Speculation has mounted over the future of Cristiano Ronaldo over the past few days.

Ronaldo was demoted to the bench for Juventus' opening Serie A fixture on Sunday.

Juve head coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted there was nothing sinister at play but rumours have swirled since.

TOP STORY - RONALDO TO MAKE PREMIER LEAGUE PUSH

Ronaldo wants to push for a Premier League move in the final week before the transfer window closes, according to L'Equipe.

The Portuguese former Manchester United forward wants to join English champions Manchester City, with the report mentioning Aymeric Laporte or Bernardo Silva being used in any deal.

Ronaldo is reportedly not keen to see out the final year of his Juventus contract, with speculation over a move intensifying this week.

Sky Sport Italia claims that Ronaldo has communicated his intentions to players at both Juve and City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid have submitted a €160million bid to sign Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, according to The Mail. The Parisians have rejected the offer for Mbappe, whose PSG contract runs out at the end of the 2021-22 season and he has refused to re-sign with the club.

- PSG will turn to Everton's Brazil international Richarlison as they look to replace Mbappe should he depart, claims Eurosport.

- Inter will complete a move for Joaquin Correa from Lazio on Thursday, with a deal to sign him on loan with an option to buy for €31m including bonuses, reports Sky Sport Italia.

- Sky Sports reports that Tottenham have held informal talks with Houssem Aouar's representatives as they look to sign the Lyon forward.

- Thomas Delaney's potential move from Borussia Dortmund to Sevilla looks to be on, with a breakthrough in negotiations and the player to fly to Spain, according to Sport1.

The transfer window is not even closed but attention is already turning to next season.

Kylian Mbappe is into the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, while Erling Haaland's Borussia Dortmund deal has clubs queuing up.

Manchester United are reportedly set to pursue both.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE, HAALAND FUTURE RED DEVILS?

Manchester United have made Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe a target for next season, according to ESPN.

Mbappe has long been tipped to join Real Madrid and Saturday's Marca and Diario AS claim the LaLiga giants are still trying to sign the PSG star before the end of the transfer window.

Liverpool have also previously been linked with Mbappe, but United are keeping tabs on his situation, with the Frenchman out of contract at the end of 2021-22.

French journalist Julien Laurens, meanwhile, also suggests next year could be the perfect time for United to prise Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland has no shortage of suitors, linked with Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich as his release clause comes into force at season's end.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail says City are willing to sell defender Aymeric Laporte for £60million (€69m). The Spain international is reportedly wanted by Juventus and Madrid.

Chelsea remain interested in Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, per The Telegraph. The Blues have also been linked with Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, who has also caught the attention of United and Liverpool.

- Diario AS says wantaway Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is eyeing a switch to Madrid, Barca or Bayern.

Real Sociedad are tracking PSG star Pablo Sarabia, according to Le Parisien. Sevilla could also reportedly rival Sociedad for the Spain international.

- Sky Sport Italia reports Juve are set to meet with Paulo Dybala's agent to discuss a new contract.

Erling Haaland is one of the most in-demand players in Europe.

Clubs from across the continent are queuing up to sign the Borussia Dortmund forward.

Real Madrid, however, are firmly placed to make a move for the Norwegian.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL EYEING HAALAND

Real Madrid believe a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could be done next year, according to the front page of Friday's Marca.

Kylian Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has dominated headlines as Madrid target the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

But Madrid have not forgotten about Haaland, who is also reportedly wanted by Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic says Bernardo Silva has turned down a move to Tottenham as part of a potential deal that would help send Harry Kane to City. Atletico Madrid and Barca have also been linked with City's Silva.

Pedri could sign a new four-year deal with Barca by September, reports Sport. The 18-year-old has been a revelation at Camp Nou.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Milan are nearing a deal to sign Tiemoue Bakayoko from Chelsea. Bakayoko spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Milan. Di Marzio, meanwhile, says Milan are interested in bringing Monaco's Pietro Pellegri to San Siro on loan.

- Staying in Milan and Tuttosport reports the Rossoneri are interested in Sassuolo and Italy star Domenico Berardi. Leicester City are also reportedly among his admirers.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is dreaming of a move to PSG, according to Le Parisien. United have also been linked with the France midfielder.

Erling Haaland may stay at Borussia Dortmund beyond next season, Marco Rose has suggested.

