Claudio Pizarro has joined Bayern Munich for a third time - but this time the Peruvian will not be expected to bang in the goals for the Bavarians.

The 41-year-old retired from playing at the end of the 2019-20 season, following his fourth spell with Werder Bremen, and has been appointed as a Bayern ambassador.

Striker Pizarro spent nine seasons with Bayern across two stints, firstly from 2001 to 2007 and later from 2012 to 2015, netting 125 goals in 327 appearances.

Bayern said his new roving role will focus on promoting the club's "name, traditions and values throughout the world", as well as playing for the FC Bayern Legends team in exhibition games.

The six-time Bundesliga winner joins former team-mates Giovane Elber and Bixente Lizarazu in the ranks of Bayern ambassadors, the Champions League winners said on their website.

Pizarro said: "It is a dream to be back in Munich. FC Bayern is always described as a family, and that's exactly how it feels. Now, in my new role, I will once more give everything for this club - just like I used to as a player."

Bayern board member Andreas Jung said of Pizarro: "His South American soul has been spiced with a pinch of Bavarian through his many years in Munich, and all this, in addition to his great success as a player, makes him a perfect representative for FC Bayern."

In all, Pizarro won 16 trophies as a Bayern player, including a treble in the 2012-13 campaign.

 

Manchester United youngster Tahith Chong has joined Bundesliga side Werder Bremen on loan for the 2020-21 season.

The 20-year-old winger, who joined United's academy from Feyenoord in 2016, has been highly rated by the club ever since but has failed to establish himself in the first team.

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was hired – initially on an interim basis – in December 2018, Chong was seen as one of the young players most likely to make the step up to the senior side as a regular.

However, he has made only 16 appearances in all competitions and has yet to feature from the start in the Premier League.

Chong signed a new contract in March to keep him at the club until 2022, with the option to extend his stay for a further year.

His loan to Werder should finally give Chong the opportunity to play regular first-team football and at top-flight level.

Werder preserved their status as a Bundesliga club in the relegation/promotion play-off against Heidenheim last month.

Tahith Chong's agent says his client wants to move to the Bundesliga amid reports Werder Bremen are closing in on a loan deal for the Manchester United player.

Chong, 20, signed a contract extension until 2022 at Old Trafford in March, despite speculation Inter were keen on the midfielder.

But first-team opportunities have been hard to come by, with a substitute outing in Wednesday's 2-1 Europa League win over LASK his first appearance since lockdown.

"Tahith would like to join the Bundesliga," his representative Erkan Alkan told Bild.

"We'll talk to Man United about it on Thursday."

That would seem to give something of a green light to Werder, with Bild reporting Alkan held discussions with sporting director Frank Baumann and head of scouting Clemens Fritz.

"I know the player. We'll get an attacking winger. I do not want to say more," said Baumann, according to the newspaper.

If Chong joins Werder, he could serve as a replacement for Milot Rashica, the Kosovo international who is reportedly in the sights of a host of clubs including Liverpool, Wolves, Aston Villa and RB Leipzig.

Philippe Coutinho's move to Arsenal is seemingly getting close.

The Brazil international has been on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona in 2019-20, but is expected to leave Camp Nou permanently.

A return to the Premier League has been mooted.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL DEAL FOR COUTINHO IS 'ADVANCED'

A deal sending Coutinho to Arsenal from Barcelona is "more advanced", according to Sport.

The former Liverpool star would head back to England less than three years after leaving Anfield.

Coutinho has scored nine goals in 34 games for Bayern in 2019-20.

 

ROUND-UP

- There could be good news coming for Barcelona. Mundo Deportivo reports Marc-Andre ter Stegen has agreed to extend his deal at the club for five years, but there is still no financial agreement between the parties.

- Jerome Boateng's Bayern Munich future seems uncertain. Sport Bild reports the Bundesliga champions want to sell the defender, who would like to extend his contract beyond 2021.

- Takefusa Kubo looks set for another loan spell away from Real Madrid. AS reports Kubo will join Villarreal on loan for 2020-21, having spent this season at Mallorca.

