Monaco have signed defender Axel Disasi from Reims on a five-year deal.

The 22-year-old had been linked with a number of clubs across Europe but opted to remain in Ligue 1.

Monaco finished below Reims in the truncated league campaign but Disasi has no doubt he is taking a step up in joining Niko Kovac's side.

"I'm delighted to be involved with AS Monaco," he told the club's official website.

"This is a great opportunity for me to demonstrate my qualities at the highest level and to continue my progress at a club with high ambitions.

"I'm looking forward to starting training with my new team-mates and I'm going to put all my energy into helping the team achieve its goals at the end of the season."

Niko Kovac's appointment as Monaco's new head coach is an important change that demonstrates the Ligue 1 club's ambition, according to vice-president Oleg Petrov.

Former Bayern Munich boss Kovac was named as Robert Moreno's successor on Sunday, eight months on from being sacked by the Bundesliga giants.

The 48-year-old won a domestic double in his first season at the Allianz Arena but his position became untenable following a disappointing first half to the 2019-20 campaign.

Kovac is now tasked with transforming the fortunes of Monaco, who finished ninth in a shortened Ligue 1 this term, and Petrov is confident he is the right man for the job.

"The arrival of Niko is a strong choice - it demonstrates our ambition," he said at a news conference on Tuesday. 

"It also demonstrates our willingness to do our utmost to achieve our goal, which is to make AS Monaco a successful club.

"It is an important change, one that is assumed, and aligned with the strategy of the club."

Kovac has penned a three-year deal at Stade Louis II and is joined in the dugout by brother Robert, Goran Lackovic, and Walter Gfrerer.

The appointment comes a month on from Paul Mitchell's arrival as sporting director, a position he also held at Kovac's former side Salzburg.

Mitchell joined Petrov in talking up the calibre of Monaco's fifth head coach in less than two years but warned it may be a time of transition for the principality club.

"We both worked in Germany, and for the Red Bull group," he told reporters. "We had never met before, but I was told about him.

"It's my job to analyse who is the best person available in the market to meet the challenge. I considered Niko to be the right person for the job.

"We have already considerably reduced the number of players under contract. The first team is around 40 players today, and not 60 as I had heard. 

"If you look at the numbers of the big European clubs, we are in the same range. 

"There are also a lot of young players who have signed their first professional contracts. This is something of which we are in control."

Kovac's first game in charge is Wednesday's friendly against Standard Liege, with Monaco set to get their Ligue 1 campaign underway at home to Reims on August 22.

Niko Kovac is eager to take Monaco back to the top of Ligue 1 after their struggles in recent seasons.

Kovac replaced Robert Moreno as coach this week after Monaco finished ninth in Ligue 1 in 2019-20.

After winning the league in 2016-17, Monaco finished second the following season before narrowly avoiding relegation in 2018-19.

Former Bayern Munich coach Kovac said he wanted to return Monaco back to the top.

"It was a surprise, it went very quick, so that's the reason why I'm only talking in English and not in French," he told a news conference.

"The reason is very easy. AS Monaco is a big, big club, with big tradition and the last years weren't so successful like they hope here.

"Our goal, our aim, is to bring back AS Monaco to the top of Ligue 1."

His arrival at Monaco sees Kovac return to coaching for the first time since leaving Bayern in November last year.

The Croatian said he would need to adapt his approach at Monaco, who are scheduled to begin their Ligue 1 campaign against Reims on August 23.

"Every coach has his own philosophy, his own thinking about football," Kovac said.

"In the past I played, or worked, in clubs like [Eintracht] Frankfurt or Bayern Munich. It's a different style in Frankfurt, it's another team in Munich.

"We have to adapt, we have to see, we have to take an overview of the team or the players, then we can choose the right tactics we think can help the team."

Monaco have confirmed the appointment of former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac as their new head coach.

Kovac, who has signed a three-year deal with the Ligue 1 club, was relieved of his duties by Bayern in November last year.

The Croatian led Bayern to a domestic double in his first season at Allianz Arena, but his position became untenable following a 5-1 defeat to his former side Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bayern have gone on to win another double this season under Hansi Flick and hold a comprehensive 3-0 advantage over Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League from the first leg.

Kovac replaces Robert Moreno at Monaco, with the club having confirmed the Spaniard's departure earlier on Sunday.

"We are very happy to welcome Niko to the club," said Monaco vice president Oleg Petrov.

"This season marks the start of a new chapter for Monaco, with an asserted sporting orientation in line with the club's objectives.

