Augsburg have announced coach Heiko Herrlich will not be present when they face Wolfsburg on Saturday after he breached coronavirus restrictions.

Herrlich admitted to leaving the team hotel on Thursday, which is not allowed due to the rules in place ahead of the Bundesliga's resumption behind closed doors.

This weekend's game was due to be the former Germany international's first in charge of Augsburg, having been appointed by the club on March 10.

However, he will now have to stay away from his squad and coaching staff until recording two negative COVID-19 test results, as per instructions for all teams in Germany's top flight.

"I made a mistake by leaving the hotel. Even if I have followed all hygiene measures both when leaving the hotel and otherwise, I cannot undo this," Herrlich said in a statement. 

"In this situation, I was not able to act as a role model for my team and the public. I will therefore be consistent and stand by my mistake. 

"Because of this misconduct, I will not be leading the training tomorrow and will not be in charge of the team against Wolfsburg on Saturday."

Augsburg sit 14th in the table ahead of the return to action but have not won in the league since February 1, a poor run of form that led to the departure of Martin Schmidt.

Bundesliga clubs will be able to use five substitutes when it returns from a suspension enforced due to the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday, the German Football League (DFL) announced on Thursday.

The new rule was approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to help protect player welfare with fixtures set to come thick and fast as the sport continues its schedule in a restricted time frame.

The Bundesliga will become the first major European league to return to action when it resumes behind closed doors on Saturday after a two-month stoppage. Germany's second tier will also be back this weekend.

A DFL statement read: "From now on, each club will have a total of three opportunities to substitute players during a game, including the half-time break.

"If there is extra time in the second leg of the relegation play-offs, both teams are given a fourth opportunity to change players, which they can use in the interruption between regular time and extra time or in the half-time period of extra time.

"The DFL 'Football Commission' recommends that a maximum of two players be substituted at the same time."

All but one of the 36 clubs from the top two leagues voted in favour of completing the 2019-20 season, including relegation, as longs as it is legally possible.

Although the season is set to finish on the weekend of June 27-28, the DFL said games could take place in July if required.

No decision was made on what will occur if the season cannot be completed due to health reasons.

"In the event that ... the season has to be abandoned prematurely, a regulation regarding the sporting classification is to be developed within the next two weeks," the statement said.

Venues for matches could also be changed at short notice in the event of a local outbreak of COVID-19.

"There will also be the possibility of a match being played in another stadium at short notice for overriding compelling legal, organisational and/or security reasons," said the DFL.

There are nine full rounds of fixtures remaining in the Bundesliga, with Bayern Munich sitting four points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the summit.

The two teams will meet at Signal Iduna Park on May 26.

Robert Lewandowski advised Borussia Dortmund prodigy Erling Haaland to stay in the Bundesliga for longer before "taking the next step" amid continued links with Real Madrid.

Haaland, 19, only joined Dortmund in January, hitting the ground running with 12 goals in 11 competitive matches having netted 28 times in the first half of the season with Salzburg.

The Norway international has swiftly become one of the most sought-after players in world football, and although Dortmund were successful in securing his services earlier this year, another move in the near future does not seem implausible.

Despite Haaand's insistence that he is remaining focused despite the speculation surrounding Madrid's apparent interest, the reports have been persistent, with Los Blancos rumoured to be setting their transfer efforts on bringing in another forward following Luka Jovic's underwhelming adaptation.

But Lewandowski, a Bundesliga title rival of Haaland and Dortmund with Bayern Munich, has urged the teenager to consider a longer stay in Germany before thinking about such a move.

"He has huge potential, but still has time," Lewandowski, whose first club in Germany was Dortmund, told reporters. "I don't want to put any pressure on him with my statements.

"If he works hard, he can become a better player and eventually reach the top level. Therefore, it might be good for him if he was to stay in the Bundesliga longer before taking the next step."

Both players are set to return to the pitch this weekend following the Bundesliga's two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Haaland's Dortmund host Schalke in the Revierderby on Saturday, as they hope to close the four-point gap at the top, while Lewandowski should spearhead the attack of pacesetters Bayern as they go to Union Berlin the following day.

A Revierderby without fans is a painful reality that Borussia Dortmund and Schalke followers must accept, Michael Zorc has warned.

The Bundesliga rivals meet on Saturday as the German top flight resumes after the lengthy shutdown that followed the coronavirus outbreak.

However, the match will be behind closed doors and supporters have been urged to stay away from Signal Iduna Park.

"A Revierderby without fans makes your heart bleed," said Dortmund sporting director Zorc.

