Kylian Mbappe is expected to join Real Madrid upon the conclusion of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.

The 2018 World Cup winner has opted not to extend his PSG deal.

Los Blancos have long circled for Mbappe's signature, having come close to signing him in the off-season.

TOP STORY - BARCELONA PLOT SWOOP FOR REAL TARGET MBAPPE

Barcelona are plotting a sensational move to snap up Mbappe ahead of rivals Madrid, reports L'Equipe.

The 23-year-old PSG winger has been heavily linked with a move to Madrid upon the conclusion of his contract at season's end.

However, the report claims Barcelona view him as a more financially shrewd option than Erling Haaland, who could cost them up to €300million.

 

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- Barcelona have also joined the race to sign Leeds United's Brazil international Raphinha alongside Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich, according to the Mirror.

- Barcelona are also interested in Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski, claims SPORT. The same outlet have also linked the Blaugrana with Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah , who is yet to extend at Anfield beyond his existing deal, which expires in 2023.

- The Sun claims that Bruno Fernandes will have his salary doubled with a new Manchester United deal in the works. The contract is understood to be a five-year deal.

- Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger has been offered a deal by Juventus, reports Sky Sports.

Bayern Munich made light work of Union Berlin as Robert Lewandowski's double helped the Bundesliga champions to a 4-0 victory on Saturday.

Kingsley Coman and Tanguy Nianzou put Bayern in control before Lewandowski netted either side of the break, taking his tally of league goals for the season to 31.

Union created chances on the break, notably through the lively Taiwo Awoniyi, but have now shipped nine goals in two games against Bayern this season.

The result moves Julian Nagelsmann's side closer to a 10th consecutive title on the day Bayern surpassed Werder Bremen as the team to have played the most Bundesliga games, with 1,935 outings.

Awoniyi poked a right-wing cross narrowly wide and Union were made to regret that miss when Nianzou headed home Joshua Kimmich's corner.

Coman lashed over with the goal gaping, but the rampant hosts did grab a third on the brink of half-time, Lewandowski slotting home calmly from the spot after he was clattered by Luthe.

The Bundesliga's leading marksman needed just two minutes to double his own tally after the restart, tapping home Jamal Musiala's cut-back.

Awoniyi forced Lucas Hernandez into a goal-line clearance as the visitors chased a consolation, before Serge Gnabry failed to apply the finish after a neat after a give-and-go at the end of a superb attacking display from Bayern.

What does it mean? Bayern end slump to strengthen title chances

Bayern's pursuit of yet another Bundesliga title had stalled in recent weeks with back-to-back draws.

Those results boosted Borussia Dortmund's hopes of a genuine title challenge, but Bayern's dominant win meant they avoided going three Bundesliga games without winning for the first time since November 2018, and put them seven points clear of their rivals.

Landmark goal for Lewandowski

Lewandowski's 45th-minute penalty saw him hit 30 Bundesliga goals for the campaign, a landmark he has now reached on five occasions.

In Bundesliga history, only the legendary Gerd Muller has achieved this feat as many times as Lewandowski. Meanwhile, all other players in Bundesliga history have only reached the 30-goal mark a combined total of five times.

Union haunted by prolific Pole

Coming up against Bayern is hard enough, but it is Lewandowski in particular who Union will be glad to see the back of.

He has scored in each of his five Bundesliga matches against them (a total of seven goals).

What's next?

After the international break, Bayern will resume their title push by travelling to Freiburg, while Union host Koln in their next outing a day earlier.

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly opened talks with Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte, who has a clause to leave Spurs at the end of the season.

Conte's contract with the North London club runs until the end of the 2022-23 season, after replacing Nuno Espirito Santo in November last year.

However, while the specific terms of that contract are unclear, it reportedly allows for a departure pending certain circumstances. 

TOP STORY – PSG TARGET CONTE AS POCH REPLACEMENT

According to Calciomercato, Paris Saint-Germain are set to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino and are already in the process of looking for his replacement.

Their primary target appears to be Antonio Conte  - who is reportedly tempted by the contract - which is forcing Tottenham into action, to persuade him to see out his deal. 

The 52-year-old is not the only candidate according to the report, with Massimiliano Allegri and Zinedine Zidane also among the potential hires.

Tottenham accounted for Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday, but earlier last week, Conte said he would discuss his future with Spurs at the end of the season. 

