Cristiano Ronaldo is set to be playing back at Old Trafford again in 2021-22 after Manchester United confirmed they have reached an agreement with Juventus for the transfer of the Portugal great.

While personal terms, a medical and visa are still to be sorted out for Ronaldo, it would take something remarkable to stop him from joining now after a deal reportedly worth up to €23million (£19.7m) was agreed with Juve on Friday.

For a short while it looked as though Ronaldo – who had asked to leave the Bianconeri – was heading to Manchester City after they missed out on the signing of Harry Kane.

But apparent interventions from Ronaldo's former United manager Alex Ferguson and old team-mate Rio Ferdinand may have swung the race in the Red Devils' favour.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed to open the door to Ronaldo during his news conference on Friday, and just a few hours later United confirmed a deal had been struck with Juventus.

Following confirmation of the deal, Stats Perform takes a look at greats who went back to their spiritual home, starting with the Portugal captain…

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United

Ronaldo spent six years at Old Trafford during his last spell, arriving as a lanky teenager who probably averaged four stepovers per minute before leaving as a Ballon d'Or winner and an ice-cold finisher. His then-world record move to Real Madrid had been a long time coming and he spent nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu, becoming the club's all-time top scorer as he continued his transition from winger to out-and-out 'number nine'. There he won four Champions League titles before moving on to Juve, for whom he plundered 81 goals in 98 Serie A matches and picked up two Scudetti. But now he is all set for a return to England – whether he can match the standards he set last time remains to be seen, with his 31-goal haul of 2007-08 only bettered once in a 38-match season, though United fans will be convinced he can fire them to a first league title since Ferguson left.

 

Arjen Robben – Groningen

Robben's first retirement lasted just a single season, having announced last year he would be returning to his boyhood club Groningen for the 2020-21 campaign. Robben, now 37, initially brought an illustrious playing career to an end in July 2019 shortly after his 10-year spell with Bayern Munich finished. Although at the time he was linked with a potential return to the team that gave him his professional debut, Robben – who suffered with numerous injury problems throughout his career – opted to retire. He then caused something of a shock as he finally went back to the place where it all began, but once again injuries blighted his availability, restricting him to just seven Eredivisie appearances in 2020-21. Club director Mark-Jan Fledderus wanted him to stay on for another year, but when Robben said at the end of the season that he was going to have a long think about his future, the writing was seemingly on the wall. Another U-turn appears unlikely.

Juan Roman Riquelme – Argentinos Juniors

Perhaps more synonymous with Boca Juniors, where he made his professional debut and also spent most of his final years, Riquelme also had a strong affinity with Argentinos Juniors. He came through the club's academy in the early-to-mid 1990s, before then finishing his immense career at Estadio Diego Maradona in 2014, having also played for Barcelona, Villarreal and Argentina. Although the iconic attacking midfielder appeared close to joining Paraguay's Cerro Porteno the following year, the move never materialised.

Dirk Kuyt – Quick Boys

Kuyt briefly came out of retirement three years ago to help Quick Boys, with whom he spent 13 years as a youth. Playing in the Derde Divisie Saturday league, Kuyt was already working as assistant at the time, but made himself available for selection during a striker shortage and he made three appearances. The former Netherlands and Liverpool forward had retired the year before following a second spell with Feyenoord, where he had made his initial breakthrough in the mid-2000s, his form at the time earning a move to Anfield.

Rafael Marquez – Atlas

One of Mexico's greatest players, Marquez's longevity at such a high level was nothing short of incredible, as he accumulated 147 international caps. After breaking into the Atlas team as a teenager having come through their academy, the elegant centre-back enjoyed a sparkling career in Europe, winning 14 titles across spells with Monaco and Barcelona. Time with New York Red Bulls, Leon and Hellas Verona followed, before a final two-year stint back at the Jalisco ended in 2018. Although plagued by off-field allegations towards the end of his career, Marquez went on to become the club's sporting president, before standing down last in 2019 to focus on other areas of the sport. He was expected to be taking up a youth coaching role at Barca this season, but the deal ultimately fell through.

Henrik Larsson – Hogaborgs

While the Swedish club most may associate with Larsson is Helsingborgs, he actually made the breakthrough at a smaller side – Hogaborgs. It was here where he trained from the age of six, before eventually becoming a regular in the senior side and earning a move away. A trophy laden career followed, taking him to Feyenoord, Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United. Although he retired in 2009, he returned to the pitch for Raa in the Swedish third tier three years later, before then finding himself back in the team at Hogaborgs in 2013, helping out due to an injury crisis despite him only previously being registered to a casual team for 'seniors'. This gave him the chance to play alongside his son, Jordan.