"This direction will be embodied by Niko as coach. Niko is recognised for his work both for the national team and for the club, in the development of young talent, the management of experienced players and the ability to achieve very good results. I'm convinced that his experience and personality will help us achieve our goals."

Monaco finished ninth in Ligue 1 in 2019-20, which was ended early due to the impact of coronavirus.

Monaco have sacked head coach Robert Moreno.

The 42-year-old was appointed by the principality club last December and led them to a ninth-place finish in the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season, which was ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac had already been heavily linked to the Monaco job before Robert's departure was confirmed.

A club statement read: "AS Monaco announce that the club has launched a procedure leading to the departure of Robert Moreno. The Spanish coach was informed of this in a preliminary meeting on Saturday."

Monaco vice-president Oleg Petrov said: "Our paths parted sooner than expected but I would like to thank Robert Moreno for accepting the challenge.

"Together with his staff, Robert has done his utmost to improve the team, with enthusiasm and dedication of his time. I wish him all the best for the future."

Robert's previous post came when he took charge of Spain's national team, initially on an interim basis before signing a contract until the end of Euro 2020.

However, Luis Enrique returned to the role after previously stepping down as his daughter battled cancer before passing away last August, and Robert was not placed back on his coaching staff, with the ex-Barcelona boss branding his former colleague "disloyal" for asking to lead Spain at the European Championship.

Monaco appointed former Southampton and Tottenham head of recruitment Paul Mitchell as sporting director last month.

Thomas Muller does not think he would have signed a contract extension at Bayern Munich were Niko Kovac still at the helm as head coach.

Former Germany forward Muller penned fresh terms at the Allianz Arena to run until June 2023 this week.

The 30-year-old will be forever synonymous with Bayern and sits fourth on their all-time scoring charts with 195 goals across 521 appearances.

However, he found himself out in the cold under Kovac, who was sacked in November.

Since Hansi Flick's arrival, initially as an interim head coach, Muller has been a player revitalised, netting six goals and supplying a remarkable 12 assists in 15 Bundesliga games.

"In autumn, I was left out of the starting 11 for six games in a row. It was difficult. Of course, it made me think," he told an online news conference on Thursday.

"Emotionally, it was very tense back then. I wasn't necessarily thinking that I would be extending my contract in the spring.

"With the change of coach and different playing style, everything has developed positively.

"Not only have I been playing more, but I've also been able to put my stamp on our games again."

Bayern's players returned to training in small groups on Monday, with the club offering assurances that "all hygiene regulations will be strictly observed" amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"We try to stick to what is specified from above," Muller said. "I don't know what is specified and restricted in other areas.

"We have to fit into the overall structure. I don't know if football has a special position."

He added: "We all want to play football, of course, but only from the point of view that makes sense. This is an exceptional situation, not only for football."

Manchester City's two-season Champions League ban could be about to reverberate through the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola's future had been a topic of discussion prior to UEFA handing down sanctions for "serious" Financial Fair Play breaches and the loss of European competition has fuelled suggestions the Catalan could quit the club.

Media reports indicate City already have alternatives in mind, and their search for a successor looks set to pose problems for Premier League rivals.

 

TOP STORY – CITY EYE PEP REPLACEMENTS

Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rodgers are among the contenders to take over at City if Guardiola walks, according to The Telegraph.

The report states the pair "would be in the running" to become the club's next manager in the event their current boss decides to leave at the end of the season.

Ex-Tottenham manager Pochettino recently admitted he would "love" to return to the Premier League, telling the 'In The Pink' podcast: "It's going to be difficult, I know, and for now it's a moment to wait and we'll see what happens."

The Argentinian has been heavily linked to City's cross-town rivals Manchester United, while Rodgers is tied to Leicester City until 2025.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus-linked Guardiola might not be the only big name headed for the Etihad Stadium exit. The Sun claims Real Madrid will launch an "all-out assault" in a bid to sign Raheem Sterling.

- City could potentially even be docked Premier League points for the same Financial Fair Play breaches that compelled UEFA to act, says The Guardian.

- Meanwhile, over at Old Trafford, United have set their asking price for Paul Pogba at £130million, reports the Daily Star.

- As for potential arrivals, United are interested in Norwich City pair Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons plus West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, states the Daily Mail.

- Serie A side Milan are no closer to extending Gianluigi Donnarumma's deal beyond June 2021, according to Tuttomercato, and LaLiga title contenders Madrid are monitoring the situation.

- Sky Sport Germany continues to link former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac to manager-less Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin, who saw Jurgen Klinsmann leave earlier in the week.

