Renato Sanches' public criticism of Bayern Munich for apparently not letting him leave the club has been met with bafflement by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

The 22-year-old joined Bayern to much fanfare in 2016 after impressing with Benfica and Portugal, establishing himself as one of the world's most promising teenagers.

But things have not gone to plan for Sanches in the Bundesliga, struggling before and since an unsuccessful loan spell at Swansea City in 2017-18.

Niko Kovac's appointment at Bayern last year appeared to provide Sanches with hope of kickstarting his career in Germany, but again his impact was underwhelming.

After a five-minute cameo in Friday's 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin, Sanches complained about his playing time and questioned why the club had twice refused to let him leave, much to Salihamidzic's confusion.

"Renato has played three times since the start the season," Salihamidzic told reporters during the presentation of new signing Mickael Cuisance, midfield challenger to Sanches' place in the squad.

"Against Borussia Dortmund he was subbed on, in the DFB-Pokal he started and this weekend, although it was only for five minutes, he was also subbed on.

"Therefore, I didn't really understand why he had to make these remarks. We will see [if he stays], I already explained on Monday that we'll keep all our options open until September 2 [when the transfer window closes].

"Other than that, I don't want to say much more about it."

Cuisance, 20, will be hoping to not fall short of expectations at Bayern like Sanches, with Salihamidzic revealing the club to be long-time admirers of the France youth international talent, who joins from Borussia Monchengladbach for a reported €12million.

"We always tried to get him to Bayern," Salihamidzic said of Cuisance. "He is a player who can play all positions in midfield.

"He is a very creative player with a very good left foot. He is very creative and feels comfortable in a small spaces. Even under pressure, he has no problems and has great technique.

"He has a very good idea of the game, which has been seen in the French youth teams. He also showed this in his first year in Monchengladbach, so he is very interesting for our team.

"We expect him to develop further here and I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun with him."

Jurgen Klopp revealed Liverpool could not afford to bring Philippe Coutinho back to Anfield as he backed the attacker to shine at Bayern Munich.

Coutinho's move to the Bundesliga champions was confirmed on Monday, the Brazil international joining on a season-long loan from Barcelona with Bayern holding an option to buy for €120million.

The 27-year-old had also been linked with a return to Liverpool, where he starred for five seasons before joining Barca.

Klopp said the European champions could not spend the money required to sign Coutinho, with Bayern paying an €8.5m loan fee and the star's wages.

"It sounds a bit strange, but we could not afford it," he said at the Sport Bild awards on Monday.

"We have already spent the money that we got for him."

Klopp backed Coutinho to shine for Bayern after struggling to have an impact at Barcelona.

"He's a great player, a great boy," the former Borussia Dortmund coach said.

"We were reluctant to sell him, but Barcelona forced us with money, so to speak.

"He is a player who can change games for the positive. It's not that nice for Dortmund, but it's a great transfer for Bayern and the Bundesliga."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed there is interest in Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez, who is strongly linked with joining Serie A side Inter.

Sanchez has endured a miserable time at United since he joined from Arsenal in January 2018 in a deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move to the Gunners.

He has scored four goals in 32 Premier League appearances for the Red Devils, with his spell at Old Trafford heavily affected by various injuries.

Inter are reportedly keen to sign Sanchez on loan, which would allow the Chile international to reunite with his former United team-mate Romelu Lukaku.

While Solskjaer was unwilling to give firm details about the status of a potential move for Sanchez, he accepted the 30-year-old may depart before the European transfer deadline on September 2.

"There's still a couple weeks left of the transfer window," Solskjaer said after Monday's 1-1 league draw away to Wolves.

"There is a chance [he could leave]. Some clubs have shown interest in Alexis and we'll see what happens. 

"We can't update you more than that."

While Sanchez's time at Old Trafford looks to be coming to an end, fellow forward Anthony Martial has started the 2019-20 season in fine form.

The France international hit the opening goal of the game at Molineux to reach 50 in all competitions for United and Solskjaer hailed his impact.

"He's scored two in two now and he'll only improve," Solskjaer said of Martial. "The relationship between him and Marcus [Rashford], Jesse [Lingard] and the other forwards will only improve.

"The more we get him into positions to score, the more he will. He's more between the posts so I'm happy with that.

"It was a wonderful goal."

United were denied the three points that would have taken them top as Rui Patricio saved Paul Pogba's second-half penalty after Ruben Neves had cancelled out Martial's effort.

Former Arsenal and Juventus full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner has signed a one-year contract with Bundesliga side Augsburg.

