Thomas Muller returned to training at Bayern Munich on Thursday after the COVID-19 positive test that caused him to miss the Club World Cup final.

The all-action attacking midfielder was dealt his coronavirus blow just hours before Bayern beat Tigres UANL 1-0 to be crowned club world champions in Qatar on February 11, forcing him to self-isolate.

After two weeks away from the squad, and now clear of the virus, Muller was back at the club's training headquarters to be put through his paces.

Bayern announced on their website: "Muller was able to train at Sabener Strasse again on Thursday for the first time after a period self-isolating at home due to testing positive for COVID-19.

"Following final medical tests in the morning, the 31-year-old completed an individual session on the pitch alongside team training under the guidance of fitness boss Prof Dr Holger Broich."

Muller is enjoying a stellar season and is one of just six players from Europe's 'top five' leagues to have reached double figures both in goals and assists across all competitions.

He has 13 goals and 11 assists so far, and has created 81 chances in all.

Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho is the only other player from the Bundesliga to achieve the double to date, after 10 goals and 12 assists.

Lagging some way behind Muller in the Bayern ranks is Serge Gnabry, who has managed only six goals and two assists in 28 appearances, figures that are also significantly down on what team-mates Leroy Sane (G: 8, A: 8) and Kingsley Coman (G: 6, A: 11) have achieved.

Gnabry has had more playing time than his attacking midfield colleagues Sane and Coman, and he began the campaign with a hat-trick against Schalke in Bayern's opener.

The former Arsenal youngster was substituted off in the Club World Cup final because of a torn muscle in his left thigh.

Bayern said on Thursday that Gnabry had undergone intensive rehabilitation in recent days and was able to resume training with Hansi Flick's squad.

That may see him come into contention, perhaps along with Muller, for Saturday's Bundesliga home clash with Cologne.

Bayern Munich rising star Jamal Musiala has chosen to play for Germany instead of England at international level.

The 17-year-old could make his senior debut as early as next month, with Germany head coach Joachim Low expected to name a large squad for their three World Cup qualifiers against Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia.

Musiala was born in Germany but moved to England when he was seven when his mother began a degree at Southampton University. He spent eight years in Chelsea's academy and played at youth level for England and Germany before returning to Bayern in 2019.

The 17-year-old has since broken into Hansi Flick's first-team plans and has already made 25 appearances in all competitions this season, mostly as a substitute. He scored in Bayern's 4-1 Champions League last-16 first-leg win over Lazio on Tuesday to become the youngest English player to score in the competition and the second-youngest of any nationality to get a goal in the knockout phase.

Speaking to The Athletic about his deliberations over his international future, Musiala said: "I've thought about this question a lot. What is best for my future? Where do I have more chances to play?

"In the end, I just listened to the feeling that over a long period of time kept telling me that it was the right decision to play for Germany, the land I was born in. Still, it wasn't an easy decision for me.

"England is home for me. It is difficult to find words for what England means for me because I have so many memories connected to very positive emotions.

"They [Chelsea and England's Football Association] are family for me, and I am sure that I remain a member of the family, even though I'm no longer there. I wouldn't be where I am right now without the trust and support of Chelsea and the FA, throughout the hard times and fun times. It wasn't always easy, but they made me the player I am now."

Low, who met with Musiala in recent weeks along with national team director Oliver Bierhoff, said of the news: "Obviously, we cannot give him any guarantees at the moment. That wouldn't be right.

"I think we will call him up in March because we will have a bigger squad than usual due to having three games in quick succession. We will be able to get to know one another better during this time.

"I'm pleased that Jamal has decided to play for Germany in the future. I see a lot of potential in him."

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland should join Bayern Munich or leave the Bundesliga to further his career, Lothar Matthaus says.

The Norway striker scored twice in the 4-0 win over Schalke last weekend to take his tally to 27 in all competitions this season, behind only Robert Lewandowski (31) among Bundesliga players.

Haaland also hit two in the 3-2 win at Sevilla in the Champions League last-16 first leg to become the first player in the competition's history to score as many as 17 goals in his first 13 appearances.