Carlos Tevez – Boca Juniors

The Tevez-Boca love affair has dominated most of the striker's successful and complex career. After coming through their youth ranks, the feisty forward was seen as the heir to Maradona. A brief stint in Brazil with Corinthians followed, but Europe had long since beckoned, even if West Ham was by no means the expected destination. He went on to play for Man Utd and City, increasing tension between the clubs, before then going to Juventus, but throughout this time Tevez seemed to long for a return to Boca. He went back to La Bombonera in 2015, his homecoming interrupted by a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 in the Chinese Super League, though even Tevez acknowledged he saw his time in China as a "holiday". "He filled Santa's sack with dollars and now he has returned to Boca," was Maradona's assessment upon 'El Apache's' return from the CSL. His third spell with Boca ended in June 2021 and it remains to be seen if he ever plays for another club.

Gianluigi Buffon – Parma

Buffon likes a comeback. Having returned for a second spell at Juventus in 2019, the goalkeeping great departed the club for a second time at the end of 2020-21. The Italy legend suggested he had not finished playing yet and Parma quickly emerged as a potential destination despite their recent relegation to Serie B. After a few weeks of contemplation, it was confirmed that Buffon was heading back to the club where he made his name. Now 43, the iconic stopper is wearing Gialloblu for the first time in 20 years, and he is set to remain with them until he turns 45, given he signed a two-year contract. What happens after that is anyone's guess but calling it a day with his first club could be a satisfyingly romantic conclusion to a remarkable career – that or he ends up at Juve again!

He is back where he belongs.
He is back home. #SupermanReturns @gianluigibuffon @Kyle_J_Krause @ParmaCalcio_en pic.twitter.com/bh2FO6P8YX

— Parma Calcio 1913 (@1913parmacalcio) June 17, 2021

A Manchester United great, could Cristiano Ronaldo end up in the blue of the Red Devils' neighbours?

Ronaldo is reportedly set to leave Serie A powerhouse Juventus and a move to Manchester City is on the cards.

United fans will not be happy…

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO TO JOIN CITY AFTER JUVE FAREWELL

Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Juventus for Manchester City, according to Portuguese journalist Goncalo Lopes.

Ronaldo – who is in the final year of his Juve contract – has been eyeing a Turin exit amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Lopes claims a sensational move that will see United great Ronaldo play for neighbours City is a "done deal", while Gianluca Di Marzio says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will farewell his team-mates on Friday.

 

ROUND-UP

Kylian Mbappe is on the verge of moving to Madrid in a blockbuster transfer from PSG. The France international dominates the front page of Friday's L'Equipe, with the headline "Mbappe is at Real Madrid's door". The same outlet claims Madrid are desperate to claim a deal now before he becomes a free agent as they fear competition from the Premier League, where United and Liverpool are believed to be interested.

- If Mbappe does leave, L'Equipe states that PSG will target Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, United midfielder Paul Pogba and Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga.

- ESPN Brazil says PSG are trying to sign Brazil international Richarlison from Everton.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Raheem Sterling could leave City if the right bid arrives as Bernardo Silva also continues to be linked with a move away amid interest from Atletico Madrid and Milan.

Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Milan are interested in United full-back Diogo Dalot, according to Sky.

- Per The Athletic, there is caution a deal that would see Saul Niguez leave Atletico for United could happen. Chelsea are also reportedly in talks.

A Manchester United great, could Cristiano Ronaldo end up in the blue of the Red Devils' neighbours?

Ronaldo is reportedly set to leave Serie A powerhouse Juventus and a move to Manchester City is on the cards.

United fans will not be happy…

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO TO JOIN CITY AFTER JUVE FAREWELL

Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Juventus for Manchester City, according to Portuguese journalist Goncalo Lopes.

Ronaldo – who is in the final year of his Juve contract – has been eyeing a Turin exit amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Lopes claims a sensational move that will see United great Ronaldo play for neighbours City is a "done deal", while Gianluca Di Marzio says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will farewell his team-mates on Friday.

 

ROUND-UP

Kylian Mbappe is on the verge of moving to Madrid in a blockbuster transfer from PSG. The France international dominates the front page of Friday's L'Equipe, with the headline "Mbappe is at Real Madrid's door". The same outlet claims Madrid are desperate to claim a deal now before he becomes a free agent as they fear competition from the Premier League, where United and Liverpool are believed to be interested.

