doing very well at centre-back at the moment," Flick told reporters at the club's training camp in Doha.

"He's not for sale.

"He can lead a team, he showed that. He fulfills the criteria of a player who can marshall a defence."

Flick was reluctant to comment on the signing of goalkeeper Alexander Nubel from Schalke in a deal that will see the 23-year-old arrive in Munich at the end of the season.

Manuel Neuer has been ever-present in goal for Bayern this season and Flick said he is happy with Sven Ulreich in the role of deputy to the Germany international.

Nubel is seen as a potential long-term successor to Neuer, but Flick said: "I'm not interested in that now.

"Bayern took the chance to bring a talented goalkeeper to Munich. But Nubel will be a Bayern player in July.

"I'm satisfied with the current situation and Sven Ulreich is doing very well. Competition enables performances."

Bayern Munich have confirmed Serge Gnabry hurt his Achilles during training on Sunday, though defender Lucas Hernandez was able to return to action.

Hernandez has been out since October after undergoing ankle surgery but the World Cup winner is closing in on a comeback.

The France international took part in circuit training with his team-mates but did not participate in the ball work and tactics sections of the session.

While Hernandez's return boosts Bayern, the Bundesliga champions were dealt a blow when Gnabry pulled up in Doha.

"Gnabry has an issue with his Achilles tendon," coach Hansi Flick told reporters at a news conference. 

"He had to stop today's running session early. We have to take that very seriously and hope that he returns soon."

Robert Lewandowski, Kingsley Coman and Javi Martinez missed the mid-season training break due to injuries, with long-term absentee Niklas Sule also unavailable for the trip.

A group of young players - Joshua Zirkzee, Sarpreet Singh, Leon Dajaku, Oliver Batista-Meier, Chris Richards and Bright Akwo Arrey-Mbi - were added to the Bayern group that went to Doha.

"We have filled the squad in order to make training as competitive as possible," added Flick. "It's our job to lead these boys into the first team.

"We will not let players play that are not at 100 per cent. We have to build Kingsley up carefully.

"Robert has top conditions at home. When we are back in Munich on January 14, we hope that he will be fit again."

Another day, another Paul Pogba story.

The Manchester United star continues to be linked with a move away from Old Trafford.

Inter have reportedly emerged as a possible destination for Pogba, though United want a player in return…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT MARTINEZ IN POGBA DEAL

Manchester United want to swap midfielder Paul Pogba for Inter star Lautaro Martinez, according to The Mirror.

Pogba has been linked with a return to Serie A champions Juventus and LaLiga giants Real Madrid as his future dominates headlines.

But a reunion with former Juve boss Antonio Conte at Inter could be in the pipeline. However, the Italian club might have to part with Barcelona target Martinez to prise Pogba to Milan.

 

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- Staying at Old Trafford and The Mirror also claims United have set their sights on Wolves forward Raul Jimenez after missing out on Erling Haaland, who opted to swap Salzburg for Borussia Dortmund.

- It comes as the Mirror says United are set to offer cash plus Jesse Lingard for Leicester City star James Maddison. The Sun, meanwhile, claims United want Toni Kroos in return if Pogba heads to Madrid.

- According to Sky Sport Italia, Barcelona defender Jean-Clair Todibo is on his way to join Milan, with the LaLiga champions keen to agree a loan deal with a counter-option should they wish to recall him. Meanwhile, the Gazzetta dello Sport says Atalanta want to re-sign Milan centre-back Mattia Caldara.

- The Daily Express reports West Ham have emerged as shock contenders to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly. The star defender has been linked to United and Manchester City.

- Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa has said goodbye to Flamengo supporters via social media, prompting speculation in The Sun that the Inter-owned striker is on his way to either Chelsea or West Ham.

Chris Smalling is keen to secure a permanent deal at Roma and is ready to snub United should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer attempt to persuade him to return to Old Trafford, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

- The Mirror says Carlo Ancelotti's Everton are eyeing a loan move for Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez.

David Wagner has confirmed Alexander Nubel will no longer be Schalke's captain after the goalkeeper agreed to join Bayern Munich.

Nubel - touted as a possible long-term successor to Manuel Neuer - will move to the Bundesliga champions at the end of the season on a free transfer.

The 23-year-old has signed a five-year deal with Bayern, which starts on July 1, having last month informed Schalke he would not be renewing his contract amid links to numerous sides, including Tottenham.