"We will need a high level of personal motivation on Saturday without the supporters there.

"Everyone should watch the game at home, that's very important for the restart."

BVB are four points behind league leaders Bayern Munich and were held to a 0-0 draw in October's trip to Schalke.

Coach Lucien Favre acknowledged the unique circumstances surrounding such a high-profile fixture, but cited two things that will help his side – the ability to make five substitutions and the fact his players have benefited from the services of a psychologist.

"I am happy that we can change five players during the game. It is a very good idea and it will be necessary," he said.

"It is very good that we now have a psychologist on the team, since it is a very special situation for everyone.

"We trained well. Now we are in the hotel, everyone is doing their job very well. We have no problem with it."

Favre confirmed he would be without Axel Witsel and Emre Can after both players were forced to leave the team's quarantine bubble for treatment on injuries.

Schalke coach David Wagner thinks it is a "huge advantage" to recommence their Bundesliga campaign following the coronavirus suspension with the Revierderby against Borussia Dortmund.

The Bundesliga will resume on Saturday after a hiatus of more than two months due to the pandemic, which has resulted in over 7,000 deaths in Germany.

Schalke's trip to Signal Iduna Park is the pick of the matches in the first weekend back, with the visitors hoping to strengthen their bid for a European spot and dent their bitter rivals' chances of pushing Bayern Munich all the way in the title race.

The season will resume in empty stadiums and with strict medical protocols for all necessary attendees, ensuring there will be a peculiar atmosphere to the remaining matches.

While Wagner is disappointed fans cannot attend, the former Huddersfield Town boss is confident getting the season kick-started with such a high-profile fixture can only be a good thing.

"The lads have behaved in an exemplary manner recently," Wagner told reporters on Thursday. "It's an extremely tough situation for us all - both privately and professionally.

"It's been tough going, but the lads have made the best of this situation.

"One huge advantage is that we aren't just playing any old match, but rather the derby. Even though the fans can't be with us in the stadium, I know that they will be fully backing us."

Victory for Schalke will ensure they remain sixth, while a win for Dortmund could see them finish the weekend just a point adrift of Bayern, who go to Union Berlin on Sunday.

RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann is adamant his team is well prepared for the resumption of their Bundesliga campaign on Saturday, with the squad having already undergone a "dress rehearsal" for stadium processes.

The Bundesliga will recommence this weekend after two months without matches due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fixtures are set to be played behind closed doors and in strictly monitored conditions, with government medical protocols in place for those working at the games.

Leipzig will be involved in the first batch of contests on Saturday when they host Freiburg, and although there is a sense of unfamiliarity with the situation in general, Nagelsmann is adamant his players are in the right state of mind after going through a rehearsal of the new processes last weekend.

"We trained in the arena last Saturday and went through the entire process. A dress rehearsal, so to speak. I am in good spirits and certain that my team will give a good showing on Saturday," Nagelsmann told reporters on Thursday.

"It [the current situation] has great parallels to a training camp. It is special to be only in one place, but we've made good use of the time.

"We've trained a lot. We did a lot of video analysis and we are well prepared for the opponent.

"We'd all prefer the fans to be there, for the emotion to be there. That's what makes football so great. Now it's gone. We need to push ourselves from within and self-motivate.

"The fans not being there can be both a blessing and a curse. When you have the fans behind you, you put in a few more yards of running. But without them there's the chance to completely focus on what you have to do.

"My wish is that we finish the league in the normal way. We want to get the matchdays over."

Leipzig will resume their season just five points behind pacesetters Bayern Munich, meaning a title push is on the cards if they can keep consistent – but Nagelsmann is expecting a difficult test on Saturday, with eighth-placed Freiburg enjoying a solid campaign of their own before the suspension.

"Freiburg aren't safe for nothing," he added. "They are very fluid and have good players, and they only give you limited space.

"After the defeat [to Freiburg] in the first half of the season, I was pretty angry because we were slow to start."

Luring Lautaro Martinez from Inter to Barcelona appears complicated.

Barca are reportedly determined to sign Martinez as the Spanish giants look to bring in a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

But, Barca reportedly need some help from other clubs to get the deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – TRIO KEY TO LAUTARO DEAL

Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City are set for a three-way swap involving Inter star Lautaro Martinez, according to Sport.

Martinez has been tipped to swap Inter for Barcelona but the LaLiga champions are trying to drive down the price.

