Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has been crowned Germany’s Footballer of the Year for 2021.

The Pole lands the award for a second successive season following a record-breaking Bundesliga campaign with Bayern; becoming the first player to retain the accolade since Michael Ballack in 2003.

Lewandowski scored a staggering 41 league goals – surpassing Gerd Muller's record tally of 40 from 1971-72 – as Hansi Flick’s side secured a ninth straight title.

 

The 32-year-old was the runaway winner of the award, receiving 356 of the 563 votes cast in a poll conducted by journalists from sports magazine Kicker – 315 more than his nearest challenger Thomas Muller.

"I know what a great honour this is," he told the club's official website.

"It's a source of great pride and joy for me, because it's rare for someone to win the title of Footballer of the Year in Germany twice in a row."

 

Indeed, Lewandowski becomes only the 15th different player to win the award on multiple occasions – along with the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Jurgen Klinsmann, Lothar Matthaus and Oliver Kahn.

His 41 goals landed him the Bundesliga's golden boot for a sixth time, leaving him one shy of Muller's record of seven.

With 365, the 1974 World Cup winner is also the only player to better Lewandowski's tally of 277 league goals in Germany's top flight.

Julian Nagelsmann shrugged off the abuse he received from a small section of Bayern Munich supporters during a friendly against Ajax. 

In his first game at the Allianz Arena a pocket of fans among the 8,500 crowd taunted Nagelsmann about his connections to Bayern's arch rivals 1860 Munich.

The 34-year-old, who was appointed Bayern's head coach in April having been a boyhood fan of the club, played for 1860's youth teams and was later involved with coaching their youngsters.

"Not everyone has to applaud that I was with the city rivals," he told a media conference after Bayern's 2-2 draw with Ajax.

"I know the rivalries in the city and in football, but I'm not very fond of rivalries. 

"I stand for tolerance. You cannot make everyone happy in life."

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Tanguy Nianzou were on target for Bayern in the draw.

Nagelsmann acknowledged Bayern would have to be innovative in the transfer market rather than spending big money on players ahead of the start of the Bundesliga next month.

"We have differences with other countries," he added.

"It's true that other clubs have more money available for transfers. With or without the pandemic, we're not ready to pay such fees. 

"We'll try to remain competitive with creative solutions."

Bayern Munich will donate over €1million to support victims of this month's flash floods and storms in Germany, with a charity match against Schalke also scheduled.

Parts of Germany and Belgium were heavily hit by floods over the last fortnight. Over 100 people are still missing, with Germany's official death toll standing at 177, while thousands more have been made homeless.

Two of the worst-hit areas have been North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, while storms have also caused disruption in Bavaria.

In response, Bayern have pledged a minimum aid package of €1.1million, with €1m split between the regions in the west, and €100,000 going towards helping to repair damage in the south.

The Bundesliga champions have also arranged to play a friendly against Schalke, who are based in the North Rhine-Westphalia city of Gelsenkirchen.

Schalke were relegated to the second tier last season, though with the date for the charity game at Veltins Arena not yet confirmed, Bayern pledged the financial support immediately.

"The images of the flood disaster shocked us," said Bayern president Herbert Hainer.

"In such a terrible situation, we have to stick together as a society. Football also lives very much from solidarity and social responsibility. We can only guess what the people in the affected regions have gone through and continue to go through.

"We also want to support them with our charity game and the donation ... is on the side of the flood victims.

"I would like to thank FC Schalke 04 very much, Schalke immediately agreed to take part in our initiative. On the occasion of the charity game, together we will also commemorate the people who tragically lost their lives in the storm."

Following the conclusion of the European Championship and the Copa America, focus has switched back to club football as the 2021-22 campaign draws ever nearer in Europe's top leagues.

Most clubs are busy strengthening their squads ahead of the new season, while for others there is a need to raise funds as the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to be felt.

With six weeks of the window to go for teams in England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy, the futures of many top talents remain uncertain – not least in the case of Lionel Messi, who became a free agent on July 1.