Schalke coach Wagner has now confirmed Nubel, who will be suspended when the Bundesliga resumes after the winter break due to a red card he received for an ugly challenge on Eintracht Frankfurt's Mijat Gacinovic in December, will hand the armband to midfielder Omar Mascarell.

"We have mutually agreed that Alex will step down from his role as captain," Wagner said in quotes reported on Schalke's official Twitter page.

"We looked at all the pros and cons and decided that it's better for the team if he gives up the armband. This way we avoid constant unrest.

"In the coming months, there are bigger things to think about than this. It cannot be that one player is put under the spotlight. Alex remains an important member of the group. We need to continue to completely support every player."

Wagner also confirmed the club do not plan to bring in a new goalkeeper to replace Nubel, with Ralf Fahrmann - who is currently on loan at Norwich City - and Germany under-21 international Markus Schubert considered as suitable options for next season.

"In Schubi and Ralf Fährmann, we have two great goalkeepers for next season. We needn't worry about this position," Wagner said.

Jochen Schneider, Schalke's head of sport, added: "We tried everything to convince Alex to stay. Unfortunately it didn't work out."

Nubel was appointed as Schalke's captain in August, replacing Fahrmann, after making 18 Bundesliga appearances in 2018-19.

Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic says the club are "keeping all options open" with regards to January signings.

Reigning champions Bayern are third in Bundesliga at the midway stage, four points adrift of leaders RB Leipzig after an indifferent first half to the campaign.

Hansi Flick has been placed in caretaker charge until the end of the season after replacing Niko Kovac in November and revealed last week he is after a new right-back.

Bayern set off for their training camp in Doha on Saturday, though injured stars Robert Lewandowski, Javi Martinez, Kingsley Coman and Niklas Sule were all missing.

And Salihamidzic intends to evaluate the squad before further discussing possible transfer targets with boss Flick.

"We keep all options open and see how the training camp is going, what the coach may need and then we will react accordingly or not," he told reporters.

Defender Jerome Boateng has been told by Flick he can leave this month should he wish, but the Germany international is part of Bayern's 26-man party in Doha.

Asked for an update on Boateng's future, Salihamidzic said: "He comes to the training camp like any other player and will train there normally."

Bayern won four successive matches heading into the mid-season break and return to action on January 19 with a trip to Hertha Berlin.

Salihamidzic, who is to be promoted to Bayern's executive board in July, insists that a domestic and European treble remains the target over the next five months.

"We have big goals," he said. "Our goal is always the Bundesliga and the Pokal. 

"We also want to fight our opponent in the Champions League and reach the next round. It will be difficult. But we now have enough time to prepare for Chelsea."

Bayern confirmed on Saturday that an agreement has been reached to sign goalkeeper Alexander Nubel once his Schalke contract expires at the end of the season.

Bayern Munich have confirmed an agreement has been reached to sign goalkeeper Alexander Nubel once his Schalke contract expires at the end of the season.

The 23-year-old informed Schalke last month he would not be renewing his deal amid links with a number of clubs, including Premier League side Tottenham.

Bundesliga champions Bayern announced on their official website on Saturday that Nubel has agreed to a five-year contract at Allianz Arena, starting from July 1.

Ex-Germany Under-21 international Nubel made the switch from Paderborn to Schalke in 2015 and has been dubbed in some quarters as the new Manuel Neuer.

He made headlines in December for an ugly challenge on Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Mijat Gacinovic, resulting in a four-match ban.

Schalke are fifth in the Bundesliga table and three points adrift of third-place Bayern, who recently placed Hansi Flick in caretaker charge until the end of the campaign.

Real Madrid are said to be close to signing yet another rising Brazilian star.

Zinedine Zidane's side have reportedly agreed a fee for Flamengo's Reinier, who could move to Spain this month.

Chelsea, meanwhile, may have to wait until after the season has finished until their top targets become available.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID TO SIGN REINIER FOR €30M

According to widespread reports, Real Madrid are close to finalising a deal to sign Flamengo's Reinier.

The 17-year-old could move to the Spanish capital in January and spend the rest of the season with Raul's Castilla team.

Reinier, who turns 18 on January 19 and will therefore become an easier deal to complete, will apparently cost €30m plus potential add-ons.

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 - Chelsea want to sign Jadon Sancho and Timo Werner, but the Premier League club know they are likely to have to wait until the end of the season to complete the deals, according to Goal.

- Elsewhere in London, Sky Sports say West Ham have held talks with Benfica midfielder Gedson Fernandes, a reported target for Manchester United. David Moyes said of the club's interest: "He is a name mentioned alongside many."

