Liverpool have sent centre-back Nathaniel Phillips back to Stuttgart on loan for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

The 22-year-old was only recalled to Anfield on December 27 amid a defensive injury crisis for manager Jurgen Klopp.

Phillips made his Liverpool debut in the FA Cup win over Everton earlier this month, but it was confirmed on Monday he will now return to Stuttgart with Joel Matip (knee) and Dejan Lovren (hamstring) closing in on returns to fitness.

Stuttgart sit third in the Bundesliga II and Phillips made nine league appearances for them during his initial spell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liverpool have recalled Nat Phillips from his loan at Stuttgart to bolster their options in defence.

Phillips was due to spend the entire 2019-20 season at the 2.Bundesliga side but has returned to Anfield and will be available for selection from the FA Cup meeting with Everton on January 5.

Injuries to Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip have left Liverpool short at centre-back, with Jordan Henderson having to play in defence for the Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey on December 18 when Virgil van Dijk was ruled out through illness.

However, 22-year-old defender Phillips could yet return to Stuttgart next month.

"With their squad currently stretched by injuries and a busy schedule, Liverpool asked to recall the centre-back from his loan spell," a Stuttgart statement read.

"The two clubs have agreed, however, to look into the possibility of Phillips going back to Stuttgart at the end of the German winter break."

Phillips has featured 11 times in all competitions for Stuttgart this season, making seven starts.

Monaco have high expectations and a mid-table position just will not cut it for the principality club.

Pressure may have eased on Leonardo Jardim after his inconsistent team thrashed Lille on Saturday, but fresh reports claim Monaco are looking at options for a new head coach.

Could Unai Emery - a Ligue 1 winner with Paris Saint-Germain but a disappointment at Arsenal - be just the man for the job?

 

TOP STORY - EMERY SET FOR DUGOUT RETURN?

Monaco are reportedly hunting for a new boss as Jardim's future looks bleak with the Monegasque club, and Emery is said to be a target.

According to Le 10 Sport, Monaco officials are considering former Valencia boss Marcelino and ex-PSG and France head coach Laurent Blanc.

A third coach reported to be interesting Monaco is Emery, who was sacked by Arsenal last month after a dismal run of form with the Premier League side.

The Spaniard would bring experience of French football after his time at PSG, with Sevilla and Valencia also among his former teams.

Monaco sit seventh in Ligue 1 this term, with Jardim handed a welcome boost when his team produced a shock 5-1 win over Lille at the weekend.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are looking to loan out two of their brightest young talents to improve their prospects of first-team action, according to Marca. The Spanish newspaper says 21-year-old midfielder Carles Alena could go to Real Betis or Getafe, and that 19-year-old centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo is interesting Bayer Leverkusen along with other clubs from Germany and Italy.

- Arturo Vidal could be another player on the move from Barcelona, with Inter said to be targeting a deal for the 32-year-old Chilean. A four-time Serie A winner with Juventus, Vidal's role at Barcelona has become reduced this season and a Camp Nou departure looks a sensible solution. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Inter are lining up a bid of €12million. Inter boss Antonio Conte knows Vidal well from their time together at Juventus, whom Inter are battling with for the Scudetto this term.

- Arsenal are keeping a close eye on Lyon's former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele, according to Le 10 Sport. If Arsenal lose Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette, the report says Dembele would be a prime target for the Gunners, whose hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League appear slim after a shabby first half of the Premier League season. Mikel Arteta has just taken the Emirates Stadium reins.

- Thomas Tuchel could soon be on the lookout for a new PSG assistant, with reports from Germany claiming his Hungarian number two Zsolt Low is a possible target for Stuttgart. Tim Walter lost his job with the Bundesliga second division team on Monday. The Stuttgarter Nachrichten reports the club, whose chief executive is former Aston Villa, Everton and Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, have former Leipzig assistant boss Low in mind but have yet to approach any candidate.

DFB-Pokal holders Bayern Munich will host Hoffenheim in the last 16 of this season's competition, while two fourth-tier sides were handed home advantage.

Bayern were made to sweat in their second-round tie, needing two goals in the last seven minutes to scrape past second-tier strugglers Bochum.

Niko Kovac's side - who have won the tournament 19 times - beat RB Leipzig in last season's final and will be favourites against Hoffenheim in one of four all-Bundesliga ties.

Other clashes between sides in Germany's top tier see Eintracht Frankfurt host Leipzig, Schalke take on Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen welcome Borussia Dortmund.

Interest in the fortunes of Saarbrucken and Verl will be high, with both sides playing in the regionalised fourth tier of German football.

Verl top the Regionalliga West table and will host Bundesliga opposition in Union Berlin, while Saarbrucken are also flying high in the league, sitting first in the Regionalliga South West standings.

Saarbrucken, who scored a stoppage-time winner to beat top-flight opponents Cologne 3-2 in the second round, will host 2. Bundesliga outfit Karlsruher.

Kaiserslautern, who have plummeted to the third tier in recent years, are in the relegation zone but have a chance to raise spirits when they welcome Fortuna Dusseldorf of the Bundesliga.

The other tie in the last 16 sees Bayer Leverkusen take on 2. Bundesliga high-flyers Stuttgart.

All third-round ties will be played on February 4 and 5.

DFB-Pokal last 16 draw

Eintracht Frankfurt v RB Leipzig
Bayer Leverkusen v Stuttgart
Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim
Schalke v Hertha Berlin
Saarbrucken v Karlsruher
Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund
Kaiserslautern v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Verl v Union Berlin

Another football season is in full swing and a new edition of Football Manager is right around the corner following its beta release on Thursday.