Haaland was reported to be a target for Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City – among other major European clubs – heading into the current transfer window.

However, with many clubs on the continent struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic and, Chelsea having signed Romelu Lukaku, United moving for his former team-mate Jadon Sancho and City targeting Harry Kane, Haaland has stayed at Dortmund, with the Bundesliga club refusing to entertain offers for the 21-year-old who has scored a remarkable 62 goals in as many games since his arrival from Salzburg in January 2020.

Of players in Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who came out on top in a head-to-head tussle with Haaland in the DFL-Supercup on Tuesday, has scored more in the same timeframe across all competitions (76 goals in 64 appearances). 

Meanwhile, Haaland's expected goals (xG) total of 50.19 demonstrates he is finishing chances at a rate above what would be anticipated, while his minutes per-goal ratio of 82.19 ranks him third out of players to have netted at least 20 goals in the same period, trailing Lewandowski (72.87) and Atalanta's Luis Muriel (73.74). 

The Norway international signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Dortmund, though it is widely expected that BVB will be unable to their prized asset ahead of the 2022-23 season, with a reported €75m (£66m) release clause coming into effect next year.

New coach Rose, however, insisted that is not necessarily the case, pointing to Haaland still having three years left on his contract.

"He still has a long-term contract with us. Just because the public is constantly talking about him leaving next summer, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case," former Borussia Monchengladbach boss Rose told Sport Bild after Dortmund's Supercup defeat to Bayern.

"In the end, Erling has to decide for himself where he sees his future. In any case, we are happy that he is currently playing for us.

"Who knows, possibly it'll be even more than just one season if we write an extraordinary story here."

Dortmund have been tipped to challenge a Bayern team that are going through something of a rebuild under Julian Nagelsmann this season, though it was the Bavarians who came out on top at Signal Iduna Park.

Lewandowski netted a double on his former stomping ground, with Thomas Muller helping himself to Bayern's other goal in a 3-1 win for the Bundesliga champions - Marco Reus' stunner proving a mere consolation for Dortmund.

Eight of Haaland's goals for Dortmund have come from fast breaks, a record which trails only Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe (11) out of players to have scored at least 20 times since January 18, 2020 (when Haaland debuted for BVB).

Haaland's pace and power was on show again on Tuesday, but he failed to get on the scoresheet, having a goal disallowed for a marginal offside decision, and seeing his only effort on target saved superbly by Manuel Neuer.

Dortmund's number nine started his Bundesliga campaign with two goals and two assists in the 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. He finished third in the league's scoring charts last term with 27 strikes, behind Andre Silva (28) and Lewandowski (41).

Haaland's exploits have not just been reserved for the Bundesliga. He burst onto the scene with Salzburg in the Champions League and thrived for Dortmund in the competition last term, scoring 10 times in total.

In March, he became the fastest player to reach 20 goals in UEFA's flagship club competition with a double against Sevilla, meaning he achieved the feat in just 14 Champions League appearances.

Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann has credited his predecessor Hansi Flick with the team's success in the DFL-Supercup.

Bayern beat Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at Signal Iduna Park, Robert Lewandowski scoring twice against his old club either side of Thomas Muller's simple finish and a sensational strike from Marco Reus.

It sealed Bayern's ninth Supercup win in total, and their second in a row after they beat the same opponents in 2020, under then-coach Flick, who left the club at the end of last season.

Flick, now the Germany coach, led Bayern to two Bundesliga titles, the Champions League, a DFB-Pokal, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup – as well as the Supercup – during his 18-month spell, and was watching on from the stands as part of a limited-capacity but vociferous crowd on Tuesday.

For Nageslmann, the victory represents his first trophy as a coach. Indeed, the 34-year-old had only overseen one appearance in a final – RB Leipzig's 4-1 defeat to Dortmund in May.

Despite finally claiming silverware to get his Bayern tenure off to a strong start, Nagelsmann insisted the credit had to go to Flick and the players who claimed a ninth successive Bundesliga title in 2020-21.

"We thoroughly deserved to win. It's not easy against Dortmund with the attacking power that they have," Nagelsmann told Sat.1.

"The title is the reward for last season because we won the title. Not me, but Hansi Flick. The title belongs more to others than it does to me.

"I was forced by the boys to pick up the trophy, they picked me up a little – 'now you finally have a title too'."