- If Mbappe does leave, L'Equipe states that PSG will target Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, United midfielder Paul Pogba and Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga.

- ESPN Brazil says PSG are trying to sign Brazil international Richarlison from Everton.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Raheem Sterling could leave City if the right bid arrives as Bernardo Silva also continues to be linked with a move away amid interest from Atletico Madrid and Milan.

Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Milan are interested in United full-back Diogo Dalot, according to Sky.

- Per The Athletic, there is caution a deal that would see Saul Niguez leave Atletico for United could happen. Chelsea are also reportedly in talks.

Edouard Mendy, Ruben Dias, N'Golo Kante and Erling Haaland won the positional awards for the 2020-21 Champions League.

Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy kept nine clean sheets in last season's competition as the Blues won the trophy for the second time, beating Manchester City 1-0 in the final.

City defender Dias was named the best defender, while Chelsea's Kante – UEFA's man of the match in each leg of the semi-final and the final – won the prize for midfielders.

Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland was chosen as the best forward in 2020-21.

The players were chosen from a shortlist of 12, who had each received the most points in each positional category following a jury vote. The jury comprised coaches from the 32 clubs that entered into the group stage last season, as well as 55 journalists representing UEFA's 55 member associations. Coaches could not vote for players from their own teams.

Five of the 12 nominees were from Chelsea: Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Kante and Jorginho.

City had three representatives – Ederson, Dias and Kevin De Bruyne – while beaten semi-finalists Real Madrid and PSG provided one each: Thibaut Courtois, and Kylian Mbappe.

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Haaland, who finished as top scorer last season with 10, were the other nominees.

Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi will go up against each other in the Champions League after Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were drawn into the same group.

Messi and Guardiola enjoyed a close relationship during their time together at Barcelona, but for the first time they will meet with neither of them representing the Catalans.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi left Barca at the end of June when his contract expired, and while he was expected to sign on with them again, the Blaugrana's hands were tied due to financial restrictions.

As such, Messi was swiftly snapped up by PSG despite previous links with City and a potential Guardiola reunion.

Another narrative could yet enter the conversation with respect to City versus PSG, as Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo – Messi's long-time rival – has been strongly with a move to the Etihad Stadium.

If Ronaldo does not leave Juve, he will go up against the holders Chelsea – who beat City in last season's final – in Group H.

There will be a repeat of the 2020-21 Europa League final in Group F as Manchester United have been offered the opportunity for revenge against Villarreal, who defeated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men in a remarkable penalty shoot-out in Belfast at the end of May.

Three of Spain's other representatives have tough groups to contend with: Barcelona were drawn with Bayern Munich, Benfica and Dynamo Kiev; Real Madrid will again face Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk as they did in 2020-21; and Atletico Madrid must go up against Liverpool, Porto and Milan.

Sevilla, on the other hand, are in the seemingly even Group G with Ligue 1 winners Lille, Salzburg and Wolfsburg, the latter of whom are back in the competition for only the third time.

First-time qualifiers Sheriff of Moldova joined Madrid, Inter and Shakhtar in Group D.

 

Group A: Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig, Club Brugge

Group B: Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Porto, Milan

Group C: Sporting CP, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Besiktas

Group D: Inter, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sheriff

Group E: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Benfica, Dynamo Kiev

Group F: Villarreal, Manchester United, Atalanta, Young Boys

Group G: Lille, Sevilla, Salzburg, Wolfsburg

Group H: Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit, Malmo

Will Kylian Mbappe join Real Madrid before the transfer window shuts?

It has been confirmed that Mbappe wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain, despite Lionel Messi's arrival.

Madrid must now strike an agreement with PSG or wait to sign the France international on a free transfer.

 

TOP STORY – PSG NAME MBAPPE PRICE

Paris Saint-Germain want €220million for wantaway Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Madrid reportedly offered €160m for Mbappe, who is out of contract at the end of 2021-22, as PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed the Frenchman's desire to leave Paris on Wednesday.

PSG are said to named their price, with RMC claiming Madrid will make an improved offer for Mbappe.

Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky Italia's Gianluca Di Marzio says Manchester City are offering Cristiano Ronaldo a two-year deal, though the Premier League holders are unwilling to pay Juventus a transfer fee. There has been talk of Gabriel Jesus or Bernardo Silva being included in a possible deal to sign Ronaldo. It comes after City failed to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham, while Ronaldo has been linked with former club United as well as PSG and Madrid.

