Julian Nagelsmann is confident Leon Goretzka can be persuaded to sign a new contract with Bayern Munich and has suggested fellow midfielder Corentin Tolisso still has a future at the club.

Goretzka has less than a year to run on his existing deal with the German champions and has been touted as a possible target for Manchester United and Real Madrid.

The 26-year-old scored five goals and provided the same number of assists in 24 Bundesliga games last season, while also playing a direct part in four Champions League goals.

Recently-appointed boss Nagelsmann has already stressed he is eager to keep Goretzka at the Allianz Arena, but contract talks with the midfielder are out of his hands.

"I'm not involved enough that I have a say every day. I stay out of these issues," Nagelsmann said. "Of course I have talked to him about my plans for him.

"I've told him I'd be happy if he extended and I'm also confident. There are several topics involved when it comes to discussing a contract extension.

"I'll continue to focus on the sports side of things and show him he can be one of the most dangerous midfielders in Europe. He has potential to get even better."

 

Goretzka is not alone in being linked with a move away from Bavaria, with France international midfielder Tolisso reportedly seeking a fresh start.

But Nagelsmann has left the door open for Tolisso, who will become a free agent next year, to prove himself this season on the back of a disappointing 2020-21 campaign.

"He is currently in isolation in France. I'm looking forward to when he returns and trains with the team," Nagelsmann said. 

"His contract situation is known to everyone. I assume that when he's healthy again, he'll be part of this team."

Nagelsmann was speaking on the back of Bayern's 3-0 friendly defeat to Napoli, making it three losses and one draw in his first four games in charge.

He has had to make do without a number of players that have been away on international duty, though big-hitters Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and Goretzka returned on Saturday.

The former RB Leipzig boss is not concerned about results so far, however, and has hinted Bayern could yet strengthen before the transfer window closes.

"I said before that I'm taking over a well-functioning team," Nagelsmann added. "But I haven't had the full team yet. 

"On Monday we will be complete when others return, and then it's about finding the rhythm in training"

"I'm not worried about these scores. I think the first half today was good. We had control and played well, but we didn't manage to create a lot of chances in the final third. 

"The goals we conceded were annoying, but that can't really be a reference because we made a lot of changes

"Our task as a club is to always observe the market. We have a good squad, but we can always improve it. Every coach in the world wants the best possible team."

Kingsley Coman sustained a bruised rib in the loss to Napoli, but Nagelsmann confirmed at his post-match news conference that he does not expect the Frenchman to be out for long.

Julian Nagelsmann shrugged off the abuse he received from a small section of Bayern Munich supporters during a friendly against Ajax. 

In his first game at the Allianz Arena a pocket of fans among the 8,500 crowd taunted Nagelsmann about his connections to Bayern's arch rivals 1860 Munich.

The 34-year-old, who was appointed Bayern's head coach in April having been a boyhood fan of the club, played for 1860's youth teams and was later involved with coaching their youngsters.

"Not everyone has to applaud that I was with the city rivals," he told a media conference after Bayern's 2-2 draw with Ajax.

"I know the rivalries in the city and in football, but I'm not very fond of rivalries. 

"I stand for tolerance. You cannot make everyone happy in life."

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Tanguy Nianzou were on target for Bayern in the draw.

Nagelsmann acknowledged Bayern would have to be innovative in the transfer market rather than spending big money on players ahead of the start of the Bundesliga next month.

"We have differences with other countries," he added.

"It's true that other clubs have more money available for transfers. With or without the pandemic, we're not ready to pay such fees. 

"We'll try to remain competitive with creative solutions."

Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann is eager to keep Leon Goretzka despite links to Manchester United, declaring him to be "one of the most dangerous midfielders in Europe".

Goretzka has just under a year left on his contract with the Bundesliga champions, fuelling speculation over his future.

United are reported to have lined up Goretzka as another potential new recruit, having already agreed a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund's England winger Jadon Sancho.

Goretzka scored five goals and provided the same number of assists in 24 Bundesliga matches last season, while he also found the back of the net twice and laid on two Champions League goals in the 2020-21 campaign.

Speaking at his first Bayern press conference on Wednesday, Nagelsmann said: "Leon is a very important player. I would also be very happy to work with him for many years.

"He is one of the most dangerous midfielders in Europe. So, of course, we want to keep him."

Nagelsmann also gave his backing to winger Leroy Sane, who failed to hit the heights expected of him in his first season with the club following a big-money move from Manchester City.

