Manchester United's midfield has long been an area of dysfunction, even in relative terms at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils have not been able to find balance with the likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Fred.

As a result, Erik ten Hag's rebuild at United could mean a big-name signing to rejuvenate their play in the centre of the pitch.


TOP STORY – KANTE TARGETED BY 

New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants N'Golo Kante to form the basis of his rebuild at Old Trafford, according to the Mirror.

The 31-year-old has one year left on his contract at Chelsea and Ten Hag is reportedly confident in Kante's sustained ability to perform at the highest level.

Kante is believed to be an attainable target if Todd Boehly's takeover at Stamford Bridge is rubber-stamped, giving Thomas Tuchel a sizeable transfer budget to work with.

United are no guarantee to even play in the Europa League, sitting three points ahead of West Ham, who have a game in hand.

ROUND-UP

- The Sun is reporting Frenkie de Jong is prepared to waive €7million of unpaid wages by Barcelona in order to move to Manchester City.

- Arsenal have agreed on a fee of up to €25m with Bologna for Scotland international Aaron Hickey, according to Calciomercato.

- Robert Lewandowski is set to leave Bayern Munich and join Barcelona on a three-year deal, the Sun reports.

- Ousmane Dembele might be moving in the other direction to join Bayern when his contract expires at the end of the season, per Sky Sports.

Robert Lewandowski paid tribute to Thomas Muller for his role in a partnership that delivered the wantaway Bayern Munich striker his seventh Torjagerkanone in 2021-22.

The trophy, awarded to the Bundesliga's leading scorer, will be in Lewandowski's possession once again this season, equalling Gerd Muller's record of seven wins.

This was Lewandowski's fifth triumph in a row as he finished the campaign with 35 league goals – the last of them coming in Saturday's season-ending 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg, before which Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed his talisman had asked to leave.

Team-mate Muller set up Lewandowski's goal with a left-footed cross in what could prove to be the final link-up of a hugely effective attacking combination.

"He's amazing," Lewandowski said of Muller after the match, when he confirmed he would not be renewing a contract that expires in 2023.

"He always plays his style, his performance, his skills.

"I know him very well because we have this feeling. When he kicks the ball, I know when the ball is coming, and that's why I'm always ready to get the ball from him.

"Even today, I should be thankful not only for Thomas, but all the guys who assist me, who give me the ball to score the goals. I'm very proud of this team."

Muller has at least committed to new terms with Bayern, to the relief of captain Manuel Neuer, who addressed the media without knowing of Lewandowski's comments. 

"[Muller and Lewandowski] are absolutely world class and guarantors for our success, for the club's success over the past years," Neuer said.

"So, it is good that Thomas renewed his contract and will stay with Bayern."

Asked about Lewandowski's future, Neuer said: "Lewy just came here for an interview, I don't know what he said there but, as far as I know, he has a contract for another year."

Lewandowski will certainly be missed if he does depart, as is rumoured, for Barcelona, with Jamal Musiala just enjoying being part of a team that features two outstanding forwards.

"They're two masterminds in the game," the youngster added. "They score goals, assist, they do everything in the attack.

"It's just amazing to see, and to be part of it is just as good."

Julian Nagelsmann is taking emotion out of the situation after it was confirmed Robert Lewandowski wants to leave Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored his 50th goal of the season across all competitions as Bayern capped off another successful Bundesliga campaign by drawing 2-2 at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

However, it was revealed before the match that the 33-year-old had refused the offer of a new deal.

Lewandowski is under contract until the end of next season but wants a new challenge after eight years with the Bundesliga giants. Barcelona have been heavily linked with making a move.

While Nagelsmann acknowledged it will be a loss whenever Lewandowski does leave Bayern – the club must decide whether to cash in over the coming months or instead keep him for next season and allow a free transfer – he insisted there is no time for sadness.

Instead, he must focus on the task of finding a replacement for a player who has broken countless records.

Nagelsmann told a news conference: "Yes, it is or would be a loss, but he still has a contract until 2023, and I think we have all already commented on this.

"There is also no other statement about it, except that he has a contract until 2023. There is really nothing more to report.

 

"Of course, it's always the case that if you lose a very good player, or lose a player in general, then it's always not nice. 'Sad' is maybe the wrong word, there are other things in life to be sad about.

"It rather gives the incentive to look for a new striker after the next season or in the next season who can then replace Lewy. That is then the job we have to do.

"There is little room for sadness, but you have to try to make the best out of the situation for the future."