- Are Liverpool looking for a back-up for Andy Robertson? The Athletic reports the Premier League champions value left-back Jamal Lewis at £10million, but Norwich City will not even enter talks for less than £20m.

- Contracted at Manchester United until 2022, Tahith Chong could be heading elsewhere to gain experience. Sport Bild says Werder Bremen are in talks with United over a loan deal for the attacker.

- After losing the Championship play-off final, Brentford may also see a star depart. The Guardian reports Crystal Palace are battling with Aston Villa to sign Ollie Watkins, who scored 26 goals in 49 Championship games in 2019-20.

There was joy and relief as the final whistle blew at Voith-Arena on July 6… Werder Bremen had somehow managed to preserve the club's Bundesliga status by the skin of their teeth.

Four-time German champions Werder survived a dramatic promotion/relegation play-off against second-tier side Heidenheim on away goals following the 2-2 second-leg draw.

After a goalless stalemate in the opening leg, Werder were pushed to the brink by Heidenheim, who restored parity via Tim Kleindienst's 97th-minute penalty but Ludwig Augustinsson's goal three minutes earlier ensured the visitors' place in Germany's top flight next season.

It capped a forgettable campaign for Werder, who scraped into the play-off with a 6-1 thrashing of Cologne on the final day of the 2019-20 coronavirus-affected season after finishing just a point above the automatic relegation zone as Fortuna Dusseldorf and Paderborn went down.

Rewind back to 2018-19 and Werder had managed a joint-best domestic campaign since finishing third a decade ago – eighth position.

"The last weeks have been a horror because I've had sleepless nights," former striker Wynton Rufer – who won four major trophies during his time in Bremen, including the 1992-93 Bundesliga title – told Stats Perform News.

"Last season, they had probably their best season in probably 10 years, just missed out on Europe. They were able to retain most of the squad and then add to it with top-quality signings and despite that, just had a horror of a season. A lot of injuries at the start but to play as badly as they did, we're just so grateful they managed to stay up."

Florian Kohfeldt's Werder had looked set for automatic demotion, having spent matchdays 21-33 in 17th place.

But Werder – who hold the record for most seasons in the Bundesliga but have not lifted the trophy since 2004 – fought to avoid a similar fate to that of rivals Hamburg and Stuttgart, relegation to 2.Bundesliga.

Hamburg were relegated in 2017-18 and capitulated as they missed out on a return to the top tier in 2019-20, while Stuttgart – demoted in two of the past four seasons – secured promotion this term.

"You can see how difficult it is with Hamburg and Stuttgart," Oceania Footballer of the Century Rufer said. "Stuttgart came up now but it didn't happen straight away. I believe their budget for the first division was similar in the second division because of their big sponsor. In Hamburg, it was the same story where they didn't really have to have much of a lesser budget for the second division because of their billionaire part-owner.

"But with Werder Bremen, if they had got relegated even though it's the 10th biggest city in Germany, they don't really have the support through a sponsor or individual. Their budget this season is about €150million, it probably would've went down to €50-70m and 150 people would've probably lost their jobs. For the city, it would've been a total disaster."

Rufer knows the club and city of Bremen better than most, having spent six successful years at Weserstadion.

Prised to the club by legendary boss Otto Rehhagel in 1989, New Zealander Rufer won the Bundesliga, the UEFA Cup Winners Cup (1992), two DFB-Pokal trophies (1991, 1994) and as many DFB-Supercups (1993, 1994), while he was the Champions League's top goalscorer in 1993-94.

"It was obviously a very special time," Rufer said. "A big opportunity came when Otto Rehhagel tried to sign me over two seasons. He finally got me in the second season [from Grasshoppers].

"It was a big move for any player. Werder Bremen at that time, they'd just won the Bundesliga two years previously. The year before they made the semi-final of the European Cup. They were kicking the ball around with the big boys.

"I had the opportunity to go and play there. It was amazing. I was able to quickly establish myself, played really well and scored goals. Played in European Cups – the first season we knocked out UEFA Cup holders Napoli. Diego Maradona leading that Napoli side. It was a pretty special time. I was fortunate to be a starting member all those seasons and in those big games."

