Finding players of a similar profile to Robert Lewandowski is a difficult enough task, let alone trying to actually replace him.

That is the dilemma Bayern Munich find themselves in with the wantaway striker, however.

But the reigning Bundesliga champions might have identified the player who is closest in skill-set to Lewandowski, should he get his wish and leave for pastures new.

 

TOP STORY – KANE BAYERN'S TOP TARGET

Bayern have identified Harry Kane as the successor to Lewandowski, according to Kicker.

Kane's contract with Tottenham expires in 2024 and the 28-year-old would command a significant transfer fee, but one that would be reportedly attainable for Bayern in the event Lewandowski leaves.

According to the report, Lewandowski hopes Bayern will accept Barcelona's offer for him by Tuesday.

He is set to return for the commencement of pre-season training this week, but the German club seem to be preparing for the 33-year-old's departure. They have already brought in Sadio Mane from Liverpool.

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Barcelona believe they will be able to sign Bernardo Silva from Manchester City, Mundo Deportivo claim.

– Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is reluctant to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Stamford Bridge this off-season, the Daily Mail reports.

– Juventus are looking to use the funds from Matthijs de Ligt's sale to pay for Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, per Tuttosport

– Arsenal are in talks to sign Benfica left-back Alex Grimaldo after submitting an initial bid, The Express reports.

– Wayne Rooney is set to return to D.C. United to take over as the team's head coach, according to The Athletic.

 

Nottingham Forest's preparations for a first season back in Premier League have continued with the signing of full-back Omar Richards from Bayern Munich.

The upcoming campaign will see Forest competing in the top flight for the first time since getting relegated in 1999 – since then, they have also spent three years in the third tier.

It seems they are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to avoid dropping straight back down to the Championship next year, with Richards' reported £10million (€11.8m) signing taking them up to £46m spent already – only eight Premier League clubs have paid more in this window.

Richards becomes their fifth signing ahead of the new with, with Forest having already brought in Taiwo Awoniyi, Moussa Niakhate, Giulian Biancone and Dean Henderson, who joined on loan.

Former England Under-21 international Richards only joined Bayern last year, signing on a free transfer after his Reading contract expired.

The London-born left-back made 17 appearances in all competitions as Die Roten won the Bundesliga, but he is back in England and set for a first opportunity in the Premier League, signing a four-year contract.

He is the third new Forest signing to have come from the Bundesliga after Awoniyi and Niakhate, who joined from Union Berlin and Mainz respectively.

 

Sanctions placed on Roman Abramovich as a consequence of Russia's invasion of Ukraine plunged Chelsea into uncertainty earlier this year, but an ownership change has seen a degree of stability return.

Despite the departures of Romelu Lukaku, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen this off-season, Todd Boehly's consortium has allowed Chelsea to resume with their preparations for the new season.

And it appears they are close to clinching their first signing of the new era, with a transfer for one of the Premier League's best attackers seemingly imminent.

 

TOP STORY – RAHEEM STERLING SET FOR CHELSEA

Chelsea have reached a deal with Manchester City to sign Raheem Sterling, according to David Ornstein of the Athletic.

The 27-year-old is set to sign a contract until 2027 with the option of an extra season, signalling the first major signing under new ownership.

Starting his senior career with Liverpool, Sterling moved to City in 2015, scoring 131 times in 339 appearances for them in all competitions.

The England international's status under Pep Guardiola became less secure in the past season however, with Phil Foden and Jack Grealish seeing increased time on the left wing.
 

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– Meanwhile, Barcelona have matched Chelsea's offer of €70.1million (£60m) plus add-ons for Leeds United's Raphinha, Goal is reporting.

– Frenkie de Jong is hoping to remain at Barcelona and will reject an approach from Manchester United, per Sport.

– Bayern Munich have met with the representatives of Matthijs de Ligt, but Juventus are yet to receive an opening bid, according to Fabrizio Romano.

