Toni Kroos future at the Santiago Bernabeu has suddenly become precarious, with the relationship between the player and Real Madrid disintegrating.

The 32-year-old's dramatic drop in form has called into question whether he will see out his contract, which expires at the end of next season in 2023.

With that in mind, there are reports Real Madrid will look to both replace him and bolster their midfield in the same transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE POGBA AND TCHOUAMENI FOR KROOS

Real Madrid are seeking to replace Toni Kroos and strengthen their midfield, with the intent to sign both Paul Pogba and Aurelien Tchouameni, El Nacional is reporting.

The highly rated Tchouameni has long been a transfer target for Madrid, while the expiration of Pogba's contract at the end of this season makes them both attainable.

Kroos' position in Real Madrid's starting midfield has become vulnerable with the form of Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde, while this transpires amid the backdrop of Luka Modric's contract extension. 

It was reported that Kroos sought to extend for another season and retire in 2024, but that possibility now seems unlikely.

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich are eyeing Luka Jovic as a potential replacement in the event of Robert Lewandowski's departure for Barcelona, Sport is reporting.

- Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants to sign outgoing Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala, according to the Corriere dello Sport.

- The Red Devils have also indicated to Napoli they are willing to pay £84million (€99.8m) for striker Victor Osimhen, La Repubblica reports.

- Arsenal have expressed interest in signing Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, per Football Insider.

Ousmane Dembele's signing for Barcelona had become emblematic of Josep Maria Bartomeu's turbulent presidency.

An untenably ballooning wage bill saw the club face bankruptcy in the aftermath of Covid-19 restrictions and in a need to cut wages, the French attacker has become an expendable asset.

However, Dembele is reportedly determined to make keeping him at Barcelona more feasible, despite being set to leave at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – DEMBELE OPEN TO BARCELONA WAGE CUT

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Ousmane Dembele is prepared to reduce his salary in order to sign a new contract at Barcelona, Sport reports.

Dembele's agent Moussa Sissoko and the Barcelona board reportedly met and the assertion was made that the France international was willing to take a pay cut to continue playing under Xavi.

Return on investment has always lingered over the 24-year-old attacker following his €140million transfer from Borussia Dortmund in 2017. 

Dembele has provided one goal in all competitions this season for the Blaugrana, but leads the team in assists with 11 from 28 appearances.

 

ROUND-UP

- Roma are looking to the Premier League to bolster their squad for next season, with Granit Xhaka, Douglas Luiz and Nemanja Matic all being considered, Calciomercato reports.

- Barcelona are also keen to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski but no opening bid has been made yet, per Fabrizio Romano.

- The Athletic is reporting Manchester United are considering a £50m move for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

- Wayne Rooney has become to top candidate to replace the dismissed  Sean Dyche at Burnley on a permanent basis, according to the Sun.

The dominance of Bayern Munich is not just down to financial muscle, but more the lack of consistency from their Bundesliga competition.

That is according to former Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos, who played 130 times for the Bundesliga giants before swapping Bavaria for Real Madrid in 2014.

Bayern became the first team across Europe's top five leagues to win their respective top flight on 10 successive occasions after a 3-1 victory over Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund last Saturday.

Julian Nagelsmann's side had previously shared the record of nine with Juventus, who won Serie A each year from 2012 to 2020, before cruising to their record-setting triumph with three games to spare.

Many cited Bayern's financial power as an issue in the German top flight, such as being able to prise Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund in 2014.

Indeed, Lewandowski helped power Bayern to the title with 33 Bundesliga goals so far this term, netting once every 81 minutes on average.

However, Kroos does not believe that it is just the disparity in transfer activity that has aided Bayern's dominance, but also the lack of constant pressure from title contenders Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

"The competition has to be more constant. Teams like Dortmund or Leipzig are quite capable of keeping up in certain phases," said Kroos in the Simply Mal Luppen podcast.

"But they are not as consistent. It's not just about money."