Chelsea have readied their final bid for Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, per Fabrizio Romano. The Champions League holders are also trying to sign Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez – a target for rivals United.

Antonio Conte is one of the top choices to replace Mikel Arteta if Arsenal sack their manager, according to the Independent. Conte is without a club after guiding Inter to the Scudetto in 2020-21.

- Di Marzio claims Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are interested in Brest midfielder Romain Faivre, who is in talks with Milan.

Lazio are pushing to sign Eintracht Frankfurt star Filip Kostic as Joaquin Correa nears a switch to Inter, reports Calciomercato.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored four times as Bayern Munich launched their DFB-Pokal campaign with an emphatic 12-0 rout of Bremer.

Jamal Musiala grabbed a brace while Malik Tillman, Leroy Sane, Michael Cuisance, Bouna Sarr and Corentin Tolisso were also on target as Julian Nagelsmann’s side eased through to the second round of the competition.

On top of his four goals, Choupo-Moting also provided assists for Musiala and Sarr on a miserable day for fifth-tier Bremer, who had Ugo Nobile sent off later on.

For Bayern, it was the second-highest margin of victory in their history after a 16-1 thrashing of Waldberg in 1997.

Though much-changed by Nagelsmann, Bayern never looked in danger of suffering only a second defeat in 24 competitive matches against sides below Germany's top three divisions.

Just eight minutes had passed when Sane's cutback was fired in off the underside of the crossbar by Choupo-Moting, who turned provider in the 16th minute with a neat lay-off for Musiala to slot home.

That same combination unlocked Bremer once more 11 minutes later, with Jan-Luca Warm turning Musiala's shot over his own goal line.

Choupo-Moting tapped in his second as the hosts were caught out from the subsequent kick-off, before completing his hat-trick with a 35th-minute header from close range.

Bayern picked up from where they left off with two goals within three minutes of the restart. Substitute Tillman pounced on poor play before slotting home, while Musiala rifled in his second less than 60 seconds later.

Sane got in on the act in the 65th minute, before Nobile was sent off for dragging back Tillman as he raced into the box.

Four goals followed in the final 10 minutes. Cuisance and Choupo-Moting took the visitors' tally into double figures, while further strikes from Sarr and Tolisso completed the rout.

What does it mean? Bayern breeze through

On the front foot from the very start, Bayern endured little difficulty as they progressed to the second round of the competition for the 27th consecutive season.

You must go back to August 1994 for the last time they fell at the first hurdle, going down 1-0 against third-tier Vestenbergsgreuth.

Choupo-Moting proves his worth

With Robert Lewandowski rested, Choupo-Moting was handed a rare opportunity to lead the line and build some momentum.

The Cameroon international did not let Nagelsmann down with four goals, while providing five key passes including three assists.

Muller struggles to make an impact

One of four surviving players from Sunday's win over Cologne, Muller was handed the captain's armband by Nagelsmann.

However, the Germany international only managed 25 touches and completed 12 passes before he was substituted at half-time.

What's next?

Bayern return to Bundesliga action on Saturday as they welcome Hertha Berlin to the Allianz Arena, while Bremer travel to Leher in the Bremen-Liga next Thursday.

Julian Nagelsmann confirmed Bayern Munich will be without Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer for their DFB-Pokal clash with Bremer on Wednesday.

The head coach is set to rotate as Bayern launch their campaign against the fifth-tier side at Werder Bremen's Weserstadion.

Bayern are aiming to reclaim the trophy after suffering a surprise defeat against Holstein Kiel in the second round of last season's competition.

Nagelsmann has overseen an unbeaten start to the new season; Bayern taking four points from their opening two games while also retaining the Supercup after a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.

And the head coach revealed he will rest some of his senior players ahead of their trip to Bremen.

"Manuel [Neuer] will be rested, as his foot has flared up again, as we expected," he said. "He won't travel to the game. 

"Neither will Robert [Lewandowski], he will stay behind and do some intensive training here. The same goes for Leon [Goretzka].

"For them [Bremer], this is a once-in-a-lifetime game. In the end, the fact is that we need to and want to win, which means that we need to remain focused on the task at hand." 

Nagelsmann will soon be able to call upon the services of Lucas Hernandez, who returned to team training on Tuesday.

The France international underwent surgery on a meniscus injury at the beginning of July and missed Bayern’s first three games of the season.

Julian Nagelsmann insists Bayern Munich have a lot of room for improvement after narrowly defeating Cologne 3-2 on Sunday.