"We would do well to leave Leroy alone a little in the media," said the former RB Leipzig boss. "He has outstanding qualities, has a lot of speed, is one of the best one-on-one players.

"We need that. I am I'm sure we'll see an improved Leroy. But of course the player has to take that step himself."

 

Nagelsmann was given a five-year contract to replace Hansi Flick and the 33-year-old, who had a win percentage of 56.84 from 95 games with RB Leipzig, knows he will be under pressure to deliver.

"It's a show of praise in advance of my work, which I want to justify," he said of his long-term deal.

"It gives someone a very good feeling to get this level of trust. It also shows, however, that you have to deliver. I know this and I want to do just that."

New Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn believes Nagelsmann will show why the club has put so much faith in him.

"Continuity in the coaching position is very important for success. We think that we can shape an era with Julian," said the ex-Germany goalkeeper.

"He identifies with the club. That is why we are convinced of the decision."

Bayern Munich will launch their quest for a 10th successive Bundesliga title with a trip to Borussia Monchengladbach – and an early reunion with RB Leipzig awaits Julian Nagelsmann.

New Bayern boss Nagelsmann will take his team to Leipzig in the fourth round of the campaign, on the weekend of September 11-12, having chosen to leave the Saxony club to join the champions.

Nagelsmann, who has replaced Hansi Flick in the Bayern top job, will be expected to keep up the high levels of success the Bavarians have enjoyed in recent years.

They won the league by 13 points last season, with Leipzig finishing second and Borussia Dortmund taking third place.

Bayern will host Leipzig on the weekend of February 4-6, the 21st matchday of a 34-game campaign that is due to wrap up on May 14.

Leipzig and Dortmund are again expected to be in the hunt for silverware in the new campaign, yet toppling Bayern could be a tall order as they attempt to extend their record-breaking streak of championships.

Last season's top three will all have new coaches in 2021-22, with Nagelsmann at Bayern, Jesse Marsch coming in at Leipzig and Marco Rose moving from Gladbach to Dortmund.

 

Bayern open at Monchengladbach on Friday, August 13, while Dortmund will host Eintracht Frankfurt on the same weekend and Leipzig travel to face Mainz.

Nagelsmann will take charge of Bayern in Der Klassiker for the first time when they face Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park on the weekend of December 3-5, ahead of the final round of Champions League group matches.

The return fixture in that great rivalry sees Dortmund visit the Allianz Arena on the weekend of April 22-24.

The clashes between Leipzig and Dortmund could be telling in terms of who mounts the most serious challenge to Bayern, and Leipzig will have home advantage in their first meeting (November 5-7), with the return game set to take place on the weekend of April 1-3, as the season heads towards its decisive stage.

Julian Nagelsmann will have "a lot of fun" with the quality at his disposal as Bayern Munich coach, according to his predecessor Hansi Flick.

Nagelsmann will replace Flick at Bayern ahead of next season, after two encouraging years at RB Leipzig.

Flick confirmed his impending departure from Bayern in April. He took over from Niko Kovac – initially on an interim basis – in November 2019 and will leave the club having won two Bundesliga titles, the Champions League, the DFL-Supercup, the DFB Pokal, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.

The 56-year-old's next position will be as head coach of the German national team; he will succeed Joachim Low after Euro 2020.

And Flick promised his successor at Bayern will have much joy taking charge of such a talented squad.

"I think Julian Nagelsmann will have a lot of fun with this team because it is of enormous quality and a great attitude," Flick told Bayern's official media channels.

"I wrote that to him too. It's a top team that knows what's important. And here you have to support them as a trainer."

It is not just Flick who will be leaving Bayern.

There is something of a changing of the guard ahead of next season, with CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and club stalwarts Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and David Alaba also departing – the latter having agreed to join Real Madrid.

Nagelsmann will have to contend with the fact Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski – who broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record of 40 goals in a single season – and Manuel Neuer are approaching the twilight of their respective careers, yet Flick hailed the performances of the three Bayern greats.

"Thomas [Muller] is a phenomenon for me," Flick said.

"He doesn't always get everything right in the game, but he brings you as a coach significantly more moments of joy than those in which you are upset about him – for example, when he goes out to the corner again, where he shouldn't be, loses the ball, and then a counter-attack emerges. 

"Sometimes I almost had to laugh and had the feeling that he was doing this on purpose to annoy me a little and get the adrenaline going again. But he means so much for the team and this club, someone like him will never be around again. What he has achieved in his career is unique."

Muller, along with Lewandowski, Neuer, Alaba and Joshua Kimmich, who has developed into a world class central midfielder, were five players Flick could always count on.