While Kroos was quick to question the competition provided by Dortmund and Leipzig, the 32-year-old could take nothing away from another fantastic season for Nagelsmann's men.

"It's an exceptional performance, especially mentally," said the midfielder. "It's no surprise that they are the best team in Germany in terms of quality.

"But wanting to do it year after year and giving the championship title meaning is something special."

 

Thomas Muller was also integral to the success of Bayern once again, with his 17 assists in 30 top-flight games this season unmatched by any player in Europe's top five leagues.

The evergreen Muller also surpassed former team-mate David Alaba (10 titles) as the Bundesliga's most decorated player of all time, having been ever-present in the 10-in-a-row feat alongside the title win in 2010 (11).

Kroos believes his former colleague Muller relishes the prospect of protecting Bayern's dominance every campaign.

"You can also say at some point, after the eighth, ninth, tenth time: 'Well, then not for a year.'," Kroos added.

"But I have the feeling that he has a lot of fun defending the thing year after year."

Jordi Cruyff declared "dreaming is free" when asked about the prospect of Barcelona signing Robert Lewandowski and says now is not the time to talk about Frenkie de Jong's future.

Lewandowski has only 14 months remaining on his Bayern Munich contract and has been linked with a move to Camp Nou.

Erling Haaland is also reportedly a target for the Blaugrana, but Manchester City are the favourites to land the Borussia Dortmund striker.

Barca technical director Cruyff on Wednesday stated the Catalan giants are keeping their options open in the transfer market.

He said at the inauguration of the Cruyff Court Constanti: "I haven't ruled out anyone. I'm not very willing to talk about names. There will be others who respond.

"The only thing you do is annoy the clubs where they play, I'm more concerned about the [current] squad. They're all great players."

Quizzed specifically about prolific Poland captain Lewandowski, Cruyff replied: "He is a player who has a contract, we are the last to decide. Dreaming is free."

 

De Jong's Barca future has been the subject of speculation, with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain thought to be keen on the midfielder.

Cruyff says the focus must be on securing Champions League qualification rather than potential transfer business.

He said: "They ask me about him because there is some criticism or doubt and I said that he is a highly valued player within the club and in the world of football and this is not the time to talk about this type of thing.

"We are in the middle of something that is above everyone, each one of us. We have to meet the minimum objectives and we are fighting for it."

Cruyff also revealed contract talks with Gavi and Ousmane Dembele are ongoing after Ronald Araujo signed a new deal this week.

"I think that these days or these weeks, it's time to work on them, we'll see if they end well or not," he said. "We're trying to achieve the same success as with Araujo."

Erik ten Hag appears as though he will have a huge say over his own Manchester United transfer targets.

The Dutchman has inked a three-year deal at Old Trafford, with the option for a further year.

Ten Hag will officially take over on July 1, with Ralf Rangnick remaining in interim charge.

A face familiar to the Premier League could now be headed to Old Trafford with Ten Hag from Ajax…


TOP STORY - TEN HAG TO BRING HALLER TO UNITED

Manchester United may make a move for Ajax striker Sebastien Haller in the off-season according to The Sun.

Haller currently plays under ten Hag, who will take over at United at the end of the campaign.

The Ivory Coast striker, who spent two years with West Ham United, has netted 33 goals in all competitions for Ajax this term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are optimistic that they can land Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski in the off-season, reports Sport. Lewandowski is contracted with Bayern until 2023.

- Liverpool have contacted 22-year-old Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni about a move to England, claims Foot Mercato.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Inter are not interested in signing Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic, contrary to reports. Pjanic is currently on loan at Besiktas from Barcelona.

- David de Gea and Manchester United are ready to enter into talks on a contract extension reports 90min.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Luka Modric will ink a new deal with Real Madrid running until 2023.

Bayern Munich signing Erling Haaland "doesn't make any sense" for sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic because they have Robert Lewandowski.

