Manuel Neuer's contract extension is a strong statement of intent from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, according to Oliver Kahn.

Neuer agreed terms until 2023 on Wednesday, with his previous deal having been due to expire in 2021.

The news laid to rest doubts over the goalkeeper's future, with the impending arrival of Schalke's Alexander Nubel potentially heralding a new era between the sticks.

Former Bayern keeper and current board member Kahn was delighted to see the 34-year-old commit to the club, who are eyeing an eighth consecutive top-flight title. 

"Another big decision for a successful future! Manuel Neuer is the captain and one of the most important pillars of our team," Kahn tweeted.

"He embodies great years of German football and we're happy to continue the way of FC Bayern together.

"This extension is a strong signal."

Neuer told Bayern's website he was looking ahead "with great optimism", revealing he felt "very comfortable and at home in Bavaria", having arrived at the club from Schalke in 2011.

Hansi Flick's side returned to Bundesliga action following the coronavirus-enforced lockdown with a 2-0 win at Union Berlin on Sunday, with Neuer in the starting XI.

Manuel Neuer's new contract at Bayern Munich means another club great will be on hand to try and shape the Hansi Flick era.

Former Germany assistant Flick took on his full-time post as head coach at the start of April, after impressing as an interim replacement for Niko Kovac.

The club then moved quickly to secure Thomas Muller until 2023, with the versatile forward enjoying a resurgent campaign at the Allianz Arena - contributing six goals and 16 assists in 26 Bundesliga games.

Despite playing down suggestions his own new deal was imminent following last weekend's 2-0 win at Union Berlin, Neuer has now joined Muller in committing until the end of 2022-23.

The 34-year-old appears ready to face a potential battle for his first-team place, with Alexander Nubel poised to make the same move from Schalke that he made almost a decade ago, although an 11th clean sheet of season last time out suggests he still has plenty to offer.

Bayern must now turn their attention towards the expiring contract status of four more global stars and decide whether they have a part to play in Flick's vision, while also considering how the post-coronavirus transfer market might play out.

DAVID ALABA

The lavishly gifted Austria international has flourished under Flick, stepping effortlessly into the heart of defence following injuries to Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez.

The 27-year-old has started each of Bayern's past 17 Bundesliga matches and has no shortage of admirers.

Amid reports of him being unsettled in Bavaria, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City have all been linked with his services of late.

JEROME BOATENG

In many ways, the exemplar of Bayern's renaissance under Flick. The former Germany defender played 13 of 26 matches at the start of the season.

Since Germany's winter break, he has started 10 games, performing with his customary assurance and recording a 92 per cent pass completion rate.

However, Boateng will be 32 in September and this run of form might come to be viewed as a fitting swansong at the Allianz Arena, especially once Sule and Hernandez return to fitness.

JAVI MARTINEZ

A well-liked and versatile performer, Martinez's eight years at Bayern have been peppered with injury woes.

The 31-year-old Spain international was not part of the matchday squad against Union and a return to Athletic Bilbao would not be a surprise.

THIAGO ALCANTARA

Thiago wowed with a midfield masterclass in the game that arguably sealed Flick's long-term future – the 3-0 Champions League win at Chelsea in February.

At 29, Thiago is in his prime and must be a central figure in any Bayern reboot.

Borussia Dortmund veteran Lukasz Piszczek has agreed a contract extension through to the end of June 2021, after which he will retire.

The Poland full-back will be 36 by the end of the new deal and next season will represent his 11th with the Bundesliga giants.

During his time at Dortmund, Piszczek has won two Bundesliga titles and two DFB-Pokals, while he has made over 350 appearances for the club.

This season, Piszczek – a member of the team that lost the 2013 Champions League final to Bayern Munich – has featured in 21 league games.

"Lukasz Piszczek is an absolute leading figure in our team. Furthermore, he's in top condition physically too," sporting director Michael Zorc said. 

"It was therefore logical that we would extend his contract by a further year."

Dortmund returned to domestic action on Saturday after an enforced hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, recording a 4-0 rout of rivals Schalke in the Revierderby. 