Lichtsteiner, 35, joined the Gunners following his release by Juve in 2018, but he only spent a single campaign at Emirates Stadium.

He penned an emotional farewell letter to Arsenal fans in June, calling his time there a "great experience" that he "loved".

He joins an Augsburg side that narrowly avoided relegation from the Bundesliga last season and he could make his debut against Union Berlin at the weekend.

Juventus have sent new signing Luca Pellegrini on loan to Cagliari for the 2019-20 season.

Pellegrini joined Juve at the end of June as part of the deal that took Leonardo Spinazzola to Roma, with the 20-year-old costing the Old Lady €22million.

Juve have been forced to trim down their squad in order to meet Champions League registration rules, though, and Pellegrini is a victim of that situation.

There have also been reports claiming coach Maurizio Sarri is not entirely convinced by the youngster, who spent part of last season on loan at Cagliari.

Despite this, the Sardinian club do not have a purchase option on Pellegrini, who has a contract with Juve until 2023.

Mario Balotelli says his mother cried when she found out he was signing for Brescia.

Balotelli, a free agent since leaving Ligue 1 side Marseille, has agreed a multi-year contract with his hometown club.

It marks a return to Italy for the former Inter and AC Milan striker, who has not played in Italy since 2016.

Spells with Nice and Marseille have rebuilt Balotelli's career and he revealed his mother's delight at his latest move.

"At the beginning she was crying. She was very happy," Balotelli told a news conference on Monday.

"My father was from Brescia, he was always in Brescia, for him it would have been a dream to see me here.

"I chose Brescia, I thought of nothing else when I got the offer. Brescia can give me everything, it is the team of my city And I can give more to Brescia than to others."

During his time at AC Milan Balotelli was targeted by racist abuse, which has continued to blight Serie A in recent years.

"I don't know what to expect," he said when asked about racism in Italian football. "I hope things don't happen like in the past."

Mauro Icardi will not be joining Monaco, the Inter striker's wife and agent Wanda Nara has insisted.

Argentina international Icardi has been linked with a switch to the Ligue 1 side after being told he can leave San Siro.

The Inter captaincy was taken off the player last term and he appears to have no future at the club under coach Antonio Conte.

Nara, however, has ruled out a Monaco move before the French and Italian transfer windows close on September 2.

"He will not go to Monaco," Nara said simply to TyC Sports.

Monaco are reportedly seeking a successor to Radamel Falcao, who has been linked with Galatasaray.

Free agent Daniel Sturridge, who left Liverpool at the end of his contract, is reportedly a target for Leonardo Jardim's side.

Bayern Munich asked retired Arjen Robben for permission before giving new signing Philippe Coutinho his old No.10 shirt and club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes the Brazilian is a worthy successor.

After a difficult 18-month spell with Barcelona, Coutinho completed a season-long loan move to Bayern on Monday, with the German champions able to make the switch permanent for €120million.

Bayern have been undertaking something of a rebuild in recent months, with various older players being moved on or retiring.

Chief among those are Franck Ribery and Robben, with the latter opting to hang up his boots after a 10-year spell at the club that saw him win 20 trophies.

Given their respective contributions to Bayern, Rummenigge confirmed they intended to leave the No.7 and No.10 jerseys unoccupied, but Robben gave permission for Coutinho to take his.

When asked about where Coutinho will play, Rummenigge told a news conference: "Hasan [Salihamidzic, sporting director] and Niko [Kovac, coach] have already agreed on all the tactical variants, and Hasan had a talk with Arjen Robben this morning.

"We did not want to give his number away for the time being, as a special gesture, but we also wanted to show how important and valuable this is.

"It was also a very important sign for Philippe that the club is also fully behind him, so Arjen has no problem at all, he wishes him all the best, and he is a more than worthy successor."

Coutinho could make his Bayern debut on Saturday when they travel to Gelsenkirchen to face Schalke in the Bundesliga.

Philippe Coutinho accepts his time at Barcelona "didn't work out" the way he had hoped after he completed a loan move to Bayern Munich on Monday.

Coutinho joined Barca from Liverpool in January 2018 in a deal potentially worth a reported €160million and things began promisingly, as he scored eight goals in his first 18 LaLiga games.

However, he struggled for consistency and failed to hold down a spot in the starting XI last season, playing only 22 matches from the beginning.

Coutinho became a scapegoat for fans and came in for increased criticism – as did coach Ernesto Valverde and team-mate Ivan Rakitic – after Barca's Champions League semi-final exit to Liverpool, despite them winning the first leg 3-0.