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- Per reports from Kicker, Robert Lewandowski is yet to extend his contract at Bayern Munich, despite Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic's public claims the club wants him to stay. With the Polish striker entering the final 18 months of his current deal, agent Pini Zahavi is looking to secure his future at Sabenerstrasse.

- According to Globo, Edinson Cavani's potential move to Botafogo has fallen through due to the Uruguayan striker's wage demands. Battling injury, Cavani's playing time at Manchester United has failed to see continuity under Ralf Rangnick.

- Nicolo Schira is reporting Milan are getting closer to signing Divock Origi from Liverpool, in order to bolster their stocks up front. Origi's representatives and Milan have met and are looking to progress discussions.

- The Mirror is reporting Lord Sebastian Coe is joining a consortium for the potential takeover of Chelsea, after Roman Abramovich's assets were frozen by the United Kingdom government.

Mohamed Salah is arguably the best player in the world on current form, though Liverpool have not yet tied him down to a new deal.

Talks over fresh terms for the 29-year-old have been ongoing for some time, but nothing is close to being agreed.

With his contract up in 2023, Salah could become one of the most sought-after free agents.

 

TOP STORY – MO HAPPY TO WAIT

According to Fabrizio Romano, Salah is perfectly happy at Liverpool and is not considering pushing through a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid or Barcelona.

However, there has been no further progress on the contract talks.

Salah, who has scored 28 goals already this season across all competitions, remains fully focused on Liverpool but could leave on a free transfer at the end of next season.

 

ROUND-UP 

- Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland will demand that a release clause is included in his contract should he sign for Manchester City, reports The Sun. The Daily Mail suggested a deal was close.

- Bundesliga reporter Jan Aage Fjortoft, however, has claimed that Haaland is of interest to Bayern Munich, who may be faced with the prospect of losing Robert Lewandowski.

- Bayern are also said to be interested in Barcelona full-back Sergino Dest. That is according to a report by Fichajes.

- Foot Mercato say that Neymar will be offered back to Barcelona, as Paris Saint-Germain prepare for a "shake up" ahead of next season.

- Juventus and Milan, meanwhile, are interested in Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, according to Calciomercato.

Thomas Muller had three goals disallowed as Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim.

Robert Lewandowski headed Bayern level in first-half stoppage time after the hosts snatched a shock lead through Christoph Baumgartner.

The second half was dominated by Bayern, but their finishing was often wasteful, and there was almost a shock for Julian Nagelsmann's team late on.

Andrej Kramaric had a glorious chance for Hoffenheim as the teams tired, but he could not find a way past Manuel Neuer.

Neuer had earlier made a terrific save from Kramaric in the fifth minute after Hoffenheim sliced through a sleepy Bayern defence, before the visitors went close when Muller's prodded effort was pushed aside by Oliver Baumann.

Muller thought he had headed Bayern in front just before the half-hour mark, but Serge Gnabry had strayed offside before teeing up his senior team-mate. Muller had a second strike disallowed for another offside soon afterwards.

Hoffenheim snatched the lead in the 32nd minute when Baumgartner volleyed David Raum's cross from the left past Neuer from close range, but Lewandowski's thumping header from Kimmich's right-wing corner brought Bayern back to level terms.

Muller completed a hat-trick of disallowed goals early in the second half, after another offside, as Bayern pushed hard to get ahead.

Serge Gnabry smashed a shot against the left post after dashing clear of the dawdling home defence and shooting across Baumann, while Jamal Musiala failed to convert from a tight angle after going wide of the goalkeeper. Muller then saw a shot squirm through Baumann's grasp, kept out almost on the line by the elbow of sliding defender Stefan Posch, with nothing given.

Hoffenheim had one last great chance to snatch all three points when Neuer saved superbly from Kramaric's 12-yard strike, after Jacob Bruun Larsen got free down the right and played a smart cutback.

The Ballon d'Or voting process will undergo a number of reforms ahead of the next ceremony, it was announced on Friday.

France Football editor-in-chief Pascal Ferre confirmed in L'Equipe there will be a number of changes, with the most notable being an alignment with the European club season, as opposed to the traditional calendar year awards.

While there was little debate regarding Alexia Putellas' win in the Ballon d'Or Femenin, Lionel Messi controversially won for a record seventh time in 2021, ahead of Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah.

Messi's performances with Argentina in their Copa America triumph propelled him to that win, despite – in the eyes of many voters – Lewandowski and Salah having stronger years on the whole.

As a result of the changes, though, performances from the 2022 World Cup in November will be taken into account for the 2023 award. Meanwhile, the 2023 Women's World Cup aligns with the 2024 award.