"For me and for all coaches, the central axis is the decisive element," he added. "And there has been nothing better in the world in the past two years. 

"I never really want to single someone out of my team because we can only achieve our goals together, but I could always rely on these five players 100 per cent, it was pure joy."

Bayern played 86 games under Flick, winning 70 and losing just seven, while only one of their nine draws finished goalless.

Flick's Bayern kept 34 clean sheets and scored 255 goals, averaging one every 30.4 minutes and outscoring their expected goals tally of 215.95, racking up 1,545 shots – the third-highest total in all competitions by a team from Europe's top five leagues, behind Manchester City (1,694) and Manchester United (1,557), though both of those Premier League sides played at least 17 more matches over the time in question.

Indeed, Bayern's goal tally under Flick makes them the top scorers from Europe's top five divisions in all competitions since he took charge, with Pep Guardiola's City (229) some way behind in second.

Bayern Munich have announced the signing of defender Omar Richards on a free transfer.

Richards moves to the Bundesliga champions from Reading, having made 42 appearances for the Championship club during the 2020-21 season.

The left-back, who represented England at under-21 level, has agreed a four-year deal that runs through until 2025.

"My move to Bayern is a great honour for me. A dream has come true," Richards told Bayern's official website.

"I'm proud to be wearing the shirt of one of the world's biggest clubs. I hope I can help the team continue to be successful in the future.

"My thanks to the management at Bayern for their trust. Our conversations were very convincing. I can't wait to be on the pitch for Bayern."

Bayern sporting director and board member Hasan Salihamidzic is delighted with the latest addition to the squad as the club prepare to begin life under new head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

They had already completed a deal to bring in Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig, strengthening a defensive unit no longer able to call upon David Alaba and Jerome Boateng.

"We're delighted Omar is coming to Bayern," Salihamidzic said.

"Omar is a technically gifted player on the left side of defence. He finds good solutions going forward, he's very alert and we trust him to play a good role in our team."

Richards made over a century of appearances for Reading after coming through their academy. The English club confirmed they did offer the 23-year-old a new contract, but he has instead opted to continue his career in the Bundesliga.

Borussia Dortmund managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke insists there is no economic need to sell Erling Haaland amid speculation he will remain in Germany until next year.

Haaland netted a double as Dortmund won the DFB-Pokal final 4-1 over RB Leipzig, with Jadon Sancho also chipping in with a brace.

The title is a major boost for Dortmund's hopes of retaining Haaland, who has been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea this off-season.

Dortmund's uplift in Bundesliga form, which has seen them move into the Champions League spots, has also aided their cause to convince the Norwegian to stay.

"You always have fears in my job," Watzke said after Thursday's DFB-Pokal victory.

"We definitely want to keep Erling with us next season. You can see his value, you saw how committed he is last Saturday against Leipzig, with joy.

"Besides we still have it in our own hands, we just have to win twice more now. We have managed the club solidly for so many years, when we go into the second or third year of the coronavirus, then we have to take out a few loans at some point we will pay them back.

"But there is absolutely no economic need to sell him, regardless of whether it is a Europa League or Champions League."

Watzke also casually revealed that interim head coach Edin Terzic had extended his deal with the club to presumably work as an assistant under Marco Rose.

"Edin Terzic did a great job," he said. "He took over the team in December, it was half dead, and he brought it to life. That is a huge achievement at his first coaching station.

"He's holding the keys in his hand. He extended a long-term contract a few weeks ago.

"He's a Dortmund boy, he lives and breathes the club. If Edin wants to do something different, then we have to work with him. But we won't do that now."

Terzic was delighted with the DFB-Pokal success but remained focused on the bigger picture, with Dortmund determined to confirm a top four league spot with two games to play.

"That was definitely not our best game, but we found the key to success," he said.

"Now we all deserve to enjoy this evening tonight but the season is not over for us yet."

Outgoing Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann, who will finish his time at the club without a trophy, said it was a "painful" loss.

"You can imagine that I'm not doing well but it's not about me, it's about the club," he said.

"It's painful. I know what the headlines are like now… We still have two Bundesliga games that are not that pleasant. I'm not thinking about my move [to Bayern Munich] now.

"I'm proud of the boys. "We weren't the worse team, we just scored fewer goals. Dortmund makes a lot out of a little."

Dayot Upamecano has claimed he turned down an opportunity to join Manchester United as a teenager because Ralf Rangnick presented such a persuasive alternative.