Reflecting on his first season as Bayern coach, in which he led the Bavarians to a 10th straight Bundesliga title but failed to get past the quarter-finals in the Champions League, Nagelsmann said: "It was tough. It was not that easy this season.

"The first half of the season was good. We expected another result in the cup, but in the end, we were very good in the Champions League group stage, and we were very good in the league.

"In the second part of the season, we were struggling a little bit. It was not that stable anymore. Sometimes we played well, we did not get the best results, especially in the Champions League. At the end, I think we could have done it a bit better."

Robert Lewandowski anticipates swift progress after he asked to leave Bayern Munich, a shock to the system for the Bundesliga champions.

The 33-year-old striker, who reached 50 goals for the season by netting a header in Bayern's final match of the campaign on Saturday, has made it clear he does not see his future at the Allianz Arena.

All involved at Bayern are aware of Lewandowski's stance, which was confirmed before the 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

They must either sell him and bring in useful funds or face losing the Poland striker on a free transfer in 12 months' time. Keeping a disenchanted player would be a risk and Lewandowski urged all parties to find a positive outcome.

"I spoke to Hasan Salihamidzic and told him that I had made a decision not to extend my contract with Bayern," Lewandowski told Polish broadcaster Viaplay.

"Both sides must think about the future. I informed the coach of my decision. I am not renewing the contract, and now the most important thing for both parties is to find a good solution.

"It is very possible that this was my last game for Bayern. I have one more year on the contract, everything will be clarified in the near future."

According to Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy, Lewandowski added: "We want to find the best solution for me and the club. Both sides want the decision to quit in the summer or stay for the final season as soon as possible."

Lewandowski finished as the Bundesliga's leading scorer for a seventh season, matching Gerd Muller's record to secure the league's cannon trophy once again. In the league alone, he managed 35 goals, and that form has seen him strongly linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona.

The former Borussia Dortmund star is the top scorer among players from Europe's top five leagues, ahead of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, who came into the weekend on 44 goals across all competitions.

Madrid could yet bring in Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain to pair up with Benzema, and that would add to the onus on Barca to make their own statement signing.

Barca have financial issues to iron out before any deal could go ahead, as head coach Xavi pointed out on Saturday.

He has not spoken directly about Lewandowski to confirm Barca's interest, but Xavi could use a prolific goalscorer if his team are to challenge Madrid for domestic silverware next season.

Xavi explained he would not be averse to signing a veteran player, having noticed how stars in their mid to late thirties are increasingly staying in good shape, pinpointing the likes of Luka Modric, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca's own Dani Alves.

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann said after the Wolfsburg game that a busy week awaits him at the club's headquarters, even with the season at an end.

"Next week is going to be a lot of time for me at Saebener Strasse," Nagelsmann said.

"Lots of appointments, with the players as well, just to work on the future, so we'll hopefully be more successful than we are currently."

Robert Lewandowski scored what he hopes will be a farewell goal for Bayern Munich as the champions drew 2-2 at Wolfsburg in their final Bundesliga game of the season.

The perfectly judged header from Lewandowski was his 50th goal of the season, and 35th in the Bundesliga for the campaign, and it followed an opener from Josip Stanisic.

At 2-0 in front after 40 minutes, Bayern looked to be cruising, but Jonas Wind and Max Kruse surprisingly brought the home side back to level terms.

Lewandowski, who has told Bayern he wants to leave, could not find another goal as Bayern were forced to settle for a point in the final game of Julian Nagelsmann's first season at the helm.

Leon Goretzka was denied by a smart early save from Koen Casteels after Thomas Muller's clever ball over the Wolfsburg defence picked out the midfielder's run, and Bayern were soon in front.

The opener came from Stanisic in the 17th minute as the Croatian defender sent a header looping beyond Casteels from Joshua Kimmich's right-wing corner.

Bayern doubled that lead when Lewandowski nodded Muller's cross from the right flank into the left corner. It was his 35th goal in the Bundesliga this term, and gave Muller an 18th assist, with both tallies being league highs.

Wind pulled one back when his shot on the turn arrowed past Manuel Neuer in the 45th minute, and surprisingly the home side drew level in the 58th minute as Kruse stretched at the far post to tap in a low cross from the left from Micky van de Ven.

Lewandowski saw a powerful strike well held by Casteels, Serge Gnabry had a menacing shot deflect just over for a corner, and Kimmich almost scored directly from that set-piece.