But while Messi is widely expected to sign a new long-term deal with Barcelona, other global stars will remain in the headlines until a transfer is secured or the window shuts.

Stats Perform looks at some of the biggest names who could be on the move between now and the end of August.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Linked with: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United

While Messi's future now seems certain to be with Barcelona beyond next month, fellow superstar Ronaldo's status is less clear after entering the final year of his Juventus deal.

The Bianconeri are supposedly weighing up whether to cash in on the five-time Ballon d'Or winner or risk losing him for free next year when his deal expires.

While Juve endured a disappointing 2020-21 that saw them miss out on the Scudetto for the first time in nine years, Ronaldo had another impressive season in front of goal.

He scored 29 goals in 33 league appearances to finish top of the scoring charts, becoming the first player to win the Golden Boot in Serie A, LaLiga and the Premier League.

 

Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Linked with: Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid

Kane has spent 17 years with Tottenham but admitted in May he feels at a "crossroads" in his career following another trophyless campaign last time out.

The England international, who scored four times in his country's run to the Euro 2020 final, is yet to discuss his future with recently-appointed boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

He finished as the Premier League's top scorer last season, making him the third player to win the Golden Boot on three occasions after Thierry Henry (four times) and Alan Shearer.

Kane also set up 14 goals to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

 

Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

Linked with: Manchester City, Real Madrid, Chelsea

Alongside Kylian Mbappe, who Paris Saint-Germain will refuse to sell this window despite his delicate contract situation, Haaland is arguably football's hottest property.

The Norway international has been superb for Dortmund since arriving in January 2020, breaking a number of Bundesliga and Champions League goals records along the way.

That includes becoming both the quickest and youngest player to hit 20 goals in the Champions League, doing so in just 14 matches for Dortmund and former side Salzburg.

Last season alone, Haaland netted 27 times in 28 Bundesliga games. That included two or more goals on 11 occasions – only Gerd Muller (12 in 1971-72) has done so more times in a season.

 

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Linked with: Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid

Having won it all during his time with Bayern, including seven successive Bundesliga crowns, could the time be right for Lewandowski to seek a new challenge elsewhere?

Recently-appointed Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann admitted last week teams are interested in signing the 32-year-old, but that should of course come as no surprise.

Lewandowski is coming off his finest campaign yet for the Bavarian giants, having scored 41 times in the Bundesliga in 2020-21 to break Bayern great Muller's record for goals in a single season that had stood for 49 years.

The Poland striker's 48 goals in all competitions last time out were the most scored by any player in Europe's top five leagues in 2020-21, meanwhile, followed by Mbappe (42) and Haaland (41).

 

Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Linked with: Manchester United

With the signing of Jadon Sancho as good as wrapped up, Man Utd are rumoured to be closing in on a second big-money signing of the window in long-serving Madrid defender Varane.

The Frenchman has spent a decade at the Santiago Bernabeu, but it looks as though both the player and club are ready to cut ties with less than a year to run on his contract.

United are seeking a partner for Harry Maguire and Varane ticks plenty of boxes for what the Red Devils are after, not least in terms of his passing accuracy (89.58) and headed clearances (60) in 31 LaLiga games last term.

That compares to a passing accuracy of 89.82 for Victor Lindelof, 88.26 for Eric Bailly and 87.29 for Maguire in the Premier League last term. Maguire led the way with 86 headed clearances, meanwhile, some way in front of Lindelof's 40 in 29 games.

Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

Linked with: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Juventus

United have been linked with an array of top talent, though they could have a battle on their hands keeping hold of one of their own star men in Pogba.

Following a couple of years of speculation, the World Cup-winning midfielder is supposedly eager to head home to France with Paris Saint-Germain.

Pogba has undoubtedly struggled for consistency in his second spell with United, but showed exactly what he is capable of in his four appearances for France at Euro 2020.

He scored a stunning goal against Switzerland and set up another against Portugal, while his eight chances created was second only to Antoine Griezmann (10) among France players.

Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes)

Linked with: Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Arsenal

A number of Europe's top clubs are on red alert after Rennes president Nicolas Holveck admitted this week that in-demand midfielder Camavinga may be sold this window if a new contract cannot be agreed.

Camavinga made his debut for boyhood club Rennes in April 2019 and has gone on to make 82 appearances in all competitions, with 67 of those outings coming in Ligue 1.

The 18-year-old leads the way in the French top flight for tackles attempted (226) and tackles won (138) since his debut, followed by Marseille's Valentin Rongier in both categories (194 and 125 respectively).

To further underline exactly why so many teams are keen on the youngster, he was one of only two current teenagers – along with Barcelona's Pedri (1,485) – to complete more than 1,000 passes in Europe's top five leagues last term with 1,418.

 

Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo)

Linked with: Juventus, Arsenal

Euro 2020 acted as a shop window for a number of players, and not many of them saw their stock rise in such a way as Italy midfielder Locatelli.

The 23-year-old featured five times for the Azzurri in their successful European Championship campaign, including an appearance from the bench during extra time in the victory over England in the final.

He scored twice in the 3-0 group-stage win over Switzerland and had the second best goals-per-90-minutes ratio of any Italy player (0.66) after Matteo Pessina, who scored twice in four games (0.95).

Locatelli also won more tackles per 90 minutes (2.32) at the Euros than any other Italy player, followed by Marco Verratti (2.02) and Federico Bernardeschi (1.42).

Arsenal have already made a €40million (£35m) bid, but Juventus are considered the favourites to land the Milan youth product.

Eden Hazard has struggled for impact at Real Madrid two years into his five-year deal.

The 30-year-old signed with Madrid for a reported €100 million (£86m) from Chelsea in 2019.

Hazard has battled against injuries and poor form in Spain, making 43 appearances and scoring five goals in two seasons.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA WEIGH UP SHOCK HAZARD RETURN

Eden Hazard could make a sensational return to Chelsea and end his underwhelming spell with Real Madrid, reports AS.

Chelsea are weighing up a shock move for the Belgium attacking midfielder, who spent seven years with the Blues.

The report did not disclose any financial details but cited Hazard's strong connection with Chelsea's squad and desire to re-discover his best football.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun claims Manchester United are plotting a cut-price move for Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka as a replacement for Paul Pogba, who has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain in recent days.

- Tottenham's swap deal for Bryan Gil from Sevilla in exchange for Erik Lamela will soon be finalized according to Sky Sports. Spurs will also pay £21.6 million (€25m) for the winger.

- Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowsk is "interested" in a contract offer from Chelsea after his agent spoke to the Blues, claims Bild. Lewandowski is seen as Chelsea's alternative option should they fail to land Erling Haaland.

- Switzerland international Xherdan Shaqiri could be among those sold by Liverpool in an off-season clear-out, according to the Liverpool Echo. Divock Origi and Nat Phillips were also mentioned in the report.

- talkSPORT reports that Arsenal are preparing a £30m bid to sign Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale . The Times claims the Gunners have been told to raise their offer.

David Alaba hopes to form a defensive alliance with Raphael Varane at Real Madrid, despite speculation linking the France international with Manchester United.

Alaba joined Madrid on a free transfer following a decorated spell with Bayern Munich, during which time he won an incredible 27 trophies.

The Austria international was presented to the media in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, where it was revealed he would inherit the number four shirt from Sergio Ramos, who has joined Paris Saint-Germain following a career-defining association with Los Blancos.

That in itself was a point of intrigue, but Alaba also addressed Varane – who he hopes does not follow the veteran Spain centre-back out of the Santiago Bernabeu exit door.

"I would have loved to play with Ramos, of course," he told reporters. "He is a leader, it would have been a pleasure.

"Varane, of course I would like to play with him. He is a player who has played excellent football.

"He is a great defender and has very good qualities. "

 

Alaba explained he has spoken to Ramos about taking on his famous shirt number.

"Ramos was here for a decade and has played football very well wearing this number and has become a leader," he said. "It is something that is present in everyone's head.