Serge Gnabry's brace, coupled with Robert Lewandowski's opener, ensured Bayern's new head coach his first Bundesliga win at the second time of asking.

The reigning German champions failed to win in their opener for the first time in 10 years, having drawn 1-1 with Borussia Monchengladbach, and Nagelsmann compared the two opening fixtures.

"The result is good," the 34-year-old told reporters. "It was a wild game that had parallels to the game against Gladbach.

"We still have a lot to do and improve. We lost the ball too often and we could have done better.

"Football is a sport of results, and in the end the result was good from our point of view today."

Gnabry's double was his fourth multiple-goal return against Cologne, while Lewandowski equalled his own record 12-game Bundesliga scoring run with a close-range finish.

However, Leroy Sane was hauled off at half-time amid first-half jeers from the crowd.

"We didn't play a good game in the first half as a whole team," Nagelsmann continued.

"I heard the whistles [from the crowd towards Sane]. The fans should support their own players – anything else does not help."

Sane's half-time replacement, Jamal Musiala impressed to create Lewandowski's tap-in and Nagelsmann hailed the Germany international's "outstanding game offensively" and lauded his one-on-one abilities to attack.

Asked whether Bayern would be active in the transfer window, having only spent money on Dayot Upamecano, Nagelsmann responded: "Transfers? We'll see what's possible. If there's something, then we will announce it. If not, then we will work with what we have."

Julian Nagelsmann picked up his first Bundesliga win with Bayern Munich on Sunday as they edged past Cologne 3-2 courtesy of a Serge Gnabry brace.

Robert Lewandowski broke the deadlock in the 50th minute, scoring in his 12th consecutive Bundesliga appearance, and Gnabry inflicted further damage eight minutes later.

Cologne refused to surrender, though, Anthony Modeste heading home before Mark Uth equalised to cap off three goals in four chaotic second-half minutes.

Gnabry, however, netted his second to restore Bayern's advantage, arrowing into the roof of the net and sealing three points for the hosts.

Thomas Muller spurned the first chance of the game, poking a sliding finish wide after a driving run by Lewandowski down the right.

Niklas Sule then enjoyed a rare foray forward, twisting and turning inwards before firing towards goal, where Timo Horn reacted acrobatically to tip over.

The hosts failed to make their 62 per cent of first-half possession pay but a double half-time change proved vital, Jamal Musiala – introduced for Leroy Sane – creating the opener.

The substitute roamed forwards before pulling back for Lewandowski to tap-in, the finish equalling his personal record of 12 consecutive Bundesliga appearances with a goal, previously achieved with Borussia Dortmund in 2012-13.

Gnabry made matters worse for the visitors, collecting his 10th goal in eight appearances against Sunday's opponents by arriving at the back post to convert Josip Stanisic's low cross.

However, Cologne pulled a goal back with their first shot on target, Modeste redirecting a header past Manuel Neuer from Jonas Hector's delivery.

Uth shocked the home crowd with his 62nd-minute equaliser, diving to prod low past Neuer after Kingsley Ehizibue's curler from the right.

The visitors remained level for only eight minutes, though, Gnabry firing powerfully past Horn before Lewandowski almost added a fourth, only to be denied by the crossbar.

What does it mean? Nagelsmann on the board as control over Cologne continues

Nagelsmann became the first Bayern boss in 10 years not to win on the opening day of a new Bundesliga season with a 1-1 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach.

However, the former RB Leipzig coach picked up the DFL-Supercup with a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in midweek and now has his first Bundesliga win with his new side.

The hosts have now won each of their past eight games against Cologne and are undefeated in 15 such Bundesliga fixtures, too – their longest winning streak and the longest unbeaten run against any current team in the top flight.

Lewandowski marches on

Lewandowski's opener means he has now scored a goal in every one of his past 12 Bundesliga games.

However, the Poland forward's link-up play was also excellent – making a game-high two key passes and competing for the joint-most duels (17) as he embroiled himself in a battle with Jorge Mere and Rafael Czichos.

Nagelsmann's star attacker now has four goals across all competitions for the season and he will be hoping he can fire his team to their 10th straight Bundesliga title.

Lost Ljubicic

Dejan Ljubicic set the tone for a poor performance with a needless booking in the first half for not retreating to block Bayern's quick free-kick.

The midfielder completed just 61.5 per cent of his 26 attempted passes, while also touching the ball just 37 times as he struggled against Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka in the middle of the park.

What's next?

Bayern travel to Bremer on Wednesday in the DFB-Pokal before hosting Hertha Berlin on Saturday. Meanwhile, Cologne return to RheinEnergieSTADION to face Bochum on the same day.

