Borussia Dortmund breezed into the DFB-Pokal final despite the absence of Erling Haaland, Giovanni Reyna scoring twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Holstein Kiel.

Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard and Jude Bellingham were also on target in a first-half rout, Dortmund dismantling their second-tier opponents to set up a showdown with RB Leipzig on May 13.

Kiel had sensationally ended Bayern Munich's reign in the competition when knocking out the holders on penalties in the second round. They also came out on top in a dramatic shoot-out against Darmstadt in the last 16, while they progressed to the semi-finals thanks to a 3-0 triumph away at Rot-Weiss Essen.

However, any hopes of another upset had long disappeared by half-time at Signal Iduna Park as the injured Haaland – ruled out with a muscle issue – watched on from the stands.

Reyna scored the first two. His opener was teed up by Jadon Sancho before he added another from close range, tapping in after Reus' attempted cross had been back-heeled into the path of the United States international by Raphael Guerreiro.

Reus was next to score, poking the ball past goalkeeper Thomas Dahne after Emre Can's lofted pass had picked out his team-mate's run beyond Kiel's overworked defence.

Hazard capitalised on a loose pass to make it four goals in a crazy 16-minute spell, while a long-range shot from Bellingham found the net thanks to a sizeable deflection off Simon Lorenz that left poor Dahne with no chance.

The onslaught allowed Dortmund coach Edin Terzic to make a slew of changes with one eye on a pivotal Bundesliga run-in, while poor Kiel were happy to avoid any further punishment in a second half that had a testimonial feel to it.


What does it mean? Silver lining still a possibility

Securing a top-four Bundesliga finish is the priority for Dortmund, but an up-and-down season that has included the departure of head coach Lucien Favre could yet see silverware secured. They have not won the cup since 2017 when current Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was in charge.

While Leipzig had to work hard to seal progression on Friday, beating Werder Bremen with a dramatic winner at the end of extra time, their opponents for the Berlin final were able to coast through.

Just kidding around

While Haaland's future may be unclear beyond the current campaign, Dortmund have two more outstanding prospects coming through to take centre stage when, rather than if, the Norwegian departs.

Reyna scored with two of his 23 touches before being replaced at the break, yet Bellingham played the full game in midfield, completing 97 per cent of his attempted passes.

Visitors Kiel over

This was a harsh way for a superb run to end, with Kiel seeing fortune desert them as BVB benefited from several lucky breaks to run up the score.

Fabian Reese had every reason to feel frustrated after his wonderful long-range strike beat Marwin Hitz but was kept out by the post, albeit a comeback would still have been unlikely with the hosts already 3-0 up.

What's next?

There will be a final rehearsal next Saturday when Dortmund host Leipzig, though Bundesliga points – not prizes – will be on offer. Kiel, meanwhile, host SV Sandhausen in league action on Tuesday as they continue their quest for promotion to the top tier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Nagelsmann says he is leaving RB Leipzig for "a unique opportunity" at Bayern Munich with "a heavy heart" but vows he will give everything to finish on a high.

Leipzig head coach Nagelsmann is to become the new Bayern boss and has agreed a five-year contract beginning on July 1, both clubs confirmed on Tuesday.

Bayern, who are on the verge of a ninth successive Bundesliga title, have agreed to terminate the contract of Hansi Flick, who informed the club he did not want to stay in charge beyond this season.

Nagelsmann has Leipzig on the brink of sealing second place in the Bundesliga, which would be their best finish.

There also remains a chance he will guide the club to their first major silverware with Bayern already out of the DFB-Pokal ahead of Leipzig's semi-final against Werder Bremen on Friday.

The 33-year-old finished third in the top flight and reached the Champions League semi-finals with Leipzig last season – his first after joining from Hoffenheim - but revealed the Bayern job was too difficult to turn down.

"I will leave RB Leipzig with a heavy heart," Nagelsmann told Leipzig's website.

"I’ve been able to coach a special team here at a club with huge opportunities and the best possible conditions to work in.

"Our run to the Champions League semi-finals was definitely the highlight of our time together. It was a moment that I'll never forget.