Rufer has also frequently travelled to Bremen to celebrate the anniversary of the club's successes, while he convinced United States star Josh Sargent to join the North German outfit in 2018.

"I've had the opportunity to be like a scout in most Decembers," Rufer added. "I've been going to Florida to look at American players because that market has grown a lot. I managed to convince Josh Sargent to sign for Werder Bremen, even though Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City were all after him. I was able to convince his family to sign with Bremen because he'd get game time and that's happened, despite almost getting relegated."

So, where to now for Werder in 2020-21? After their narrow escape and disappointing season, 37-year-old head coach Kohfeldt will remain at the helm.

"Apart from Dortmund and Bayern Munich, who you know will be up there again… the rest of the league are just battling away to qualify for Europe and stay up," Rufer added.

"It wouldn't surprise me if they went through now and qualified for Europe next season. They put on a fantastic season two years ago. It was the injuries at the start of the season. They would've looked at that now. It might sound crazy but I don't think they have to change a lot. It's trying to keep the squad together as much as possible and hopefully those big guns don't have those injuries.

"It will be really interesting to see how it pans out. Any particular changes to the squad, I don't see it too necessary. Also with coronavirus, they probably won't be in a financial situation anyway to make too many changes."

While Kohfeldt will return, Werder great and the club's all-time leading scorer Claudio Pizarro will not after retiring at the age of 41 following four spells in Bremen.

Pizarro won six league titles across two separate spells at Bayern Munich, while he also spent a season playing for Chelsea in the Premier League.

"It's been absolutely phenomenal to see what he's achieved in the Bundesliga," the 57-year-old Rufer said. "Incredible to have a player like him at the club, a legend of the game. It's sad. Claudio has been an incredible servant to the Bundesliga and Werder Bremen. To find another legend like that, it would be a coup for anyone."

Florian Kohfeldt lauded Claudio Pizarro after Werder Bremen narrowly managed to retain their Bundesliga status against Heidenheim as the club great retired from football.

Pizarro called time on his career following Monday's 2-2 draw at second-tier Heidenheim – four-time German champions Bremen prevailing in the Bundesliga relegation play-off on the away goals rule.

The 41-year-old Pizarro, who announced his retirement plans in July following 20 seasons in the Bundesliga – was an unused substitute as Bremen survived a dramatic second leg following last week's goalless draw.

It caps Pizarro's fourth stint with Bremen, having won six league titles across two separate spells at Bayern Munich, while he also spent a season playing for Chelsea in the Premier League.

Kohfeldt heaped praise on Bremen's all-time leading goalscorer Pizarro, who netted two goals in 2019-20.

"Awesome," Kohfeldt replied when asked how nice it was for Pizarro to end his career as a first-division player. "I was with him after the game as well and apologised that I couldn't bring him in his last game.

"Unfortunately the situation was just not there. But he said it didn't matter, the main thing was that we were not relegated.

"The other day we watched a video on YouTube in the coaching team. And we saw videos from the 90s, the 2000s and 2010s and I said to the assistant coach: "It's always the same face that laughs.

"That just shows what meaning he has and what joy he has given to the Werder fans. How much importance he has for this club. And it makes me happy for the team.

"I can't pull my hat any lower and bow any lower before Claudio Pizarro and what he has done for Werder Bremen and the Bundesliga. And I am delighted that we were able to close this chapter in the first division. Many thanks Claudio!"

Werder Bremen managed to retain their Bundesliga status thanks to the away goals rule as they drew 2-2 with second-tier Heidenheim.

In a dramatic second leg of the relegation play-off – with the first encounter having finished goalless – Heidenheim restored parity with a 97th-minute penalty.

However, it was not enough for the home side, with Ludwig Augustinsson's goal three minutes earlier ensuring Bremen stayed up.

The visitors had taken the lead thanks to Norman Theuerkauf's early own goal, but Tim Kleindienst's strike five minutes from time set up a thrilling finale as four-time German champions Bremen – who hold the record for the number of seasons in the Bundesliga – stayed up by the skin of their teeth.