Bayern were unbeaten in their last 13 Bundesliga matches against Wolfsburg (W12 D1 L0), outscoring their opponents 46-8 during this run, so the fightback here was a jolt to the champions' system.

Eric Choupo-Moting fired just wide before Leroy Sane missed a glorious late chance to give Bayern a winning finish to the season, running through on goal before dragging a left-footed shot wide of the right post.

Robert Lewandowski reached 50 goals for the season on the final day of Bayern Munich's campaign, as it emerged he wants to leave the club.

The Polish striker headed Thomas Muller's smart cross from the left past Koen Casteels for Bayern's second goal of the game against Wolfsburg, helping the visitors to a 2-1 half-time lead.

It took Lewandowski to 25 goals in 22 Bundesliga games versus Wolfsburg, including his only five-goal haul in the top-flight.

In Bundesliga history, only Gerd Muller has scored more goals against a single opponent, having hit 27 against Hamburg.

Lewandowski took his Bundesliga tally for 2021-22 to 35, while he has also scored 13 times in the Champions League and twice in the German Super Cup.

Before kick-off, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic announced 33-year-old Lewandowski has told him he wants to leave the club and has refused a new contract.

Lewandowski is the top scorer among all players from Europe's top five leagues this season, moving six goals ahead of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema after his first-half goal at Wolfsburg.

Robert Lewandowski has asked to leave Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said on Saturday.

The record-breaking striker wants a new challenge at the age of 33 after eight years with the Bundesliga giants.

His intentions had been mooted in recent days but have now been confirmed, with Salihamidzic telling Sky television the Poland international has made his position known.

In response, Bayern have told Lewandowski he remains under contract until the end of next season.

It means there could be months of uncertainty ahead as Lewandowski seeks to leave and Bayern look to convince him his future remains in Munich.

Barcelona have been strongly linked with a move for the striker, but their head coach Xavi would not be drawn on Lewandowski when he spoke on Saturday.

Salihamidzic explained his conversation with the player, who hit a record 41 goals in last season's Bundesliga.

"He said that he would like to do something else. But our attitude hasn't changed: Lewa has a contract until June 30, 2023. That's a fact," Salihamidzic said.

"I spoke to Lewa. In the conversation he told me that he did not want to accept our offer to extend the contract and that he would like to leave the club."

Salihamidzic declined to entertain the question of what might change to alter the stand-off, saying: "I don't deal with that because our stance has always been clear."

The announcement regarding Lewandowski came in the minutes before kick-off in Bayern's final game of the season at Wolfsburg.

Predictably, he scored in the 40th minute to take his goal tally to the season to 50 across all competitions.

Xavi insisted age would not be a barrier when Barcelona rebuild in the close season as the Catalan giants continue to be linked with 33-year-old Robert Lewandowski.

The Barcelona head coach said he had not concluded discussions with club power-brokers over transfer plans, and had not spoken to the team's current players about plans.

Bayern Munich frontman Lewandowski is reportedly keen on joining Barcelona, while Xavi did not rule out an exit for Frenkie de Jong, who has been linked with Manchester United.

Uncertainty lingers over whether Barcelona will have much financial clout in the transfer window, as they attempt to come through an economic crisis that has hit Camp Nou hard.

It may be that the likes of De Jong – in what should be their prime years, at the top of their market value – have to be sacrificed in order to bring in the quick-fix solution that a player such as veteran goal-getter Lewandowski might provide.

Xavi told a news conference: "The circumstances of the club are what rule. I have an important part in decision-making. From here on, we depend on the economic situation.

"In a few days we should know where we are in order to plan for next season. The economic situation keeps us at bay, it is obvious that marks the present and the future of the club."

Asked about Dutch midfielder De Jong, Xavi said: "For me, he is a very important player. He has been a starter almost always, except when he has been rotated.

"He is a fundamental footballer, but then there is the financial situation of the club. He is a player that I like very much, but we are going to see how the situation is."

Xavi said Barcelona have "untouchables" in their ranks who must not be transferred, and although he did not name such players, the growing number of youngsters coming through the ranks such as Ansu Fati, Pedri and Gavi likely fall into that category.

Lewandowski, who has scored 49 goals in 45 games for Bayern this season, could be the player that allows Barcelona to bridge the gap to Real Madrid next season. Barcelona have moved far closer to Madrid's standards since Xavi was appointed in November, after a dismal start to the campaign under Ronald Koeman, but Los Blancos have carried off the LaLiga title with a comfortable cushion.