The defender, who will leave RB Leipzig to join Bayern Munich at the end of this season, was targeted by United as a teenage prospect when he was with French club Valenciennes.

He elected to turn down United and move to Austrian club Salzburg, Upamecano says, after being wowed by Rangnick's precise vision for his career.

At the time, Rangnick was sporting director for Salzburg and Leipzig, with both clubs part of the Red Bull empire, and talking Upamecano into a move proved one of many successes he achieved in that role.

United had tempted the youngster, however, and Upamecano told The Athletic: "I was a young boy. I wanted to sign for them straight away. Manchester United! But then my parents took me aside and said: 'Let's think carefully about this'.

"We thought about it for a long time and then decided that going 'etape par etape' [step by step] was the best option for me. Everything Ralf said came true."

Upamecano was loaned out to Liefering before returning to make an impact with Salzburg while still in his teens, and at the age of 18, in January 2017, he was moved through the ranks to join Leipzig.

Rangnick, who had already enjoyed one spell as head coach of Leipzig, returned for another in 2018, and Upamecano said: "Ralf was the most important coach for me. He's a professor, a scientist of football, and he also cares about everything. He's always there for you with advice on matters football and non-football, every single day."

Before joining Bayern, Upamecano has the chance on Thursday to land a DFB-Pokal title with Leipzig as they head into the final in Berlin against Borussia Dortmund.

Julian Nagelsmann, who succeeded Rangnick in 2019, has been another major influence on the career of Upamecano, who describes the 33-year-old as "an unbelievable manager".

Like Upamecano, Nagelsmann will also move to Bayern at the season's end.

"He really takes you to another level," Upamecano said. "For example, because of Julian, I have improved a lot in terms of opening the game from the defence with precise passes into the midfield, and he told me to use my dribbling abilities in order to create spaces going forward."

That is borne out by data that shows Upamecano has progressed significantly while at Leipzig.

Following his mid-season arrival in 2017, Upamecano had an overall passing accuracy of 78.6 per cent in the Bundesliga, while his accuracy with passes ending in the final third of the field was just 46.2 per cent.

These numbers belong firmly in Upamecano's past, because his precision now shows a marked improvement.

In 2017-18, he stepped up those percentages to 83.7 and 55 in the Bundesliga, while attempting 130 passes into the final third of the pitch.

But in 2019-20, his overall accuracy stood at 89.1 per cent and his accuracy into the final third was a healthy 74 per cent, with Upamecano attempting 232 balls into that attacking area in league games. Each figure put him in the top 10 for Bundesliga defenders who played at least 20 games.

This season has seen a minor step back, but an 88.5 per cent total accuracy and 70 per cent accuracy into the final third continues to reflect well on the French defender, a player United must sorely regret failing to recruit.

Lukas Klostermann admits it will hurt to see Julian Nagelsmann and Dayot Upamecano leave RB Leipzig for Bayern Munich – but he hopes they can depart after one last "beautiful moment".

Leipzig look set to finish second in the Bundesliga, given they lead Wolfsburg by four points with two rounds to go, and trophy glory could come on Thursday when they tackle Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final.

A dress rehearsal in the league on Saturday saw Dortmund snatch a 3-2 victory that boosts their hopes of playing in next season's Champions League, but the cup final showdown in Berlin is a tough game to pick.

Coach Nagelsmann and star centre-back Upamecano are both heading for Bayern at the end of the season, so the game represents their final chance of snatching major silverware with Leipzig, a club that was established only 12 years ago and has come a long way since.

Right-back Klostermann, who will hope to be involved for Germany at Euro 2020, is preparing for reluctant farewells to Nagelsmann and Upamecano.

"Of course I am not that happy about it, that’s for sure," Klostermann told Stats Perform News.

"But I think the coach already told from the beginning that on a long-term perspective it would be his greatest wish to become coach of FC Bayern. But still, I would have wished that it happened a bit later than now. But if it's his big goal and dream, then I cannot be angry or annoyed because of him leaving.

"I think we showed in the past already a couple of times that we can compensate losses, just like how it was with Timo Werner. Some people said that we will fall into a deep hole but I think that was not the case."

Werner was a big-money acquisition by Chelsea last June, but Leipzig have pressed on without the Germany forward.

They will doubtless be strong next season too, but to keep losing major talents, whether from the playing or coaching ranks, cannot be conducive to building a team to challenge for the Bundesliga.

"For the club it would be good on a middle-term or long-term perspective to develop more and more, so the players don't need another club in Europe to play for the elite," Klostermann said. "We should achieve that ourselves, to be part of the elite. I know it's a long way to go, but I think this should be the long-term goal."