Werder Bremen were held to a goalless draw by Heidenheim in the first leg of the Bundesliga relegation play-off on Thursday.

Bremen, who finished 16th in the Bundesliga thanks to a huge victory over Cologne on the final day, failed to make home advantage count at Weserstadion.

They will also be without an influential player for the second leg on Monday, with captain Niklas Moisander having received a red card in the 87th minute.

In a match of few opportunities, Fin Bartels forced the first save from Heidenheim goalkeeper Kevin Muller three minutes before Moisander's sending off, with Timo Beermann squandering a chance to win it for the visitors late on.

Werder Bremen produced a stunning performance to avoid automatic relegation from the Bundesliga with a 6-1 home triumph over Cologne.

Fortuna Dusseldorf suffered the drop instead after they lost 3-0 at Union Berlin on Saturday.

After finishing 16th, Werder will now play a two-legged relegation playoff against a team from 2. Bundesliga, most likely to be either Heidenheim or Hamburg.

Consecutive defeats to Bayern Munich and Mainz had Werder on the brink of being relegated for the first time since 1981.

They came into the final day of the regular season two points adrift of Dusseldorf with an inferior goal difference.

But after selecting an attacking line-up, Florian Kohfeldt was rewarded as his side raced into a three-goal lead inside the first half-hour thanks to strikes from Yuya Osako, Milot Rashica and Niclas Fullkrug.

There was a positive half-time update from the Dusseldorf game, with hosts Union holding a one-goal advantage courtesy of Anthony Ujah.

After the break, Davy Klaassen scored and Osako added a second as Werder moved five goals in front, while the good news kept coming with a second Union goal from Christian Gentner in the other game.

Dominick Drexler scored for Cologne but rampant Werder made it six through substitute Josh Sargent.

With no revival against Union, who added a third thanks to Suleiman Abdullahi, it meant Dusseldorf's second season in the Bundesliga ended in relegation.

They will drop a division with bottom-of-the-table Paderborn, who were relegated on June 16 after also suffering a defeat against Union.

Florian Kohfeldt said he was "brutally empty" after Werder Bremen were left on the brink of Bundesliga relegation by a 3-1 defeat at Mainz on Saturday.

Werder failed to make the most of 16th-placed Fortuna Dusseldorf dropping points at home to Augsburg, who, along with Mainz and Cologne, secured their safety on the penultimate weekend.

Robin Quaison put the hosts ahead at the Opel Arena after Josh Sargent and Theodor Gebre Selassie failed to communicate and clear Karim Onisiwo's goal-bound header sufficiently, with Danny Latza teeing up Jean-Paul Boetius for their second after a brilliant run five minutes later.

Yuya Osako pulled one back for Werder before the hour mark but Edimilson Fernandes put the game to bed in the 85th minute.

Kohfeldt's side must now defeat Cologne next Saturday to have any hope of retaining their top-flight status, with Dusseldorf two points ahead of them in the relegation play-off spot.

Four-time Bundesliga champions Werder have only been demoted from the division once, spending the 1980-81 season in the second tier.

Kohfeldt was drained after seeing his team fall to a fourth defeat in their past five matches.

"We had a great chance to turn everything in our favour. Now we owe it to ourselves to give ourselves a shake and not make the same stupid mistakes as we did today," said Kohfeldt.

"I will not find a tactical solution in a week's time to make things different. It's not a matter of tactics … I'm just brutally empty.

"There was a great chance today – it isn't the case that it would have been impossible to win here.

"It hurts me for the club, for all the staff, for the fans. We'll try everything next week. Now I am sorry, I have to let it sink in first."

Thomas Muller revealed his pride and emotion after Bayern Munich clinched an eighth straight Bundesliga title on Tuesday.

Bayern endured a poor start to the season, with Muller struggling to maintain his place in the team under Niko Kovac, who was sacked in November.

But Hansi Flick came in as head coach and led the champions to a stunning sequence of results, winning 26 of 29 matches in all competitions.