In light of the Lewandowski reports, Xavi was asked whether he could sign veteran players and was adamant he would, contingent on whether such stars kept themselves in good shape.

"I signed Dani Alves at 38," Xavi said. "It's not age, it's performance. Players take care of themselves so much and every year they are more professional.

"Ibrahimovic, Modric, Dani Alves, they all have a very high performance at important clubs. Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi too. Age is not a priority. If it improves us, that's the important thing."

Xavi declined to say whether Barcelona would be targeting a goalscorer, declaring it was "not the time to talk about this".

However, he said: "The club knows what we need to be competitive. The board will demand titles from us, and we have to improve."

Xavi, whose side face Getafe in LaLiga on Sunday, explained: "We're talking a lot about players for next year, but we still haven't met the goal of finishing second. There are two games left to finish with a good feeling. Then we'll plan and decide."

Bayern Munich are determined to keep Robert Lewandowski away from Barcelona's clutches as speculation mounts that the Polish striker will request a transfer.

After clinching a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title, Bayern were bringing down the curtain on their season as they travelled to face Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Lewandowski has been champion eight times with Bayern and twice previously with Borussia Dortmund, having left Lech Poznan in 2010 to try his luck in Germany.

Now he is reportedly keen on moving to Barcelona, and with only one year remaining on his contract Bayern are facing a quandary.

They could make fresh attempts to persuade him to sign an extended deal. If it has already passed that point, they could dictate to Lewandowski that he must stay for the next 12 months before leaving on a free transfer. That would risk Bayern going into a new season with a disgruntled senior player.

The alternative is that they cash in on him now, when, at the age of 33, he would still bring in a hefty transfer fee.

Lewandowski has netted 49 goals in 45 games this season, making him the leading scorer across all competitions among players from Europe's top five leagues (Bundesliga, Ligue 1, LaLiga, Premier League, Serie A).

Bayern president Herbert Hainer told German newspaper TZ: "Robert Lewandowski has a contract with FC Bayern until June 30, 2023. And he will fulfil it."

The Wolfsburg game could turn out to be Lewandowski's final match for Bayern, if he is serious about wanting a move.

Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann said the striker had shown professionalism in training but deferred to more senior club officials regarding Lewandowski's future.

"He has been training very well, showing good commitment and scoring great goals," Nagelsmann said in a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"He will be in the starting line-up [on Saturday]. His contractual situation is known and I won't give any information about anything else."

Speaking last month, Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn considered Lewandowski's situation, saying: "We are in contact with Robert and want him to stay with FC Bayern for as long as possible."

Kahn added: "Of course, at some point players like this get the idea: I've achieved everything here and won everything. Then it takes time to convince him to stay here."

Robert Lewandowski has told Bayern Munich he wishes to leave the club and head to Barcelona in the upcoming transfer window – and manager Julian Nagelsmann will reportedly not stand in his way.

Lewandowski, 33, is in the midst of a historic season, averaging more than a goal per game in both the Bundesliga and Champions League. He has 34 goals and three assists in 33 league fixtures, and 13 goals with three assists in his 10 Champions League games.

With his contract set to expire in just over 12 months, there was a feeling Bayern would prefer to hold on to the Polish star to boost their chances in the Champions League instead of cashing in, but that may not be the case.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI PUSHES FOR BARCA MOVE

Crowned The Best FIFA Men's Player two years in a row, and coming off his third consecutive season with at least 34 league goals, Lewandowski's time in Munich appears to be over as Sport reports he has his heart set on a Barcelona move.

Whether motivated by cashing in while the club still can, or simply honouring the wishes of one of the greatest players to ever wear the badge, Nagelsmann is said to be on board with Lewandowski's decision and will try to facilitate the transfer.

The report includes a note that it may be a difficult move for the Spanish giants to pull off financially, although he is likely central to their off-season plans, meaning the club will do everything in their power to prioritise making it happen.

 

ROUND-UP

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Real Madrid are "more confident than ever" in landing Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe

– According to Mediaset, Chelsea have reached an agreement with Inter's Ivan Perisic to bring the Croatian over on a free transfer, although Fabrizio Romano insists that Perisic has not made up his mind yet.

– Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong will reject any advances from Manchester United and his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, according to the Daily Star.

– Calciomercato claims Paulo Dybala's agent is reportedly in London weighing up offers of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal.

Jude Bellingham will remain with Borussia Dortmund for next season, despite interest from Liverpool and United, according to the Daily Star.