Haaland is believed to be available for €75million due to a clause in his Borussia Dortmund contract and is set leave in one of the upcoming off-season's major transfers. 

The Norway international has scored 82 goals and supplied 19 assists in 86 appearances in all competitions for Dortmund since making his debut on January 18, 2020. He has averaged 1.1 goals per 90 minutes, a record that is only bettered by Bayern striker Lewandowski (1.2) among players in the top five European leagues.

Haaland has been touted as a potential replacement for Lewandowski, who Bayern were said to be open to offers for with his contract expiring at the end of next season. 

However, Lewandowski leaving the Allianz Arena at the end of the campaign has been ruled out by Salihamidzic, who therefore sees no reason to pursue Haaland. 

"It doesn't make any sense," Salihamidzic said when asked on Sky90 about Bayern moving for Haaland. 

"We have the best striker in the world. We have Lewandowski." 

Asked if there was any player Bayern would break the bank for, Salihamidzic replied: "That's up to the supervisory board. But we don't want to put the club at risk. That will continue to be our philosophy in the future. 

"Of course, after the Champions League win it would've been great to keep all the players – like [Philippe] Coutinho and [Ivan] Perisic – but we can't ruin the club financially. We can't do squad planning like that. 

"We have a philosophy at the club. We have 14 top players in the squad and a number of top talents we want to develop. We don't have the money for 20 top players like in England." 

One player who could be heading to Munich for next season is Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, though Bayern are yet to agree to reported demands of a €30million fee. 

"He is a good player. We're in talks, I can say that much," Salihamidzic revealed. 

"With a transfer like this, a lot has to go right. I can't say [how it is looking]. It's difficult, like all transfers." 

Salihamidzic is also expecting to see more from Leroy Sane, who has failed to score or assist in his past eight appearances in all competitions for Bayern. 

"He's an incredibly talented young man who has everything. He's super fast, he can dribble and has this mental strength. But he has to deliver now," he said. 

"When he's showing good body language, that's good, but if he doesn't, that's not good. I don't want to see this. I spoke to him about it. 

"He has potential, but I want to see that on the pitch. We spoke several times. The people in charge, the coach, the players, everyone expects him to explode on the pitch. It's hard to say why he's not performing as expected. He's listening well. I hope he'll do it." 

Robert Lewandowski will not be sold by Bayern Munich at the end of this season, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has insisted. 

With his contract due to expire at the end of 2022-23, it had been reported that Bayern were open to selling Lewandowski to avoid losing him on a free transfer. 

Barcelona have been heavily linked with a move for the Poland international, who was on target in Saturday's 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund that clinched the Bavarian giants' 10th straight Bundesliga title. 

Salihamidzic simply replied "no" when quizzed on Sky90 about whether he would consider selling Lewandowski if an offer of €40-50million was received. 

Asked if that meant the 33-year-old striker would be staying at Allianz Arena, he responded: "Yes, he has a contract until 2023." 

Salihamidzic said contract negotiations with Lewandowski are set to begin but stressed the importance of Bayern sticking to their budget. 

"Of course [we want to keep him]. Lewandowski is highly appreciated. The fans love him. But he's our top earner at the club. We also have to look at our financial possibilities and how much money we have," he said. 

"I spoke with Lewa. We'll also talk to his agent. He has a contract until 2023. We have all the time in the world. We have the best striker in the world and we're proud of that. We haven't negotiated yet. But that's what we'll do now [that the title has been won]." 

Lewandowski has been involved in 53 goals (48 scored, five assisted) in all competitions this season – more than any other player in the top five European leagues. 

Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has not yet heard anything from the club regarding talks over a new contract.

Lewandowski scored for a 27th time against former club Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, as Bayern's 3-1 win in Der Klassiker ensured the Bundesliga title was theirs for a 10th successive campaign.

That is a record across Europe's top five leagues, with no side having ever managed 10 titles in a row. Indeed, Bayern shared the previous record with Juventus (nine).