Describing winning his first trophy and an eagerness for more, Nagelsmann stated he has "small hamster teeth", adding: "Everyone knows that this has a meaning, also for me. But also, for the dressing room.

"At Bayern there is pressure, you have to win games and win titles, so it was important."

 

Lewandowski was in imperious form on his old stomping ground, converting the two big chances that came his way in clinical fashion – his first goal a fantastic header, his second a cool finish following Manuel Akanji's mistake – as the Bayern star paid homage to one of German football's greats, Gerd Muller, who passed away over the weekend.

"It means a lot to me. It's the next title win for us," said Lewandowski, who broke Muller's record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season last term.

"It's great for the fans to watch the game live. It's great for the team. We can enjoy it."

While Lewandowski starred at one end, Erling Haaland toiled to no avail at the other, though Dortmund's free-scoring forward was unfortunate to have a goal ruled out for offside.

Reus was the main threat for Marco Rose's team, with his three attempts and two key passes leading the way.

"It was an unnecessary defeat. Bayern had their chances, we knew they would," said Dortmund's captain.

"There was no faulting our energy levels and passion, but titles have a habit of ending up at Bayern."

Bayern Munich were not the biggest club in their own city, let alone the country, when Gerd Muller signed in 1964.

The Bavarians' major trophy haul at that time consisted of a single league championship in 1932 and a maiden DFB-Pokal success 25 years later. Muller joined a second-tier side.

On Tuesday, two days after the club great's passing, Bayern celebrated his life in fitting fashion with a record-extending ninth DFL-Supercup triumph – a competition they have to win silverware simply to enter.

The Bundesliga dominance, cup after cup and six European crowns... all that history can be traced back to Muller's decision to head for Bayern rather than rivals 1860 Munich.

He was there for the first four Bundesliga titles – the top scorer on each occasion – and for three European Cups in three years, Muller's standards slipping as Jupp Heynckes was the leading marksman in the third season.

In 15 years, the remarkable forward tallied 566 Bayern goals, a benchmark that stands to this day. Muller's Bundesliga total of 365 is also unsurpassed.

As those numbers show, breaking a Muller record is no simple task, but Robert Lewandowski finally did so last season when scoring 41 goals in a single Bundesliga campaign, edging beyond the legend's 40 in 1971-72.

"I achieved a goal that once seemed impossible to imagine," Lewandowski wrote on his Twitter page in May. "I'm so unbelievably proud to make history for Bayern, and to play a part in creating the stories that fans will tell their children – following in the footsteps of legends like Gerd Muller."

 

It made sense then for Lewandowski to be front and centre again at Signal Iduna Park as Muller was remembered.

He clutched a number nine shirt ahead of kick-off as a moment's silence broke into applause, the Borussia Dortmund fans recognising a legacy that goes beyond club lines.

It was a lovely tribute, but Muller would have been more familiar with Lewandowski's subsequent nods to his greatest predecessor.

Muller was the ultimate 18-yard box centre-forward, a mantle Lewandowski has taken on and exhibited expertly against his former side.

Manuel Neuer, another of the Bayern players carrying a Muller shirt, kept Dortmund at bay at one end – finishing with four saves – before his club's latest outstanding number nine showed Erling Haaland and BVB's team of young pretenders how it is done at the other.

"Lewandowski has proven over several years now that he is a world-class striker," coach Julian Nagelsmann said before the game. "Erling hasn't been in the league that long, although his scoring rate is great."

That proven Lewandowski class brought a brutal, brilliant opener, his header from Serge Gnabry's left-wing cross thumped into the bottom-left corner. The outcome of a chance that was worth a moderate 0.29 expected goals (xG) was never in doubt.

And Lewandowski was involved again, in the box again, when Bayern appeared to put the game beyond doubt four minutes after half-time, waving a leg towards Alphonso Davies' low cross in an attempt at a flick that ran instead for Thomas Muller's tap-in, the late Bayern superstar's namesake having been the third visiting player to hold up a red shirt in a pre-match show of respect.

Perhaps the linesman was a Gerd Muller fan, too, twice ruling in Bayern's favour when Youssoufa Moukoko and Haaland each ran away to score – the second call considerably closer than the first.

There was no ruling out a blistering Marco Reus strike, which briefly threatened Bayern's control, but Manuel Akanji's dallying let Lewandowski in again and the Dortmund fans know exactly how that tends to go. This time with an xG of 0.25 – merely the fifth-best chance of the match – the 32-year-old made it look routine.