The proposed exchange deal would see Nelson Semedo leave Barca for City, allowing Joao Cancelo to return to Inter as Martinez moves to Camp Nou.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have agreed a £62million (€70m) deal for Lyon striker Moussa Dembele, reports TodoFichajes. Dembele has been linked with United, Chelsea and Barca.

- The Telegraph says Bundesliga titleholders Bayern Munich are preparing a €56m (£50m) bid for City star Leroy Sane, who is set to return to Germany.

- Could Houssem Aouar replace Miralem Pjanic at Juventus? Pjanic is reportedly set to sign for Barca despite interest from United and Le10Sport claims Juve are eyeing Lyon star Aouar.

- Exchange deals might be needed for Juve to have a chance of completing their dream transfers. Linked to former star and United midfielder Paul Pogba, Il Bianconero says Douglas Costa, Adrien Rabiot and Federico Bernardeschi could be used to tempt the Red Devils. An exchange deal with Chelsea could also see Douglas Costa and Aaron Ramsey, and Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri, trade places.

Dries Mertens prefers a move to Inter over Chelsea should he leave Napoli, according to Sky Sport Italia. The Belgium international is set to become a free agent.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are focused on bringing Brescia and Italy sensation Sandro Tonali to San Siro.

Borussia Dortmund fans have been urged not to congregate outside Signal Iduna Park when they resume their season against rivals Schalke on Saturday.

The Bundesliga has been suspended since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it was given the green light to get going again behind closed doors, with Dortmund set to host a match that would normally be played amid a raucous atmosphere.

Despite the magnitude and tradition of the fixture, the city's mayor Ullrich Sierau has pleaded with supporters to resist the urge to journey to the stadium and avoid actions that risk further outbreaks of the virus.

Appealing for fans to stay at home, Sierau said: "Football fans have to protect themselves and everyone else and not meet in groups to watch the derby. They are not allowed to go to the stadium and should not.

"There is still a ban on contact in the city centre. In these times, the solidarity of football fans with one another and with the team should be shown by respecting the restrictions, remaining prudent and not leaving the field to the virus, otherwise they or others can maybe never watch a derby again.

"There shouldn't be a goal celebration as we normally know it in the restaurant and in the outside areas. You should keep your distance - even if it is difficult.

"So we'd rather all stay at home in a small, family environment and look forward to a hopefully exciting derby there! The 'zero' has to be there - not only in terms of the game result for Schalke on the pitch, but also with the new infections."

Police president Gregor Lange added: "The football fans have the chance on Saturday to prove that the decision to restart the game was not a mistake.

"Refrain from fan marches or football-related gatherings in the stadium surroundings and in the entire city area. The police will be deployed with great strength and have drawn up operational planning geared towards maximum flexibility.

"The aim must be, not only - as in previous derbies - to prevent clashes between the two groups of fans. We will also act consistently against violations related to infection control."

Kai Havertz should resist the urge to leave Bayer Leverkusen for Bayern Munich at least for the time being, according to Germany great Michael Ballack.

Havertz, 20, has long been considered a future pillar of German football, having broken into the Leverkusen starting XI as a 17-year-old, smashing numerous records in the process.

The midfielder appears to be outgrowing Leverkusen and has been identified as a reported target for many of the world's biggest clubs, including Bayern.

Leverkusen are said to be holding out for at least €100million for the Germany international, who is contracted to the club until 2022, but Ballack – who left Die Werkself for Bayern in 2002 – had a word of caution for Havertz.

"Players with his quality are in demand everywhere, but I think he's in good hands in Leverkusen," the former midfielder told SportBild.

"The general conditions there are perfect for top young players and their further development. Leverkusen play attractive football, the training opportunities are very good. Leverkusen also offers a cautious environment.

"As a player [at Leverkusen] you can sometimes make mistakes without being the focus of criticism - you should appreciate that.

"Of course, a player like Havertz would also like to play in the Champions League, so it would be important for Leverkusen to qualify."

Ballack does not doubt Havertz's ability. On the contrary, he considers the 20-year-old to be lacking very little from his game.

But he feels a player must be ready to make the step up, as Bayern is a more demanding and challenging place to play.

"As a footballer he'd bring everything with him," he said. "If we talk about Bayern, if you want to take the next step as a player, you also have to be prepared for such a challenge in order to survive in such a robust environment.

"That will really weigh up his surroundings – [determine] when the right time has come to take the next step."

Prior to the Bundesliga's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, Havertz scored six goals and set up another five, with Leverkusen fifth in the table.

Timo Werner's public rejection of Bayern Munich has shocked their CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who said he had never before seen such a statement.