– Brighton and Hove Albion are in talks with Marc Cucurella over an improved deal amid interest from Manchester City, the Athletic reports.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a "goal machine" who will remain competitive until the day he retires, former Italy and Juventus defender Gianluca Zambrotta has told Stats Perform.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has reportedly asked to leave Manchester United if an offer is made after just one season back at Old Trafford.

The Portugal international has yet to return to training with United and is not part of their tour of Thailand and Australia, which has been put down to family reasons.

Ronaldo scored a team-leading 24 goals in all competitions last season, but his homecoming did not go to plan as United registered their lowest Premier League points tally.

United endured a fifth successive season without silverware and finished down in sixth, meaning no Champions League football in the 2022-23 campaign.

That is said to be the reason why Ronaldo is seeking a new challenge, and Zambrotta has backed the 37-year-old to continue firing wherever he plies his trade.

"Ronaldo is a player who makes a difference at the moment. We have seen it. The numbers say this," Zambrotta said. 

"Which team can be right for him? I don't know. Definitely a team fighting for the Champions League, a team fighting for many goals.

"Because I am sure that he always wants to be competitive, until he retires. And I still think Ronaldo is a goal machine any team he plays for."

Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer with 140 goals and has won the competition four times with Real Madrid and once with United in his previous spell.

He scored six goals in last season's competition but could not help United further than the last-16 stage, where they were eliminated over two legs by Atletico Madrid.

However, while United endured a dreadful campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then Ralf Rangnick, Zambrotta does not feel Ronaldo was to blame.

"Let's say that he also needs team-mates," said Zambrotta, who represented the likes of Juve, Barcelona and Milan, while helping Italy to World Cup glory in 2006. 

"Even when Ronaldo was criticised at Juve, and they weren't able to move forward in the Champions League, he has always made the difference from a numerical point of view. 

"The data, the numbers say this. You can't think of going against the numbers. And then you may like him, or you may not like him – this is another kind of speech.

"But he has always been a player who has always made the difference from that point of view."

Ronaldo is not the only big-name attacker potentially on the move this window, with Robert Lewandowski also eager to move on from Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored 50 goals in 46 games in all competitions last season in his second-best scoring campaign across eight years with Bayern, behind the 55 netted in 2019-20.

The prolific striker has less than 12 months to run on his contract and has made no secret of his desire to leave, with Barcelona this week confirming an offer has been tabled.

It could lead to a bitter split between Bayern and Lewandowski but, like with Ronaldo, Zambrotta can understand why the player wants out.

"I have always been used to not judging anyone because I don't know the personal stories and current events of each case," he said. 

"Everyone can find themselves in a certain moment of their life or career in which they need to change because they need new motivations, new stimuli. 

"He needs a change of scenery, to see new faces, to stay in another stadium, to meet new mates. 

"Maybe at that moment, it was perhaps the right one for a player, so it doesn't affect me and most likely [Lewandowski] wants to change the air. That's all."

Manchester United have added yet another Ajax product to their wish-list for this transfer period, with 20-year-old striker Brian Brobbey emerging as a new target.

Brobbey came through the Ajax academy when Erik ten Hag was in charge and, after leaving to join RB Leipzig ahead of this past season, he was loaned back to Ajax in a successful move.

After returning to the Dutch giants, Brobbey scored seven goals in 11 Eredivisie fixtures, prompting the club to try and bring him back on a permanent deal.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS SWOOP IN FOR HIGHLY RATED AJAX YOUNGSTER

Brobbey was widely expected to re-join the reigning Eredivisie champions for a fee in the neighbourhood of £13million.

However, the Times is reporting that Ten Hag has caught wind of the move and is hoping to instead coax the promising young striker to Old Trafford.

It is said the deal with Ajax was almost as good as done, so it remains to be seen if he could be convinced to change directions at the 11th hour, but the Times report includes that Ten Hag has been on the phone to Brobbey in an effort to sway him towards the Premier League.

United's interest in Brobbey follows moves for Ajax stars Lisandro Martinez and Antony, with a package-deal for the pair rumoured to be worth north of £100m.