"He spoke to me. I was told that it is the last available number and I did not want to ask other players for their number. I feel honoured and it is a great motivation for me."

Even though a tough close-season market and the relatively parlous state of Madrid's finances look like obvious stumbling blocks, Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe continues to be linked with the club.

Alaba was on the winning side when Bayern beat PSG in the 2020 Champions League final, but Mbappe excelled when the Ligue 1 giants deposed the European champions in last season's quarter-finals.

The France forward's 42 goals in all competitions last season put him second only to Robert Lewandowski (48) across Europe's big five leagues.

"He is a world-class player and he has enormous quality, that is something indisputable," Alaba added.

"I think it is something that does not affect me. That question should be addressed to other people."

Paul Pogba has one year remaining on his Manchester United contract.

After a strong Euro 2020 with France, he is attracting interest.

Pogba has been linked with a move away from United numerous times in the past and a decision could be looming.

 

ROUND-UP – POGBA'S AGENT IN PSG TALKS

Paul Pogba 's agent Mino Raiola is discussing a potential move to  Paris Saint-Germain , claims the Daily Mail.

Manchester United are feeling the pressure to sell the France international who is set to be a free agent in 12 months' time.

PSG are reportedly eyeing off a £43million move, which is less than half the amount United paid for him in 2016, given his contract status.

 

TOP STORY

–  Chelsea are ready to submit a monster bid worth £135m for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland , claims 90min. Dortmund have insisted they will not sell the Norway forward, but the bumper deal may tempt them.

– Bild claims  Manchester United along with Real Madrid and Barcelona are monitoring Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka 's situation.

–  Milan are looking to prepare another loan deal for Diogo Dalot from Manchester United, reports Fabrizio Romano.

– Sky Sports claims a deal is imminent for Arsenal's Granit Xhaka to move to Roma .

Manuel Locatelli is hot property after helping Italy win Euro 2020.

The Sassuolo midfielder is understood to have an ambition to play Champions League football in 2021-22.

Sassuolo are ready to cash in on their prized asset with interest coming in.

 

TOP STORY - JUVENTUS RAMP UP LOCATELLI INTEREST

Juventus are ready to usurp Arsenal in the hunt for Sassuolo's Italy international Locatelli, according to The Guardian.

Sassuolo want €40 million (£34.3 million) for the midfielder but Juventus offered €30m as a loan for the 2021-22 season with an option to buy, which Sassuolo declined, insisting they want an outright transfer.

Arsenal were previously understood to be in the box seat to sign Locatelli, given they are prepared to pay their asking price, but Juve's interest may have changed that situation.

ROUND-UP

- New Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to sign Manchester United defender Diogo Dalot, claims Mundo Deportivo. Dalot spent last season on loan with Milan.

- Jose Mourinho's Roma have joined the race to sign Villarreal's 25-year-old winger Alfonso Pedraza, according to Calciomercato. ChelseaMilan and Barcelona are also keen on the Europa League winner, who can play at left-back.

- L'Equipe reports Chelsea have offered Bayern Munich a player swap deal with Callum Hudson-Odoi in exchange for Kingsley Coman.

- The Daily Express claims Brighton and Hove Albion will prepare a move for Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard once the reported £50m sale of Ben White to Arsenal goes through.

Arsenal are also reportedly keen on Norwich City full-back Max Aarons as they prepare for Hector Bellerin's exit, according to the Express.

Arjen Robben's playing days are officially over (again), with the Bayern Munich and Netherlands great confirming on Thursday that he is hanging up his boots.

Of course, this is not the first time Robben has made such a decision – he initially retired in 2019 after a decade with Bayern before returning to his first club Groningen.

Although the fairy-tale conclusion he may have hoped for never quite materialised, ending his career where it all began has seen his playing days come full circle.