RB Leipzig striker Werner has been heavily linked to some of Europe's top clubs, including Liverpool and Bayern, having racked up 71 Bundesliga goals in four seasons, including 21 from 25 games in the top flight in 2019-20.

The 24-year-old, who had been expected to join Bayern coming into this season, this month revealed he would prefer a move abroad over a switch to the German champions.

That has prompted a taken aback Rummenigge to respond.

"Nothing actually amazes me anymore, but I have never seen a player make a statement like this in response to rumours in public," Rummenigge said to Sport Bild.

Werner signed a three-year extension with Leipzig in August when his mooted move to Bayern did not materialise.

Ralf Rangnick, Werner's former boss at Leipzig, urged him to think long and hard about whether a move away from the club, now coached by Julian Nagelsmann, might reduce his playing opportunities.

Rangnick, though, did concede the Germany international may fit in well with European champions Liverpool.

Nagelsmann's men return to action on Saturday with a home match against Freiburg, as the Bundesliga resumes behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Leipzig sit third with nine games to play, five points adrift of leaders Bayern, with Robert Lewandowski the only player sitting above Werner in the scoring charts.

Barcelona and Juventus are getting close to an incredible exchange deal.

Miralem Pjanic has continued to be linked with a move to Camp Nou, although there has been uncertainty over how, and if, Barcelona could get a transfer done.

It seems they are on the verge of sealing a deal for the midfielder.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA, JUVENTUS CLOSE TO AGREEING EXCHANGE DEAL

Barcelona and Juventus are close to agreeing an exchange deal involving four players, according to Sport.

It says Pjanic and Mattia De Sciglio will join Barca, with Jean-Clair Todibo – who is on loan at Schalke this season – and Arturo Vidal or Ivan Rakitic heading to Turin.

Barcelona have also been linked with moves for Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar.

ROUND-UP

- Kingsley Coman is wanted by three of Europe's biggest clubs. Sky reports Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City are interested in the Bayern Munich attacker.

- Linked with a move away from Tottenham, Tanguy Ndombele may be going nowhere. The Mirror says Spurs will not allow the midfielder, reportedly a target for Barcelona, to leave this close season.

- Another Spurs player, however, could leave. Tottenham defender Juan Foyth, who is contracted at the club until 2022, is being eyed by Barca, according to the Mirror.

- It seems Angel Gomes is leaving Manchester United. The Mirror claims Chelsea feel they are close to landing the midfielder, whose deal at Old Trafford expires at the end of June.

- Real Betis and Portugal midfielder William Carvalho is drawing plenty of attention. Diario de Sevilla reports Wolves are the latest club to join the race for Carvalho, who has been linked to Tottenham, Monaco, Leicester City and Watford previously.

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland insisted he was remaining focused despite speculation he is wanted by Real Madrid.

Haaland, 19, has become one of the most sought-after forwards in Europe following an incredible start to his career at Dortmund.

The Norway international starred for Salzburg before joining the Bundesliga side in January, and he has scored 12 goals in 11 games for Dortmund this season.

While Madrid are heavily linked with a move for Haaland, the teenager said his focus was on his performances.

"I focus on this, not on the attention that is towards me," he told Sky Sport on Tuesday.

"I think about doing my job, which is the thing I love most. My focus is on this."

Haaland added: "Without a doubt I started well here in Dortmund. I am concentrating on work to improve every day.

"I see that by taking care of the details I learn more and more, I try to be in the best possible shape."

In good news, the Bundesliga is set to resume on Saturday after being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dortmund are set to face Schalke in the Revierderby to restart the season and Haaland is excited to experience the fixture, even though it will be played behind closed doors.

"I can't wait to live and play my first Ruhr derby," he said. "I have played other derbies, but never like this."

Former Germany star Thomas Doll is enthused by the Bundesliga's pending return and praised the German Football League (DFL) for getting the professional game up and running once more.

The Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga will resume on Saturday, with the Revierderby clash between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke a standout fixture.

Bayern Munich continue their pursuit of an eighth consecutive title at Union Berlin on Sunday.

A detailed programme of coronavirus testing and social distancing measures have been put in place by the DFL to ensure the smoothest progress possible after the German government granted permission for sport to return, and ex-Hamburg and Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Doll is impressed.

"I am more than ready for the restart," Doll told Stats Perform. "Everybody who loves football must have been missing it really bad - even if we know that there are a lot of topics, which are even more important than football.

"I also talked to a lot of guys, everybody is happy about the restart. There is a difference between an arena with spectators and an empty one, but I think everybody is aware of the fact, that there is no other possibility right now."