 

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– According to French publication Media Foot, Arsenal are showing interest in 24-year-old Lyon midfielder Lucas Paqueta, who is also linked with Newcastle United.

– The Mirror is reporting that Barcelona manager Xavi is keen to re-sign Ousmane Dembele to a new contract, but the club's sporting director Mateu Alemany would prefer a move for Leeds United's Raphinha.

Everton are targeting 20-year-old Chelsea striker Armando Broja and 25-year-old Southampton full-back Kyle Walker-Peters, according to The Mirror.

– Fabrizio Romano claims Chelsea have reached personal terms with Manchester City centre-back Nathan Ake, although the final transfer fee, believed to be in the £40m range, is yet to be decided.

– Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that West Ham are considering a £13m move for 23-year-old Roma forward Justin Kluivert, while Goal claims Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma told the Hammers he has no interest in moving there.

Chelsea are looking to swoop in and scoop up Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who has been Manchester United's primary midfield target since the appointment of new boss Erik ten Hag.

De Jong, 25, has 44 international caps for the Netherlands, and has spent the past three seasons with the Spanish giants.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been adamant the club does not want to part ways with the star they paid €75million for back in 2019, but the club's financial position may force their hand.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LOOK TO STEAL UNITED TARGET WITH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ALLURE

De Jong is reportedly been hesitant about a move to United due to the fact that they could not offer Champions League football, and that is where Chelsea will have their advantage in negotiations.

The Metro is reporting the Stamford Bridge club are preparing an offer that will include both players and cash, with €60million as well as Spanish duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso said to be on the table.

The elephant in the room regarding a De Jong move is that Barcelona reportedly owe the Dutchman £17m in deferred wages, and the Daily Mail claims he wants the balance fully paid before he signs off on any transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

United have been told they will need to pay £106m in order to secure the signings of Ajax duo Lisandro Martinez and Antony, according to the Daily Record.

– According to i Sport, Chelsea are working on a new contract extension for Reece James, despite three years still remaining on his current deal, in an effort to fend off interest from Manchester City and Real Madrid.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Wolves will send 19-year-old Fabio Silva on a season-long loan to Anderlecht after purchasing him for £35m two years ago.

– The Mirror claims Leeds United are preparing a club-record offer of £32m for 21-year-old Club Brugge midfielder Charles De Ketelaere, who already has eight senior international caps for Belgium.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, the likely departure of Raheem Sterling has put City in a position to offer Riyad Mahrez a contract extension.

Barcelona have made a bid for Robert Lewandowski but are yet to hear back from Bayern Munich, Joan Laporta has revealed.

Lewandowski emerged as a top target for the Blaugrana towards the end of the 2021-22 season, having enjoyed another outstanding campaign at Bayern.

The forward, who turns 34 next month, scored 50 goals in all competitions to lead all players across Europe's top five leagues.

He also topped the charts in netting once every 80 minutes on average.

Lewandowski has made clear he would be open to a move to Barca, but progress has been slow while the club have wrapped up other signings.

Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen were presented at Camp Nou on consecutive days this week, with Barcelona president Laporta insisting there would be no further incoming business until the club had addressed their financial situation.

That is not the only reason Lewandowski is not yet a Barca player, though, as Laporta suggested the ball remained in Bayern's court – even if the Bundesliga champions have publicly stated a desire to keep their star man.

"You know we've made an offer for Lewandowski, and we're waiting for Bayern's response," the president said at Christensen's news conference on Thursday.

"I want to thank the player for his gestures to come. [Bayern] must be evaluating the offer, and we are waiting for the answer."

 

Laporta was also again asked about Cristiano Ronaldo, as he had been when appearing alongside Kessie the previous day.

The Barca chief was reluctant to discuss Ronaldo specifically but had not been surprised by links to the wantaway Manchester United forward, who spent nine years at rivals Real Madrid.

"We have the great luck that most players want to come to Barca," Laporta said. "When the possibility opens, they consider it and get excited.