Secondly, given the Ballon d'Or voting jury has drastically expanded from the initial 16 in 1956 to 2021's 170, the jury for the men's trophy will be limited to representatives from countries in the top 100 of FIFA rankings, and 50 for the women’s award.

On top of that change to the body of jurors, Ballon d'Or ambassador Didier Drogba is among those who will now help to compile a shortlist of nominees.

While voting criteria in the Ballon d'Or has always been deeply subjective, France Football will seek to create a clearer rationale for individual cases.

A change in criteria will now not only consider individual performance but also that of the individual's teams, the "class" of the player and their fair play record. The "career of the player" will no longer be taken into account.

Paris Saint-Germain's latest quest to win the Champions League was ended by Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The Ligue 1 leaders squandered a 2-0 aggregate lead with just half an hour of the tie remaining, losing 3-1 in the second leg and 3-2 on aggregate thanks to Karim Benzema's hat-trick.

It means head coach Mauricio Pochettino could already be looking ahead to a change of scenery.

 

TOP STORY – POCHETTINO SET FOR PSG SACK AND COULD TURN TO MAN UTD

Mauricio Pochettino's job is "hanging by a thread" at PSG, according to the Telegraph.

It is claimed the Argentine can expect to leave the club at the end of the season following their Champions League collapse against Real Madrid.

Pochettino has long been linked with the Manchester United manager job and could now start to prepare for the prospect of taking over at Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken with agent Jorge Mendes over his future at Manchester United, claims the Sun. Meanwhile, Bild reports the Red Devils are interested in signing Robert Lewandowski.

Paul Pogba is another who could be leaving Old Trafford this year, but Juventus are not yet certain whether to try to re-sign him on a free transfer or offer a new contract to Paulo Dybala, Tuttosport claims.

Barcelona are close to concluding an agreement with Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, according to Sport.

Arsenal want to sign two new strikers and a midfielder as part of a major squad overhaul, the Standard says. Alexander Isak, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonathan David and Darwin Nunez are among the forwards being tracked.

- A consortium led by British businessman Nick Candy is working on a £2.5billion bid to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, the Guardian reports.

Robert Lewandowski scored a record-breaking hat-trick as Bayern Munich thrashed Salzburg 7-1 to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday. 

After struggling in their 1-1 draw in the first leg three weeks ago, Lewandowski hit the ground running and had a treble by the 23rd minute. That made it the earliest hat-trick in Champions League history. 

It crushed Salzburg after a bright start and Serge Gnabry was on target as Bayern registered four first-half goals in a Champions League knockout game for the fourth time – as many as all other clubs combined. 

Substitute Maurits Kjaergaard pulled one back for Salzburg between a double from Thomas Muller, with Leroy Sane having the final say in a one-sided encounter.

Lewandowski buried a penalty after his excellent turn drew a foul from Maximilian Wober, who then saw a free-kick he gave away following a tackle on the Pole upgraded to a spot-kick following a VAR review. It resulted in another cool finish into the bottom-left corner from the striker. 

The hat-trick was completed when Lewandowski blocked Salzburg goalkeeper Philipp Kohn's clearance and bundled the ball home with his thigh after it came back off the post. 

The onslaught continued as Mohamed Camara was caught in possession on the edge of Salzburg's box by Kingsley Coman and Gnabry drilled home from the Frenchman's pass. 

Muller rifled a fine finish into the bottom-right corner as Bayern continued to dominate after the restart, but Kjaergaard pulled one back for Salzburg nine minutes after replacing Chukwubuike Adamu. 

Sane set up Muller for his second of the game in the 83rd minute and was on target himself two minutes later, steering Lewandowski's flick home at the near post to complete a resounding victory.


What does it mean? Lewandowski back on song in Europe 

After failing to register a single effort on goal in Bayern's two previous Champions League games – the first time that has happened in his career – Lewandowski hit the ground running at the Allianz Arena. 

He took little time to score his fifth hat-trick in the competition, a tally that is only bettered by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (both eight). 

Neuer returns 

Manuel Neuer made his 104th Champions League appearance for Bayern – surpassing Oliver Kahn as the Bayern goalkeeper with the most appearances in the competition. He was unable to mark the occasion with a clean sheet, though. 

Woeful Wober 

Salzburg were always going to be up against it in Munich, but Wober's clumsy challenges all but ended their hopes of progressing before the midway point of the first half had been reached. 

What's next? 