The 20-year-old only joined Dortmund last January but is already being linked with a post-season move to one of Europe's major clubs.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all been credited with an interest in Haaland, who is speculated to have a release clause of €75million that becomes active in 2022.

Bayern great Matthaus thinks Haaland ultimately has two choices at this stage of his career: pursue a move away from the Bundesliga, or sign for the champions.

"At a young age, he's a striker unlike any I've seen before: this goal tally, this power, passion, energy, as well as quality," he told Sport1.

"He could follow in the footsteps of other great footballers of the last 13 or 14 years.

"He won't be at Borussia Dortmund for life. He'll look for bigger clubs; he'll get a bigger wage. If he stays in the Bundesliga, there's only one step for him: Bayern."

Bayern have endured a dip in form of late, drawing with Arminia Bielefeld before a 2-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Those results have allowed RB Leipzig to close to within two points of the leaders, and Matthaus thinks the challengers have an advantage in the title race due to squad depth.

Claiming a ninth title in a row for Bayern is "not a cast-iron guarantee", Matthaus wrote in his column for Sky.

He added: "It's already the case that [Bayern coach] Hansi Flick turns to the substitutes bench at critical moments and thinks, 'Who exactly can really help me now?'.

"If the situation worsens in terms of personnel, the season could end far less successfully."

RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann insisted his side must "stay on the gas pedal" despite closing within two points of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

Leipzig defeated Hertha Berlin 2-0 on the road on Sunday, capitalising on leaders Bayern's 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Bayern also dropped points last week following their return from the Club World Cup in Qatar, drawing 3-3 with Arminia Bielefeld, meaning the margin at the top has been cut from seven to two points within a week, offering renewed title hope for Naglesmann's side.

However, the 33-year-old German maintained the hard work has only just begun for Leipzig, who have finished the past two Bundesliga seasons in third position.

"It's nice to get closer [to Bayern]," Nagelsmann said. "It used to be a seven-point-gap at one point. My team's reaction impressed me a lot… We have to remain focused and try winning our games.

"I think I said at the beginning of the season that February and March will become harder for the teams, as the impact of the Corona pandemic needs to be overcome in the right way.

"There are a lot of games and we need to stay on the gas pedal, and we did that in today's 90 minutes, as we did in the previous Bundesliga games.

"A lot of good teams are coming up now, with [Borussia Monchengladbach] Gladbach on the weekend, which will be a challenge. But we want to keep being successful in the Bundesliga and winning the games should speak for us."

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the Bundesliga champions are ready to extend Niklas Sule's contract amid reported interest from Chelsea.

Sule has been linked with Premier League giants Chelsea, who are led by German head coach Thomas Tuchel, after Bayern announced the signing of RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano.

Germany international defender Sule, 25, is contracted to Bundesliga and Champions League holders Bayern until 2022.

Asked about Sule's future in Munich after Bayern's shock 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, Rummenigge told ZDF: "Basically he is a German national player - and the philosophy of our club is that we always want the good German national players at Bayern.

"He now has another year of contract and it will be now we have discussions. And then we will see what results they lead to. Now we have to wait. We will certainly look at the whole thing seriously and calmly until the summer and then we will have to make decisions.

"If we can find a solution, we are basically ready to extend the contract. But that will only be possible under certain conditions."

Sule, who arrived from Hoffenheim in 2017, has started 11 of his 15 Bundesliga appearances this season – scoring once.

Across all competitions, Sule has featured in 25 matches for Hansi Flick's Bayern in 2020-21.

Rummenigge, though, warned of the financial impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"I will say this in no uncertain terms - no longer have the financial resources that we once had before coronavirus," he said. "Corona has also caused financial damage at Bayern."

Rummenigge is set to relinquish his role at the conclusion of his contract in December.

As the clock ticks on his exit, Rummenigge said: "I'm interested that we become German champions and ideally play for the title in the Champions League again this year.