"We have seen this, and we have this great luck – for our history, the players we have had and what we have achieved.

"I don't go into names, I'm talking in general. There are great players who are in big clubs, but when there is the option of Barca, they consider it.

"Barca is still very attractive, and the credibility and illusion have returned. The proof is that players like Christensen want to continue their sporting career at Barca.

"We will return to normal and go into the transfer market with greater guarantees of success."

Sebastien Haller revealed he is looking forward to "epic" atmospheres and games at Borussia Dortmund, after confirmation of his transfer from Ajax.

Haller joins Dortmund on a four-year deal in his return to the Bundesliga, following a two-year spell with Eintracht Frankfurt 2017 and 2019.

The 28-year-old has provided four goals and two assists in his six career games against Dortmund, with three of those goals coming in his three games at the Signal Iduna Park, notably in last season's Champions League group stage with Ajax.

Along with identifying Dortmund's need to compete with Bayern Munich this upcoming season, Haller revealed it is a stadium that brings out the best in him, speaking upon the club's release of the transfer.

"The goals are, of course, to fight with Bayern and be first," he said. "Why not? It's an epic stadium, so most of the time it's epic games. I have a good feeling because the pitch is really good, and the atmosphere was always really good.

"Even if I didn't win [with Eintracht Frankfurt], I always have a great memory of this stadium because you are in really good conditions to play football, these games are a reminder that you play a beautiful sport."

Coming off a 34-goal season with Ajax in all competitions, Haller's arrival comes amid a busy off-season for Dortmund, along with the signings of Niklas Sule, Karim Adeyemi, Nico Schlotterbeck and Salih Ozcan.

The Ivory Coast international believes Dortmund represent a "great" opportunity for him in return, but is simply eager to start preparations for the upcoming season.

"I feel great, really happy, proud and also really looking forward to come and play. Training, games, being in the dressing room, everything," Haller said. "This is my life for a few years now and I'm really looking forward to this.

"It was a great opportunity for me with the club, the people at the club and also I know a few of the players. I had a good connection, I just want to have a good time and be successful.

"I can't wait to feel the support of 80,000 fans in the stadium as part of the BVB family. Hopefully over the coming years we'll achieve big things together, and then celebrate them together."

Manchester United have reportedly tabled a €60million bid for Ajax winger Antony.

Antony's agent has been trying to secure a move to United and the Premier League since the Eredivisie season ended, according to Goal.

The Brazilian is coming off a season where he tallied eight goals and four assists in 23 league games, as well as another two goals and four assists in seven Champions League fixtures, showing he has what it takes at the highest level.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS MAKE BIG-MONEY MOVE FOR AJAX'S ANTONY

Goal's report says the back-to-back Eredivisie champions are determined to hold onto Antony for another season, and with three years still remaining on his contract, Ajax are in control of the negotiations.

United's offer has fallen well below Ajax's acceptable figure, which is said to be €80m, although the discussions are ongoing.

The Old Trafford club are also linked with Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, according to The Sun, as well as Napoli striker and hot commodity Victor Osimhen, who ESPN claims is fetching a price north of €100m.

 

ROUND-UP

– Portuguese publication A Bola claims Chelsea are preparing a £38m for Sporting midfielder Matheus Nunes.

– According to The Mirror, Everton have no plans to sell Dominic Calvert-Lewin after cashing in on Richarlison.

Arsenal are looking to sell seven players, including Nicolas Pepe and Bernd Leno, to fund further moves in this transfer window, per The Sun.

– According to Foot Mercato, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Sevilla and Napoli are all competing for Nice's 22-year-old French centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting that Brentford have secured a €22m deal for Bologna's 20-year-old Scottish left-back Aaron Hickey.

Atletico Madrid have announced the signing of Axel Witsel on a free transfer following his departure from Borussia Dortmund.

Witsel's BVB contract expired at the end of June after a four-year spell in Dortmund, and he has signed on for a single season at Atletico.