The Brazil international had been suggested as a potential makeweight in a deal to take Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain back to Camp Nou, but Bayern secured his loan signing with a €120m purchase option.

Coutinho acknowledges things could have gone better in LaLiga but insists he is excited to be joining the German champions.

"Concerning Barcelona, things didn't work out the way we wanted," Coutinho told reporters at his Bayern presentation.

"But that's the past. This is a new club, a big club, an important club. I hope I'll be here for a long time and win lots of titles."

Despite the difficulties Coutinho had at Barca, he is adamant it was not all a negative experience – though he had no doubts about leaving for Bayern.

"Within those years I did have great experiences," he said. "I learnt a lot, won a lot with that club and then we had the Copa America, which I won with Brazil and that was really important.

"Now I have a chance at a new club, a big club. I didn't have any doubts when Hasan [Salihamidzic, Bayern sporting director] called me.

"He really wanted me to come here, so they flew to Barcelona, we met, they showed me the project and that's why I really want to thank them, because from the first second [it was clear] how they see me. That was important for me to see."

Coutinho could make his debut away to Schalke on Saturday.

Philippe Coutinho has completed his season-long loan move from Barcelona to Bayern Munich, who have an option to make the deal permanent for €120million.

LaLiga champions Barca revealed the potential future fee is on top of an initial €8.5m loan payment.

The figures fall short of the €160m deal that Barca negotiated with Liverpool in January 2018.

Coutinho's switch from England to Spain attracted plenty of fanfare but he failed to deliver on expectations and spent periods out of Ernesto Valverde's preferred XI last season.

Barca are reported to have offered the midfield misfit to Paris Saint-Germain in a player-plus-cash exchange for Neymar.

Premier League clubs Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham were also linked with the former Inter man, but Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said the 27-year-old expressed firm interest in a move to Allianz Arena.

"Philippe made it very clear to us during the negotiations in Barcelona that he absolutely wanted to move to Bayern," Salihamidzic said.

"He's a world-class player with great ability, who we can deploy in a number of positions in our forward line, so the Bayern squad has gained even more quality.

"Philippe Coutinho will help us achieve the ambitious targets we've set for this season."

An exciting scorer and provider at Anfield, his chief responsibility under Niko Kovac will be to fill the creative void left by James Rodriguez's return to Real Madrid after a two-season loan spell.

Coutinho said: "For me, this move means a new challenge in a new country with one of the best clubs in Europe.

"I'm very much looking forward to that.

"Like Bayern, I have big ambitions and I'm convinced that I can achieve them together with my new team-mates."

On Sunday, the Bundesliga club sealed the signing of French midfielder Mickael Cuisance from Borussia Monchengladbach on a five-year contract, while Ivan Perisic joined on loan from Inter last week.

The three new additions further reinforce Kovac's squad following the departures of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery at the end of the last title-winning campaign.

Philippe Coutinho has endured a difficult spell at Barcelona, but now the Brazil playmaker has the chance to reignite his career at Bayern Munich.

Bayern and Barca representatives confirmed on Friday that a deal had been agreed for Coutinho to join the Bundesliga champions on a season-long loan deal and the move was officially completed on Monday.

There is also an option for Bayern to buy the former Liverpool star outright for €120million at the end of the loan.

While some Bayern fans were underwhelmed with the signing of Ivan Perisic as an alternative to Leroy Sane - whose anterior cruciate ligament injury has ended the chances of an imminent move for the Manchester City winger - Coutinho's arrival will surely soften the blow should the 27-year-old recapture his Liverpool form.

Below, we analyse how Bayern could line up in 2019-20.
 

4-2-3-1: Manuel Neuer; Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba; Corentin Tolisso, Thiago Alcantara; Serge Gnabry, Philippe Coutinho, Kingsley Coman; Robert Lewandowski.

Coutinho's ability to not only thread sublime throughballs behind the lines, but also unleash wicked shots from range, makes him the perfect fit to play behind Lewandowski.

Niko Kovac is blessed with two rapid wingers in the form of Gnabry and Coman, who will be able to stretch the opposition and open up space for Coutinho to exploit in the centre.

While Thiago can sit as a deep-lying playmaker, Corentin Tolisso has the energy to get up in support of the front line, which would also enable Coutinho to drop back into midfield and use his dribbling skills to drive upfield.

4-3-3: Manuel Neuer; Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba; Thiago Alcantara, Javi Martinez, Philippe Coutinho; Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, Ivan Perisic.