"But again: It's not because of me. I don't need a good exit, I've been able to win an incredible number of titles as a player and in my current position. We have now, for example, won our sixth title in one season in Qatar [Club World Cup], that is the setting of a world record Barcelona are allowed to put on their shirts.

"We definitely have a good team, we just have to play a little more committed than this week."

Bayern are five points clear atop the table, though that advantage could be reduced to two points if Leipzig beat Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

"We want to be German champions," Rummenigge added. "We have now given five points this week. That is not necessarily what we had in mind. But I guess there are many fans in Germany who think that's a good thing because the top has moved closer together again."

Hansi Flick was unimpressed by the state of Eintracht Frankfurt's pitch but insisted he was not using that as an excuse for Bayern Munich's 2-1 defeat on Saturday.

Defending champions Bayern lost for the second time in the Bundesliga in 2021 and dropped points in successive matches, having drawn 3-3 at home to struggling Arminia Bielefeld on Monday.

As such, RB Leipzig will close to within just two points of the leaders if they beat Hertha Berlin – who are just above the relegation zone – away from home on Sunday.

It is a significant turnaround in Bayern's fortunes given they were 10 points clear earlier this month, and Flick was frustrated by the nature of his team's performance, particularly the first half.

Bayern trailed 2-0 at the break thanks to Daichi Kamada's well-worked opener and Amin Younes' stunning strike, with Robert Lewandowski's effort just after the interval insufficient as the champions sought an equaliser.

"Frankfurt are having a sensational run, but they can still improve the pitch a little bit," Flick told reporters. "That's something we don't like to see. However, [the defeat] certainly wasn't because of the pitch.

"We didn't get into the game well. Eintracht played with a lot of pace in the first half. But if we played the way we did in the second half for the full 90 minutes, the winner would be different.

"We've had a turbulent few weeks. We've many injured and infected players. We're just human. I'm still proud of the team.

"I didn't think that Leon Goretzka would show such a strong performance when he came into the game. He helped us and brought positive energy onto the pitch. We can build on that second half, so I'm not worried."

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer echoed the sentiments of Flick, convinced things would have been different if Bayern's first-half performance had matched their showing in the second period.

"We didn't learn from the Arminia Bielefeld game," Neuer said. "This was not enough against such a team.

"We have to be wide awake from the start. The second half was good - had we played like that from the start, we'd have won here."

The defeat took Bayern's goals conceded this season to 31 in 22 Bundesliga games, their worst record at this point of the season since 1991-92, when they finished 10th.

Bayern Munich's stranglehold on top spot in the Bundesliga has been loosened after they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Amin Younes-inspired Eintracht Frankfurt, who were without top-scorer Andre Silva.

It was Bayern's first visit to Frankfurt since the 5-1 defeat in November 2019 that cost Niko Kovac his job, and while this defeat is unlikely to have similar ramifications for Hansi Flick, it was a similarly frustrating day for the champions.

Bayern came into the game having picked up a league-high 19 points from losing positions this term and they were once again forced into such a position after Kamada's well-worked opener and Younes' gorgeous second left them 2-0 down at the interval.

Flick's men dominated the second half after Robert Lewandowski pulled one back in the 53rd minute but they failed to add to that, meaning RB Leipzig can close to within two points of the leaders with a win at Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

An early strain suffered by one of the officials and a subsequent lengthy delay did little to upset Eintracht's flow and they deservedly went ahead in the 12th minute, Filip Kostic latching on to Younes' clever reverse ball in behind Leroy Sane and teeing up Kamada for an easy finish.

Younes then shot agonisingly wide from inside his own half with Manuel Neuer stranded soon after, though Bayern had no such fortune just past the half-hour mark, the Napoli-owned midfielder cutting in off the left and arrowing a sensational strike into the top-far corner.

Bayern finished the half better but a goal still eluded them, with Kevin Trapp making necessary saves to deny Kingsley Coman and Lewandowski, before Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting's late flick just missed the post.

The visitors looked sharper at the start of the second half and soon got themselves a lifeline, Lewandowski turning in from close range after Sane left the Eintracht defence in knots.