Atletico had reportedly been keen on Boubacar Kamara but are said to have shifted focus to Witsel after the 22-year-old joined Aston Villa.

Hector Herrera's departure to Houston Dynamo meant midfield reinforcements were a necessity for Diego Simeone.

And in 33-year-old Witsel he has added experience and ability, with the Belgium international playing an important role at Dortmund right until his exit.

Witsel made 29 Bundesliga appearances last season as Dortmund finished second to Bayern Munich, though it was long expected he would depart this year.

Simeone will hope Witsel adds much-needed grit to a midfield that was often unconvincing last term, as Atletico's title defence never really got going.

Spain will be the sixth country Witsel has played in during his distinguished career, having previously had spells in his native Belgium, Portugal, Russia, China and Germany.

Leeds United have confirmed the signing of United States international Tyler Adams from RB Leipzig, with the 23-year-old penning a five-year deal at Elland Road.

Adams, who has 30 caps for his country, joins for a reported fee of around £20million after Leeds sold Kalvin Phillips to Manchester City on Monday.

He represents Leeds' fifth signing of the transfer window, after Brenden Aaronson, Rasmus Kristensen, Marc Roca and Darko Gyabi, as Jesse Marsch's side look to build on securing Premier League survival on the final day of last season.

Speaking to the club's website, Adams said he was excited to link up with several familiar faces at the Yorkshire club, having played under Marsch at Leipzig and New York Red Bulls.

"I am super excited," he said. "So far what I have heard is that it's electric here. 

"Talking to my friends who have played in the Premier League, they say it’s one of the best atmospheres they have ever played in. Now to have those fans supporting me, it's going to be something special.

"Jesse was a huge influence on my career so far, he's given me a lot of experiences as a young player that other players may not have received. 

"So, he was definitely a big influence and so was [director of football] Victor Orta, he played a big role for me. There wasn't much convincing he needed to do for me to come here, but he had a great plan in place for me to develop as a person and a player.

"Then Brenden Aaronson, we play together for the national team; Jack Harrison I've had the opportunity to play against him a bunch of times, and he's a great player, so they made me really comfortable on my first day."

Adams made 24 appearances as Leipzig finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season and will be expected to replace the ball-winning qualities of Phillips, who recovered possession an average of 10.2 times per 90 minutes in the Premier League last season, the highest average of any player with 900+ minutes played in the competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo will not be joining Bayern Munich, according to the club's chief executive Oliver Kahn, who says such a move would go against the Bundesliga champions' philosophy.

Ronaldo has reportedly asked to leave United less than a year after re-joining the Red Devils from Juventus, with the side finishing sixth in the Premier League last season to miss out on Champions League qualification.

The Portuguese legend scored 24 goals in all competitions under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick last term, although the 37-year-old's lack of suitability for the latter's high-pressing style of football saw his future come under question.

United ranked just 12th in the Premier League for possessions won in the final third last term (166 – Liverpool were first with 287), and did likewise for possessions won in the middle third (869), as they struggled to adapt to a new style of play.

Should United allow Ronaldo to leave, only a handful of clubs are expected to be able to afford the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's substantial wages, leading to speculation he could head to Germany.

 

Although Bayern signed Sadio Mane from Liverpool last month, they could potentially be in the market for another goalscorer after 50-goal marksman Robert Lewandowski expressed his wish to join Barcelona.

The Bavarian giants, however, will not be replacing one striking legend with another, according to Kahn.

"As much as I appreciate Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the greatest, a transfer would not fit into our philosophy," Kahn told Kicker.

Bayern won their 10th consecutive Bundesliga title under Julian Nagelsmann last season and have scored a minimum of 90 league goals in six of those successes.

Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of Ajax striker Sebastien Haller on a four-year deal worth a reported €36million.

The 28-year-old joins the Bundesliga side following the sale of Erling Haaland to Manchester City, with Dortmund also landing exciting forward Karim Adeyemi from RB Salzburg earlier in the transfer window.