However, Lewandowski is about to enter the final year of his contract with Bayern, who he joined from Dortmund on a free transfer in 2014.

Speculation has mounted that the 33-year-old may well move on ahead of next season, with Barcelona having been linked.

 

And the Poland forward confirmed he has not yet been told if talks over a new deal were progressing.

"I read what was in the media, but I haven't heard anything from the club," Lewandowski told Sky Sport.

"A meeting is coming soon, but I don't know what will happen either.

"I also see what's happening, it's not that easy for me."

Lewandowski has scored 33 goals in the Bundesliga so far this season, 12 more than any other player, and Julian Nagelsmann would surely be against losing such a crucial player.

However, Bayern's boss - who has now won his first league title as a coach - trusts the club to make the right decision.

He told Sky Sport: "I trust in the work of [sporting director] Hasan [Salihamidzic] and Oliver [Kahn]. Today he played again very well. He secured a lot of balls and was extremely strong in tackles. 

"There is not much to say about him. It goes without saying when you look at the statistics how important he is for Bayern Munich."

Bayern Munich are champions of Germany for a 10th successive time after beating Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in Saturday's Klassiker to seal another Bundesliga triumph.

While the 2021-22 season has not entirely gone to plan, with Bayern falling well short in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League, they have once again dominated in the league.

Bayern's 10-in-a-row feat, with those successes coming under six different coaches, is something that has never previously been achieved in any of Europe's top five leagues.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind the Bavarian giants' latest title romp.

Ten in a row unmatched

Bayern equalled Juventus' record, set between 2012 and 2020, with nine titles in a row last season and have now overtaken the Italian giants' record for successive crowns.

Prior to this ongoing run, Bayern's longest streak of consecutive titles were the three in a row they managed on three previous occasions (1972-1974,1985-1987 and 1999-2001).

The only other team to have had such a long run of dominance in the competition was Borussia Monchengladbach from 1975 to 1977 with three titles.

 

Julian's title joy

Julian Nagelsmann masterminded Bayern's latest triumph in his first season in charge, but he fell just short of setting the record for the youngest Bundesliga title-winning coach.

Aged 34 years and 275 days on the day of the Dortmund win, Nagelsmann is 35 days older than Matthias Sammer was when Dortmund lifted the title in 2002.

Incredibly, Nagelsmann is a seasoned campaigner when compared to Lippo Hertzka, who had only just turned 28 when he won LaLiga with Real Madrid in 1931-32.

Lewy leads from the front

Robert Lewandowski has scored 33 Bundesliga goals this term, which is 12 more than next-best Patrik Schick, meaning he is now almost certain to win another Golden Boot award.

The Poland international has been at his ruthless best once again this campaign, netting every 81 minutes in the top flight.

It seems almost certain that Lewandowski will finish top of the Bundesliga scoring charts for the seventh time, and the fifth time in a row since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did so in 2016-17.

The only other player to have finished top scorer in the division as many times was Bayern great Gerd Muller, who did so between the 1966-76 and 1977-78 campaigns.

Muller the magician

Prolific striker Lewandowski is very much the poster boy of this Bayern side, but that is not to say he has done it all on his own this season.

Thomas Muller, for example, has assisted 17 goals in 30 games. That is the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

However, he is still short of the 21 Bundesliga assists he managed in the 2019-20 campaign, with that the most of any player since Opta began recording such data in 2004-05. He still has three games to match that total.

 

Neuer another ever-present

Muller has been a key member of Bayern's squad throughout their decade of dominance, as has goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer.

The pair will set a record for the most German top-flight titles won in a row, surpassing ex-team-mates David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez, who have all left.

Germany international Muller also lifted the title in 2010, with his overall haul of 11 seeing him surpass Alaba as the competition's outright most decorated player of all time.

Bayern Munich secured the Bundesliga title for a 10th consecutive season as they saw off rivals Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in Der Klassiker.

Dortmund needed a win on Saturday to halt Bayern's procession to a historic crown, but despite a steely second-half showing the visitors never looked likely to prolong the title race.