"We're currently enjoying the best Bundesliga campaign in the club's history too. We want to make sure it ends up our best finish and then also lift a major trophy for the first time as well.

"It's too early to say my goodbyes and speak about my memories because I'm not done here yet in Leipzig.

"My mission may end here in the summer, but I will give my absolute all until then. We've grown into a real tight-knit bunch that finally wants to win a title.

"Leipzig are a special club – nevertheless, I am leaving. I made no secret of the fact that the head coach position at FC Bayern appealed to me and that I would like to take on this job if the opportunity ever arose.

"The position at FC Bayern is a unique opportunity for me. I would therefore like to thank Oliver Mintzlaff and the rest of the board at RB Leipzig for finding a solution with FC Bayern and making this possible for me.

"Now we're shifting our full attention to the remaining three Bundesliga games and of course the DFB-Pokal semi-final, to try and finish the season as successfully as possible."

Talk emerged on Monday that Bayern and Nagelsmann had quickly agreed terms but that a fee to release him from his RB Leipzig contract was proving a sticking point.

According to widespread reports, an agreement has been reached between the clubs that would make Nagelsmann the world's most expensive head coach.

The Athletic indicated Bayern will pay around €20million, while further reports suggest add-ons could take the total closer to €25m.

Nagelsmann, 33, had also been linked with Tottenham after their decision to sack Jose Mourinho last week.

However, as a boyhood Bayern fan from the Bavarian town of Landsberg am Lech, the Allianz Arena has long been touted as his dream destination.

When Nagelsmann does finish at Leipzig, he will do so with a sense of pride.

He added: "Since my first game in August 2019 against VfL Osnabruck, RB Leipzig, the whole region and all the staff and players here have meant so much to me.

"We've experienced so many special things during our eventful time together.

"Everybody here, including the staff who work alongside the team, have ensured that we've written plenty of stories for the club's history books and are continuing to do so now. I'm really proud of that."

Julian Nagelsmann can keep the trophies coming for Bayern Munich, with Oliver Kahn forecasting a "very successful" future under the leadership of the incoming coach.

The 33-year-old Nagelsmann will leave RB Leipzig at the end of the season after agreeing a five-year contract with Bayern.

A world-record fee for a coach was reportedly agreed to secure the man who will take over from Hansi Flick, with Bayern expected to hand over at least €20million.

They may recoup some of that if Flick, who asked to be released from his contract, is appointed head coach of Germany.

By hiring such a young coach, Bayern are making a major statement about their intentions, seeing Nagelsmann as a long-term prospect.

Kahn, who will step up from his role on the board to become Bayern CEO at the end of the year, said: "Julian's contract length of five years alone shows how committed he is to FC Bayern.

"I am convinced that FC Bayern's sporting future will be a very successful one with Julian Nagelsmann."

Goalkeeping great Kahn believes the team are in safe hands with the incoming boss, but he also praised Flick for his contribution.

Since taking over from the sacked Niko Kovac in November 2019, Flick has steered Bayern to six trophies, including a treble of the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League last season.

A seventh trophy of Flick's brief reign should arrive in May, with Bayern on the brink of a ninth successive Bundesliga title.

"My thanks go to Hansi Flick," Kahn said. "He's led FC Bayern to great successes with great football. We have now fulfilled his wish to leave FC Bayern before the end of his contract. All the best, Hansi!"

Reports suggested Flick and Hasan Salihamidzic have been at odds over team matters, including player recruitment.

With Flick no longer needing to concern himself with such matters, they may be able to part on peaceful terms.

"I want to express my thanks to Hansi Flick," said Salihamidzic.

"After taking on the role of head coach nearly one and a half years ago, we have celebrated many victories and titles, with the treble in 2020 being the high point. His name will always be associated with these successes. I wish him all the best for the road ahead."

Clearly, Salihamidzic is looking forward to working with Nagelsmann, having been impressed by the discussions with the coach that have led to this point.

In 90 games with Leipzig, Nagelsmann has earned 53 wins and 21 draws and suffered 16 defeats - achieving a healthy win percentage of 58.9 per cent.

"The talks with Julian have been very cooperative and constructive," Salihamidzic said. "We are going to have a lot of joy with him – of that I am sure."