The 24-year-old Klostermann scored in the weekend loss to Dortmund, grabbing his first goal of the season, but said Leipzig "only played really well in the second half" of that game. It was tight in terms of the xG (expected goals) count, with Dortmund leading that by 1.7 to 1.5, enjoying the better chances despite Leipzig ending the game 8-4 ahead in terms of shots on target.

 

 

"I think that both teams will take the first game as a basis to analyse in order to change a couple of things in the final," he said. "That's why I think that the first game has an influence on the final. It's not that huge, as the game starts at 0-0 again, but the teams will analyse it and change certain things for the final."

Klostermann said it would "be incredibly important and great to finally win a title", adding: "For all of us it would be an extremely beautiful moment.

"Maybe even a bit more special for players and employees that have been part of the club for a longer time. Five, six, or seven years ago nobody believed that we could achieve that. Therefore, it's even nicer to have this chance to win a title. And for that, we better give everything on Thursday."

It remains to be seen whether Erling Haaland is fit to lead the Dortmund attack, after missing the weekend game with a muscle issue.

In the Bundesliga alone, Haaland has scored 25 goals in 26 games this season, with a shot conversion rate of 28.1 percent – among those to have netted more than five this term, only Max Kruse (37 percent) and Robert Lewandowski (32.5 percent) have put away a greater portion of their chances than the 20-year-old.

Should the Norwegian feature, Klostermann has no doubt about his threat, rating him in the top bracket of strikers.

"When you see how he plays right now, then for sure," Klostermann said.

"I think his numbers are showing that. If he plays, it will not be easier for us. But I am still very convinced that we can play better than we did last Saturday. Even if he plays, I give us good chances to win this final."

Recent upheaval might have leant a touch of anti-climax to Bayern Munich's latest title win but 2020-21 has shown their total dominance of the Bundesliga does not look likely to end anytime soon.

A thrilling quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain saw Bayern's reign as European champions end as they were eliminated on away goals.

The aftermath of that dramatic Champions League showdown saw speculation mount over Hansi Flick's future and the Bavarian giants were in the unusual position of naming the coach of their nearest rivals, RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann, as their next boss before domestic glory had been rubber stamped.

However, familiar celebrations can now begin after rivals Borussia Dortmund beat second-placed RB Leipzig 3-2, with the prints of some familiar faces all over this latest success.

FC Hollywood on cloud nine

Continuing a streak started by Jupp Heynckes' treble winners in 2012-13, Bayern have now won the Bundesliga for nine seasons in a row. Much as this statistic can draw mirth in some quarters over the competitiveness of Germany's top flight, it certainly did not always used to be this way.

Previously, the longest stretch of consecutive titles in a row was three, although on three of the four occasions this occurred, Bayern were the team responsible.

Indeed, Die Roten's 30th crown overall means they have won 52 per cent of the championships on offer since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963. The picture was a little more even before the turn of the century, with Bayern having now won 16 this millennium.

Bayern have equalled the record established by Juventus in Europe's top five leagues and can go clear on their own with 10 in a row next term, given the collapse of Andrea Pirlo's men in Serie A this season.

This era of success is built upon a number of mainstays. Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and outgoing trio David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez have been present for all nine of the title wins.

Muller and Alaba now have 10 overall, setting a new player record in Germany, while Martinez is the only player in Bundesliga history to win the title as many as nine times without ever failing to do so in any season.

 

Hansi off with incredible record

Flick's involvement with Bayern has been more fleeting than the stalwarts above, but he has nevertheless left an indelible impression upon one of Europe's great clubs.

His record overall is 68 wins from 83 games, with eight draws and seven defeats. That amounts to an 82 per cent win percentage – a record for any Bayern coach.

Similarly, a goals-per-game average of 2.9 is better than any of his predecessors, numbers that were enhanced during the German record-breaking run of 23 straight wins in all competitions between February and September 2020.

Consequently, the trophies stacked up and Flick's six major honours amount to one every 14 games.

He averages 2.45 points-per-game from 55 Bundesliga outings, a figure only bettered by Pep Guardiola (2.52 PPG from 102 matches).

 

Hail King Lewy

Flick is likely to reflect fondly upon the fact his brief Bayern tenure has coincided with Robert Lewandowski taking his phenomenal goalscoring exploits to another level.

Even though the Bundesliga boasts the sought-after talents of Erling Haaland and Andre Silva, each of whom have managed 25 top-flight goals this season, the race for the Torjagerkanone has not even been particularly close.