Bayern Munich parted company with Niko Kovac after members of the squad turned against him, club president Uli Hoeness has revealed.

The Bundesliga champions reached a seemingly amicable split with head coach Kovac last weekend following an embarrassing 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Captain Manuel Neuer claimed each first-team player could comfortably sit down with the former Croatia boss and his brother Robert, who served as an assistant coach, and "look them in the eyes".

Yet it appears some unnamed individuals had grown tired of the regime.

"There have certainly been currents within the team that wanted Kovac gone," Hoeness told ZDF Sport Studio.

"That's why the leadership reacted accordingly."

Hoeness would not be drawn on whether Bayern players are afforded too much power as he shifted the focus to Saturday's impressive 4-0 win over Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund.

That result followed a 2-0 Champions League victory over Olympiacos and could safeguard interim coach Hansi Flick's position.

Bayern are reportedly willing to delay their decision on a full-time appointment until the end of the season, when it will likely become easier to lure either Thomas Tuchel or Erik ten Hag to Allianz Arena.

"During the talks, which are due in the next few weeks, we will certainly talk first about Hansi Flick," Hoeness said.

"One thing is clear: after such an outstanding week, with two convincing wins, you cannot say that we're going to send Hansi Flick away and get someone who might only be able to work for a few months."

Even if Hansi Flick's time in charge of Bayern Munich is short, he is not likely to forget his first Bundesliga match.

The 54-year-old, who was placed in interim charge of the first team after Niko Kovac agreed it was better for all concerned if he walked away, will take on Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Flick oversaw a 2-0 win against Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday, but his opening league match is a very different kind of fixture. Bayern are a point behind Dortmund after 10 matches and four adrift of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, so a win really is paramount.

With Dortmund having found a bit of form recently it's a hard game to predict and, as we can see, Bayern coaches have had mixed fortunes in the modern era when it comes to their first league Klassikers...

 

Ottmar Hitzfeld: Bayern Munich 2-2 Borussia Dortmund, 04/10/1998

Hitzfeld had huge success in charge of each of these teams, so perhaps it's fitting his first Klassiker as Bayern coach ended in a draw.

Stephane Chapuisat put Dortmund ahead, Bayern turned it around with two goals in a minute from Giovane Elber and Carsten Jancker, but Christian Nerlinger forced a draw.

Hitzfeld took over at Bayern again in 2007 for a little over a year, and that first Klassiker ended goalless. You can't say he wasn't fair.

Felix Magath: Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Bayern Munich, 18/09/2004

Another 2-2 draw, although this one was a touch more dramatic.

Ewerthon's double had Dortmund ahead, but Lucio halved the deficit in the 88th minute and Roy Makaay snatched a point in stoppage time. It was a springboard to back-to-back domestic doubles for Magath.

Jurgen Klinsmann: Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Bayern Munich, 23/08/2008

Bayern won the DFB-Pokal final against Dortmund after extra time under Hitzfeld four months earlier, but the teams could not be separated here.

BVB, now under a certain Jurgen Klopp, took an early lead through Jakub Blaszczykowski but were pegged back by Tim Borowski in the second half. Klinsmann, meanwhile, was gone the following April.

 

Louis van Gaal: Borussia Dortmund 1-5 Bayern Munich, 12/09/2009

This was more like it.

Jupp Heynckes took temporary charge before Van Gaal became Klinsmann's permanent successor, and he laid down a marker with this Dortmund demolition.

Mario Gomez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery and a Thomas Muller double made sure Mats Hummels' opener was swiftly forgotten. Only Jose Mourinho's Inter stopped Bayern winning the treble that season.

 

Jupp Heynckes: Bayern Munich 0-1 Borussia Dortmund, 19/11/2011

Andries Jonker took temporary charge after Van Gaal's exit before Heynckes got the gig on a full-time basis.

His first Klassiker was settled by a Mario Gotze strike that helped Dortmund stay on course for a league and cup double that season. Of course, Heynckes would get substantial revenge when he won the treble by beating Dortmund in the Champions League final just 18 months later.

 

Pep Guardiola: Borussia Dortmund 0-3 Bayern Munich, 23/11/2013

Guardiola had big shoes to fill when he replaced the popular Heynckes. Following a 4-2 loss when the teams met in the DFL-Supercup, a convincing Klassiker win before December was a smart way to go about things.

Gotze broke the deadlock against his old club before Robben and Muller settled things late on. Almost inevitably, Bayern won the double that season.