Julian Nagelsmann told RB Leipzig the Bayern Munich job was his lifelong dream before they agreed to his exit, club CEO Oliver Mintzlaff has revealed.

Mintzlaff revealed the decision to sanction Nagelsmann's departure took place after open and honest talks with the highly rated 33-year-old, who is nearing the end of his second season with Leipzig.

Leipzig head coach Nagelsmann is to become the new Bayern boss and has agreed a five-year contract beginning on July 1, both clubs confirmed on Tuesday.

Nagelsmann said he is leaving RB Leipzig for "a unique opportunity" at Bayern with "a heavy heart" but vowed he would give everything to finish on a high.

Discussing the announcement, Mintzlaff said: "There has been a lot of activity over the past few days regarding the role as head coach of FC Bayern Munich.

"Following this, Julian Nagelsmann approached us and expressed in open talks that it is a lifelong dream of his to become coach of FC Bayern, and that he would like to make the move to Munich if the opportunity presented itself after the end of this season.

"Julian has taken a fantastic path in Leipzig and developed the club very successfully.

"He has not only improved individual players but has also taken the team as a collective to the next level.

"We signed a long-term contract that did not originally include an exit scenario.

"However, Julian's strong desire to coach FC Bayern has led us to the decision that the door is open after intensive talks, provided certain prerequisites are met."

Following reports on Monday that Bayern and Nagelsmann had quickly agreed terms, a fee to release him from his RB Leipzig contract was said to be proving a sticking point.

An agreement has been now reached between the clubs that will reportedly make Nagelsmann the world's most expensive head coach.

The Athletic indicated Bayern will pay around €20million, while further reports suggest add-ons could take the total closer to €25m.

Mintzlaff confirmed the club had met their financial target during talks with Bayern.

He added: "In the negotiations with FC Bayern representatives, we have been successful in obtaining our financial goals.

"Now we have to tackle the remaining games of this season with Julian and his team so that we can make this the most successful campaign in our club's history." 

Bayern, who are on the verge of a ninth successive Bundesliga title, have agreed to terminate the contract of Hansi Flick, who informed the club he did not want to stay in charge beyond this season.

Nagelsmann has Leipzig on the brink of sealing second place in the Bundesliga, which would be their best finish.

There also remains a chance he will guide the club to their first major silverware, with Bayern already out of the DFB-Pokal ahead of Leipzig's semi-final against Werder Bremen on Friday.

The 33-year-old finished third in the top flight and reached the Champions League semi-finals with Leipzig last season – his first after joining from Hoffenheim.

But he revealed his new job was too difficult to turn down. As a boyhood Bayern fan from the Bavarian town of Landsberg am Lech, the Allianz Arena has long been touted as his dream destination.

Leipzig added that a statement regarding the successor to Nagelsmann would be made "soon".

Julian Nagelsmann is to become the new Bayern Munich head coach and has agreed a five-year contract beginning on July 1, the Bundesliga club announced on Tuesday.

Bayern, who are on the verge of a ninth successive Bundesliga title, have agreed to terminate the contract of Hansi Flick, who informed the club he did not want to stay in charge beyond this season.

"Julian Nagelsmann represents a new generation of coaches," Bayern president Herbert Hainer said in a statement.

"Despite his young age, he has had an impressive career. We are convinced that, with Julian Nagelsmann, we will build on the great successes of the past few years."

Talk emerged on Monday that Bayern and Nagelsmann had quickly agreed terms but that a fee to release him from his RB Leipzig contract was proving a sticking point.

According to widespread reports in Germany and Europe, an agreement has been reached between the clubs that would make Nagelsmann the world's most expensive head coach.

The Athletic indicated Bayern will pay around €20million, while further reports suggest add-ons could take the total closer to €25m.

Nagelsmann, 33, had also been linked with Tottenham after their decision to sack Jose Mourinho last week.

However, as a boyhood Bayern fan from the Bavarian town of Landsberg am Lech, the Allianz Arena has long been touted as his dream destination.

Nagelsmann, who cost Leipzig a reported €5m when he joined from Hoffenheim in 2019, has helped to establish the club as Champions League regulars and Bundesliga title challengers.