Julian Nagelsmann is not at all concerned about transfer speculation surrounding Robert Lewandowski, believing it is "completely normal" that other clubs would be interested in the Bayern Munich superstar.

Reports emerged this week of Lewandowski wanting to leave Bayern, where he has been the main man since signing from Borussia Dortmund in 2014.

But a big fee is said to deter potential suitors, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola – Lewandowski's former Bayern coach – completely dismissed the idea of signing the forward on Friday.

In the meantime, Lewandowski continues to perform for the Bundesliga champions.

Having last term scored 41 times in the league – breaking Gerd Muller's single-season record – the 32-year-old, who turns 33 on Saturday, has maintained his lofty standards in the opening weeks of the new campaign.

With a brace against Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup in midweek, Lewandowski now has a record seven goals in that match and has netted in 14 successive games in all competitions – two shy of another Muller record.

Nagelsmann took that display as evidence of Lewandowski's continued happiness in Bavaria.

Asked about the rumours ahead of Bayern's game against Cologne, the coach said: "That doesn't bother me at all, if I'm being honest. That is part of the business.

 

"If I were not coach at Bayern but at another big club, I would always ask about that name and hope that something would work. It's because he scores a lot and is the most dangerous striker out there. This is completely normal. 

"The only thing that matters to me is how the player reacts – and Lewy is in top shape. He talks a lot to me and the players in training. He is not a satellite that isolates himself and hopes that he will go away. 

"He feels good, which was also shown by his performance against Dortmund, even in training. A player who wants to leave would not do that. 

"It is part of life that there are rumours. Live and let live – both journalists and players. When the player is in a good mood, and that's the case, we're all happy."

Before equalling Muller's streak, Lewandowski can first match his own best stretch. With a goal against Cologne, he would net in 12 league games in a row – only previously doing so for Dortmund in 2012-13.

Pep Guardiola had no interest in discussing a potential move for Robert Lewandowski as Manchester City still wait to make a striker signing.

Guardiola was speaking at City's news conference ahead of Saturday's game against Norwich City, where he revealed Kevin De Bruyne is a doubt with an ankle issue.

Even without De Bruyne, City should have enough in creative areas against Norwich, having signed Jack Grealish for a British record £100million fee.

But Guardiola's men remain light up front, with Sergio Aguero departing for Barcelona and a move for Harry Kane so far failing to come to fruition.

Reports this week of Lewandowski's unhappiness at Bayern Munich, Guardiola's former club, prompted questions about possible interest.

Lewandowski was at Bayern for just two of Guardiola's three seasons but still trailed only Thomas Muller (79 and 115) for goals (67) and goal involvements (79) during the Catalan coach's tenure.

It might be an effective link-up, but Guardiola does not anticipate Lewandowski heading to the Premier League any time soon.

"Next question," he replied, as the news conference opened on Lewandowski. "Listen, Lewy is a so important player for Bayern Munich. He will stay in Bayern Munich.

"I'm not going to talk to you and your colleagues today, with 11 days left, about the transfer market. I don't know what's going to happen, nobody knows.

"Tomorrow we have a game, prepare the Arsenal game when we finish. When we come back after the international break, we'll have all the squad to fight for every game in the season."

Even if neither Kane nor an alternative like Lewandowski were signed, Guardiola would be "more than happy" with his City squad.

"It's the same team, except Sergio for Jack Grealish, that we had last season," he explained.

Asked about team news for the Norwich game, Guardiola initially said there was "no news, good news" before a specific query about De Bruyne.

"Kevin couldn't train today, so there is news," he said. "He couldn't train today, a little disturbance, so we will see tomorrow if he can play or not."

City lost their season opener 1-0 at Tottenham and only rivals Manchester United (in 1992-93, 1995-96 and 2012-13) have previously won the Premier League title after being beaten in their first match.

The reigning champions have lost their past three games in all competitions 1-0, part of a run of five defeats in seven, as many as in their previous 56 matches.

Were that miserable run to continue against Norwich, though, it would be unprecedented for a Guardiola side, as he has never seen a team lose four in a row or go four without scoring.

City last lost four straight in August 2006 and have not lost four without reply since March 1986.

Guardiola certainly is not worrying yet, adding: "We have 111 points to play, 37 games.

"I cannot deny I would have preferred to have three points, but tomorrow we have the challenge to win the first three.

"We have to win games, of course, if we want to be there close to the top of the league, but it's the second fixture.