Inter are the latest team to be interested in Christian Eriksen, say Tuttomercatoweb. Directors Giuseppe Marotta and Piero Ausilio want to close the deal quickly but Tottenham's £30m asking price is a problem.

Nikola Kalinic has been offered to Newcastle United as he has struggled for football since joining Roma on loan from Atletico Madrid, say Marca.

- Still with Marca, Real Madrid have apparently earmarked three Lille players as potential signings for 2020: Boubakary Soumare, Victor Osimhen and Gabriel.

- Sky Sports claim Jan Vertonghen is now more likely to join Napoli from Tottenham this month, as Ajax have apparently cooled their interest in their former defender.

- David Beckham's Inter Miami are set to appoint a new coach in the form of Anthony Pulis, the son of ex-Stoke City boss Tony. Pulis will work as assistant to Diego Alonso, say The Telegraph.

Robert Lewandowski, Kingsley Coman and Javi Martinez will all miss Bayern Munich's training camp in Doha, which begins on Saturday.

Striker Lewandowski had groin surgery last month and will stay in Germany to continue his recovery, despite having initially planned to be part of the group heading for warm-weather training.

Coman, who has a torn capsule in his left knee, and Martinez, who has a muscle problem, will also miss the trip.

So too does Niklas Sule, who is continuing his recovery from a knee ligament tear sustained in October.

The Bayern squad comprises the available senior players and six youngsters: Joshua Zirkzee, Sarpreet Singh, Leon Dajaku, Oliver Batista-Meier, Chris Richards and Bright Akwo Arrey-Mbi.

The Bundesliga champions will spend a week at the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence, with interim head coach Hansi Flick promising "an intensive, tough training camp" before they return for a friendly against Nurnberg on July 11.

Their season resumes with a league trip to Hertha Berlin on January 19.

Manchester City have cut short Lukas Nmecha's season-long loan to Wolfsburg, instead sending the striker to Middlesbrough after he failed to score in Germany.

The 21-year-old, who has played for both England and Germany at youth level, joined Wolfsburg at the start of the season but struggled to make an impact.

Nmecha made 12 appearances for his loan club in all competitions but started only once and did not find the net.

City recalled the striker on Friday and loaned him back out to Championship side Boro, where he joins Patrick Roberts - a team-mate in Manchester who endured a similarly tough stretch at Norwich City.

Nmecha spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Preston North End, having appeared three times for City in the previous campaign.

"We're delighted to bring Lukas to the club," said Boro head coach Jonathan Woodgate. "He is a terrific young player who has the benefit of a year's experience of Championship football.

"He is another young, hungry player of real quality, and it's great that we've been able to get him.

"In Lukas and Patrick, we have signed two very good players, and we've been able to bring them in early in the transfer window, which is a real bonus."

Julian Nagelsmann does not believe RB Leipzig are yet good enough to win the Bundesliga, adding their results against title rivals must improve.

Leipzig lead the table at the mid-season break, but an intense tussle for the championship seems likely, with Borussia Monchengladbach, champions Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke all within seven points.

Head coach Nagelsmann is certainly not getting carried away, insisting there is still work to do before the team can think about staying top until the end of the campaign and winning a first title.

"We have to develop," he told Bild. "At the moment, we are not good enough to become champions."

There is one clear area of improvement Nagelsmann has identified, believing Leipzig need to do more work to check fellow contenders' progress in head-to-head meetings.

Leipzig defeated Gladbach in the third week of the season and drew with Bayern the following week.

But a humbling home defeat to Schalke followed later in September, while they could only claim a point from a gripping back-and-forth at Dortmund shortly before the break.

"We always talk about weakening Bayern and Dortmund," Nagelsmann said. "But it would also be advisable if we won against them - otherwise, it would just be difficult at the end of the season."

Manchester United have identified James Maddison or Jack Grealish as their top January transfer targets.

With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay injured, United have concerns in midfield to begin 2020.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said United were looking at "one or two" January additions, and it appears their targets are also Premier League players.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD IDENTIFY MADDISON, GREALISH AS JANUARY TARGETS

Manchester United are prioritising a move for Leicester City's Maddison or Aston Villa's Grealish, according to the Independent.

United are looking to find greater consistency in the second half of the Premier League season, although they sit fifth in the table.

Grealish has provided five assists in the Premier League this campaign, while netting six times. Maddison also has six goals.