A seventh Supercup strike, Lewandowski extended another record that is all his own – albeit in a competition Muller never graced.

The Poland international is Muller's nearest challenger in Bundesliga terms, with 278 goals, and deserves to be counted in such company, even if he has just added to Bayern's reputation rather than transformed it. Lewandowski has also now scored in 14 successive matches for Bayern, which means he needs to score in just two more consecutive games to match another of Muller's all-time records (16, in 1969-70).

Meanwhile, this was not Haaland's night, but he too could have one eye on the sort of standards Muller set. Still just 21, Haaland has 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga games – or one every 84.8 minutes – and Hasan Salihamidzic has acknowledged Bayern would be "amateurs" not to consider signing the striker.

Given the apparent inevitability of a transfer at the end of this campaign, the BVB sensation would seemingly have to join Germany's powerhouse to stay in the Bundesliga and close on Muller or Lewandowski.

Bayern do not need a replacement up front just yet, though, after their latest legend ensured 2021-22 would continue an almost constant theme since Muller broke all barriers, with silverware heading back to Bavaria.

Julian Nagelsmann claimed his first piece of silverware at Bayern Munich as Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller secured a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup.

In a frantic encounter between the Bundesliga champions and DFB-Pokal winners at Signal Iduna Park, it was Bayern who defended their crown in the third straight Supercup meeting between the Klassiker rivals.

Lewandowski broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record of 40 goals in a single season with the final kick of 2020-21, and he fittingly opened the scoring two days after the Bayern great's passing.

Muller put Bayern in complete control and, though Marco Reus' stunner gave Dortmund hope, Lewandowski capitalised on Manuel Akanji's error to seal victory.

Dortmund were their own worst enemy from the off, with Serge Gnabry, Muller and Kingsley Coman all squandering gilt-edged chances after sloppy play from Marco Rose's team.

Yet it was Neuer who made the first save of the match. Hailed as "the best goalkeeper in the world" by Nagelsmann, the Bayern stalwart stuck out a leg to spectacularly deny Reus.

Dortmund were caught cold from a free-kick as the intensity continued, Lewandowski's effort blocked on the line by Axel Witsel.

Youssoufa Moukoko, the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history, thought he had nosed Dortmund ahead in the 36th minute only for the offside flag to halt his celebrations, before Neuer kept out Erling Haaland.

Bayern made their fortune count, Lewandowksi floating into the area to direct a thumping header beyond Gregor Kobel.

Lewandowski was involved again as, four minutes after the break, Bayern doubled their lead, the striker doing enough to prevent Kobel from collecting Alphonso Davies' cross, with Muller turning home.

Dortmund seemed to have an immediate lifeline when Haaland raced through and slotted home, but the offside flag again came to Bayern's rescue.

Bayern's lead was cut in sensational style after the hour, Reus curling a sumptuous first-time strike into the top-right corner.

Despite the backing of much of the limited-capacity crowd, Dortmund's comeback hopes fell flat 16 minutes from time as Corentin Tolisso pressured Akanji and Lewandowski picked up the scraps to round matters off.

Erling Haaland has been backed to get even better ahead of Borussia Dortmund's DFL-Supercup showdown with Bayern Munich.

Haaland is Dortmund's outstanding star, having scored 62 goals in 61 games in all competitions since his debut for the club in January 2020.

Of players in Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern's Robert Lewandowski (74 in 63) has scored more in that time, while Haaland's shot conversion rate of 33.3 per cent is the best among those with 20 goals or more.

After a cup hat-trick at Wehen Wiesbaden and then a league double against Eintracht Frankfurt, Haaland's 2021-22 tally of five in two games already leads the way. His 15 shots represent another high, as does their expected goals value of 4.6.

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann praised Haaland ahead of Tuesday's game against Dortmund but said Lewandowski's class was "proven over several years".

Meanwhile, Marco Rose, Nagelsmann's opposite number in the BVB dugout, suggested Haaland could yet get much better.

"Erling wants to be a complete player – he says that himself – and he's making clear progress," Rose said.

 

"He is still young and has so much potential for development. He knows that, too.

"Just imagine he takes full advantage of that, what a footballer he will become. We're working on that together."