Carlo Ancelotti: Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Bayern Munich, 19/11/2016

Despite his past achievements and his air of amiability, it just didn't click between Ancelotti and Bayern.

Losing to Dortmund courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal didn't help his cause, and although he won the title in his only full season, he was out the door by September 2017.

Jupp Heynckes: Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Bayern Munich, 04/11/2017

Interim boss Willy Sagnol never got to tackle a Klassiker, so Heynckes was given another chance to cement his legacy as an Allianz Arena hero.

He didn't disappoint. Robben, Robert Lewandowski and David Alaba put the game to bed before Marc Bartra's consolation, and Heynckes' fourth Bundesliga title as Bayern coach followed at the end of the season.

 

Niko Kovac: Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Bayern Munich, 10/11/2018

Kovac certainly served up a treat in his first Klassiker - it's just a shame it wasn't one Bayern fans could stomach.

Lewandowski goals were twice cancelled out by Marco Reus before Paco Alcacer settled a thriller. Another domestic double followed for Bayern, but Kovac would still be gone within a year.

Niko Kovac left his role as Bayern Munich coach on good enough terms with the players that any of them would be able to meet up with him for a coffee, according to captain Manuel Neuer.

Kovac had been under pressure for much of the early stages of the 2019-20 season due to underwhelming results and controversy surrounding his sparing use of fan favourite Thomas Muller.

The final straw came in Saturday's 5-1 humiliation at the Croatian's former employers Eintracht Frankfurt, with club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge later revealing "an open and serious conversation" the following day brought the hierarchy to the conclusion a change was needed.

Assistant coach Hansi Flick was placed in temporary charge and he presided over a 2-0 Champions League win at home to Olympiacos on Wednesday.

Despite Kovac's dismissal, Neuer insists none of the players hold any ill will towards the man who guided the club to a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in his only full campaign at the helm.

"I take my hat off to Niko and Robbie [Robert Kovac, former first-team coach and Niko's brother] as they have said goodbye," Neuer told reporters.

"I think that every player, if he meets Robbie or Niko, can look them in the eyes and drink a coffee together.

"It [the farewell] was emotional, of course, because we had a great time together. We wish him all the best. If we had played successfully, this would not have happened."

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been heavily linked with the job after Ralf Rangnick and Erik ten Hag distanced themselves from it.

Rangnick rejects Bayern

November 06, 2019

Ralf Rangnick is unlikely to be Bayern Munich's new head coach after his agent suggested the Bundesliga champions were seeking a man with different qualities.

Rangnick was the early frontrunner for the vacancy following the departure of Niko Kovac on Sunday, a day after Bayern were thrashed 5-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt - their heaviest top-flight defeat since April 2009.

Hansi Flick will take the reins on an interim basis for Wednesday's Champions League home meeting with Olympiacos and the visit of Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, with president Uli Hoeness hoping to have a clear idea on how the club will proceed by the end of the international break.

But it seems Rangnick, the head of sport and development at Red Bull, will not be a candidate.

His agent Marc Kosicke told Bild: "Ralf Rangnick is not available.

"We do not believe that what Ralf Rangnick brings is currently what is being sought by Bayern. And that's why it makes no sense to hold concrete talks."

Rangnick's rejection could potentially pave the way for Arsene Wenger to move to the Allianz Arena on a deal until the end of the season.

The former Arsenal boss has indicated he would be interested in a move to Germany and could fit the bill on a short-term basis.

Massimiliano Allegri is also a reported target following his successful spell at Juventus.

Bayern sit fourth in the Bundesliga, four points adrift of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, but can book a place in the last 16 of the Champions League by defeating Olympiacos.

 

Robert Lewandowski requires groin surgery but is yet to decide when he will have the operation, interim Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick has confirmed.

German publication Kicker reported on Monday that Lewandowski could go under the knife during the international break, with Poland having already secured their place at Euro 2020.

The 31-year-old striker has been in sensational form for Bayern this season, scoring 14 goals in 10 Bundesliga appearances and 20 in 16 outings in all competitions.

Flick, who was charged with taking charge of the first team following Niko Kovac's dismissal in the wake of Saturday's 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt, confirmed Lewandowski is struggling with a groin issue but is yet to set a date for an operation.

"We were a bit surprised to read that in the press but it's true. He has problems but he doesn't have pain," said Flick at a news conference to preview Wednesday's Champions League meeting with Olympiacos.

"He'll need to undergo surgery at some point, but he will talk to our medical staff. He will think carefully about interrupting his current spell.

"It's his decision and we will respect it because he's a super-important player for us. We will have to wait and see when it makes sense and he'll miss the least amount of games."