Robert Lewandowski remains part of Julian Nagelsmann's plans for next season, despite speculation that the prolific striker could be on his way out of Bayern Munich.

The Poland international has a little over 12 months remaining on his contract with the Bundesliga champions and has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

According to reports from Germany on Thursday, Lewandowski has informed Bayern he does not intend to sign a new contract as he is seeking a new challenge elsewhere.

Should that be the case, Bayern must decide whether to cash in on the 33-year-old or lose him for nothing in a year's time when his deal expires.

While Nagelsmann was unwilling to confirm whether Lewandowski has made clear his thoughts to leave, the Bayern boss insists the club's position remains the same.

"He has been training very well, showing good commitment and scoring great goals," Nagelsmann said ahead of Saturday's league trip to Wolfsburg.

"He will be in the starting line-up tomorrow. His contractual situation is known and I won't give any information about anything else.

"If you want that then you'll have to ask Robert or [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic. But otherwise our position is known."

 

Nagelsmann said last week that Bayern had held positive talks with Lewandowski, while chief executive Oliver Kahn categorically ruled out a sale in the next transfer window.

Further probed on whether he has spoken to Lewandowski regarding his future, Nagelsmann said: "I don't have to.

"It's normal he's in my plans because he has a contract until June 2023. I often meet and speak with him. But we don't need to talk every single day."

Lewandowski joined Bayern from domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014 and has scored 343 goals in 374 appearances for the Bavarian giants.

That is 16 more than next-best Lionel Messi (327) in all competitions across the same period among players from Europe's top five leagues, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo (321).

He has scored 49 goals this season alone, which again makes him Europe's most prolific striker, with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema (44) next on the list.

Lewandowski's goals have helped Bayern to a 10th straight Bundesliga triumph this season, though they disappointingly fell short in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Asked if he will have the final say on whether Lewandowski stays or leaves, Nagelsmann said: "It's always a discussion with Kahn, Salihamidzic and me. I'm not more important."

Julian Nagelsmann says Bayern Munich have held encouraging contract talks with Robert Lewandowski's agent amid reported interest from Barcelona.

Lewandowski is contracted to the Bundesliga champions until June 2023 and Barca have been linked with a move for the prolific striker.

Bayern's management have met Pini Zahavi, Lewandowski's agent, as the Bavarian giants endeavour to keep the 33-year-old.

Nagelsmann is hopeful that an agreement can be reached.

The Bayern head coach said: "I asked if it was a good conversation. And it seems that it was. But there is nothing to report, in any sense.

"My position has not changed, we want to keep it as it is and extend his contract."

 

Nagelsmann is prepared to wait for Lewandowski to come to a decision over his future.

He said: "You know that Pini likes to negotiate and so you need a little patience. But that's one of my great strengths."

Lewandowski last week became the first player to score at least 34 Bundesliga goals in three consecutive seasons.

The Poland captain has found the back of the net an astonishing 49 times in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign.

Julian Nagelsmann bemoaned Bayern Munich's underwhelming performance and suggested change is needed after the Bundesliga champions succumbed to defeat at Mainz.

Bayern secured a record 10th straight league title with Klassiker victory over Borussia Dortmund last weekend but were caught cold by Mainz after first-half strikes from Jonathan Burkardt and Moussa Niakhate.

Robert Lewandowski reduced the deficit with his 18th away league goal this season, setting a Bundesliga record for a single campaign, while taking his tally to 49 in all competitions – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

Leandro Barreiro Martins restored the two-goal cushion after the interval for Bo Svensson's hosts as Mainz coasted to just a second league win over an uncharacteristically poor Bayern in their last 10 attempts.

Nagelsmann expressed frustration with his side after the defeat but acknowledged a downturn in performance was to be expected after the title win.

"We had too many performances and defeats of this kind this season," he told reporters.

"I have an explanation for it, but I won't give it to you. It's not for the media. I say it internally.

"After winning the 10th title in a row, it's a bit human but we still have to play for the badge on our chest.

"It seems like the passion isn't really there anymore. We reached a point where something needs to change. That's where we are right now."

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich fell to a 3-1 defeat at Mainz despite Robert Lewandowski setting another record.

Julian Nagelsmann's side sealed a record 10th straight league title by defeating Borussia Dortmund last time out, but were soon behind on Saturday after strikes from Jonathan Burkardt and Moussa Niakhate.

Robert Lewandowski halved the arrears with his 18th away league goal this season – a new Bundesliga benchmark for a single campaign – before Leandro Barreiro Martins restored Mainz's two-goal cushion after the interval.