Despite spending a spell on the sidelines recently, arguably decisively when it came to Bayern's derailed Champions League hopes, Lewandowski has scored an astounding 36 goals in 26 appearances, leaving him in direct competition with Gerd Muller's celebrated all-time mark of 40 goals in a single campaign, rather than his contemporaries.

The Poland superstar's haul comes from 112 shots overall and 55 on target. Lewandowski's goals-per-minute average of 60.9 is the best of any Bundesliga player to have scored multiple goals this season.

Among players with 10 goals or more, only Max Kruse (37.04 per cent) has a better shot conversion rate than Lewandowski's 32.14.

He has 30 non-penalty goals, outstripping an expected goals (xG) figure of 21. By way of comparison, Haaland's non-penalty goals to xG comparison is 23 to 19.8 and Silva's is 19 to 18.1.

Like most great strikers, Lewandowski has a fine foil in Thomas Muller, whose 17 assists are comfortably a Bundesliga best this season, placing him five clear of Eintracht Frankfurt's Filip Kostic on 11.

 

Kimmich the man in control

The foundations for Lewandowski's incredible exploits come from Bayern's smooth control of matches and no one has been more responsible for that in 2020-21 than Joshua Kimmich.

A defensive utility man when he broke into the Bayern team under Guardiola, Kimmich is now one of the premier midfielders in world football and at the heart of his club's considerable achievements.

Among Bundesliga midfielders, Kimmich has completed the second-most passes – behind Stuttgart's Wataru Endo (1,479) – with 1,465 at an accuracy of 87.8.

He has supplied 10 assists from 59 chances created, with Kostic (80), Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho (65) and Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku (63) the only players among those classed as midfielders by Opta to have crafted more openings for team-mates.

Kimmich has made 32 interceptions, 35 tackles and is joint-seventh among Bundesliga midfielders when it comes to his 184 recoveries.

 

Time for a Neu last line of defence?

Neuer is now the first goalkeeper to win nine Bundesliga titles, putting him one clear of Oliver Kahn.

However, it might be fair to ask whether his position as Bayern number one might come under renewed threat from understudy Alexander Nubel once Nagelsmann is in position.

Of goalkeepers to have played 20 or more Bundesliga games this season, five – Peter Gulacsi, Lukas Hradecky, Koen Casteels, Alexander Schwolow and Andreas Luthe – have conceded fewer than Neuer's 40.

Similarly, eight clean sheets have him fourth overall behind Gulacsi, Casteels and Stefan Ortega Moreno.

Neuer's 77 saves from 116 shots on target faced give him a save percentage of 65.52 – leaving him around the middle of the pack when it comes to the Bundesliga's elite stoppers. Florian Muller of Freiburg leads the way, repelling 71.07 per cent of shots to have threatened his goal.

Bayern's skipper has an expected goals on target (xGOT) against figure of 40.6. Having conceded 39 non-penalty goals, Neuer has conceded fractionally fewer goals than he would be expected to, given the quality of chances coughed up by a backline lacking its previous assurance. 

 

Nagelsmann could bring fresh solidity to Bayern that would be welcomed by the 35-year-old Neuer, whose aptitude outside of his penalty area enabled Flick to operate with such a daringly high defensive line, sometimes at the expense of the goalkeeper's personal statistics.

Leipzig's number one Gulacsi has only been breached 28 times, but has faced 41 fewer shots on target than Neuer this term, actually giving him a lower save percentage (62.67). His 25 non-penalty goals conceded align with an xGOT of 25.62.

The arrival of Nagelsmann and Leipzig's best defender Dayot Upamecano might well be great news for Neuer, one of the few Bayern players to emerge from this latest success with a few question marks over their form.

Julian Nagelsmann says he wants to "say goodbye with the title" after RB Leipzig secured a spot in the German DFB-Pokal final following a 2-1 extra-time win over Werder Bremen in Friday's semi-final.

Nagelsmann confirmed during the week that he would be joining Bayern Munich next season, ending his two-year tenure at Leipzig.

Leipzig were Champions League semi-finalists last season and finished Nagelsmann's debut season in third in the Bundesliga but he has not won any silverware for the club.

The Red Bulls appear destined to finish runners-up in this season's Bundesliga campaign but Nagelsmann is eyeing off a winning farewell in the DFB-Pokal.

"I would like to say goodbye with the title," Nagelsmann said. "We hope that we play a good cup final.

"When you see how the guys work so hard after such a turbulent week, of course it's great."