In honour of Robben's retirement, Stats Perform takes a look at greats who have gone back to their spiritual home in the twilight stages, starting with an overview of the king of inverted wingers…

Arjen Robben - Groningen

Robben's first retirement lasted just a single season, having announced last year he would be returning to his boyhood club Groningen for the 2020-21 campaign. Robben, now 37, initially brought an illustrious playing career to an end in July 2019 shortly after his 10-year spell with Bayern finished. Although at the time he was linked with a potential return to the team that gave him his professional debut, Robben – who suffered with numerous injury problems throughout his career – opted to retire. He then caused something of a shock as he finally went back to the place where it all began, but once again injuries blighted his availability, restricting him to just seven Eredivisie appearances. Club director Mark-Jan Fledderus wanted him to stay on for another year, but when Robben said at the end of the season that he was going to have a long think about his future, the writing was seemingly on the wall. Another U-turn appears unlikely.

Juan Roman Riquelme - Argentinos Juniors

Perhaps more synonymous with Boca Juniors, where he made his professional debut and also spent most of his final years, Riquelme also had a strong affinity with Argentinos Juniors. He came through the club's academy in the early-to-mid 1990s, before then finishing his immense career at Estadio Diego Maradona in 2014, having also played for Barcelona, Villarreal and Argentina. Although the iconic attacking midfielder appeared close to joining Paraguay's Cerro Porteno the following year, the move never materialised.

Dirk Kuyt - Quick Boys

Kuyt briefly came out of retirement three years ago to help Quick Boys, with whom he spent 13 years as a youth. Playing in the Derde Divisie Saturday league, Kuyt was already working as assistant at the time, but made himself available for selection during a striker shortage and he made three appearances. The former Netherlands and Liverpool forward had retired the year before following a second spell with Feyenoord, where he had made his initial breakthrough in the mid-2000s, his form at the time earning a move to Anfield.

Rafael Marquez - Atlas

One of Mexico's greatest players, Marquez's longevity at such a high level was nothing short of incredible, as he accumulated 147 international caps. After breaking into the Atlas team as a teenager having come through their academy, the elegant centre-back enjoyed a sparkling career in Europe, winning 14 titles across spells with Monaco and Barcelona. Time with New York Red Bulls, Leon and Hellas Verona followed, before a final two-year stint back at the Jalisco ended in 2018. Although plagued by off-field allegations towards the end of his career, Marquez went on to become the club's sporting president, before standing down last in 2019 to focus on other areas of the sport. He is expected to be taking up a youth coaching role at Barca next season.

Juan Pablo Angel - Atletico Nacional

Angel perhaps never quite lived up to the expectations he set during his early days as part of River Plate's so-called 'Fantastic Four' with Javier Saviola, Ariel Ortega and Pablo Aimar, having joined from Colombia's Nacional. Nevertheless, he became a fan favourite at Aston Villa in the Premier League, before spending six years in MLS with New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. In 2013 he returned to Nacional for two seasons, having left them in 1997. He called it quits in late 2014, just a few days after losing to his former club River in the final of the Copa Sudamericana. "I am ending my career with a final between the two clubs I love the most," he said.

Henrik Larsson - Hogaborgs

While the Swedish club most may associate with Larsson is Helsingborgs, he actually made the breakthrough at a smaller side – Hogaborgs. It was here where he trained from the age of six, before eventually becoming a regular in the senior side and earning a move to Helsingborgs. A trophy-laden career followed, taking him to Feyenoord, Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United. Although he retired in 2009, he returned to the pitch for Raa in the Swedish third tier three years later, before then finding himself back in the team at Hogaborgs in 2013, helping out due to an injury crisis despite him only previously being registered to a casual team for 'seniors'. This gave him the chance to play alongside his son, Jordan.

Carlos Tevez - Boca Juniors

The Tevez-Boca love affair has dominated most of the striker's successful and complex career. After coming through their youth ranks, the feisty forward was seen as the heir to Maradona. A brief stint in Brazil with Corinthians followed, but Europe had long since beckoned, even if West Ham was by no means the expected destination. He went on to play for Manchester United and Manchester City, increasing tension between the clubs, before then going to Juventus, but throughout this time Tevez seemed to long for a return to Boca. He went back to La Bombonera in 2015, his homecoming interrupted by a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 in the Chinese Super League, though even Tevez acknowledged he saw his time in China as a "holiday". "He filled Santa's sack with dollars and now he has returned to Boca" was Maradona's assessment upon 'El Apache's' return from the CSL. His third spell with Boca ended in June 2021, though it remains to be seen if he ever plays for another club.