An extensive roll-out of COVID-19 testing to all of Germany's top 36 clubs has formed a key pillar in the restart plans.

Cologne entertain Mainz on Sunday despite confirming three positive tests – reported to be two players and a physiotherapist – last week, while Dynamo Dresden's 2. Bundesliga meetings with Hannover and Furth will be rescheduled after their squad were placed in quarantine for two weeks.

"I think the restart can succeed, if everybody is acting according to this brilliant concept of the DFL, which is not that easy to handle," Doll said. "If everybody sticks to this it can work out.

"We already saw a lot of tests, to I think about 2,000 persons only in the Bundesliga. Cologne were affected already, unfortunately now it is Dynamo Dresden and Hannover. That's too bad, because you don't want to be behind the other teams."

The Bundesliga's restart plans were cast in an unhelpful light when experienced Hertha Berlin attacker Salomon Kalou posted a now-deleted Facebook video of himself flouting social distancing and safety measures at the club's training groud.

Hertha suspended the Ivory Coast international and Doll feels they had little choice.

"There was no other possibility to protect the club," he added. "The decision was not only made by [head coach] Bruno Labbadia, the whole club decided to suspend Kalou.

"By now Kalou realises his mistake. But that's no excuse for his failure.

"He is not 18 anymore, so at his age you should be a little bit smarter. He already had paid his price for that. He put Hertha in a very bad situation, so they only had the option to pull the ripcord."

Christian Pulisic has hailed Jadon Sancho for the "amazing job" he has done at Borussia Dortmund and says his former club are reaping the rewards for showing faith in the youngster.

Sancho joined Dortmund from Manchester City in 2017 as a 17-year-old, believing that a move to the Bundesliga side would give him a clearer path to regular first-team football.

The England international's decision soon paid off and three years on he is regarded as one of the hottest properties in world football, earning links to a number of big-name clubs.

Pulisic also made a name for himself at Signal Iduna Park before joining Chelsea ahead of the 2019-20 season and is glad Dortmund are continuing to embrace young talent.

"It's one of the big reasons why I was really drawn there when I was very young," he told Sky Sports News. "I think they give younger players opportunities and it's a great club to go and develop.

"Sancho was given an opportunity, just like I was, at a very high level, and they show you right away that they trust you and they're going to give an equal opportunity to all the players.

"He's done an amazing job since he came in and has obviously shown what abilities he has."

Pulisic has endured a mixed debut campaign at Chelsea, with boss Frank Lampard admitting in December he expects to see "a lot more" from the reported £58m signing.

And the 21-year-old, whose last appearance came on New Year's Day, has acknowledged that there are certain aspects of his game that need improving.

"I want to learn to be even more clinical in front of goal continue to boost my numbers, get more goals and assists," Pulisic added.

"I want to be stronger on the ball, being able to hold off players and those are two areas that I'm definitely working on."

Barcelona are seemingly getting closer to landing Lautaro Martinez.

The Inter star continues to be linked with a move to Camp Nou, where he could play alongside Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi more regularly.

It appears an agreement has almost been reached.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA, INTER AGREEMENT FOR LAUTARO 'IMMINENT'

Barcelona and Inter are finalising a deal for Lautaro Martinez, according to the cover of SPORT.

The report says the clubs are going to agree a deal of close to €60million plus two players – midfielder Arturo Vidal and either Nelson Semedo or Emerson.

SPORT also reports Barca and Martinez have a verbal agreement for a four-year deal.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus are still looking to sign Manchester United star Paul Pogba. AS reports Juve are offering the Premier League club Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot in their bid to complete a deal.

- Talk continues over Miralem Pjanic's potential switch to Barcelona. SPORT claims Juventus have also offered LaLiga's champions Mattia De Sciglio, along with the midfielder. SPORT also says Jean-Clair Todibo, who is on loan at Schalke, could be part of the deal.

- With 22 goals for Lyon this season, Moussa Dembele continues to attract interest from the Premier League. The Daily Star reports Manchester United are increasingly confident of landing the former Celtic forward in a £60m (€68.4m) deal.

- Odion Ighalo's loan at Manchester United from Shanghai Shenhua expires at the end of June. The Sun says the striker is desperate to extend his stay at Old Trafford, with the Chinese Super League club reportedly demanding a transfer fee.

- Linked with a move to Liverpool, Werder Bremen striker Milot Rashica appears to be heading elsewhere. BILD reports the 23-year-old's move to RB Leipzig is becoming more and more likely. Rashica has scored seven goals in 20 Bundesliga games this season.

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