Bayern have a tricky trip to top-four chasing Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday, while Salzburg are up against Sturm Graz on Sunday. 

Robert Lewandowski made Champions League history with his first-half hat-trick in Bayern Munich's last-16 second leg against Salzburg on Tuesday. 

Poland international Lewandowski scored three goals in the opening 23 minutes. It was the earliest in a Champions League game that a player has registered a hat-trick, surpassing Marco Simone's 24-minute treble for Milan against Rosenborg in 1996. 

The 33-year-old put the Bavarian giants in front from the penalty spot in the 12th minute after drawing a foul from Maximilian Wober. 

He sent a second spot-kick into the bottom-left corner in the 21st minute after another foul from Wober was upgraded from a free-kick to a penalty following a VAR review. 

Lewandowski completed his hat-trick when he bundled home with his thigh after his block of goalkeeper Philipp Kohn's clearance came back off the post. 

It was Lewandowski's fifth treble in the competition – only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (both eight) have managed more. 

Manchester United have plenty of issues to solve ahead of next season, no matter where they end up in 2021-22.

It seems certain that Ralf Rangnick will not be in charge, with Mauricio Pochettino among the favourites to take over, though the former RB Leipzig boss is set to move into a consultancy role at Old Trafford, and certainly has an eye for picking a player.

United have requirements in central midfield, regardless of whether Paul Pogba stays or goes, but based on current evidence, they also need a striker.

Their problems up top have come back to bite them in recent games. In fact, against Watford last time out, United had 22 shots, finishing with an expected goals (xG) of 2.7, yet drew 0-0 at Old Trafford. Putting away chances has been a major area of concern.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the club at the end of the August transfer window, and while he has contributed 15 goals in all competitions, it could easily be argued that United's all-round play has taken a hit since the 37-year-old's homecoming.

Edinson Cavani has featured only sporadically this season and, like Ronaldo, is approaching the twilight of a glistening career. Both players may well not be at United heading into 2022-23.

Anthony Martial is out on loan at Sevilla, with his United future looking rather bleak. Marcus Rashford, meanwhile, seems to lack the clinical nature to lead a title-challenging line.

The last time United went out and signed a striker at their peak was the season in which they last won the Premier League – Robin van Persie proving the difference in Alex Ferguson's last campaign in charge.

On Sunday, United face rivals Manchester City. A team that has perfected playing without a recognised number nine.

That is testament to Pep Guardiola's genius, but it has proved that it can be done. So, looking further down the line, who is the forward that United need?

Here, Stats Perform assesses some standout options.

Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Kane has long been linked with a move to Manchester, to both sides of the red-blue divide. It appeared City would bring the England captain north last year, yet Tottenham refused to budge, and it would seem that particular ship has sailed – Kane turns 29 this year and, with Erling Haaland's reported €75million (£62.1m) release clause, City are reportedly prioritising the Borussia Dortmund star. 

That could that leave the door open for Kane to rock up at Old Trafford instead, especially if the option of linking up with Pochettino is on the table.

It has been a tough season for Kane by his lofty standards, though his brilliant performances against City and Leeds United in recent weeks showed the player that was at the top of his game last season is still there.

Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad)

Taking Kylian Mbappe and Haaland out of the equation, United might still look at the younger end of the spectrum. In that regard, Real Sociedad's Isak may fit the bill.

Isak scored 17 LaLiga goals last season and, while he has not reached quite the same heights in 2021-22, at 22 he is definitely one for the future. His tally of eight goals across all competitions is disappointing, though when looking at expected goals on target (xGOT) – a tool that can quantify the quality of a player's finishing – Isak is at 12.2 for the season, suggesting that the placement of his shots should have resulted in more goals.

Patrik Schick (Bayer Leverkusen)

While not among the elite, if United are looking for a goalscorer then they could do worse than Schick, who has carried over his fine form from Euro 2020 into this season, scoring 20 goals in 24 matches for Bayer Leverkusen, striking on average every 84 minutes, which is the third-best minutes per goal ratio of strikers in Europe's top five leagues to have already netted at least 20 goals in all competitions, after Haaland and Robert Lewandowski (more on him later).

 

Schick has already had something of a nomadic career but at 26 is about to enter his prime years. His shot conversion rate of 28.17 is superb, ranking fourth out of players from the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, LaLiga and Ligue 1 to have scored at least 10 times.

The Czech's xGOT of 16.1, minus his xG of 14.4, gives him a shooting goals added (sga) figure of +1.7, meaning he is executing better quality shots than the quality of the chances he has attempted shots from. However, in contrast to Isak, he may also have benefited from goalkeepers failing to keep out attempts they would be expected to.