Gianluigi Buffon - Parma

Okay, he is not technically retired yet, so perhaps Buffon does not strictly qualify here. However, after departing Juventus for the second time at the end of 2020-21, the Italy great suggested he had not finished playing just yet. Parma quickly emerged as a potential destination despite their recent relegation to Serie B, and after a few weeks of contemplation, it was confirmed that Buffon was heading back to the club. Now 43, the iconic goalkeeper will wear the Gialloblu for the first time in 20 years, and he is set to remain with them until he turns 45, given he signed a two-year contract. What happens after that is anyone's guess but calling it a day with his first club could be a satisfyingly romantic conclusion.

He is back where he belongs.
He is back home. #SupermanReturns @gianluigibuffon @Kyle_J_Krause @ParmaCalcio_en pic.twitter.com/bh2FO6P8YX

— Parma Calcio 1913 (@1913parmacalcio) June 17, 2021

Arjen Robben has decided to bring his playing career to an end just a year after announcing his return with boyhood club Groningen.

Former Bayern Munich and Netherlands great Robben initially called it quits in 2019 following a decade in Bavaria, having seen the final few years of his time in the Bundesliga partially interrupted by fitness problems.

After a season away he announced in June 2020 that he was to return to football with Groningen, the club at which he started his career, in an attempt to help them out amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It was to be his first season in the Eredivisie since 2003-04, which was the last of his two campaigns with PSV prior to joining Chelsea.

However, injuries and fitness issues restricted Robben to just six league outings and he hinted at the end of the season that he may not return.

Now it is official that Robben has hung up his boots, with another U-turn somewhat more unlikely this time at the age of 37.

He said: "A year ago I announced my comeback as an FC Groningen player. I embarked on this adventure with great energy and enthusiasm.

"Looking back on the past season, I have to come to the honest conclusion that the number of match minutes was disappointing. After the last game I said I would take the time to make an informed decision about the future.

"That was very difficult, because the mind and the emotion were in direct opposition. The football heart wanted to move on, especially with that ultimate goal of a full Euroborg [Groningen's stadium] in prospect.

"But the decision to quit is fair and realistic. That is why from today I am no longer a player, but a supporter of our football club.

"I would like to thank all football supporters and enthusiasts for all the warm support and sweet messages I have received over the past year. That was wonderful and heartwarming.

"I wish everyone a great football season in full stadiums, but above all good health."

Groningen technical director Mark-Jan Fledderus was keen to stress that the club's wish was for Robben to carry on for another season, but his decision has been met with respect and understanding.

Fledderus said: "It was common knowledge that we really wanted Arjen to stick with it for another year, but we also said that we appreciate and respect every decision made by him.

"We are especially grateful to Arjen that he took the step last year to make his comeback at FC Groningen.

"What that decision has meant for the club is unique. It shows the incredible commitment to FC Groningen and his love of the club.

"That is unprecedented for a player with his track record. His presence and influence on and off the field was invaluable."

While the Groningen return perhaps was not the fairy tale ending he had hoped for, Robben's career was a glorious one.

Robben made his professional debut with Groningen in 2000 and spent two seasons there before joining PSV, where he won a league title in the 2002-03 season.

He won further championships in England, Spain and Germany with Chelsea, Madrid and Bayern respectively, in the process becoming one of the world's best wide players.

He helped win eight Bundesliga titles during his decade with Bayern, plus the Champions League in 2012-13, making 309 appearances across all competitions.

Despite the injuries, Robben still managed to score 144 times for Bayern, including six in 19 matches in his final campaign.

He won 96 caps for the Netherlands, scoring 37 times, and was part of the Dutch team that was beaten in the 2010 World Cup final by Spain in South Africa.