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- Thomas Lemar is attracting interest from Tottenham. AS reports that if the midfielder joins Spurs from Atletico Madrid, the LaLiga club would be able to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani.

- Tottenham may have more pressing concerns in January. Harry Kane could be set for an extended spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury as Spurs await the results of a second scan, according to The Telegraph.

- Benfica are prepared to let 20-year-old midfielder Gedson Fernandes leave. A Bola reports the club are ready to negotiate for the Portugal international, who has been linked to Manchester United, Lyon and Milan.

- Arsenal are aiming to strengthen their defence with the signing of Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng, according to Sky Sports. Calum Chambers is set for a long spell on the sidelines after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, and Boateng could be set for a return to the Premier League.

- Jean-Clair Todibo is expected to leave Barcelona in January and a surprise potential destination has emerged. Bild reports Schalke are thinking about a loan move for the 20-year-old defender.

- Borussia Dortmund have set their price for forward Paco Alcacer. The Bundesliga club want €40million for the Spaniard, who has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid.

Benfica have completed the €20million signing of Julian Weigl from Borussia Dortmund on a four-and-a-half-year contract.

The two clubs confirmed a fee had been agreed on December 31, with the deal now complete following Benfica's announcement to Portugal's Securities Market Commission.

Weigl, 24, joined Dortmund from 1860 Munich in 2015 and initially settled well, spending most of his first three seasons in the starting XI.

During that time he was reported to have become a target for many of Europe's biggest clubs, with Barcelona, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain said to have been enamoured of his eye-catching style of play and passing ability.

He fell somewhat out of favour last season and, although he started 12 of Dortmund's 17 Bundesliga games this term, sporting director Michael Zorc confirmed Weigl asked to leave.

The Germany international has signed on until 2024 and Benfica confirmed his contract contains a €100m release clause.

Benfica sit top of the Primeira Liga with 39 points from 14 matches

With the January transfer window open across Europe, clubs will be checking their budgets to see if they can make additions for the second half of the campaign.

January is traditionally a tough time to do business with teams generally unwilling to allow stars to leave but Erling Haaland's switch from Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund shows major deals are possible.

Unsettled players around the continent may push for a chance at a new club as squads get shuffled, but who are some of the big-name stars who could be on the move this month?

We have picked out 10 players who have been strongly linked with switching teams during the January transfer window.


PAUL POGBA (Manchester United)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's recent insistence that Pogba would not leave United this month has been undermined by the latest twist in the midfielder's ongoing saga. After he was surprisingly left out of the squad for a New Year's Day loss at Arsenal, Solskjaer indicated Pogba would be undergoing surgery in a bid to solve his injury issues. An operation could make it less likely Pogba leaves Old Trafford in January, but the links to Real Madrid will not go away. For what it is worth, Pogba's agent Mino Raiola has said his client is staying at United - for now at least.


EMRE CAN (Juventus) 

Pogba's continued absence has left a hole in United's midfield, especially with Scott McTominay also out of action. Can is among the players being linked with a switch to Old Trafford after failing to make an impact at Juventus. The Serie A champions, who are reportedly interested in bringing Pogba back, are also said to be ready to listen to offers for Adrien Rabiot and Daniele Rugani with both players not regular starters under Maurizio Sarri this season.


JADON SANCHO (Borussia Dortmund) 

The biggest move of the January transfer window could involve Sancho leaving Dortmund with the England international having struggled with off-the-field issues despite fine form on the pitch during the first half of the season. Premier League sides Manchester United and Chelsea, who signed Christian Pulisic from BVB last year, are reportedly leading the race for Sancho, but he would likely cost in excess of £100million. Dortmund, having beaten off competition from various top clubs to land Haaland, are said to be willing to listen to offers for Paco Alcacer too.


EDINSON CAVANI (Paris Saint-Germain)

Another elite forward potentially on the move this month is Cavani, with PSG's all-time leading goalscorer struggling to get into the team after the successful signing of Mauro Icardi on loan from Inter. At 32, Cavani likely has one more big deal left in him with Atletico Madrid said to be keen - a swap deal involving France winger Thomas Lemar has been mooted. PSG are also reportedly ready to cut their losses on Leandro Paredes, who has made little impact since joining from Zenit.


JAMES RODRIGUEZ (Real Madrid)

Colombia star James has been on the fringes at Madrid since returning from a loan spell with Bayern Munich, making only four starts in LaLiga this season. Arsenal, Inter and PSG have all been linked with James, who has also emerged as a shock target for Everton. New Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti coached the 28-year-old playmaker at both Madrid and Bayern.