Haaland also provided an assist against Frankfurt, with Thorgan Hazard the beneficiary. Hazard will miss the game against Bayern, however.

It is a match Dortmund enter ahead of Bayern in the Bundesliga, with the champions having drawn at Borussia Monchengladbach, and Rose is keen to send a message.

"Every game is a measuring stick. You should definitely try to win," he said.

"It's a prestige duel against Bayern and you can win a title – that's why we should try to win that. We want to show that we are there and ready for the season."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann has hailed the "extraordinary" Erling Haaland, but says the Borussia Dortmund star has to maintain his form over several years to compare to Robert Lewandowski.

The two prolific goalscorers are expected to come face-to-face on Tuesday when Dortmund host Bayern at Signal Iduna Park in the 2021 DFL-Supercup, a trophy the Bundesliga champions have won in four of the last five campaigns.

Haaland enters the match on the back of a strong start to the season, having followed up a hat-trick against lower-league Wehen Wiesbaden in the DFB-Pokal with two goals and two assists in Saturday's 5-2 Bundesliga victory against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Norway international Haaland now has 62 goals in 61 appearances since making his BVB debut in January 2020, including 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga games for an average of 1.06 goals per 90 minutes in the competition.

Only ex-Dortmund man Lewandowski can better that return over the same period, scoring 57 goals from an identical number of appearances in the German top flight – an average of 1.35 per 90 minutes.

While Nagelsmann has been impressed by Haaland's incredible season-and-a-half in the Bundesliga, the recently appointed Bayern boss still thinks the 21-year-old has some way to go to match Lewandowski's consistency.

"Lewandowski has proven over several years now that he is a world-class striker," Nagelsmann said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "Erling hasn't been in the league that long, though his scoring rate is great.

"The other difference is age. Lewandowski has a lot more experience on his side than Haaland. In terms of similarities, they are both an unbelievable goal danger. But I am incredibly happy to have Lewandowski here."

 

The weekend win over Frankfurt was the first time Haaland has provided two assists in a single competitive game for Dortmund in his 19 months at the club.

Keeping Haaland off the scoresheet on Tuesday will be a huge task, but Nagelsmann is confident his players – including goalkeeper Manuel Neuer – are capable of doing so in the battle between last term's German cup and league winners.

"He is of course an excellent striker. Extraordinary. In addition to his goals, he is also robust and fast," Nagelsmann said. "We have to get close to him to prevent him from making runs in behind our defence.

"We have to be physically ready and be prepared to initiate the counter-press after we lose the ball so that quick passes up the other end of the field are prevented. We can't prevent that completely, but we still have the best goalkeeper in the world."

Nagelsmann has endured a difficult start to life as Bayern boss, not helped by a number of players returning late to training, with the reigning Bundesliga champions yet to win any of his five games in charge.

Bayern were held 1-1 by Borussia Monchengladbach in their first competitive game under Nagelsmann on Friday and the 34-year-old coach is eager to get off the mark with some silverware in midweek.

"I would like to sign for a win tomorrow and then go on and take the title," he said. "Dortmund have started the season well, whereas we're still waiting for that first win, but I wouldn't look into that too much.

"Of course this is an important match for us, but it's not necessarily important for the rest of the season. Both teams have a few injuries and the season is still young, but we are going there with the aim to win."

Nagelsmann also paid tribute to Bayern's all-time leading goalscorer Gerd Muller, who passed away at the weekend at the age of 75.

"My condolences to Gerd's family and friends," Nagelsmann said. "Yesterday was a sad day for everyone involved in the club. Gerd played a lot of great games and scored some great goals."

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique compared Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe to Brazilian great Ronaldo as he hailed Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Mbappe and Haaland are two of the most in-demand players in the transfer market, with LaLiga giants Real Madrid reportedly interested in both.

PSG's Mbappe – entering the final year of his contract in Paris – has long been tipped to join Madrid, while Haaland has also been linked with Barca, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

Mbappe scored in PSG's 4-2 Ligue 1 win at home to Strasbourg on Saturday, having now either scored or assisted in seven consecutive matches in the competition (eight goals, four assists).

Haaland took his tally to 62 goals in 61 games for Dortmund after bagging a brace as the German giants opened their Bundesliga season with a 5-2 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt.

Pique was asked to pick between Mbappe and Haaland in an appearance on Twitch following Barca's 4-2 victory over Real Sociedad on Sunday, and he replied: "Mbappe and Haaland are different.