After a disappointing stint in the Premier League with West Ham, Haller excelled in Holland with Ajax during a prolific 18-month spell that included 11 goals in just eight Champions League appearances in the 2021-22 season.

That included a four-goal haul in Ajax's first group-stage match against Sporting, as well as goals in both of their fixtures against Dortmund. All in all, he scored in all but one of Ajax's Champions League matches – the exception being a 1-0 defeat to Besiktas in the second leg of the Round of 16.

 

Haller also finished top of the Eredivisie scoring charts with 21 goals last term and has history in Germany, where he scored 33 goals and registered 19 assists during a two-season stint with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Dortmund confirmed Haller's arrival on their official website on Wednesday, with the Ivory Coast international to take Haaland's number nine shirt from this coming season.

"We are very pleased that we were able to sign Sebastien Haller, a seasoned center-forward who recently caused a sensation in the Champions League, but who also knows the Bundesliga in particular and has already proven his class and high finishing quality there," Dortmund's new sports director Sebastian Kehl said. 

"The overall package is very promising. Sebastien has a high level of physical presence and is also very resilient physically. With his experience, he can give our young players support and stability on the offensive. In the talks with us, he made it clear that he would like to achieve something with BVB."

Dortmund begin the new season with a DFB-Pokal clash against 1860 Munich on July 26, with their Bundesliga campaign starting at home against Bayer Leverkusen on August 6.

Mario Gotze acknowledges he was wrong to reject a move to Liverpool upon leaving Bayern Munich in 2016, when the Reds were at the beginning of their rebuild under Jurgen Klopp.

Gotze returned to the Bundesliga this month, joining Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt after spending two seasons with Eredivisie giants PSV Eindhoven.

The creative midfielder, who scored the only goal of the game as Germany overcame Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final, became one of European football's hottest properties during a four-year spell with Klopp's Borussia Dortmund between 2009 and 2013, winning two Bundesliga titles and reaching a Champions League final.

After moving from BVB to rivals Bayern Munich, where he scored 36 goals in 114 appearances, Gotze was targeted by the Reds in 2016, and now admits a move to Anfield would have benefited his career.

"Liverpool had finished eighth in their first season with Jurgen [2015-16] and had not qualified for the Champions League," he recalled in an interview with Bild.

"Even in previous years, it wasn't a club that always played at the top.

"Dortmund had previously played a top season under Thomas Tuchel, BVB was on the up. Jurgen was still building something.

"In retrospect you have to say, Liverpool would have been better."

Reds boss Klopp has won six major trophies during his spell with the Merseyside club, lifting both domestic cups during a marathon 2021-22 season which saw them narrowly miss out on a historic quadruple. 

With his departure from Manchester United on the horizon, Paul Pogba had been free to discuss his future with other clubs since January.

Failing to ever really match his then world-record price tag with performances on the pitch, the World Cup winner's next destination always seemed limited to a few options.

Reports suggest a return to Serie A and Juventus is imminent.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA SET FOR FOUR-YEAR DEAL AT JUVENTUS

Paul Pogba is expected to complete medical in Turin this weekend to open the path for a free transfer to Juventus, according to Sky Sports.

Leaving Manchester United at the end of June upon the expiry of his contract, the move to Juve would see him return to the club where he spent four years and established his reputation.

Upon completion of his medical, the 29-year-old is reportedly set to sign a four-year deal with the club.

This comes after Pogba turned down what was reported to be a 3.5 per cent increase on his wages at Manchester United.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have reached a verbal agreement with Juve's Matthijs de Ligt amid interest from Chelsea, according to Sport1.

- Tottenham are keen on signing Villarreal's Pau Torres despite the impending arrival of Clement Lenglet, the Mirror is reporting.

- Newcastle United are willing to meet Bayer Leverkusen's asking price for Moussa Diaby, per the Telegraph.

- New Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Galtier hopes Neymar can stay at the club amid speculation over his future, The Sun is reporting.

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