The classic football management simulator is set for full release on November 19, but you can get early access to the beta version – which may contain bugs and issues developers Sports Interactive still need to fix – if you pre-purchase the game.

Therefore, it's time to start thinking about which club you might want to take the reins of. However, with playable leagues in over 50 countries, such a decision can often feel a little daunting.

Do you fancy yourself as a miracle worker who can take a tiny club to the Champions League final? Want to test yourself with a newly promoted side in a top league? Or how about managing an established club amid a rebuild?

Whichever's your preference, we've identified six clubs we can't wait to leave our mark on...


Norwich City - Premier League

Football Manager and developing young players go hand-in-hand, so Norwich City will surely be the first port of call for many. With Emi Buendia, Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey, the Canaries have one of the strongest sets of young players in the Premier League, having returned after three years in the Championship. They've also attracted significant praise for their stylish brand of football under Daniel Farke over the past couple of years, something you might aim to emulate. Avoiding relegation will be the target, but their talent gives them a real platform to build on.


Stuttgart - 2.Bundesliga

A former Bundesliga-winning outfit that have fallen on hard times, Stuttgart suffered relegation to the second tier for the second time in four seasons in 2018-19. Last time, they bounced back at the first attempt - and they have the talent to do so again, given they managed to keep the likes of Santiago Ascacibar and Nicolas Gonzalez. The German club have a strong fanbase, massive stadium, history and a well-regarded academy. If you can steer them back on track, you could potentially awaken a sleeping giant.
 

Salford City - League Two

Backed by the wealthy Peter Lim and the Class of '92 crew and into the Football League for the first time in their history, Salford City represent an intriguing option in Football Manager 2020, particularly if you like the idea of taking a club from the lower leagues to the top but want a little helping hand at the start. There are few – if any – small clubs in England with comparable potential.


Paris FC - Ligue 2

That's right, France's capital has another club. Formed due to a split from Paris-Saint Germain in the early 1970s, Paris FC's history is rather less glamorous than their world-famous, Qatar-backed neighbours. They have yet to return to the top flight since their relegation in 1978-79, but last season's fourth-placed finish in Ligue 2 showed promise, even if they lost to Lens in the promotion play-offs. With €7million being poured into their facilities and the fact they're located in a city drowning in young talent, it might be a risky job to take but the rewards could be glorious. Their position at the foot of the table with eight points from 12 games in real life proves you might have your work cut out, however.
 

Sevilla - LaLiga

Revered sporting director Monchi is back at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and, after two years of relative underachievement in his absence, Sevilla's squad has been truly ripped up. Thirteen new players – including highly rated Jules Kounde and Rony Lopes – have arrived and eight departed on permanent deals. Several others left on loan, yet it's still a squad bursting at the seams, meaning there's potential to build up a decent budget as well. European football should ensure you still attract decent additions, while the club's academy is well-regarded. But with so much upheaval, is Champions League football a bridge too far? Because that'll be your target.


FC Andorra - Segunda B3

Although they should be competing in Spain's Tercera Division, FC Andorra – yes, from the country of the same name, as opposed to Spain – find themselves in Segunda B for the first time since the 1990s. Bought by Gerard Pique last December, the club paid a substantial fee to take the place of Reus in the third tier after they were relegated two divisions for failing to pay player wages. Getting out of Segunda B is a notoriously arduous task given there are only four promotion spots between 80 teams in four groups of 20, but defying such odds might be the challenge some desire.

Borussia Dortmund have been drawn against Borussia Monchengladbach in the second round of the DFB-Pokal, while holders Bayern Munich will travel to second-tier side Bochum.

Dortmund saw off lower-league opposition Uerdingen in the first round but have a far tougher test to come against Gladbach in one of two all-Bundesliga ties.

Bayern continue the defence of their crown with a trip to Bochum, who they beat en route to winning the competition in 2015-16.

Elsewhere, last season's beaten finalists RB Leipzig will take on top-flight rivals Wolfsburg for a place in round three.

The two remaining semi-professional sides in the competition, FC Saarbrucken and Verl, were paired with Koln and Holstein Kiel respectively in Sunday's draw.

The games will be played on October 29 and 30.

 

Draw in full:

Kaiserslautern v Nurnberg
Verl v Holstein Kiel
MSV Duisburg v TSG Hoffenheim
Saarbrucken v Koln
Darmstadt 98 v Karlsruher SC
Bayer Leverkusen v Paderborn
Freiburg v Union Berlin
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Erzgebirge Aue
Bochum v Bayern Munich
Arminia Bielefeld v Schalke 04
Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Hertha Berlin v Dynamo Dresden
Wolfsburg v RB Leipzig
Werder Bremen v Heidenheim
Hamburger SV v Stuttgart
St. Pauli v Eintracht Frankfurt

Bayern Munich have signed young striker Leon Dajaku from Stuttgart.

The 18-year-old Germany youth international has agreed a four-year contract with the Bundesliga champions.

"We're very happy Leon has chosen Bayern," said Jochen Sauer, head of the FC Bayern Campus.

"We're convinced he will make great progress at Bayern."

Dajaku scored 17 goals in 31 appearances for Stuttgart's Under-19 side last season.

He also played twice in the Bundesliga for the senior side, who were relegated after losing to Union Berlin on away goals in a play-off tie.

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