"One is very similar to Ronaldo Luis Nazario, who is Mbappe. Haaland is more powerful, stronger, he is a goal killer."

Barca kicked off the Lionel Messi-less era by seeing off Sociedad at Camp Nou in the opening game of the LaLiga season.

Messi – the club's all-time leading goalscorer – joined PSG after his contract expired, with Barca's financial difficulties forcing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to leave.

"It was tough," Pique said on Messi's exit. "I have known him since I was 13 years old.

"He has made us all better. We have to accept it because it is reality. We will all step forward to be competitive."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not among the final nominees for the 2020-21 Champions League positional awards.

On Friday, UEFA announced the 12 players, three per position, who could win the individual prizes on August 26.

The 12 players each received the most points in each positional category following a jury vote. The jury comprised coaches from the 32 clubs that entered into the group stage last season, as well as 55 journalists representing UEFA's 55 member associations. Coaches could not vote for players from their own teams.

Messi came fourth in the poll for the best forwards, while Ronaldo did not make the top 10. Each player was eliminated at the last-16 stage, Barcelona losing to Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus to Porto.

Five of the 12 nominees are from Chelsea, who won their second Champions League by beating Manchester City in the final. Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, N'Golo Kante and Jorginho are all nominated.

City have three representatives – Ederson, Ruben Dias and Kevin De Bruyne – while beaten semi-finalists Real Madrid and PSG provide one each: Thibaut Courtois, and Kylian Mbappe.

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who finished as top scorer last season with 10, are the other nominees.

The winners of the best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward prizes will be announced at the group-stage draw in Istanbul in two weeks' time.

Julian Nagelsmann has long seemed destined to be Bayern Munich coach, and the 34-year-old now has his chance after succeeding Hansi Flick.

He has a lot to live up to. Flick, in his 18-month tenure, Flick led Bayern to two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal, a Champions League triumph, Club World Cup glory, the DFL-Supercup and the UEFA Super Cup – a remarkable seven trophies.

While Nagelsmann settles into life in the hottest of coaching seats in Germany, his former team RB Leipzig will look to finally make a title challenge last, this time under new coach Jesse Marsch.

Borussia Dortmund scraped into the Champions League places thanks to a super run late in the season, and now Marco Rose will look to build on their DFB-Pokal success in his first season in charge.

Just what can we expect from each of Germany's big three in 2021-22?


Bayern Munich

Bayern ultimately claimed their ninth successive Bundesliga title with ease last term and Robert Lewandowski was once again the driving force. He had to wait until the last kick of the last day, but he finally broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record of 41 goals in a single campaign.

Unsurprisingly, Bayern scored the most goals in Germany's top tier in 2020-21, netting 99 times across their 34 fixtures. Their tally of 483 chances was also by far the most in the division, 54 ahead of second-ranked Leipzig (429) in that regard, though they conceded 44 times while the Leipzig defence under Nagelsmann was the stingiest, with only 32 goals conceded. 

Bayern averaged 65.39 per cent possession and had 1,304 touches in the opposition box, over 400 more than any other side.

However, Nagelsmann does have to contend with the loss of some players who have been crucial to Bayern's dominance. David Alaba has joined Real Madrid, while fellow stalwarts Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng also left on free transfers.

Dayot Upamecano has made the same switch from Leipzig as Nagelsmann, and the young centre-back adds pace and dynamism to Bayern's backline. Other than that, the squad remains largely the same, with Sven Ulreich having returned after a spell at Hamburg, while Omar Richards arrived on a free transfer from Reading.

Even without much more in the way of incomings, it is difficult to see Bayern letting the chance to make it 10 titles in a row slip from their grasp.

 

Dortmund

Last season was a difficult campaign for Dortmund, but it was one which ultimately ended successfully. They clinched Champions League qualification and ran riot against Leipzig to lift the DFB-Pokal.

It was a fine parting gift from Edin Terzic, who took over on an interim basis after Lucien Favre was relieved of his duties, and now Rose – whose Borussia Monchengladbach team slumped in the back half of the season and missed out on Europe – will look to reshape Dortmund in his own way.

Renowned for attacking, front-foot football, Rose's style, if all goes to plan, is bound to be a hit with the Dortmund fans upon their return to Signal Iduna Park.