That pattern of Bayern dominance continued for much of the second half, with Leon Goretzka heading just off target, Coman forcing Trapp into action with a looping volley and the Frenchman also somehow missing the target a few yards out.

Eintracht might have got a third on the break were it not for Neuer saving brilliantly from Kostic, though it mattered not for the hosts, who held on to the win that keeps them level with third-placed Wolfsburg.

Benjamin Pavard has tested positive for COVID-19, Bayern Munich have confirmed.

France international Pavard has begun self-isolating at home but the club said he was "in good health".

Bayern face Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga on Saturday before the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Lazio in Rome next Tuesday.

Hansi Flick's side are unbeaten in their nine games without Pavard this season, winning seven of those matches and conceding just eight times.

Pavard has attempted 41 crosses from open play in the Bundesliga in 2020-21, with Lucas Hernandez the only Bayern defender to have more (44).

However, only five of Pavard's deliveries have found a team-mate, compared to 15 for Hernandez.

Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez have not featured this month following positive coronavirus tests in January.

The duo, along with Serge Gnabry who has been dealing with a thigh issue, trained on Wednesday while the rest of the first team were granted a day off.

Kylian Mbappe's future is in his own hands after showing the world what he is capable of while scoring a hat-trick in Paris Saint-Germain's 4-1 Champions League demolition of Barcelona.

With his contract in the French capital set to expire in June 2022, Mbappe ultimately has the choice of either signing a new deal or leaving his hometown team – and the World Cup winner has been non-committal so far.

Should the 22-year-old sensation decide to take his career abroad, there will be no shortage of suitors, with four European giants ready to swoop.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL, MANCHESTER CITY, REAL MADRID, JUVENTUS EYE IN-DEMAND MBAPPE

If PSG cannot persuade Mbappe to sign a long-term extension, they will not want to lose a world-class talent without a fee, so the Ligue 1 champions have placed a €200million (£173m) tag on his head, according to Le Parisien.

Le Parisien reports the price may not deter the Frenchman's admirers, who include Premier League rivals Manchester City and LiverpoolReal Madrid and Juventus.

While those clubs may want him, it is unclear if all of them would be able to afford Mbappe, who is set to make more than €30m per year gross on his next contract. Reports claim PSG will aim to price their Champions League rivals out of a deal.

David Alaba has confirmed he will leave Bayern Munich when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Versatile defender Alaba came through the youth ranks at Bayern but will end his 13-year association with the club after the 2020-21 campaign.

The 28-year-old announced his decision at a news conference on Tuesday, though he did not disclose what his next destination would be.

Alaba has been heavily linked with a switch to Real Madrid, while Premier League giants Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea have also been credited with an interest.

"I've decided for me personally to do something new after this season," Alaba told a news conference.

"I will leave the club and it was not an easy decision, it was very difficult because I have been here for 13 years and I really identify with this club, it's close to my heart and I'm very grateful to the club for everything.

"I have not decided which club I'm going to join yet. This will happen in the future.

"In the 13 years I experienced incredibly beautiful moments, the treble in 2013, my debut, the treble last season. These are all moments that are very difficult to describe.

"The 13 years behind me are difficult to summarise in words. It's been an incredible, beautiful and intense time and I'm really grateful."

Alaba made his debut in a DFB-Pokal meeting with Greuther Furth in February 2010, becoming the club's youngest player in history at the time and setting up a goal for Franck Ribery within a minute of entering the pitch.

The Austrian was 17 years, seven months and 18 days old when he made his debut, but Jamal Musiala is now Bayern's youngest debutant.

Alaba has gone on to make 415 appearances for the Bavarian giants, scoring 33 goals and supplying 44 assists in all competitions.

He insisted his relationship with Bayern was still strong and rejected that money was his motivation for leaving despite whet became a public contract negotiation.

"No [it was not financial]," Alaba said. "I have four, five, six, seven years left and that's what I thought about. What is the next step going to be in my career? That's what I based my decision on.