ARTURO VIDAL (Barcelona)

Another South American midfielder who could leave LaLiga this month is Vidal, who has complained about allegedly unpaid bonuses at Barca and hinted he might be open to a return to Serie A. League leaders Inter are said to be keen with Antonio Conte having worked with Vidal at Juve, where the Chile international previously won four successive Serie A titles.


JOAO CANCELO (Manchester City)

Right-back Cancelo only joined City last August but, after failing to usurp Kyle Walker as first choice in his position, the 25-year-old could be on the move again with former club Valencia and Bayern Munich both linked. Cancelo's departure would leave City even shorter of defensive options but if they can sell the Portugal international it could allow the defending Premier League champions to bring in another body elsewhere, though Pep Guardiola has ruled out signings.


CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (Tottenham)

Denmark midfielder Eriksen is out of contract at the end of the season and has previously made it clear he is ready for a new challenge. Eriksen has found himself on the fringes under new boss Jose Mourinho and the club's notorious negotiator Daniel Levy may opt to cash in on the 27-year-old rather than watch him leave for nothing. Spurs, though, surprisingly persuaded Toby Alderweireld to commit to a new deal and it is not impossible Eriksen follows suit if the right club does not make an offer. Inter, PSG, Juve and United have all been linked and it has even been suggested Eriksen could be included in a deal to take Gareth Bale back to Spurs from Madrid.


DANI OLMO (Dinamo Zagreb)

One of Europe's most in-demand young players, Olmo will surely leave Dinamo sooner rather than later. The 21-year-old midfielder, who has already been capped by Spain, says he has an offer from Barca but the LaLiga champions face strong competition for his signature. Olmo is one of a raft of players being linked to Chelsea after their transfer ban was reduced on appeal, while Manchester United and Manchester City are among the other clubs reportedly interested.


WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace)

Another potential Chelsea target is Zaha, who was said to be close to leaving Palace during the last transfer window only for an £80million price tag to seemingly scare off suitors. Arsenal and Everton were reportedly interested in the Ivory Coast forward, with Roy Hodgson accepting Palace would have to consider "serious" offers for the 27-year-old this month. Blues boss Frank Lampard has denied Zaha is on his radar, however.

Marcel Schmelzer plans to leave Borussia Dortmund for "something exotic" if he does not play an increased role in the first team before the end of the season.

Former captain Schmelzer has made two late substitute appearances under Lucien Favre this term, when thigh and calf injuries have limited his availability.

However, having featured just nine times in the Bundesliga during 2018-19, the 31-year-old is ready to end his career-long association with BVB at the conclusion of 2019-20 if required.

"If nothing has changed in my situation at Dortmund by then, I would like to go abroad and do something exotic," Schmelzer told Kicker.

The experienced left-back revealed he almost left Signal Iduna Park in the close season but, due to his contract running until 2021, Dortmund were unwilling to let him go.

"From my side, everything was sorted with a club from abroad, which would have also enabled me to work as a coach alongside playing," said Schmelzer.

"That was almost the most important point in the discussions for me at the time because I want to work in this area after my career. It was an extremely exciting package and fit.

"I had to accept that [Dortmund would not release him], even though I was very disappointed. I already felt back then I would hardly get any chances, and that's what come about."

Hertha Berlin have signed Argentina international midfielder Santiago Ascacibar from 2. Bundesliga club Stuttgart on "a long-term deal".

The 22-year-old, who earned the most recent of his three Argentina caps in November 2018, becomes Hertha's first signing since Jurgen Klinsmann replaced Ante Covic.

Ascacibar previously played two seasons of Bundesliga football for Stuttgart prior to their relegation last year and featured 13 times in the second tier this term.

He will join the rest of the squad for their mid-season training camp in Orlando and is in contention to make his debut when Bayern Munich visit the Olympiastadion on January 19.

"I'm happy that the transfer has been completed in the winter break," Ascacibar told his new side's official website.

"After holding talks with [sporting director] Michael Preetz and Jurgen Klinsmann, I believe I can continue to develop as a player here and that we can achieve a lot together. 

"I'm really looking forward to that and can hardly wait to get to know my new team-mates. We'll do everything we can to keep climbing up the table in the second half of the season."

Hertha, 12th in the Bundesliga after collecting eight points from Klinsmann's opening five matches, are also in the running to sign Granit Xhaka from Arsenal.

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