Manuel Neuer has signed a contract extension with Bayern Munich to keep him at the club until 2023.

Goalkeeper Neuer's contract had been due to expire at the end of next season in 2021.

Doubts over the 34-year-old's future at the club were raised when Bayern made the signing of Schalke's Alexander Nubel, who will move to the Allianz Arena at the end of the current campaign.

However, Neuer will not be leaving for pastures new, with the Germany international telling Bayern's official website: "I feel very comfortable and at home in Bavaria.

"FC Bayern are one of Europe's top football clubs.

"During the weeks of the shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic, I didn't want to make a decision because nobody knew if, when and how Bundesliga football would continue.

"It was important for me to continue working with our goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic. Now this has been resolved, I look to the future with great optimism." 

CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: "FC Bayern are very happy Manuel has extended his contract until 30 June 2023.

"Manuel is the best goalkeeper in the world and our captain."

Neuer joined Bayern from Schalke in 2011 and has gone on to enjoy remarkable success for both club and country.

He has lifted the Bundesliga title seven times in his time at Bayern, with whom he has also won four DFB-Pokals, the Champions League and the Club World Cup.

Voted as World's Best Goalkeeper on four occasions, Neuer won the World Cup with Germany in 2014 and was selected as the recipient of the Golden Glove award for his efforts in Brazil.

Bayern lead the Bundesliga, which resumed last weekend behind closed doors, by four points with eight games remaining.

Andre Silva would have loved to play alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Milan, describing the Swede as "one of the best of this era".

Silva is on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt, meaning he was not able to feature in the same Rossoneri team as Ibrahimovic before Serie A went into a coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

The Portugal international has designs on reaching the top of the game and believes working with the 38-year-old – who returned to Milan on a deal until the end of the season in December – could only have enhanced his chances of doing so.

"Those who are ambitious always want to win. I want to fight to reach the top, I want to grow and I want to learn," Silva told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Because of this, it would have been nice to play with Ibrahimovic. He is one of the best of this era, playing with him would have helped me."

Whether a return to San Siro might be on the cards is unclear but Silva is content at Frankfurt, who resumed their Bundesliga campaign with a 3-1 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

"I can't foresee the future, I can only comment on the present and that's at Frankfurt," he said.

"Things are going well now. In a couple of years, especially at my age, you can grow a lot, even as a man. You become more experienced and mature.

"In two years, you can work a lot on yourself. A couple of seasons have passed since my last campaign with Milan.

"In Frankfurt I had the opportunity to show off. I was confident, I'm happy to be here.

"For now, I'm a Milan player, on loan at Eintracht. I don't know what's going to happen. Regardless of club, competition or country, however, I want to be a protagonist."

Ibrahimovic's own future is uncertain, with suggestions he will not extend his Milan stay beyond this term.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly set to rival Real Madrid for Erling Haaland, while Barcelona continue to consider their moves.

Haaland has starred this season and moved to Borussia Dortmund in January, but the forward is already being strongly linked with a move away.

While the Norway international is apparently a key target for Madrid, it seems PSG also like the forward, who scored against them in the last 16 of this season's Champions League.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EYE REAL MADRID TARGET HAALAND

PSG could threaten Madrid's pursuit of Haaland, according to the cover of Marca.

The Ligue 1 giants are looking at the 19-year-old with Kylian Mbappe's contract expiring in 2022 and the futures of Edinson Cavani and Mauro Icardi uncertain.

Haaland has scored 13 goals in 12 games for Dortmund this season, with two of those strikes coming in BVB's 2-1 win over PSG at Signal Iduna Park in the first leg of the Champions League's last 16.

PSG went through in the return leg, with the team – led by Neymar – mocking Haaland's meditation celebration at full-time.

ROUND-UP

- At Barcelona, there is uncertainty over how the club can land Inter star Lautaro Martinez as well as Juventus pair Miralem Pjanic and Mattia De Sciglio. Sport says Barca have seven players they are prepared to sell to get deals done for the trio – Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo, Carles Alena, Rafinha and Nelson Semedo. It also reports Inter are hoping to sign Vidal, but not as part of a deal for Martinez.