"Internally I always had a good relationship with the responsible people and I still do. This club is my family.

"I didn't worry about that [my contract compared to senior team-mates] at all. We still had several talks following the withdrawal of the contract offer.

"Of course there was a development and the situation evolved, but I decided what I want my path to be.

"Everyone did [fight for me to stay]. Really. Everyone. That's why I'm so grateful. And that's why it was really, truly, a really difficult decision. 

"That's why I did want to take my time to make my mind up. You can't decide it on a whim. I've been here for 13 years and I've been at home here." 

Alaba has racked up 24 trophies, lifting the Bundesliga trophy nine times and winning the Champions League twice – both of those European successes forming part of trebles.  

David Alaba has confirmed he will leave Bayern Munich when his contract expires at the end of the season.

 

Real Madrid are reportedly planning a €90million move for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland ahead of next season.

Haaland, 20, is being targeted by Europe's biggest clubs after starring for the Bundesliga outfit.

Madrid are ready to make a move for Haaland ahead of 2021-22.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID PLAN €90M HAALAND MOVE

Real Madrid are plotting a €90m move for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to ABC.

The report says the LaLiga giants will attempt to get Luka Jovic, who is on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt, or Mariano Diaz to be part of the deal.

Haaland has scored 23 goals in as many games for Dortmund this season.

ROUND-UP

- After landing Dayot Upamecano, Bayern Munich have other targets in mind. Bild reports the Bundesliga giants are also interested in Norwich City full-back Max Aarons, Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus, Rennes' Eduardo Camavinga and Lucien Agoume, who is on loan at Spezia from Inter. The Daily Mail also says Bayern are stepping up their pursuit of Aarons.

- David Luiz looks set to extend his Arsenal stay. The Independent claims the Premier League side are set to offer the defender another extension, with his deal expiring at season's end.

- Staying at Arsenal and Alexandre Lacazette's future at the club seems uncertain. The Daily Express reports Arsenal have been told they can sign Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard for just £15m.

- Without a club since leaving Trabzonspor in March last year, Daniel Sturridge has been offered to Newcastle United, according to 90min. West Brom and Sheffield United are also reportedly interested in Sturridge.

Dayot Upamecano will be a Bayern Munich player in 2021-22, meaning Liverpool and Chelsea must go back to the drawing board.

The Premier League rivals had each been linked with a move for the RB Leipzig centre-back as they look to add to their options at heart of defence.

Now they each must look to different targets come the end of the season, with injuries and poor play at the back having derailed the Reds' hopes of winning a second successive league title.

But which centre-backs could be part of Liverpool and Chelsea's plans to pose a more serious challenge to Manchester City next season?

Here we look at four players who could be playing their football at Liverpool or Stamford Bridge next season.

Bremer

The Torino defender is reported to be Liverpool's top close-season target after an impressive season in Serie A.

His 75 clearances are the second-most in the Italian top flight among defenders, while Bremer has also excelled at making recoveries.

Indeed, he has tallied 114, putting him 11th among defenders to have played at least 10 league games. Only four defenders have won more aerial duels than Bremer's 47.

David Alaba

Chelsea have been linked with the man Upamecano is seemingly set to replace, though Alaba’s wage structure may reportedly be a sticking point for the Blues.

Alaba's versatility to play across the back four and in midfield would certainly appeal to Chelsea and former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.

The Austria international has consistently demonstrated his prowess in attack as well as at the back.

He has created at least 17 chances in every season since 2010-11 and has crafted 10 in 19 league appearances this season.

Ibrahima Konate

Could Leipzig be raided again? Both Chelsea and Liverpool have been linked with Konate, the France Under-21 international signed from Sochaux in 2017.

Injuries have been a problem for Konate, who has played only 15 league games since the start of last season.

However, when he has played extensively, he has shown his quality. 

Konate featured 28 times in the Bundesliga in 2018-19 and was sixth in the league with 100 aerial duels won, contributing to 12 clean sheets, a tally only bettered by two players – his Leipzig team-mates Marcel Halstenberg (15) and Willi Orban (13).