Indeed, they were run ragged in the first half as Bayern cruised into a 2-0 lead courtesy of Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski.

Emre Can's 52nd-minute penalty made matters more interesting, though an eighth straight Klassiker victory was capped off by Jamal Musiala's goal late on.

Bayern's fans were in party mode after 15 minutes, with Gnabry slamming a wonderful strike beyond Marwin Hitz from the edge of the box after Dortmund failed to clear a corner.

With Erling Haaland skewing wide at the other end, Gnabry swept in a second just before the half-hour mark, yet it was disallowed by VAR for Kingsley Coman having strayed offside.

Nevertheless, it was 2-0 in the 34th minute – Lewandowski helping himself to a customary goal against his former club when Bayern pounced on Dan-Axel Zagadou's error.

Leon Goretzka and Lewandowski passed up chances to stretch Bayern's lead and the hosts were made to pay early in the second half when Can coolly converted from the spot after Joshua Kimmich's foul on Marco Reus.

Bayern were suddenly living dangerously, and first Manuel Neuer and then Lucas Hernandez had to make last-ditch interventions to deny Reus.

Lewandowski dragged wide and was then denied by Hitz as Bayern searched for a third, yet it came via substitute Musiala, who tucked in from close range in the 83rd minute to round off a decade of dominance.


What does it mean? History made by Bavarian giants

Bayern are the first team across Europe's top five leagues to win their respective top flight on 10 successive occasions – they had previously shared the record of nine with Juventus, who won Serie A each year from 2012 to 2020.

Fittingly, Bayern sealed the title against their great rivals, though it has been a rather one-sided rivalry in recent seasons. In fact, only against Hamburg (between 1982 and 1985) have Dortmund suffered as many consecutive defeats against an opponent as they have Bayern (eight).

Lewy hits another against his old side

It was only fair that Bayern's talismanic striker got in on the act as they clinched the title. Lewandowski has scored more goals against Dortmund, who he left in 2014, in all competitions than against any other club in his career (27).

Haaland frustrated

It may well have been Haaland's final Klassiker appearance, but it was not one to remember.

After that shot in the first half, the 21-year-old – who might well be bound for Manchester City – had to wait until the 80th minute for his next attempt, which was blocked. Another half-chance fell his way a moment later, but the Norway international blazed over from the centre of the area. He was taken off before the game was up, having failed to get any of his three efforts on target.

What's next?

Bayern travel to Mainz in their next outing, while Dortmund host Bochum.

In this footballing climate, what are Bayern Munich and where do they sit in its pecking order?

From Barcelona, to Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in recent years, the financial and footballing disparity between Europe's elite and the rest has warped perception. Lifting the league trophy at the end of the season no longer provides safety for a head coach.

Even then, Bayern are an extreme example. In the six years since Pep Guardiola left for Manchester City, they have gone through six head coaches, despite winning the Bundesliga in every season over that same period.

Bayern have been global standard-bearers for nearly four decades. Where other clubs and leagues have had lull periods away from the very highest levels of European football, they have consistently been in contention for silverware, even in relatively weak periods.

Just as importantly, though, the superiority clubs like Bayern now enjoy almost automatically dictates they will dominate possession in many games, irrespective of the ideology of the coach in charge and whether their teams can function with the ball as a consequence.

Niko Kovac's first season in 2018-19 was a good example of this. Bayern came nowhere near functioning in possession relative to the array of talent they had and still – along with some aid from Borussia Dortmund's regression to the mean after initial xG over-performance under Lucien Favre – managed an 11-point turnaround from third place in February to win the Bundesliga.

Meanwhile, they were comprehensively beaten by Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League with the majority of possession. Things declined even further under Kovac in his second season, before Hansi Flick took over the head coaching role, conquered Europe and subsequently replaced Joachim Low as the German national team coach at the end of the 2020-21 season.