Emil Forsberg struck a late winner at the end of extra time after a scoreless 90 minutes to send Leipzig into the final against either Borussia Dortmund or Holstein Kiel.

Hwang Hee-chan had opened the scoring for Leipzig before Leonardo Bittencourt swooped on an error to equalise.

"At the end of the day, the close matches are the best wins," Nagelsmann said.

"It was very emotional and that releases more energy. The boys fought and gave everything.

"The turbulent week had no effect, everyone on the pitch saw that today. The boys had their hearts in the right place and deservedly won."

Emil Forsberg struck a late winner at the end of extra time as RB Leipzig overcame determined Werder Bremen 2-1 to reach the DFB-Pokal final in dramatic fashion.

After a scoreless 90 minutes, Leipzig took the lead with a goal from Hwang Hee-chan early in the first extra period, only for a Dayot Upamecano error to gift Leonardo Bittencourt the chance to equalise.

A penalty shoot-out appeared to be on the cards until Forsberg popped up in added time, Hwang heading the ball back across the face of goal for his fellow substitute to convert from close range.

The win means Julian Nagelsmann remains on course to deliver a first major trophy for Leipzig before his departure, the Bayern Munich-bound coach set to lead his current employers against either Borussia Dortmund or Holstein Kiel in the showpiece fixture in Berlin on May 13.

 

 

Julian Nagelsmann has given his approval to RB Leipzig's choice of Jesse Marsch as his successor and future Bundesliga rival.

American coach Marsch will arrive from Salzburg, close affiliates of the German side, at the end of the season to take over from Bayern Munich-bound Nagelsmann.

The 47-year-old has spent two years as Salzburg boss and previously worked as an assistant coach with Leipzig so knows the club well.

Marsch was also head coach of New York Red Bulls from 2015 to 2018, and Nagelsmann sees him as an easy fit at Leipzig.

"I'm very happy that RB Leipzig have been able to quickly find a successor in Jesse Marsch," Nagelsmann said. "It was important to me that the club find a good coach and that they wouldn't have to deal with too much uncertainty following the news of my departure.

"Jesse Marsch is a very emotional coach and has a good connection to his players. I will definitely look to speak with him at the end of the season. I wish him all the best here and that he continues the club's success."

Nagelsmann will perhaps be mindful of being too helpful as the coaches cross and he leaves for Bayern as Marsch arrives at Leipzig, given they have been Germany's top two sides this season.

Bayern look like scooping the Bundesliga title for a ninth consecutive year. With 71 points from 31 games, they head Leipzig by seven points with three rounds of games remaining.

However, Leipzig are very much in the hunt for cup glory as they head into Friday's DFB-Pokal semi-final against Werder Bremen.

The winner of that tie will face either Borussia Dortmund or Holstein Kiel, the second-tier team that knocked out Bayern in the early stages of the tournament.

"Of course, it would be nice to end my time here by winning the DFB-Pokal," Nagelsmann said on Thursday.

"The pressure is there, but that's normal. If you've reached the semi-finals with your team, then it's obvious that you want to advance to the final and win there."

Quoted on Leipzig's official website, Nagelsmann said: "There's nothing worse than losing a final. If we have the chance to win the trophy, then we'll do everything possible to make that happen.

"We don't need any extra motivation for Friday night. The cup is motivation enough. The team will give it everything they have to meet the expectations. They are highly motivated.

"I still have a good relationship with the team and spoke to the lads. All the outside noise won't affect them. All of my players want to continue improving.

"Our goal is to make it to [the final in] Berlin. We also want to break the 67-point mark in the Bundesliga, in order to set a new [club] record this season."

Jesse Marsch will take over as head coach of RB Leipzig when Julian Nagelsmann heads to Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

The switch sees Marsch leave Salzburg, affiliates of Leipzig, to rejoin the club he previously served as an assistant coach.

Leipzig said Marsch had agreed a two-year contract and would assume his new role on July 1.

Marsch has been a head coach before, most notably leading New York Red Bulls from 2015 to 2018, and the American should prove an easy fit with the German Bundesliga side.

Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff said: "In Jesse Marsch, we have been able to recruit our main head coach and quickly fill the most important position in the sporting side of the club with a top coach.

"Jesse has been part of the Red Bull football group for over six years now and has done incredible work in all his roles so far, constantly developing step by step.

"It's of course a great advantage that he already worked for a year at RB Leipzig. Jesse knows the club, the city of Leipzig and, above all, the club and playing philosophy.