He guided them to the Champions League semi-finals last season, where they lost 3-0 to Paris Saint-Germain, and a third-place finish in the top flight.

Leipzig are comfortably second in 2020-21 but trail leaders Bayern by seven points with only three games remaining.

Flick, who has been tipped to succeed Joachim Low as head coach of Germany, leaves Bayern after delivering six trophies in under two years, including the treble last season.

Hainer said: "I would like to expressly thank Hansi Flick on behalf of FC Bayern. He took over our team in a difficult phase in 2019 and then won six titles, with the seventh hopefully following soon.

"He will always have a place in the history books of FC Bayern."

Flick said: "The past two years have been unforgettable for me.

"A coach is nothing without his team and I was lucky enough to meet fantastic players and staff here in Munich, and a team of coaches who did incredible things.

"One disappointment remains: that we weren't able to celebrate the greatest successes during this time with the fans. I've missed them in every game.

"I wish the Bayern family the very best for the future. It's not an empty phrase when I say it was a very great honour for me."

Julian Nagelsmann is to become the new Bayern Munich head coach and has agreed a five-year contract beginning on July 1, the Bundesliga club announced on Tuesday.

Will Cristiano Ronaldo still be at Juventus next season?

Ronaldo's future appears to depend on Juve's Champions League participation.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain loom large for the Portuguese superstar.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD OR PSG FOR RONALDO?

Cristiano Ronaldo is weighing up whether to return to Manchester United or join Paris Saint-Germain if Juventus fail to qualify for the Champions League next season, according to Tuttosport.

Ronaldo's future has dominated headlines amid speculation the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is set to leave Serie A giants Juve at the end of the current campaign.

Initially linked with Real Madrid, Ronaldo is reportedly eyeing either United or PSG in order to play in the Champions League.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano reports RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann is set to replace Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich. Despite interest from Tottenham and other clubs, Nagelsmann has agreed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who must negotiate a fee with Leipzig.

Raphael Varane wants to leave Madrid amid links with Chelsea, United and PSG, claims Diario AS. The France international defender is contracted to the Santiago Bernabeu until next season but Madrid are believed to be willing to cash in on Varane as they look to fund moves for PSG's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Liverpool, United, Manchester City, Juve, Bayern and Barcelona.

- Manchester Evening News says United are interested in Slavia Prague's 21-year-old forward Abdallah Sima.

- The Sun reports England centre-back John Stones is in advanced talks with Premier League leaders City over a new five-year contract.

- Antonio Conte is dreaming of prising Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul to Inter, says Calciomercato. The Argentina international has also been linked with Napoli and Leeds United.

Does a Premier League switch beckon for Raphael Varane?

Varane has starred for Real Madrid, winning LaLiga and Champions League titles.

But Varane could be sacrificed in the Spanish capital, with Chelsea reportedly interested.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FRONTRUNNERS FOR VARANE

Chelsea are ahead of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Varane has been linked with a move away from Madrid, who are looking to raise funds as they target PSG star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

United have reportedly emerged as strong suitors but Chelsea are believed to be at the front of the queue to land the France international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal, Sport1 and other outlets report Bayern Munich have opened talks with RB Leipzig to hire head coach Julian Nagelsmann. With Hansi Flick set to depart at season's end, Nagelsmann is wanted in Munich.

Jose Mourinho is ready to return to Inter should Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte exit, claims Calciomercato. Conte is poised to lead Inter to their first Scudetto since 2009-10, when Mourinho oversaw a treble, but the former Italy coach's future is far from certain. Mourinho is available after he was sacked by Tottenham.

- According to Gol Digital, Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

Roma are targeting Maurizio Sarri as their next head coach, says Corriere dello Sport. Paulo Fonseca is currently at the helm but he is under pressure in the Italian capital. Roma have reportedly already met with ex-Chelsea, Juventus and Napoli coach Sarri to discuss finer details.

Milan have given star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma one month to decide on a contract extension, reports Tuttosport. Donnarumma is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the Italy international is yet to re-sign. The likes of United, Chelsea, Juventus, PSG and Madrid have been linked. Milan are reportedly eyeing Lille's Mike Maignan as a possible replacement.