This is the wider context that must be considered for Julian Nagelsmann's first season and what follows, because both club and international football ultimately acts within a continuum. Ahead of this weekend's Klassiker, much like that first season under Kovac, there's a dissonance that will accompany Bayern's title win.

Ultimately, a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title will not wash away the taste of Bayern's meek elimination at the hands of Villarreal in the Champions League quarter-finals. Those two legs were a microcosm of numerous aspects concerning this Bayern season – their true capacity in possession relative to the level of opposition, Nagelsmann's continual switching between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3 formations, and finally from a standpoint of net gain, whether he's really getting the most out of the extraordinary creative forces that are Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.

It is hard to overstate how Muller and Lewandowski provided more than goals and assists for Bayern under Flick. The utilisation of that duo was integral to the team's very functioning in possession, especially with Thiago Alcantara missing significant portions of that post-lockdown run late in the 2019-20 season. Kingsley Coman's decisive goal in the 2020 Champions League final against PSG was a perfect picture of the team when all three of Lewandowski, Muller and Thiago played – having initially tried to cover Muller, Leandro Paredes had to scramble, but it was too late, as Thiago fired his pass into Joshua Kimmich and Bayern got up the pitch.

Their combined touches in open play per 90 minutes under respective coaches makes for a good starting point. Under Kovac, Lewandowski and Muller held a combined 98.19 touches and 3.35 chances created from open play per 90 in all competitions. Flick's arrival leads to a dramatic spike for the two in both categories, with 107.6 touches in open play and 4.53 chances created in open play per 90.

 

 

Father Time will dictate an inevitable decline for the two as they approach 35, but more pertinently, Nagelsmann's approach has led to a return to their numbers under Kovac, with 98.59 touches per match and 3.85 chances created from open play between the two in all competitions this season. Then there's the discrepancy in eventual shot location.

The difference lies in involvement. Under Flick, Muller and Lewandowski effectively played as two strikers in a 4-4-2, while the wingers kept the defensive line pinned back, allowing the two with sufficient space to retreat and operate between the lines. Especially with midfielders like Kimmich and Leon Goretzka who do not like receiving the ball in tight areas, it was a critical component of Bayern's play and enabled them to open up the pitch.

Kimmich's increase in chance creation – his 2.83 per 90 this season is his highest out of the last four seasons in all competitions – is arguably born of the fact he is now Bayern's set-piece taker. His chance creation in open play has actually gone down from last season's 1.68 to 1.44, despite an increase in touches from 100.8 to 105.85.

 

 

Lewandowski and Muller's comparatively higher positioning and primary objective of threat behind the defensive line under Nagelsmann frankly makes the switching between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3 irrelevant, because the 34-year-old has taken away the very thing that made Bayern function to begin with – the pair's ability to incorporate as well as get on the end of moves. Jamal Musiala's deployment in a 3-4-3 in the second leg against Villarreal only managed to clog the middle of the pitch up even further.

The player who has suffered the most with this change, however, is Serge Gnabry. His combined xG+xA figure of 0.92 in 2019-20 has dramatically decreased to 0.69 this year, while the middle of the pitch has been completely closed off to him, something evident in his dribble progression.

 

 

It all relates to the eventuality of Bayern's shot location and quality. Shot volume in Nagelsmann's first season has gone up to 20.13 in comparison to the 18.08 of that treble season under Flick, but they are shooting from further away, and with no increase in xG per shot. Against better defences, teams that hold high volumes of possession but ultimately struggle to play through the middle of the pitch are eventually found out. That has been the case this year, in Europe and particular in domestic losses to Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach.

This all exists amid the backdrop of Bayern Munich's waning financial power and status as a destination in relation to the rest of Europe's elite. Bayern centre-back Niklas Sule is set to leave for arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund. Emerging stars from within the Bundesliga who traditionally would have been guaranteed to end up at Sabener Strasse such as Dortmund's Erling Haaland, or RB Leipzig's Cristopher Nkunku and Josko Gvardiol, appear destined for elsewhere.