- Staying at Camp Nou, and Mundo Deportivo reports Barca considered signing Tottenham star Harry Kane before turning their attentions to Martinez.

- Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz continues to attract plenty of interest. The Sun claims Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have joined Bayern Munich in the battle for the attacker, while Le 10 Sport says Madrid are also keen on the Germany international.

- Madrid could be busy during the close season. AS understands they are following Lille defender Gabriel as an alternative to RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano.

- With his contract expiring at the end of the campaign, Layvin Kurzawa looks likely to leave PSG. Sport reports Atletico Madrid have joined the list of teams who want the left-back.

- Moussa Diaby has scored four goals and provided five assists for Leverkusen in the Bundesliga this season. Le 10 Sport believes Arsenal and Dortmund have asked about the 20-year-old winger.

Yussuf Poulsen hopes to remain at RB Leipzig next season and was angered by reports linking him with a move to the Premier League.

Denmark forward Poulsen is the longest-serving player in the first-team squad at the Red Bull Arena, having joined ahead of the 2013-14 season when Leipzig were in Germany's third tier.

The 25-year-old has made 10 of his 21 Bundesliga appearances this term from the bench, jostling for position in a squad packed with attacking talent under Julian Nagelsmann.

Last month, Sport Bild claimed Poulsen was frustrated and eyeing a post-season exit due to his lack of regular starts, and the article touted Everton, Newcastle United and West Ham as being among his admirers.

"I hope so," Poulsen told Stats Perform News when asked whether he would play for Leipzig in 2020-21. "I never said that I had other thoughts about it.

"Not before, not during the coronavirus period and not now. There are no two ways about it.

"I was angry that someone, out of nowhere, just writes an article like that. But that's how it is.

"We're in the public eye and sometimes things come up that aren't true. That's just the way it is. You just have to live with that.

"But the club and I directly emphasised that there's no truth to the rumours.

"If you read these articles, there are no quotes from people who said something regarding this topic. I think it's a pity that nothing is turned into an article just like that, but you can't change that."

Poulsen was handed a starting berth when the Bundesliga became Europe's first major division to return during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He duly made the most of it, heading in a second-half equaliser as he wore the captain's armband against Freiburg.

However, Leipzig were unable to force a winner and were ultimately grateful for a 1-1 draw after Robin Koch had a stoppage-time effort ruled out by VAR for a marginal offside.

Three consecutive stalemates mean the team that topped the table at the turn of the year are now fourth and seven points shy of champions and leaders Bayern Munich with eight matches remaining.

"The current feeling is that we are a little disappointed that we only gained one point," Poulsen reflected.

"There was more to it. We actually made a good game. So, of course, we're disappointed that we didn't get three points.

"On the other hand, we were lucky in the end that we didn't lose the game. So, the feelings are mixed. We're disappointed, but we're also happy that we didn't end up without points.

"I think we wanted more and imagined more. And the way the game went, we could have taken more with us.

"But that's just the way it is. It's like the first game after the summer break. Not everything fits perfectly. That was also the case against Freiburg.

"We played a really good game but didn't use our chances. So, you have to be satisfied with this one point."

Jurgen Klopp loved seeing the return of the Bundesliga and insists matches behind closed doors can still provide ample nourishment for those craving a football fix.

The German top flight resumed over the weekend and Liverpool manager Klopp said his enjoyment of the spectacle was not dampened by the absence of fans, though he conceded that may be down to him being a "strange person".

While in an ideal world he would prefer stadiums to be full, Klopp wants people to appreciate the fact football is slowly returning after a prolonged coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

And the former Borussia Dortmund coach felt the league in which he used to manage had shown the way forward.

"Look, I love it," he told Liverpool's official website following a weekend of games in his homeland that included a 4-0 win for Dortmund over Schalke.