Lautaro Martinez (Inter)

One player who is among Europe's elite forwards is Inter's Martinez. The Argentine struck up a fearsome partnership with Romelu Lukaku in 2019-20 and 2020-21, and he has scored 12 goals already this season.

Martinez's aggression and pace could make him an ideal frontman for the Premier League, though his finishing can be erratic (he has had 102 attempts this season but has a conversion rate of just 11.76 per cent), while he has also underperformed his xG (17.1). The Argentine did only sign a new Inter contract last year, so he would be hard to prise away.

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern)

Before disregarding the option of Lewandowski as fantasy, take into account that he has not yet signed a new deal with Bayern Munich. The 33-year-old's contract expires in 2023.

Lewandowski is undoubtedly the best out-and-out striker in world football right now and, if Ronaldo and Cavani were to leave, United might prefer to go with experience. 

 

Not that experience is all Lewandowski would offer. He will go down as one of the best to grace the game and has 39 goals in 33 appearances this season, slightly overperforming his xG (37.6) in the process. He nets on average every 73 minutes and, like Van Persie a decade ago, would surely transform United into title contenders. That being said, the same was also said about Ronaldo.

Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid) 

Something of a wildcard option, Joao Felix is not the typical striker, but if United were to go down a Guardiola-inspired false nine route, then the former Benfica boy wonder might be the perfect fit.

It would be harsh to say Joao Felix has been a failure at Atletico Madrid, but it is fair to suggest he has not been a rip-roaring success under Diego Simeone either.

Yet the 22-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance. Indeed, he outshone compatriot Ronaldo in United's recent Champions League draw with Atleti and with the tactical nous he is sure to have got from Simeone, it would be intriguing to see him at Old Trafford.

Paul Pogba's future at Manchester United has been the subject of widespread speculation.

The 28-year-old midfielder will be out of contract at the end of this season.

Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are among the sides linked with the World Cup winner.

TOP STORY – JUVE TO PRIORITISE POGBA DEAL

Juventus have made signing Manchester United midfielder Pogba their top priority, reports Calciomercato.

Pogba has regularly been linked with a move away from Old Trafford as he stalls on a new deal with the Red Devils.

The Frenchman spent four years with the Bianconeri from 2012 to 2016 and they are dreaming of his return.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo reports that Roma are leading the way to sign Mexico international Hector Herrera, who is expected to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of this season.

- Milan have swooped in on Newcastle United target Sven Botman and are set to beat them to the Lille defender's signature, claims Calciomercato.

- Milan midfielder Franck Kessie's next destination is becoming more likely, with Barcelona moving closer to sealing a deal for the Ivorian on a free transfer, reports SPORT.

- Fichajes reports that Crystal Palace have enquired with Real Madrid about their asking price for midfielder Dani Ceballos .

- Robert Lewandowski is out of contract in 2023 and wants a new deal with Bayern Munich but no talks have yet taken place, claims Fabrizio Romano.

Robert Lewandowski hinted at friction with Bayern Munich over his future after the Bundesliga leaders beat Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Leroy Sane struck in the second half to seal a 1-0 victory at the Waldstadion and move the champions nine points clear of Borussia Dortmund, who play Augsburg on Sunday.

It was only the second time in his past nine league appearances that Lewandowski failed to get on the scoresheet, with goalkeeper Kevin Trapp making three saves to deny the striker.

Lewandowski's form in 2021-22 has nonetheless been exceptional, the Poland star having scored 28 times in just 24 league games along with nine in seven in the Champions League.

There is uncertainty around the 33-year-old's future, though, with his contract expiring at the end of 2022-23 and no clarity on whether he will extend that deal.

It was put to sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic that Bayern could be tempted to sell Lewandowski should an offer in the region of €50million be made in the next transfer window, but he told Sky: "No, Lewa is of course a very, very important part of our team.

"He is on his way to firing us to titles again, so that's out of the question."

He added Bayern would "of course do everything possible" to extend Lewandowski's contract, but the player himself was left puzzled by the comments.

"I'm hearing that for the first time," he said, as quoted by Spox.

"I'm calm. I know that, with my experience and at my age, I have to stay calm. It's important for me to focus on my game.

"I know what football looks like and how everything works. What's important to me is what happens in the game next week."