In the meantime, Bayern are reportedly haggling with Ajax over the release of Ryan Gravenberch who, despite the hype, arguably will not transform their midfield – much like Corentin Tolisso and Marc Roca.

There is also the small matter of Lewandowski's contract not being renewed and running the risk of expiring at the end of next season.

Sustained success can run the risk of providing diminishing returns, much like Juventus discovered in Italy. The question for Bayern is how to avoid it both as a club and under Nagelsmann, but can they?

Erling Haaland's talents in attack make him "an absolute weapon" for Borussia Dortmund, says boss Marco Rose, favourably comparing the forward to Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski.

The two Bundesliga heavyweights meet this weekend in the latest edition of Der Klassiker, with Julian Nagelsmann's side able to claim the title against their biggest rivals with victory.

Much of the result will likely hinge on the performances of two of European football's most talismanic strikers, in Poland star Lewandowski and Norway forward Haaland.

The latter looks set to play out his final few games for the Black and Yellow over the coming weeks, and is widely expected to seal a major move during the close-season to a European rival with Manchester City heavily tipped to win the race for his signature.

But his contributions have been invaluable for Dortmund and head coach Rose, who hailed his prowess when speaking about him and Lewandowski ahead of their encounter.

"They have different strengths," he stated. "Lewandowski serves all facets with more experience and drops a lot.

"He's in a good position in the box too though. His first contact is world class.

"[But] Erling has also made progress this season. In the transition game, he is an absolute weapon.

"His header game has also gotten much better. When the ball comes into the box, both know exactly where the goal is."

Dortmund's last Bundesliga Klassiker victory came back in 2018, when they defeated Bayern 3-2 on home soil under Lucien Favre.

Rose knows it is due time that his side rise to the occasion in the Bundesliga's biggest fixture, and that the merit of the occasion drives them on to deliver.

"It's a classic," Rose added. "It's also about reputation. A win in Munich is always good. We don't want to just defend.

"Bayern can become champions on Saturday and will perform accordingly. We want to prevent that.

"We played a good game last Saturday, we need that performance at an even higher level and consistently over 90 minutes."

Robert Lewandowski has denied becoming unhappy with life at Bayern Munich, head coach Julian Nagelsmann insisted on Sunday.

The Polish striker was reported to have hinted at disenchantment as he gets close to completing eight years as a Bayern player.

Lewandowski, 33, is the leading scorer among players in Europe's top five leagues for a third consecutive season, netting 47 goals in all competitions so far in 2021-22 after 48 in 2020-21 and 55 in 2019-20.

Rumours have suggested he could be a Barcelona target, and if it became known that Lewandowski wanted a fresh start there would be no shortage of suitors.

Nagelsmann said he received assurances from Lewandowski that there is no truth to the theory he has become disgruntled.

"We are in close, very direct contact. He is old enough, and so am I, that we could address things directly if that were the case," Nagelsmann told DAZN on Sunday.

"He immediately denied that. In an interview in Poland he once said that he had very little space up front and that it's difficult to score a lot of goals and that made him unhappy.

"He doesn't have a problem with me and the other way around isn't the case either."

Former RB Leipzig boss Nagelsmann took charge at Bayern after Hansi Flick departed at the end of last season to become head coach of the Germany national team.

Bayern are well placed to land a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title, but they made an early exit from the DFB-Pokal and were upset by Villarreal in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Lewandowski played but did not score as Bayern won 3-0 at Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga on Sunday to move nine points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund with four games to play.

Erling Haaland's price tag means he is an unrealistic transfer target for Bayern Munich, according the club's chief executive Oliver Kahn.

With Bayern's own star striker Robert Lewandowski linked with a move to Spain ahead of his contract expiring in 2023, it has been suggested that Die Roten could make another raid on rivals Dortmund, just as they did when bringing Lewandowski to the club in 2014.