Their most recent victory at Werder Bremen sealed another championship, with Robert Lewandowski on target before Alphonso Davies' controversial red card gave Bayern a little concern.

After crossing the finish line, Muller reflected on another successful league campaign.

"We had to fight hard, but that describes a bit the situation of the last few weeks," he told ARD. "We stayed with it.

"The fighting spirit, regardless of the quality, is enormous.

"With this comeback that we started and the way we played in the second half of the season, I have rarely had so many emotional moments in Bundesliga matches, whether at Borussia Dortmund [a 1-0 win last month] or today.

"When I look at the boys, we achieved this common goal and it is one that we achieved with pride."

Bayern's celebrations were dampened slightly by restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Muller was determined to enjoy the triumph.

"We will devote ourselves to the evening in compliance with the rules and let the emotions run wild for the time being," he said.

"During the coronavirus period, everyone has to have a single table, but we will not necessarily give up.

"You can still lift a glass two metres away with a little distance."

Hansi Flick did not shy away from a potential treble bid after Bayern Munich clinched the Bundesliga title on Tuesday.

Bayern have been in outstanding form since Flick's November appointment, winning 26 of their 29 matches in all competitions.

And their first major silverware of the campaign was delivered with two matches to spare as Robert Lewandowski's first-half goal secured a decisive 1-0 win at Werder Bremen.

But Bayern's season is far from over as they now turn their attention towards a DFB-Pokal final against Bayer Leverkusen and then the Champions League.

The German champions hold a 3-0 first-leg lead over Chelsea in the last 16 of Europe's elite club competition, their performance in that match and subsequent fixtures prompting talk of a stunning sweep of the prizes on offer.

"We have now taken the first step and achieved our first big goal by winning the champion," head coach Flick told Sky Sport. "But we still have the DFB-Pokal as our next goal. 

"Of course, there is also the Champions League. It is clear it cannot be planned. It will be difficult enough to come through the game against Chelsea first.

"Then we'll see what's going to happen. It will be difficult and we have to be fit."

Bayern were below their brilliant best against Werder but held on for the victory following Alphonso Davies' contentious red card with 11 minutes to go.

Flick added: "With the red card, Bremen were a bit braver. We had to defend and did it sensationally. That is why there is no criticism today.

"I am very, very happy and can only say it again and again: you never succeed alone. We are just one unit and I really enjoy being here."

Flick suggested the title-clinching triumph epitomised his team and their spirit.

"The football we have played in the last few months has been sensational," he said. "You can feel the passion, enthusiasm and fighting spirit, even today after the red card."

Alphonso Davies hailed Robert Lewandowski as the best striker in the world after his goal clinched an eighth straight Bundesliga title for Bayern Munich.

Bayern saw off lowly Werder Bremen 1-0 on Tuesday, claiming the points required to seal another championship with two games to spare.

Lewandowski's 31st Bundesliga strike of a record-breaking campaign was enough for victory, controlling Jerome Boateng's lofted pass on his chest and firing into the net late in the first half.

The Poland international's latest exploits earned praise from Davies, who was sent off 11 minutes from time.

"We call him 'Lewangoalksi' for that reason," the left-back said. "He's a top striker, the top in the world.

"Coming in and scoring 31 goals, it's unbelievable."

Davies also took the opportunity to laud head coach Hansi Flick, who has overseen 26 wins in 29 games in all competitions after a tough start to the season under previous boss Niko Kovac.

"Incredible. He's a good coach, he expects a lot from his players," Davies said of his coach. "We know we have to battle each and every game for everything."

The Werder game proved a mixed affair for Davies prior to the title celebrations as he again impressed before being dismissed following a seemingly innocuous incident.

"Unfortunately. anger comes into play," he explained. "I got a yellow card, apologies for that. The second yellow card, I don't know what happened, I tried to run backwards, he came into me.

"It's the referee's decision, so I apologise to everyone. That's not the FC Bayern way, but I'm happy we can win the championship."