Dortmund may have sold Jadon Sancho, but they still have Norway sensation Erling Haaland, who scored 27 Bundesliga goals last season from 93 attempts, giving him a shot conversion rate of 29.03 per cent, the third-highest in the league out of players to have scored 10 or more times.

Donyell Malen has arrived as Sancho's replacement, and Rose has already been talking up the Netherlands youngster, while goalkeeper Gregor Kobel has arrived from Stuttgart. Like Bayern, Dortmund said goodbye to a club legend in the form of Lukasz Piszczek, but with Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard, Malen and Haaland complemented by the likes of Julian Brandt and Jude Bellingham, there should be plenty of cause for optimism.

It might well be Haaland's final season at the club, and you would not put it past the youngster, who also set up six goals last term, to propel Dortmund into the title race, back where they belong.

 

RB Leipzig

There are plenty of quality teams competing with the three leading lights, and it would certainly not be surprising to see Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt or Gladbach mount a serious push for Champions League football.

However, Leipzig have well and truly established themselves as a Champions League regular now, and will be looking to Marsch, who has made the transition from sister club Salzburg, to continue Nagelsmann's work.

Leipzig sold Timo Werner to Chelsea in 2020, and netting just 60 times, they clearly missed the striker. Indeed, midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, with eight goals, was their leading scorer, with forwards Alexander Sorloth and Yussuf Poulsen only managing five each.

In Andre Silva, signed from Frankfurt, Leipzig have a forward who scored more than Haaland in the Bundesliga last season, with the Portugal international finding the net 28 times in 32 appearances.

Silva boasted an impressive 'big chance', as defined by Opta, conversion rate of 55 per cent, while only Lewandowski (137) had more than the former Milan man's 117 attempts. Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku – who supplied nine and six assists respectively last season – can provide the creativity, with Poulsen and Sorloth able to offer Marsch a variety of attacking options. Caden Clark, who is starring in MLS, will arrive before the turn of the year, while Dominik Szoboszlai is almost like a new signing, given he is yet to feature for the club since his arrival in January due to injury.

Leipzig have faced a reshuffle in what had been a strong defence, with key man Upamacano departing while Ibrahima Konate has also left for Liverpool, though the acquisition of Salzburg's highly rated Mohamed Simakan shows the production line is still ticking along, and a Champions League place will be the minimum expectation. 

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says that it is "unfair" that Paris Saint-Germain have signed Lionel Messi.

PSG unveiled Messi on Wednesday following his free transfer move from Barcelona on a bumper two-year deal.

Watzke, who has had to ward off strong interest in Dortmund's prized asset Erling Haaland this off-season, said Qatari-owned PSG's economic position was unfair.

“It is a fact that PSG has more economic resources than 85 per cent of other European teams," Watzke said as reported by L'Equipe.

"It is clear that this is an unfair competition that has already been rife for too long but I am by no means jealous.

"Frankly, it wouldn't be my cup of tea to have to kneel down every fourth morning in front of the Emir of Qatar."

PSG have signed Messi along with Georginio Wijnaldum, Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma on free transfers this off-season, bumping up their player wages.

The Parisians also spent €60million to sign Internazionale full-back Achraf Hakimi, having purchased Mauro Icardi for the Nerazzurri 12 months ago for €50m.

Pep Guardiola's quest to conquer Europe and continue domestic domination with Manchester City has seen him sign Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish in a deal reportedly worth £100million.

Grealish becomes the most expensive signing in Premier League history after being prised away from Villa Park, where he had spent his entire career and captained his boyhood club since 2019.

The England international, who helped the Three Lions to a first major final appearance in 55 years at Euro 2020, has regularly been linked away from Villa but committed his future after rumoured interest from Manchester United, signing a long-term contract in 2020.

In the 2020-21 campaign, the 25-year old contributed with six league goals and 10 assists, while also creating 81 chances across 26 appearances for the Villains.

Dean Smith will no longer have the playmaker to call upon, though, as Guardiola has demolished the previous Premier League transfer record – set by Paul Pogba's return to United in 2016 – to secure Grealish's services.

After City's record-breaking acquisition of Grealish, Stats Perform looks at the other most expensive signings in English top-flight history.

PAUL POGBA – Juventus to Manchester United, £89.3m

Jose Mourinho's first transfer window with the Red Devils saw the France midfielder return to Old Trafford in a then-world record transfer.