Potentially a system that would be suitable for big European nights, Bayern could deploy Coutinho in a central midfield three.

Javi Martinez would come in as the holding midfielder, with Thiago able to keep things ticking over alongside the former Athletic Bilbao man.

Coutinho would be given freedom, able to drift wide and link up with the advancing full-backs, or burst forward in possession through the centre.

Brazil coach Tite often plays Coutinho in a similar role for the national team.

 

3-4-1-2: Manuel Neuer; Benjamin Pavard, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez; Joshua Kimmich, Corentin Tolisso, Thiago Alcantara, David Alaba; Philippe Coutinho; Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski.

Hernandez came in as Bayern's record signing from Atletico Madrid, but he is not the only defender to have joined the Bundesliga giants, with fellow World Cup winner Pavard having also arrived.

Hernandez may be likely to start more games, but Pavard's introduction could also lead to Bayern deploying a back three, with Coutinho utilised in a playmaking role behind a front two - in this case, Lewandowski and Muller.

One concern with this line-up could be a lack of pace, though Kovac would have the option to introduce Coman, Gnabry or Perisic from the bench if required, with Muller and Lewandowski likely to thrive off Coutinho's creativity.

 

4-2-3-1: Manuel Neuer; Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba; Corentin Tolisso; Thiago Alcantara; Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, Philippe Coutinho; Robert Lewandowski.

Coutinho was often forced to play wide at Barca, though that was in more of a front three or a 4-4-2.

At Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp regularly deployed Coutinho on the left flank, with the Brazilian encouraged to drift infield and link the play or get off a deadly shot.

Kovac could use his new signing in a similar way, allowing Coutinho to cut inside and switch the play to Gnabry on the opposite flank, while there would also be room for Muller to play as a second striker.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is adamant Paul Pogba will stay at Old Trafford amid links to Real Madrid and Juventus.

Pogba said a "question mark remains" over his future following United's 4-0 rout of Chelsea in their Premier League opener on August 11.

While the Premier League's transfer window has already closed, the LaLiga and Serie A markets remain open until September 2 – prompting ongoing speculation about a possible move to Madrid or a sensational return to Juventus.

Solskjaer, however, has no concerns over star midfielder Pogba ahead of United's trip to Wolves on Monday.

"You [the media] always put question marks around Paul," Solskjaer said. "I don't think it's odd saying enjoy playing, I have fun with my team-mates, I enjoy what I'm doing, I love my job and enjoy the game.

"Of course that sentence with the question mark about him, there's always question marks about Paul.

"There's not one press conference that I've not answered a question about Paul Pogba – 80 per cent of what he said was that he enjoyed that game and his time here.

"I've got absolutely no concerns on Paul. For me, yeah, he's going to stay."

Meanwhile, Solskjaer admitted United have "too many" centre-backs following the world-record arrival of Harry Maguire from Leicester City.

With Maguire now at the Theatre of Dreams, Solskjaer's options also include Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly, who is recovering from a serious knee injury.

Argentina international Rojo was linked with a deadline-day move to Everton but a transfer did not materialise.

"I do have too many centre-backs to keep everyone happy," said Solskjaer. "But we need to win games, we need to perform, so we're going to pick the players that will give us the biggest chance to win games."

"They're all quality centre-backs and I know that we will need quite a few of them," added Solskjaer. "Of course, Eric's injury means that at the moment I've got six fit ones, which is maybe one too many to keep everyone involved.

"But then that's our jobs, to make the most of what we have now, and for them as well to make sure every day in training.

"And when they get the chance, because they will – we've got loads of games, play well when you get it. All of these, Marcos, Phil, Chris – they've been here for a long time and they've proven that they can do it."

Thomas Tuchel admitted Paris Saint-Germain missed Neymar in their shock defeat to Rennes and ruled out an exit for the Brazil star unless an adequate replacement is brought in.

Neymar's prolonged absence from the PSG squad continued on Sunday as the Ligue 1 champions fell to a 2-1 loss at Rennes in their first away outing of the new campaign.

The 27-year-old Neymar has been recovering from an ankle injury that has ruled him out of action since early June, while questions remain over his future amid strong links with Real Madrid and former club Barcelona.

After seeing his side struggle for creativity at Roazhon Park, however, head coach Tuchel stood firm on his stance that PSG must keep hold of the player.

"He will not leave without recruitment, it is not possible," Tuchel said at his post-match news conference. "It's clear - if he stays, we will have a player who will help us win. 

"We lacked capacity for acceleration. There were small situations where space opened but we were not decisive."