"In this part I'm a strange person; when I watch football – other games, not our games – I watch them most of the time without sound because I don't want to hear the commentary, I'm just interested in the game.

"So now for me it's completely normal to watch other football games. I love the game, I'm interested in what they do and stuff like this.

"I know, football behind closed doors, of course it's not the same. Why do we have to mention it? We all love it when we have contact, when we get cheered up by the people, when they push us through the yards and all that stuff. We love that but we cannot have it.

"Why would you think always about something you cannot have in the moment? Use the thing you have in the moment.

"And it looks like it will be possible – and it is in Germany already possible – to play behind closed doors. And the football games were really good; super goals, real fight, tight games, clear games, clear results, a proper fight.

"Imagine, the first night is a little bit like, 'Have a look here and there, how will it work, how does it feel?'.

"But in Germany so many teams play for pretty much everything – they want to stay in the league – and that's exactly the same what will happen in England."

On Tuesday it was announced that coronavirus tests carried out on 748 Premier League players and staff returned six positive results across three clubs, with no names disclosed.

It is hoped fixtures could recommence in June, with Klopp's side needing two more wins to claim a first top-flight crown in 30 years.

Leon Bailey has been served with a "cease-and-desist order" from Jamaican football chiefs who came under fire from the Bayer Leverkusen winger.

The highly rated 22-year-old questioned the capabilities of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and said the governing body, rather than the country's players, would be to blame if the Reggae Boyz fail to reach the 2022 World Cup.

Bailey, who has frequently been linked with Premier League giants Chelsea, also criticised the selection policies of coach Theodore Whitmore, suggesting he chops and changes his squads too frequently.

He now risks punishment from the JFF, whose president Michael Ricketts has urged Bailey to come to the federation first with any grievances.

Speaking to radio station Hitz 92 FM, Ricketts said: "Tell us what you think the problems are."

Ricketts said the comments were "unfounded", and JFF general secretary Dalton Wint told the Jamaican Gleaner newspaper that Bailey's barbs had breached protocol and would inevitably see him risk sanctions.

Wint said: "You can't be publicly criticising your coach or your administration without the possibilities of you being reprimanded, and so it is something that we are discussing internally as we move forward.

"What he said was very unfortunate, and it does not auger well for good relationship building for players or staff to openly criticise your employer.

"It is a cease-and-desist order because it is something that we will not be accommodating, and we are imploring everybody to stay in line and to be respectful, and if you have any difficulties or concerns, bring it to the right forum and it will be discussed, deliberated, and actions taken, and so don't wash your dirty linen in public."

Bailey, who joined Leverkusen from Genk in 2017, has scored 19 goals in 82 Bundesliga games. He was a substitute on Monday in the 4-1 win over Werder Bremen, coming off the bench in the second half.

Philippe Coutinho's future remains undecided despite the Brazilian's loan spell at Bayern Munich from Barcelona coming towards its end, according to his agent Kia Joorabchian.

Coutinho, 27, joined Bayern on loan with the option to buy last August after an underwhelming first full season at Camp Nou, having previously starred for Liverpool.

While the attacking midfielder has not been a failure by any stretch of the imagination, scoring eight goals and setting up another six in 22 Bundesliga matches, Bayern are reported to have turned their attention towards other targets instead of triggering their €120million purchase option.

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz and Manchester City's Leroy Sane are said to be interesting Die Roten, with both significantly younger than the Brazilian and also German.

Reports in Spain claim Bayern are looking to extend Coutinho's loan to at least cover the remainder of the season, instead of losing him at the end of June, but beyond that, Joorabchian accepts little has been decided even if he would be happy to remain in Munich.

"I can say that Philippe is very happy in Munich," Joorabchian told Sport1. "He likes the club and its high level of professionalism.

"The most important thing for him now is to focus on a quick recovery [from an ankle injury] so that he can help his team back on the pitch as soon as possible. Then we'll see how things develop.

"No decision has yet been made regarding his future. As I have said many times in uncertain times like this, we are not currently talking about any transfers or future plans and have not discussed them yet."