Poland captain Robert Lewandowski has backed the decision of the Polish football association to refuse to play their Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier against Russia next month following developments in Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, following weeks of rising political tensions in the region. The conflict escalated further on Friday, with the fighting reaching the capital city of Kyiv.

Russia had been set to host Poland in March, but on Friday, UEFA confirmed any international matches due to be held in Russia or Ukraine would have to be moved to a neutral venue, as well as confirming St Petersburg had been stripped of holding this season's Champions League final, which will now be played in Paris.

The winner of the tie between Poland and Russia would have been due to play either Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place in Qatar, but on Thursday, the Polish, Swedish and Czech FAs requested that Russia be barred from hosting any upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

On Saturday, the president of the Polish FA, Cezary Kulesza, took to Twitter to confirm they will refuse to play March's qualifier as part of the pair's final pathway to this year's tournament.

"No more words, time to act!" Kulesza posted on Twitter. "Due to the escalation of the aggression of the Russian Federation towards Ukraine, the Polish national team does not intend to play the play-off match against Russia. This is the only right decision. We are in talks with Sweden and Czech federations to present a common position to FIFA."

Bayern Munich star Lewandowski retweeted the post, saying: "It is the right decision! I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues.

"Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening."

Football's world governing body FIFA said in a statement that it: "condemns the use of force by Russia in Ukraine and any type of violence to resolve conflicts. Violence is never a solution and FIFA calls on all parties to restore peace through constructive dialogue.

"FIFA also continues to express its solidarity to the people affected by this conflict.

"Regarding football matters in both Ukraine and Russia, FIFA will continue to monitor the situation and updates in relation to the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers will be communicated in due course."

Robert Lewandowski says war is against "everything beautiful in sport" as he pleaded for solidarity with Ukraine amid Russia's invasion of the country.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, following weeks of rising political tensions in the region. The conflict escalated further on Friday, with the fighting reaching the capital city of Kyiv.

Sportspeople, teams and organisations around the globe have joined in the condemnation of Russia's attack.

On Friday, Bayern Munich – Lewandowski's club side – lit their stadium up in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag, with coach Julian Nagelsmann expressing his shock at the invasion.

"Everything beautiful in sport is against what war brings," Lewandowski posted to his official social media channels.

"For all people who value freedom and peace, this is a time of solidarity with the victims of military aggression in Ukraine."

On Thursday, the Polish football association, along with their counterparts from Sweden and the Czech Republic, requested that Russia be barred from hosting any upcoming World Cup qualifiers. The four nations are in the same play-off pathway for Qatar 2022.

Russia had been set to host Poland in March, but on Friday, UEFA confirmed any international matches due to be held in Russia or Ukraine would have to be moved to a neutral venue, as well as confirming St Petersburg had been stripped of holding this season's Champions League final.

Lewandowski, who is Poland's captain, went on to explain that he will hold discussions with his team-mates as to whether they wish to face Russia.

"As the captain of the national team, I will talk to my colleagues from the team about the match with Russia in order to work out a common position on this matter and present it to the president of the Polish Football Association as soon as possible," the statement finished.

Borussia Dortmund should have a clear idea on Erling Haaland's future in the next six weeks, but their chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke insisted they can cope without their talisman.

Haaland has taken the Bundesliga by storm since he arrived from Salzburg in January 2020, scoring 80 goals in 79 appearances across all competitions – finding the net once every 80.5 minutes on average.

That has made him one of the most sought-after talents in European football, with a host of elite clubs circling for when his reported €75million release clause kicks in at the end of this season.

The 21-year-old is yet to declare his intentions, with Dortmund head coach Marco Rose suggesting he has not given up hope of retaining Haaland's services.

Dortmund chief Watzke revealed a conclusion to discussions will likely arrive soon, though he believes Rose's side will recover even if they lose their star striker.

When asked whether Dortmund can keep Haaland by n-tv, Watzke responded: "I don't know. That will certainly clear up in the next few weeks, maybe a month, maybe six weeks.

"If he decides to leave, we will deal with it the way we always have. We have lost a few goalscorers in the past: Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. We will find someone new again."

 

Dortmund have managed without Haaland for the past month after the forward, who has scored four goals in four games in all competitions to start 2022, sustained a muscle injury.

Rose's team have netted 25 times in eight matches this calendar year – trailing only Liverpool (31) and Real Betis (29) across Europe's top five leagues.

Dortmund will be hoping to continue that rich vein of scoring form when they look to overturn a 4-2 deficit at Rangers in the second leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off at Ibrox on Thursday.

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