Haaland has scored 18 goals in 20 Bundesliga appearances this season, 14 fewer than Lewandowski, albeit having played nine games fewer than the 33-year-old.

A host of Europe's top clubs expected to make serious attempts to sign the Norwegian come the end of the season. However, Kahn says Bayern do not have the finances to make a deal work.

"I don't think we would be doing our job well if we didn't deal with a young striker," Kahn told German TV channel Sport1.

"He's shown his performances too, at BVB he's an excellent striker. He's also a very interesting player for the future.

"There is always talk of the 'Haaland package'. [But] these are areas that are very, very far away from what we imagine [financially]."

Haaland has averaged a goal every 86.78 minutes in the Bundesliga this season, the third-best rate amongst players to have hit double figures, behind only Lewandowski (a goal every 78.22 minutes), and Bayer Leverkusen's Patrik Schick (every 83.35 minutes).

Since making his Bundesliga debut on January 18, 2020, Haaland has scored 58 goals in 63 league games, a tally only bettered by Lewandowski's astonishing return of 88 goals in 72 games during that time.

The 21-year-old scored twice as Marco Rose's side hammered Wolfsburg 6-1 on Saturday, with team-mate Tom Rothe becoming the youngest player to score on their Bundesliga debut (aged 17 years and 169 days) as BVB look to deny Bayern a 10th consecutive title. 

Robert Lewandowski's attitude towards his work at Bayern Munich gives the impression he is staying at the club, coach Julian Nagelsmann believes.

Lewandowski is the leading scorer among players in Europe's top five leagues for a third consecutive season, netting 47 goals in all competitions in 2021-22 after 48 in 2020-21 and 55 2019-20.

He is the only player in Europe to have scored at least 40 goals in each of the past seven seasons.

But the 33-year-old's contract has only a year to run, and he has been linked with a move away from Bayern – most prominently to Barcelona.

Bayern have insisted Lewandowski will not be sold, yet he will be able to leave on a free transfer in 2023 if a new contract is not agreed, denying the Bundesliga giants a huge fee.

However, Nagelsmann does not think Lewandowski intends to quit the German champions based on the conversations the pair have had.

"Of course I would like to keep him, he is an important goalscorer," Nagelsmann said ahead of Sunday's game at Arminia Bielefeld. "He has a contract. There are conversations.

"I never got the impression that he wants to leave. We talk a lot about tactics, and he participates a lot. That implies for me that he wants to stay.

"But it's also quite normal to think about your future, especially when you've been with the club for so long."

Nagelsmann was speaking on Friday, three days after a Champions League draw with Villarreal that saw Bayern eliminated from the competition at the quarter-final stage.

Their failure to reach the quarter-finals in consecutive seasons will have financial implications, but Nagelsmann hopes Bayern will keep investing in order to return to Europe's top table.

"It's always a vicious circle," he said. "The squad changes, you lose regular players; on the other hand, the income is missing because you don't get that far.

"Of course, we don't have the money we would have made from the semi-finals.

"You have to decide: do you take a risk, how much do you invest? If you do not take risks, the probability of reaching a semi-final is lower, then again the money is missing. It's always a balancing act."

Now, though, the focus has to be on clinching the Bundesliga title – that is Nagelsmann's message as Bayern aim to move on from the Villarreal game, where Lucas Hernandez and Kingsley Coman sustained muscle injuries that make them doubts against Arminia.

"There's a bit of dreariness. We won't have the opportunity to play such games again until a year from now," he said. "We have a year to think about it.

"But we now have a mission: ideally win the next two games to become champions. You have to turn that dreariness into vigour."

There is the potential for yet another Lewandowski record, too, needing only a single goal to become the outright away scorer in a Bundesliga season; he has 17 on the road so far this term, tied with Jupp Heynckes in 1973-74 and Timo Werner in 2019-20.

Lewandowski's only previous away game against Arminia in October 2020 saw him score twice and assist another in a 4-1 Bayern win.

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