Coutinho was unable to feature in Sunday's 2-0 win at Union Berlin as the Bundesliga resumed.

He is expected to make his return from injury soon, with Bayern initially stating he was to begin his recovery work on May 8.

RB Leipzig's quarantined training camp has helped Dani Olmo integrate into the team quicker, according to Yussuf Poulsen.

Olmo surged into the spotlight with his Champions League performances for Dinamo Zagreb in the first half of 2018-19, leading to interest from Barcelona – who he left as a 16-year-old – and Juventus.

However, it was Leipzig that came out on top in the race for his signature in January.

Olmo was only able to make five appearances under Julian Nagelsmann before the coronavirus pandemic brought the Bundesliga season grinding to a halt for two months.

While he may have missed out on training time, Poulsen believes Olmo has benefited on a personal level from being kept in close proximity to his new team-mates.

Poulsen told Stats Perform News: "He can give us a lot. He is a very good, talented player and he will also get enough time on the field in the future. I'm sure of it, because he's a really good footballer.

"I think the coronavirus period was hard for him. Because especially the new players can't train the processes on the field, because we trained in small groups.

"On the other hand, we were in quarantine for a week now, where you have more to do with each other on a personal level.

"I think that definitely helped him a lot, because he integrated into the team faster on a personal level."

Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland are tearing up the Bundesliga, and former Bayern Munich striker Roy Makaay admits he is astonished by the duo.

Bayern talisman Lewandowski reached 40 goals across all competitions for a fifth straight season at the weekend, with a penalty helping Bayern to a 2-0 win at Union Berlin.

Teenager Haaland had set Borussia Dortmund on the way to a 4-0 Revierderby triumph over Schalke on Saturday, taking his Bundesliga tally to 10 goals in nine games since joining from Salzburg.

Former Netherlands international Makaay, who starred for Bayern from 2003 to 2007, has been bowled over their feats.

Makaay said of Lewandowski, who jumped ship from Dortmund six years ago to join Bayern: "He is one of the world's best strikers, very complete. Every season he scores more than 20 goals, his hard work and his eye for the other players is important.

"He was an incredibly good signing in 2014. Free transfer! You have to imagine that."

Haaland is threatening to usurp Lewandowski as the most-feared frontman in Germany, just months after arriving at Dortmund.

Makaay, now a youth coach with Feyenoord, recalled the Dutch outfit facing Salzburg in pre-season, saying Haaland "immediately attracted attention".

Speaking to German magazine Kicker, Makaay said: "What can you say when you see his record? Goals, goals, goals. I'm excited to see how he will develop. It's incredible, what he has done so far."

There is another promising striker for whom Makaay has high hopes, with his fellow Dutchman Joshua Zirkzee having caught the eye at Bayern when Lewandowski was briefly injured.

The 18-year-old Zirkzee is well known to Makaay, having come through the Feyenoord youth ranks before moving in 2017 to Bayern.

"During his year at Feyenoord I had him in striker training every now and then," Makaay said. "At the time he was 16. He is without a doubt a very talented player, but also very young."

Zirkzee has played just 170 minutes in the Bundesliga this season but already has three goals.

"I saw his goals, outstanding, beautiful," said Makaay. "Now he has to play a lot to get better."

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Inter will contest the European Solidarity Cup in 2021 with the aim of raising money for healthcare resources in Italy and Spain in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain and Italy have been two of the hardest-hit European nations during the COVID-19 outbreak, recording 27,709 and 32,007 deaths, respectively.

Everyday life – including sport – has seen massive changes across both countries over the past two months, with lockdown measures only recently beginning to be eased.

The three European giants will play matches next year to determine the winner of the European Solidary Cup, but the main purpose will be to aid the purchasing of healthcare supplies and express gratitude to medical professionals for their work during the pandemic.

The matches will be played across each of the three cities, with the tournament announced for 2021 in the hope fans will once again be able to attend.

A statement released by Los Blancos read: "Real Madrid are set to team up with Bayern Munich and Inter to host the European Solidarity Cup in 2021. The three clubs will come together to send out a message of solidarity and fraternity to the people of Europe.