"Many games and many things are going to happen this season. What I would like to see is the team getting better."

Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann has credited his predecessor Hansi Flick with the team's success in the DFL-Supercup.

Bayern beat Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at Signal Iduna Park, Robert Lewandowski scoring twice against his old club either side of Thomas Muller's simple finish and a sensational strike from Marco Reus.

It sealed Bayern's ninth Supercup win in total, and their second in a row after they beat the same opponents in 2020, under then-coach Flick, who left the club at the end of last season.

Flick, now the Germany coach, led Bayern to two Bundesliga titles, the Champions League, a DFB-Pokal, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup – as well as the Supercup – during his 18-month spell, and was watching on from the stands as part of a limited-capacity but vociferous crowd on Tuesday.

For Nageslmann, the victory represents his first trophy as a coach. Indeed, the 34-year-old had only overseen one appearance in a final – RB Leipzig's 4-1 defeat to Dortmund in May.

Despite finally claiming silverware to get his Bayern tenure off to a strong start, Nagelsmann insisted the credit had to go to Flick and the players who claimed a ninth successive Bundesliga title in 2020-21.

"We thoroughly deserved to win. It's not easy against Dortmund with the attacking power that they have," Nagelsmann told Sat.1.

"The title is the reward for last season because we won the title. Not me, but Hansi Flick. The title belongs more to others than it does to me.

"I was forced by the boys to pick up the trophy, they picked me up a little – 'now you finally have a title too'."

Describing winning his first trophy and an eagerness for more, Nagelsmann stated he has "small hamster teeth", adding: "Everyone knows that this has a meaning, also for me. But also, for the dressing room.

"At Bayern there is pressure, you have to win games and win titles, so it was important."

 

Lewandowski was in imperious form on his old stomping ground, converting the two big chances that came his way in clinical fashion – his first goal a fantastic header, his second a cool finish following Manuel Akanji's mistake – as the Bayern star paid homage to one of German football's greats, Gerd Muller, who passed away over the weekend.

"It means a lot to me. It's the next title win for us," said Lewandowski, who broke Muller's record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season last term.

"It's great for the fans to watch the game live. It's great for the team. We can enjoy it."

While Lewandowski starred at one end, Erling Haaland toiled to no avail at the other, though Dortmund's free-scoring forward was unfortunate to have a goal ruled out for offside.

Reus was the main threat for Marco Rose's team, with his three attempts and two key passes leading the way.

"It was an unnecessary defeat. Bayern had their chances, we knew they would," said Dortmund's captain.

"There was no faulting our energy levels and passion, but titles have a habit of ending up at Bayern."

Bayern Munich were not the biggest club in their own city, let alone the country, when Gerd Muller signed in 1964.

The Bavarians' major trophy haul at that time consisted of a single league championship in 1932 and a maiden DFB-Pokal success 25 years later. Muller joined a second-tier side.

On Tuesday, two days after the club great's passing, Bayern celebrated his life in fitting fashion with a record-extending ninth DFL-Supercup triumph – a competition they have to win silverware simply to enter.

The Bundesliga dominance, cup after cup and six European crowns... all that history can be traced back to Muller's decision to head for Bayern rather than rivals 1860 Munich.

He was there for the first four Bundesliga titles – the top scorer on each occasion – and for three European Cups in three years, Muller's standards slipping as Jupp Heynckes was the leading marksman in the third season.

In 15 years, the remarkable forward tallied 566 Bayern goals, a benchmark that stands to this day. Muller's Bundesliga total of 365 is also unsurpassed.

As those numbers show, breaking a Muller record is no simple task, but Robert Lewandowski finally did so last season when scoring 41 goals in a single Bundesliga campaign, edging beyond the legend's 40 in 1971-72.

"I achieved a goal that once seemed impossible to imagine," Lewandowski wrote on his Twitter page in May. "I'm so unbelievably proud to make history for Bayern, and to play a part in creating the stories that fans will tell their children – following in the footsteps of legends like Gerd Muller."

 

It made sense then for Lewandowski to be front and centre again at Signal Iduna Park as Muller was remembered.

He clutched a number nine shirt ahead of kick-off as a moment's silence broke into applause, the Borussia Dortmund fans recognising a legacy that goes beyond club lines.

It was a lovely tribute, but Muller would have been more familiar with Lewandowski's subsequent nods to his greatest predecessor.

Muller was the ultimate 18-yard box centre-forward, a mantle Lewandowski has taken on and exhibited expertly against his former side.