Flick confirmed he would play Thomas Muller and Javi Martinez against Olympiacos and used his first training session on Tuesday after the players returned from a day off to work on the defence.

"The goals we have conceded recently have not been Bayern-like. That's what we have to focus on," said Flick.

"We practiced a couple of things we want to see changed and the team did a really good job. I can't change everything – 90 minutes is not enough to change a whole team, but it's about the attitude and maybe changing one or two things tactically, emphasising one or two things differently.

"I want the team to be active and taking the initiative. We need intensity in defence when we are with and without possession.

"Since I've been here I've been fascinated by the talent in the squad. They have enormous potential to perform and we're not seeing enough of that."

Serious reflection is needed at Bayern Munich after Niko Kovac was sacked as head coach, says Joshua Kimmich.

Bayern parted company with Kovac, who led the club to a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in 2018-19, following a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, their heaviest top-flight defeat since April 2009.

Hansi Flick will take the reins for Wednesday's Champions League home meeting with Olympiacos and the visit of Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, with president Uli Hoeness hoping to have a clear idea on how the team will proceed by the end of the international break.

Bayern sit fourth in the Bundesliga, four points adrift of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, but can book a place in the last 16 of the Champions League by defeating Olympiacos.

Kimmich acknowledges it will be difficult for Flick to make his presence felt in a short space of time, so he and his team-mates must raise their standards in a bid to turn things around.

"When a club changes the coach, it means that the players have failed as well. We need to question ourselves and we need to improve and win games," he told a news conference on Tuesday.

"It's not very easy for Hansi because he doesn't have much time, yesterday [Monday] we had a day off and today we trained. Of course, he addressed a couple of things but tomorrow is the next game.

"The main responsibility for the results in the near future lies with us. There can be no more excuses for the players. The excuse of blaming the coach doesn't exist anymore.

"Of course, you want one head coach to stay for a long time because that would mean you are successful. Now if a team plays badly the coach is the scapegoat, if you play badly as a player you're on the bench and that's it.

"Hansi is a great guy who delivers very clear statements to the team. He already had some team meetings where he spoke.

"We have to deliver, we're the guys on the pitch. It's not going to be easy."

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness said the Bundesliga champions will know more about Niko Kovac's replacement in three weeks.

Head coach Kovac departed following Saturday's humiliating 5-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, which left Bayern fourth in the table and four points off the pace.

Hans Flick has been placed in temporary charge ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match against Olympiacos and Saturday's Bundesliga blockbuster with Borussia Dortmund.

Asked about Kovac and the search for a new coach amid links to Ralf Rangnick, Ajax's Erik ten Hag, Arsene Wenger, Massimiliano Allegri and Jose Mourinho, Hoeness told reporters: "Everything has been said already about this topic. I think our press release yesterday [Sunday] evening was very detailed.

"I can't say what will happen the next weeks either. It's not so important now, as we got three weeks now to consider how to deal with it. I think we did well.

"We always had a good relation to Niko Kovac. We came to a mutual agreement. There is no dirty laundry to wash. I've had a phone call with him today, everything is fine. I got the feeling that he is now free from a huge pressure.

"Now we play against Olympiacos and then against Dortmund. In three weeks in Dusseldorf we will know how to continue."

 

Bastian Schweinsteiger says Jose Mourinho "was always asking about Bayern Munich" at Manchester United, as speculation grows the Portuguese could take over the reins at the Bundesliga champions.

Bayern parted ways with coach Niko Kovac on Sunday after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt a day earlier left them fourth in the Bundesliga table.

Pressure had been growing on Kovac all season despite his leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal triumph in his first year in charge.

Meanwhile, Mourinho has been out of a coaching job since being sacked by United in December 2018, with the 56-year-old considered to be among the frontrunners to replace Kovac.

Schweinsteiger played for Bayern between 2002 and 2015 before moving to United, where he played under Mourinho in the 2016-17 season.

He says Mourinho showed a keen interest in Bayern and the Bundesliga, as well as learning the German language in his downtime.

"I can imagine Mourinho in Germany," he told Bild. "I remember he was always asking me about Bayern and the Bundesliga. During our away games, there was always Bundesliga on TV.

"He really knew every single player, even from the smaller teams. He was also learning German.

"He has not worked in the Bundesliga, so I can well imagine that he would be tempted by a commitment in Germany."

Kovac's assistant Hans Flick will oversee Bayern's preparations for their Champions League clash with Olympiacos on Wednesday and Saturday's Der Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund.

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