Davies had registered the Bundesliga's fastest speed since Opta data collection began in the first half, his new 36.51km/h record prompting a smile at full-time.

"I just do my job I guess," the teenager said. "I don't know when that happened, I just do my job trying to get the ball back defensively. I'm happy I can break a record."

Bayern Munich have clinched an eighth successive Bundesliga title with a 1-0 victory at Werder Bremen.

Hansi Flick's side went into Tuesday's contest with a seven-point lead over Borussia Dortmund at the top and knowing a win would be enough to see them retain the title with two games to spare.

They duly delivered at the Weserstadion, the prolific Robert Lewandowski scoring the only goal in the first half as Bremen were unable to capitalise on a red card for Alphonso Davies 11 minutes from time.

Bayern successfully defending their crown looked an unlikely prospect back in the first half of the season. 

Niko Kovac oversaw just five wins from Bayern's opening 10 Bundesliga games before he was sacked and a defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in December left them seven points behind Marco Rose's side.

However, Flick has overseen a masterful turnaround in their fortunes and Bayern are unbeaten since the loss at Gladbach.

With the league title secured they will now turn their attention to hopes of securing a treble.

Bayern are through to the DFB-Pokal final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on July 4, when they will meet Bayer Leverkusen.

They also hold a 3-0 advantage from the first leg of their last-16 tie with Chelsea in the Champions League, though the format for the completion of that competition is still to be confirmed.

Bayern Munich claimed the Bundesliga title for an eighth successive season with an unconvincing 1-0 win at relegation-threatened Werder Bremen.

Hansi Flick's men approached Tuesday's clash at a rain-soaked Weserstadion knowing victory would be enough to retain the crown with two games to  spare.

As in Saturday's 2-1 triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayern were below their best but it mattered not against opposition fighting for their top-flight lives.

Robert Lewandowski's sublime 43rd-minute finish proved enough to seal points and the championship, his 31st goal of the league campaign wrapping up a 30th German title despite Alphonso Davies being sent off for a second bookable offence 11 minutes from time.

Bayern were sluggish out of the blocks and lacked their usual fluency, the visitors fortunate to see Maximilian Eggestein's low drive from the edge of the area flash wide of the left-hand post.

Flick's side enjoyed predictable dominance of possession but it did not tell until the 43rd minute, when Lewandowski produced a lethal demonstration of his finishing prowess.

Lewandowski chested Jerome Boateng's ball in from the right and fired a right-footed effort beyond Jiri Pavlenka to surpass 30 goals in a Bundesliga season for the first time in his career.

The Poland international had the ball in the net again within 10 minutes of the second-half restart but the flag was correctly raised after Thomas Muller strayed offside in the build-up.

Davies was dismissed for a foul on Milos Veljkovic before Pavlenka was forced into action to prevent Kingsley Coman from making the game safe, with Manuel Neuer producing heroics at the other end, his fingertip save denying Yuya Osako a dramatic late leveller.

What does it mean? - Werder fail to rain on Bayern's parade

Werder acquitted themselves well but paid the price for the mistake of giving Lewandowski space in the box as the former Borussia Dortmund talisman fittingly netted what proved the decisive goal.

Bayern can look to rotate their squad in the final two league games with an eye on the DFB-Pokal final with Bayer Leverkusen on July 4 and the eventual resumption of the Champions League. Werder are three points adrift of 15th-placed Mainz and are level on points with Fortuna Dusseldorf, who occupy the relegation play-off place.

Robert's return the difference

Suspended against Gladbach, Lewandowski's absence was telling as Bayern laboured in front of goal. His title-clinching goal was a scarcely needed reminder of why he is one of the most feared strikers in world football.

Home woes continue for Werder

Just one of Werder's seven league wins this season has come at home, and that was back in September. Despite a decent performance, they rarely looked like recording a second and putting the Bayern party on hold even until Neuer's stunning save from Osako.

What's next?

The first of what are effectively a pair of tune-ups for the Pokal final sees Bayern host Freiburg on Saturday. Werder face a massive clash with Mainz as they bid to avoid the drop.

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