"The solidarity event will see three football matches held during 2021 in the cities of Madrid, Munich and Milan. The dates for these games will depend on the competitive calendar and of course will take place when the fans are able to return to the stands.

"The three teams will all come up against each other: Madrid vs Inter will happen in Madrid, Inter vs Bayern is set for Milan and Bayern vs Madrid will be held in Munich. The proceeds from these games will go towards the purchase of healthcare resources in Italy and Spain.

"Healthcare staff who continue to fight the pandemic will be represented at all of the games. The three clubs wish to demonstrate to these heroes all of our solidarity, respect and gratitude."

Bayern resumed their 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Union Berlin.

LaLiga and Serie A are not expected to recommence until next month at the earliest, however.

Clubs are queuing to sign Timo Werner.

The RB Leipzig star has reportedly attracted interest from the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.

While Liverpool have emerged as favourites to sign Werner, the Germany international could move to Inter.

 

TOP STORY – WERNER OPENS DOOR FOR INTER MOVE

RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner is open to joining Inter amid Liverpool links, according to Calciomercato.

Werner has been tipped to move to Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, despite reported interest from Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Chelsea.

But with Inter star Lautaro Martinez being targeted by Barcelona, Werner could arrive at San Siro as a replacement.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bundesliga champions Bayern have no interest in making Philippe Coutinho's stay permanent, reports Mundo Deportivo. However, Bayern are open to extending the Barca misfit's loan deal for another season.

Dries Mertens is on the verge of signing a new contract with Napoli, says Sportitalia. Mertens had reportedly been set to join Italian rivals Inter on a free transfer but he is on course to remain in Naples.

- According to Sport, Jean-Clair Todibo could be the key in seeing Miralem Pjanic swap Juventus for Barcelona. Pjanic is wanted by LaLiga champs Barca but Juve want midfielder Arthur in exchange. Amid complicated negotiations, Todibo has emerged as a target for Juve – who could part with Mattia De SciglioParis Saint-Germain are also interested in Pjanic.

Luka Jovic is set to have more time to convince head coach Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, says AS Diario. Madrid are believed to be eyeing Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland but he reportedly does not have a release clause for January 2021, allowing Jovic to stake his claim after struggling since arriving from Eintracht Frankfurt.

- Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Bayer Leverkusen are not prepared to sell star Kai Havertz for less than €100million (£89m). Havertz has been linked to Liverpool, Juve, Bayern and Barca among others.

Bayer Leverkusen head coach Peter Bosz lauded "special player" Kai Havertz but insisted the in-demand star can improve amid growing interest.

Havertz continued to burnish his reputation with a first-half brace as Leverkusen crushed lowly Werder Bremen 4-1 in the Bundesliga on Monday.

The Germany international – frequently the topic of transfer gossip columns amid links to Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal – opened the scoring in the 28th minute and restored Leverkusen's lead five minutes later following Theodor Gebre Selassie's equaliser.

After thrashing relegation-threatened Bremen behind closed doors at Weser-Stadion due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bosz told reporters: "Kai [Havertz] is a special player, but I don't think he made his best game today. He can do much better.

"I've known him for a long time now and I know he can do much better. It has to do with the rhythm. But for every player the captain's armband is something special. And so it will be for Kai."

Havertz, 20, added: "I'm very happy. We didn't make many mistakes and deservedly won.

"Now we want to continue like this on Saturday in Monchengladbach."

The result was Leverkusen's fourth in succession as the Bundesliga returned over the weekend following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Leverkusen are fifth in the table, eight points behind defending champions and leaders Bayern Munich.

"We are naturally satisfied, as you have to be when you win the first game after a two-month break with 4-1 in Bremen," Bosz said. "There were many question marks before. I think we deserved to win, although we didn't always play very well. That has to do with the rhythm.

"We lost easy balls during the game, which we normally don't lose. But like I said, if you win 4-1 here, you have to be satisfied. And I am satisfied."

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