Manuel Neuer, another of the Bayern players carrying a Muller shirt, kept Dortmund at bay at one end – finishing with four saves – before his club's latest outstanding number nine showed Erling Haaland and BVB's team of young pretenders how it is done at the other.

"Lewandowski has proven over several years now that he is a world-class striker," coach Julian Nagelsmann said before the game. "Erling hasn't been in the league that long, although his scoring rate is great."

That proven Lewandowski class brought a brutal, brilliant opener, his header from Serge Gnabry's left-wing cross thumped into the bottom-left corner. The outcome of a chance that was worth a moderate 0.29 expected goals (xG) was never in doubt.

And Lewandowski was involved again, in the box again, when Bayern appeared to put the game beyond doubt four minutes after half-time, waving a leg towards Alphonso Davies' low cross in an attempt at a flick that ran instead for Thomas Muller's tap-in, the late Bayern superstar's namesake having been the third visiting player to hold up a red shirt in a pre-match show of respect.

Perhaps the linesman was a Gerd Muller fan, too, twice ruling in Bayern's favour when Youssoufa Moukoko and Haaland each ran away to score – the second call considerably closer than the first.

There was no ruling out a blistering Marco Reus strike, which briefly threatened Bayern's control, but Manuel Akanji's dallying let Lewandowski in again and the Dortmund fans know exactly how that tends to go. This time with an xG of 0.25 – merely the fifth-best chance of the match – the 32-year-old made it look routine.

A seventh Supercup strike, Lewandowski extended another record that is all his own – albeit in a competition Muller never graced.

The Poland international is Muller's nearest challenger in Bundesliga terms, with 278 goals, and deserves to be counted in such company, even if he has just added to Bayern's reputation rather than transformed it. Lewandowski has also now scored in 14 successive matches for Bayern, which means he needs to score in just two more consecutive games to match another of Muller's all-time records (16, in 1969-70).

Meanwhile, this was not Haaland's night, but he too could have one eye on the sort of standards Muller set. Still just 21, Haaland has 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga games – or one every 84.8 minutes – and Hasan Salihamidzic has acknowledged Bayern would be "amateurs" not to consider signing the striker.

Given the apparent inevitability of a transfer at the end of this campaign, the BVB sensation would seemingly have to join Germany's powerhouse to stay in the Bundesliga and close on Muller or Lewandowski.

Bayern do not need a replacement up front just yet, though, after their latest legend ensured 2021-22 would continue an almost constant theme since Muller broke all barriers, with silverware heading back to Bavaria.

Julian Nagelsmann claimed his first piece of silverware at Bayern Munich as Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller secured a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup.

In a frantic encounter between the Bundesliga champions and DFB-Pokal winners at Signal Iduna Park, it was Bayern who defended their crown in the third straight Supercup meeting between the Klassiker rivals.

Lewandowski broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record of 40 goals in a single season with the final kick of 2020-21, and he fittingly opened the scoring two days after the Bayern great's passing.

Muller put Bayern in complete control and, though Marco Reus' stunner gave Dortmund hope, Lewandowski capitalised on Manuel Akanji's error to seal victory.

Dortmund were their own worst enemy from the off, with Serge Gnabry, Muller and Kingsley Coman all squandering gilt-edged chances after sloppy play from Marco Rose's team.

Yet it was Neuer who made the first save of the match. Hailed as "the best goalkeeper in the world" by Nagelsmann, the Bayern stalwart stuck out a leg to spectacularly deny Reus.

Dortmund were caught cold from a free-kick as the intensity continued, Lewandowski's effort blocked on the line by Axel Witsel.

Youssoufa Moukoko, the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history, thought he had nosed Dortmund ahead in the 36th minute only for the offside flag to halt his celebrations, before Neuer kept out Erling Haaland.

Bayern made their fortune count, Lewandowksi floating into the area to direct a thumping header beyond Gregor Kobel.

Lewandowski was involved again as, four minutes after the break, Bayern doubled their lead, the striker doing enough to prevent Kobel from collecting Alphonso Davies' cross, with Muller turning home.

Dortmund seemed to have an immediate lifeline when Haaland raced through and slotted home, but the offside flag again came to Bayern's rescue.

Bayern's lead was cut in sensational style after the hour, Reus curling a sumptuous first-time strike into the top-right corner.

Despite the backing of much of the limited-capacity crowd, Dortmund's comeback hopes fell flat 16 minutes from time as Corentin Tolisso pressured Akanji and Lewandowski picked up the scraps to round matters off.

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