Bayern were unable to respond as the champions suffered just a second defeat in their last 10 games against Mainz, who moved up to ninth with victory.

Burkardt cannoned against the crossbar and the post, while the unmarked Alexander Hack was denied by the woodwork but Mainz's early dominance soon paid dividends.

Sven Ulreich thwarted Karim Onisiwo from close range yet could not stop Burkardt when the striker powered a left-footed attempt home following Dominik Kohr's headed offload.

Niakhate doubled Mainz's advantage when he tapped in after Anton Stach's flick, before Lewandowski rolled into the bottom-right corner following Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's pass to reduce the deficit.

Barreiro Martins almost restored the hosts' two-goal lead before the interval, only for his left-footed free-kick to curl narrowly wide.

But Barreiro Martins' luck was in after the break when his strike deflected in off Benjamin Pavard.

Burkardt dragged wide and Onisiwo smashed onto the crossbar from the edge of the area as Bayern, who repeatedly appeared frail on the counter-attack, were unable to mount a comeback.

What does it mean? Bayern caught cold on the road at Mainz again

Bayern had won eight of their last nine league meetings with Mainz, though the one blemish on their record came in this fixture last season when the hosts ran out 2-1 winners.

Mainz scored first on that occasion and followed suit in this game as they opened the scoring for four straight games against the Bavarian giants – no other current Bundesliga side have achieved this consecutively more than twice.

Super Stach shines

Stach was a constant presence in the middle of the park for Bo Svensson's team, setting up Niakhate's goal – one of a game-leading seven key passes the midfielder supplied for Mainz.

Legendary Lewandowski

Despite speculation of a move away from Bayern with just over a year left on his contract, Lewandowski continues to deliver. His tally in all competitions this season now stands at 49.

No player has managed more goals in Europe's top five leagues, while the Poland international also put his name to yet another Bundesliga record.

What's next?

Bayern host Stuttgart on May 8, while Mainz make the trip to Hertha Berlin the day before.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann reiterated his desire for Robert Lewandowski to stay at the club amid ongoing speculation over his future.

Lewandowski has scored 33 goals in the Bundesliga this season, 12 more than nearest rival Patrick Schick, to fire Bayern to a record-setting 10th straight league title with three games to spare.

The Poland international has found the net once every 81 minutes in the top flight this campaign, while no player has managed more than his 48 goals across all competitions in Europe's top five leagues.

However, questions persist as to the future of Lewandowski, who is entering the final year of his contract at the Allianz Arena with Barcelona reportedly preparing to swoop for the 33-year-old.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic insists the talisman will not be sold to avoid losing him on a free transfer, but Lewandowski suggested no new contract talks have been opened by the club.

Nagelsmann, speaking ahead of Saturday's visit to Mainz, reaffirmed his stance on wanting to keep his star striker at Bayern for as long as possible.

"It's always good when you have planning security in all areas of life. I've said it at least 50 times that of course I wish he would stay, nothing has changed this week. That's my point of view," he told reporters.

Salihamidzic has already rebuffed talk of signing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who will reportedly be available for a €75million release clause at the end of the season, as a replacement for Lewandowski.

Nagelsmann echoed Salihamidzic's sentiment as he ruled out moving for Haaland, who has scored 82 goals and supplied 19 assists in 86 appearances in all competitions since his Dortmund debut in January 2020.

Pressed on comparisons between the two strikers, the Bayern coach responded: "These are two different types of players that you can't compare. It's like apples and oranges."

 

Lewandowski is likely to feature at Mainz, fitness permitting, but Nagelsmann confirmed he will be without Thomas Muller, who has 17 top-flight assists this term – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

"Muller is ill and will not travel this weekend. We will try to give some players the opportunity to start," he continued.

"[Eric Maxim] Choupo-Moting will definitely be in the starting line-up, that much I can say for sure. 

"The virtue of a winning mentality is noticeable in the lads even after the championship in training. My everyday life is a little more relaxed than in the middle of the season."

Bayern would surpass the Bundesliga record for most away goals in a season (47, a record set by Bayern in the 2019-20 season) with two strikes at Mainz, but Nagelsmann appeared uninterested by that feat.

"You always have to be a bit careful when it comes to respect for the opponent," he added on the possible record. 

"Of course we always want to score a lot of goals, that's what makes football so appealing. It won't be easy, but we're trying hard to find goals and play a good game offensively."

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