Jules Kounde

Liverpool are thought to be keen on Kounde, but they will likely face competition from across Europe for the Sevilla defender's services.

Kounde has emerged as one of the finest young defenders in European football is again excelling this season.

With 106 recoveries in 2020-21, Kounde – who has also previously been linked with Barcelona and Manchester City – has proven a reliable presence in the heart of defence, while he can also start attacks.

His 136 successful passes into the final third are more than Barca's Clement Lenglet (132) and Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos (128).

Ramos (84.77) and Lenglet (80.49) have a higher accuracy percentage on those passes than Kounde's 76.84, but at just 22 he has the time and the talent to develop into one of the world's top centre-backs.

Real Madrid are considering a move for Kalidou Koulibaly, while Manchester United are targeting Jadon Sancho in a cut-price deal.

Amid uncertainty over Sergio Ramos' future at Madrid, the LaLiga giants continue to be linked with centre-backs.

They seemingly have plenty of options – and Napoli star Koulibaly is among them.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID LIKE KOULIBALY

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane likes Napoli defender Koulibaly, according to AS.

The report says Bayern Munich star David Alaba, who is out of contract at the end of the season, is still Madrid's first option.

With Ramos potentially leaving when his contract expires at campaign's end, AS also says Villarreal defender Pau Torres and Sevilla's Jules Kounde will be expensive.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United opted not to sign Borussia Dortmund star Sancho ahead of 2020-21, and it could pay off. Eurosport reports United could land Sancho for just £50million (€57.1m) in the next transfer window. The Bundesliga club were demanding about £100m (€120m) for Sancho last year.

- Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus is seemingly attracting plenty of interest. Kicker reports Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Manchester City and Juventus are interested in the three-time Germany international.

- Arsenal look set to strengthen ahead of next season. The Sun reports they are close to finalising a deal for 18-year-old Sporting CP forward Tiago Tomas for £20m (€22.8m).

- On loan at Real Betis from Barcelona, Emerson may not return to Camp Nou. CalcioMercato reports Milan are considering a move for the right-back.

- Former Milan and Chelsea forward Alexandre Pato will join Orlando City on a one-year deal, according to Fabrizio Romano and The Mane Land. Pato has been without a club since leaving Sao Paulo in August last year.

Dayot Upamecano will join Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig next season having agreed a five-year contract, the German champions' sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has confirmed.

Upamecano has long been linked with a move away from Leipzig after emerging as one of Europe's most highly-rated defenders.

In recent weeks the speculation had ramped up, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Bayern said to be the three clubs in the hunt for him.

Upamecano's agent recently confirmed the presence of a €42.5million release clause in the defender's contract, which he only signed last year.

And that is the figure Bayern are preparing to pay, with Salihamidzic revealing conversations reached their conclusion in the past week.

When asked by Sport Bild if he could confirm the transfer, Salihamidzic said: "I can do that, and we are very happy about that at FC Bayern.

"We had very good, intensive and professional discussions with Dayot and his advisor Volker Struth for many months.

"We knew we had very tough competition. Upamecano is a young player, 22, whose qualities are already exceptionally developed.

"I was always convinced that we came up with a good concept. We presented him with our vision of his career at FC Bayern.

"During the past week in Doha, I spoke to everyone involved again. At the end of a long process, the players, family and management were convinced that FC Bayern was the right partner."

It was then put to him that Bayern were committed to paying the release clause and giving Upamecano a five-year deal, to which he replied: "Correct. Dayot Upamecano will play for FC Bayern for the next five years."

The transfer will see Bayern once again strengthen themselves while seemingly weakening a direct domestic rival.

Nevertheless, Leipzig have been expecting Upamecano's departure for a while and had been preparing for life without him.

They secured a deal last year for highly rated Croatia Under-21 international Josko Gvardiol, who returned to former club Dinamo Zagreb on loan for the 2020-21 season.

Leipzig are also reportedly close to agreeing a deal for Strasbourg defender Mohamed Simakan in a deal that is said to be worth up to €18m.

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