"Alongside his qualities as a coach, Jesse is characterised above all by his positively ambitious style, which he uses to motivate and engage the people and around the club.

"We're looking forward to working with Jesse Marsch and to continuing our successful path with him."

Bayern Munich have made a good habit of getting their house in order promptly, and 2021 would seem to be no different.

Having already agreed a deal to sign centre-back Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig, the Bundesliga leaders have followed up with an agreement to make Julian Nagelsmann their next head coach.

The Leipzig boss, a boyhood Bayern fan from Bavaria who is still attempting to stop his new club win the title this season, will take over from Hansi Flick on July 1.

A five-year contract and a reported fee of €20million – the most ever paid for a coach – represent a significant investment on Bayern's part and show just how highly they regard Nagelsmann.

The 33-year-old is not exactly taking the wheel of a sinking ship, either: Bayern won six trophies in under two years under Flick and look set to be crowned German champions again.

However, the Bundesliga's youngest ever coach will still face a few crucial tasks upon his appointment that could go a long way towards making or breaking his first term in charge...

Get on with the board

Flick had few serious problems during a remarkably successful spell at the helm, but one notable issue lately has been his relationship with the club's hierarchy.

His decision to announce in public this month that he would be leaving at the end of the season enraged those in charge given they had agreed to keep the news quiet. Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, one of Flick's biggest allies, even saw fit to issue a statement criticising the coach.

Flick is said to have got on poorly with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, with disagreements over transfer targets and a general mistrust turning the relationship volatile. Salihamidzic himself has come under scrutiny, with plenty of fans unhappy to see the coach being the one to depart.

Having landed Bayern's top target through a not-insignificant outlay, Salihamidzic will be almost as desperate to see Nagelsmann succeed as the new man himself. A better working relationship between coach and superiors would be a positive way to start.

Fix the defence

Flick has spent much of this campaign trying to solidify a Bayern defence that has conceded 40 Bundesliga goals this term, already eight more than in the whole of 2019-20.

Frailties at the back were exposed in a DFB-Pokal loss at the hands of second-tier Holstein Kiel and more brutally in the Champions League quarter-final exit to Paris Saint-Germain.

Bayern's defence could look very different next season. Upamecano is arriving from Leipzig but David Alaba is expected to sign for Real Madrid, Jerome Boateng is leaving after a decade in Munich and there is still uncertainty around Niklas Sule's future.

With Bayern said to be pursuing a new right-back, there could well be a new-look backline in front of Manuel Neuer next season – one that Nagelsmann will need to hone quickly in pre-season.

 

Support Lewandowski

As talk of Nagelsmann continued on Monday, Sky Sport reported "several" European clubs had made enquiries over the possibility of signing Robert Lewandowski.

Europe's leading marksman in 2020-21 with 43 goals in all competitions, Lewandowski needs four more in the final three games to equal Gerd Muller's record of 40 in a single Bundesliga season.

Should he match or surpass that milestone, and having finally got his hands on the Champions League last season, the Poland star could be tempted to try his hand elsewhere – and has made clear previously that Bayern may not be his final club.

Signing a replacement would be no easy task, particularly in the coronavirus landscape, so Nagelsmann would be wise to make sure Lewandowski feels Bayern's objectives match his own moving forward.

Ignore the noise

For a coach, learning to deal with critics is part of the territory at Bayern Munich, more so than at any club in Germany.

With famous ex-players in positions of power at the Allianz Arena and others prominent figures in the media – former Germany captain Lothar Matthaus chief among them – Bayern coaches will never be far from an opinion or two, whether successful or not (just ask Pep Guardiola).

Matthaus was even rebuked by former team-mate Stefan Effenberg this month for encouraging talk of Nagelsmann replacing Flick, suggesting such comments simply placed further pressure on coaches "that is no longer okay".

Flick had actually handled the persistent Bayern background noise rather well, and Nagelsmann will need to do likewise: the scrutiny on his performance as the world's most expensive coach – at such a young age – will be intense.

 

Blood the youngsters

Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff specifically praised Nagelsmann for improving individuals and strengthening the collective in his time at the club.

The progress of players such as Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate, Dominik Szoboszlai and captain Marcel Sabitzer highlights the positive impact Nagelsmann's methods can have on young talent.

He will be under pressure to produce similar results at Bayern. Alphonso Davies is already an elite left-back at 20, Jamal Musiala is established in the senior squad at 18 and there are high hopes for young centre-back Tanguy Nianzou.

Given Bayern's pedigree for developing global stars, Nagelsmann will be under pressure to keep the production line going at full speed.

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