Manchester City's pursuit of a new striker is well known.

Sergio Aguero's exit has left a void for the Premier League champions.

City have been linked with a host of big names including Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.

 

TOP STORY - MAN CITY MONITORING LEWANDOWSKI

Manchester City are monitoring the status of Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski, according to the Daily Mail.

Lewandowski has two years remaining on his Bayern Munich deal but has previously indicated he may be open to a move elsewhere.

The report claims City are worried they may not succeed in their pursuit of Kane and see 32-year-old Lewandowski as an option given his quality and potentially lower asking price.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool is readying a £60million (€70m) bid for Inter and Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella according to La Repubblica. However, Fabrizio Romano claims Inter will not sell him.

- Everton have submitted a £30m (€35m) bid for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, but the Italian club have told the Toffees to double the offer, claims Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports that England full-back Kieran Trippier is desperate to return to the Premier League as he waits on a move from Atletico Madrid to Manchester United.

- The Telegraph also claims that Joe Willock will spend time on loan again at Newcastle from Arsenal. He will join the Magpies on a season-long deal.

- SPORT claims that Chelsea are tracking Sevilla's Jules Kounde after he recently rejected interest from Tottenham.

- Chelsea are looking to utilise Tammy Abraham as a sweetener in any deal to land Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, reports The Mirror.

- West Bromwich have turned down West Ham's offer for goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, claims The Athletic.

Julian Nagelsmann is not surprised Robert Lewandowski is being linked with a move away from Bayern Munich and has revealed he has already held talks with the star striker.

Lewandowski enjoyed his most prolific campaign yet last time out with 41 Bundesliga goals for Bayern to break Gerd Muller's long-standing single-season record.

His 48 in all competitions were the most scored by any player in Europe's top five league in 2020-21, followed by Kylian Mbappe (42) and Erling Haaland (41).

Poland striker Lewandowski has netted 294 goals in 329 appearances overall for Bayern since joining from domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, including 203 in 219 league games.

Reports from Spain earlier this week suggested the 32-year-old is ready for a new challenge and Real Madrid are his preferred club should he leave the Allianz Arena.

 

Lewandowski is no stranger to transfer speculation, though, and Nagelsmann – named as Hansi Flick's successor in April – is not concerned by the gossip as the striker is under contract until 2023.

"The rumours about Robert have been around for ages, ever since he has been with FC Bayern," he told Sky Sport.

"I think it's somewhat normal when someone scores so many goals that almost every club puts out its feelers.

"On one hand Robert knows what he has in Munich, what he has in this team. Point two is his contractual situation – this is also clear.

"I've spoken to him. I'm not very fond on the first act with a player being to immediately discuss his contractual situation."

Lewandowski is currently enjoying an extended break after featuring in all three games for Poland at Euro 2020.

The former Dortmund striker scored three times as Poland suffered a disappointing group-stage exit after finishing below Sweden, Spain and Slovakia.

That return of one goal every 90 minutes was the fifth-best of any player to have scored more than once in the competition, behind Karim Benzema (87.25), Patrik Schick (81), Kasper Dolberg (75.33) and Cristiano Ronaldo (72).

Bayern Munich have confirmed left-back Alphonso Davies is facing a spell on the sidelines after sustaining an injury while on international duty with Canada.

The 20-year-old damaged the lateral collateral ligament in his left ankle during training last week and was subsequently ruled out of Canada's upcoming Gold Cup campaign.

Davies has returned to the Allianz Arena for treatment, but it is not yet known how long he will be out of action, although surgery is not required.

"Alphonso Davies faces a period on the sidelines at FC Bayern," a statement on the German club's official website read on Monday.

"The 20-year-old suffered an LCL tear to his left ankle in Canada's build-up to the Gold Cup. Davies has now returned to Munich for rehab. 

"The injury will be managed without invasive treatment."

Davies also missed six weeks of last season with an ankle injury that restricted him to 35 appearances for Bayern in all competitions.