Since making that reunion in 2016-17, only Marcus Rashford (78) and Anthony Martial (64) have been involved in more Premier League goals for United than Pogba (57 – 28 goals, 29 assists), while the midfielder has created more top-flight chances (207) than any other player for the club during this period.

He scored and assisted one apiece for France at Euro 2020, while only Antoine Griezmann (10) created more chances than Pogba's eight for Les Bleus.

HARRY MAGUIRE – Leicester City to Manchester United £80m

United broke the world transfer record for a defender in 2002 when they signed Rio Ferdinand for £30m and 17 years later they acquired Maguire for more than double that fee.

The centre-back endured a tricky start to life in Manchester, however, his quality eventually shone through as he strung together 71 consecutive appearances for United.

Despite missing the last four games of the 2020-21 campaign, Maguire ranked second in the Premier League for aerial challenges won (135) and fifth for successful duels (203) before featuring prominently at Euro 2020 for England.

 

VIRGIL VAN DIJK – Southampton to Liverpool, £75m

Jurgen Klopp, albeit under contentious circumstances, convinced Van Dijk to move away from St. Mary's Stadium in December 2017.

The commanding Netherlands captain guided Liverpool to their sixth Champions League success in 2018-19 before playing a key role as the Reds ended their 30-year wait for an English title.

Van Dijk's absence severely affected their Premier League defence last term. Klopp's men have won 75.8 per cent of their league matches with Van Dijk in the side since his debut in January 2018, a figure that falls to 54.3 per cent in his absence.

 

ROMELU LUKAKU – Everton to Manchester United £75m

The Belgium forward never settled in at Old Trafford and left after two seasons, despite converting 42 times in 96 games for United.

Lukaku scored twice in United's stunning Champions League last-16 comeback victory over Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 before completing a switch to Inter, where he helped Antonio Conte's men to their first Scudetto since 2009-10.

During the title-winning campaign, Lukaku shunned doubts over his finishing as he converted almost one in four chances to bag 24 goals and improved his link-up play to form an effective partnership with Lautaro Martinez. Since his Inter debut only five players have scored more goals in Europe's top five leagues than Lukaku (64).

He has now been linked with a return to former club Chelsea in a deal which could shatter Grealish's new record.

 

JADON SANCHO – Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United £73m

After leaving Manchester City in 2017 for Borussia Dortmund, Sancho found himself signing for the red half of Manchester four years later. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pursued Sancho for multiple transfer windows and finally got his man in the wake of England's Euro 2020 shoot-out heartbreak.

Since the start of the 2018-19 campaign, the 21-year-old has been directly involved in the joint-most goals of any English player across the top five European leagues (78), while he has played fewer minutes than Harry Kane – also on 78 – in this period.

Sancho also became the first Englishman to reach at least 10 assists for three consecutive seasons in Europe's top-five leagues since David Beckham, who achieved the feat between 1997-98 and 2000-01 for Alex Ferguson's United.

Borussia Dortmund suffered a pre-season setback as both Thomas Meunier and Julian Brandt tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday.

Dortmund had been due to hold a public training session to showcase their squad, bolstered by the signings of Donyell Malen and Gregor Kobel, though they had to postpone due to positive tests among the first-team group.

The club initially announced Meunier's COVID-19 results with a statement, before releasing details of Brandt's test on Twitter as they communicated the cancellation of the open training session.

The statement concerning Meunier on the official website said: "Borussia Dortmund defender Thomas Meunier has tested positive for coronavirus. The Belgium international took two tests prior to the training camp in Switzerland and an additional test before departing from Bad Ragaz. All of those tests came back negative. 

"Having had several days off, the player has now tested positive before commencing training this week. Thomas Meunier has since been in isolation. We hope that Thomas' symptoms are as mild as possible and that he gets well soon."

Later on Tuesday, Dortmund's official Twitter account posted the news that Brandt, too, had tested positive.

Marco Rose's new side finished third in Bundesliga last term, with a late push securing Champions League football for the 2021-22 campaign.

The German side failed to keep hold of Jadon Sancho, who moved to Manchester United in the transfer window, though they do still have Erling Haaland to call upon for the new season.

Dortmund get their Bundesliga campaign underway against Eintracht Frankfurt on August 14 before facing Bayern Munich in the DFL-Supercup three days later.

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