Tuchel told Canal +: "I always say the same thing, the transfer window is open even more than 10 days and you think it will be settled tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?

"What I think is not important. Today my player cannot play because he has not done any training like the others. This is the situation, and nothing has changed."

Edinson Cavani was gifted a 36th-minute goal by Rennes following an error from Damien Da Silva, but PSG managed just one further shot on target and were made to pay by the side that also beat them in April's Coupe de France final.

Goals either side of half-time from M'Baye Niang and Romain Del Castillo handed Rennes all three points, but Tuchel downplayed the magnitude of the defeat so early in the season.

"It was a difficult match, but we expected it," he said. "We do not have everyone available. Some players only participated in two weeks of training. 

"These situations are normal in August. We are not at our best. Against a physical team like Rennes, who gives everything, whose players run like crazy, in a match in prime time, it's normal that it was complicated for us. 

"We scored the first goal, we controlled the match and made mistakes. We had to close the match after the first goal. We were not able to do it. 

"We conceded a goal with a two against one in the area. We got very close to the Rennes area, but we lacked tenacity to win against some offensive. 

"In these conditions, it was difficult to create opportunities. We can lose a match like that, but we could win it too."

Despite a run of five away defeats in six league matches stretching into last season, Tuchel insisted he does not fear the sack and called for some patience.

"I'm a very happy man," he said. "There is no one who is putting more pressure on myself than me. It's the same for every coach."

"We can play better than today. Things are not easy - everyone has improved in Ligue 1 and the Champions League. It's time to be patient and to keep your confidence. We cannot question everything after a bad result."

Mario Balotelli has signed for hometown club Brescia after agreeing a "multi-year" contract with the Serie A outfit.

The Italy international was a free agent after his short-term deal with Marseille expired and when negotiations with Brazilian club Flamengo broke down he looked set to start the new season without a club.

But Brescia president Massimo Cellino told Gazzetta dello Sport Balotelli made it clear he wanted a move to Stadio Mario Rigamonti on August 12 - his 29th birthday.

"That day he expressed his desire to return to his city," said Cellino of Balotelli, who spent much of his childhood in the region of Brescia.

"Hence all those rumours have only caused confusion, because there was no written agreement and Flamengo rushed to Monte Carlo to trip us up."

Balotelli scored eight Ligue 1 goals in 15 appearances for Marseille in 2018-19 but the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League forced them to lower their wage budget and allow him to leave.

Prior to his move to Stade Velodrome, Balotelli impressed during a two-and-a-half-year spell at Nice, where he scored 33 league goals in his first 51 appearances, before enduring a difficult start to the 2018-19 campaign.

Cellino has high hopes for him at Brescia.

"I have good feelings," said Cellino.

"I'm sure Mario will give everything for survival, which remains a difficult goal.

"It is also a way to thank Brescia, who is very close to me. I won't talk about figures, but this operation costs a lot."

Balotelli could make his debut when newly promoted Brescia begin their Serie A campaign with a trip to Cellino's former club Cagliari on Sunday August 25.

England great Ashley Cole announced he has retired from the game at the age of 38.

Left-back Cole is one of only nine men to have played over 100 times for the Three Lions, who he represented at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

The former Chelsea and Arsenal defender won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, as well as helping the Blues to win the 2011-12 Champions League.

He moved to MLS side LA Galaxy in 2016 after a brief spell with Roma before returning to England earlier this year to play under former Chelsea and England team-mate Frank Lampard at Derby County.

The Rams did not give Cole a new deal after missing out on promotion to the Premier League and he will now pursue a coaching career having played his final match at Wembley in May's play-off final loss to Aston Villa.

"After hard thinking and consideration, it's time to hang my boots up and think towards my next chapter, which will hopefully be coaching," Cole told Sky Sports. "I'm doing the course at the moment. Now I want to be great at being a coach.

"As a young kid, I never expected to play one game or to be a professional. So, to be looking back now and to be able to say I played in World Cups and Champions League finals, being lucky enough to lift Premier League titles... it's a young kid's dream. I've fulfilled my dream."

Cole was part of the so-called 'Golden Generation' of England talents in the 2000s but that team, featuring stars including David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, John Terry and Lampard, failed to win a major international tournament.

Asked about what made him most proud, Cole said: "The England caps. I probably didn't grasp it as much as I should. I look back now and I've played for my country not just once but over 100 times.

"I'm proud of that and it's just a little bit disappointing I didn't get to a final or even a semi-final with England. It's a little bit disappointing."

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