He led defenders in the German top flight last season for dribbles completed per 90 minutes (3.21) – among those to have played at least twice.

However, Bayern won nine, drew three and lost none of the 12 Bundesliga games they started without Davies in 2020-21.

The German champions, now coached by Julian Nagelsmann, could also be without fellow left-sided defender Lucas Hernandez for the start of the new season.

Hernandez underwent surgery last week after tearing the medial meniscus of his left knee during France's 2-2 draw with Portugal at Euro 2020, ruling him out "for a few weeks".

Bayern, who saw David Alaba join Real Madrid on a free transfer in May, begin their title defence away to Borussia Monchengladbach on August 13.

Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann is eager to keep Leon Goretzka despite links to Manchester United, declaring him to be "one of the most dangerous midfielders in Europe".

Goretzka has just under a year left on his contract with the Bundesliga champions, fuelling speculation over his future.

United are reported to have lined up Goretzka as another potential new recruit, having already agreed a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund's England winger Jadon Sancho.

Goretzka scored five goals and provided the same number of assists in 24 Bundesliga matches last season, while he also found the back of the net twice and laid on two Champions League goals in the 2020-21 campaign.

Speaking at his first Bayern press conference on Wednesday, Nagelsmann said: "Leon is a very important player. I would also be very happy to work with him for many years.

"He is one of the most dangerous midfielders in Europe. So, of course, we want to keep him."

Nagelsmann also gave his backing to winger Leroy Sane, who failed to hit the heights expected of him in his first season with the club following a big-money move from Manchester City.

"We would do well to leave Leroy alone a little in the media," said the former RB Leipzig boss. "He has outstanding qualities, has a lot of speed, is one of the best one-on-one players.

"We need that. I am I'm sure we'll see an improved Leroy. But of course the player has to take that step himself."

 

Nagelsmann was given a five-year contract to replace Hansi Flick and the 33-year-old, who had a win percentage of 56.84 from 95 games with RB Leipzig, knows he will be under pressure to deliver.

"It's a show of praise in advance of my work, which I want to justify," he said of his long-term deal.

"It gives someone a very good feeling to get this level of trust. It also shows, however, that you have to deliver. I know this and I want to do just that."

New Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn believes Nagelsmann will show why the club has put so much faith in him.

"Continuity in the coaching position is very important for success. We think that we can shape an era with Julian," said the ex-Germany goalkeeper.

"He identifies with the club. That is why we are convinced of the decision."

Kylian Mbappe's future continues to dominate headlines.

Mbappe is wanted by Real Madrid as Paris Saint-Germain try to retain the France international.

However, Liverpool are also believed to be circling…

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL POISED TO POUNCE

Liverpool are the leading contenders to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to RMC.

Mbappe is out of contract at the end of 2021-22 and he has been tipped to join LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

PSG remain determined to re-sign Mbappe but should the France international not renew in Paris, Liverpool are ready to pounce.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport claims Barcelona will not be afforded an increased salary cap to re-sign superstar Lionel Messi, who is out of contract at Camp Nou and linked with PSG and Manchester City. Barca must reduce their wage bill in order to keep the captain. It comes as Goal says Barca have offered to release Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti from their contracts to free up space in the club's budget. Pjanic has been linked to Juventus, Inter, MilanTottenham and Manchester United.

Cristiano Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes is pushing to extend the superstar's Juve deal until 2023, per Gazzetta dello Sport. The 36-year-old, who is contracted until 2022, has been linked with United and PSG.

United are progressing in their pursuit to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to Fabrizio Romano. A long-term target of United, the 18-year-old France international – who will become a free agent after 2021-22 – has also been linked with PSG, Madrid, Arsenal and Bayern Munich.

- Calciomercato reports Liverpool have enquired about Inter and Italy star Nicolo Barella. Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are eyeing a replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum, who joined PSG.

- Juve are due to meet with Sassuolo to discuss a move for Manuel Locatelli, says Calciomercato. The Italy international is also reportedly wanted by Arsenal among others.

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