- Bild claims Arsenal are lining up a move for Dortmund's Julian Brandt as a replacement for loanee Martin Odegaard, who is attracting interest from elsewhere. Brandt could be one of many Dortmund players to leave in the off-season as clubs circle Haaland, including Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, United, Chelsea, PSG and Bayern.

Bayern Munich have reportedly made a first move for RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann, but prising him away could prove an expensive operation.

Bundesliga leaders Bayern, who stand on the brink of a ninth successive title, are set to lose head coach Hansi Flick at the end of the season after he asked to be released from his contract.

While Flick is seen as a possible successor to Joachim Low with the Germany national team, the 33-year-old Nagelsmann is considered one of Europe's best young coaches.

His name has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Tottenham and many others at various times, but Bayern have also kept a close eye.

Bayern are said to be chasing a fee for the release of Flick to the German Football Federation (DFB), while it has been reported that Leipzig want up to €30million to free up Nagelsmann.

Bavarian newspaper TZ puts the fee being sought in the region of €20million, while Sport1 suggests the higher sum was quoted by Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff after an initial approach from Bayern.

Nagelsmann's contract with Leipzig, who sit second in the Bundesliga, runs until the end of the 2022-23 season.

The former Hoffenheim coach joined Leipzig in 2019 and helped the team reach the semi-finals of last season's Champions League, the competition that Bayern won to complete a famous treble under Flick.

Nagelsmann has yet to declare his wishes amid the discussions about his future.

Former Bayern and Germany star Lothar Matthaus recently suggested Nagelsmann was a shoo-in for the Allianz Arena job.

Nagelsmann has won 53, drawn 21 and lost 16 of his 90 matches in charge of Leipzig.

Speaking on April 18, he said there had been no talks with Bayern.

"There is simply nothing I can report," Nagelsmann told a media conference on that day. "I think it's totally wrong to then sit down and say what if, and maybe get yourself talked about somewhere and make yourself important on things that aren't there.

"I can't sit down and say, I'm going to break up with Lena Gercke [German model] tomorrow, because I've never dated her, for example.

"I'm sorry to say that there are no new developments compared to the last press conference. The same things apply that I said there.

"There are and were no discussions and no offer. That's why I don't know what Bayern's wish is. I have said I don't want to start a war with my employers - that's still the case."

Is Ibrahima Konate bound for Anfield?

The 21-year-old defender has caught the eye of both Liverpool and Manchester United.

But, the Merseyside club appear set to win the race for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – KONATE HEADING TO ANFIELD

Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, according to the Guardian.

Konate had also been linked with Premier League rivals Manchester United, who are eyeing a new centre-back at Old Trafford.

But Liverpool have reportedly agreed a five-year contract with Konate, who has a €35million (£30.5m) release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona want to offer a new and improved contract to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, which would keep him at Camp Nou until 2026. The 18-year-old, previously linked to United, until at least 2022, with the option to extend it by a further two years.

- What does the future hold for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma? The 22-year-old Italy star's contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at San Siro amid links with United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid. While Milan remain hopeful of keeping Donnarumma, Calciomercato says they have begun conversations with Lille's Mike Maignan.

Milan, Inter and Roma are eyeing Torino captain and star forward Andrea Belotti, claims Calciomercato.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester City are set to sign Metinho in the same deal with Fluminense team-mate Kayky.

Madrid remain optimistic about the possibility of signing Kylian Mbappe from PSG, according to Le Parisien. Mbappe has been tipped to join Los Blancos, who have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Germany's Bundesliga teams will be forced to enter 'quarantine training camps' next month in a move designed to ensure the season ends before Euro 2020.

The drastic step was announced by the German football league (DFL) on Thursday and will begin on May 3 with an initial soft quarantine as players, coaches and team officials are ordered to only leave their homes to visit club training facilities or to take part in a matchday.

A harder quarantine will follow from May 12 as the same groups are ordered to stay in locked-down team camps away from their families when not involved in games, with that period ending after the final matches of the season take place on the weekend of May 22-23. It means teams must provide accommodation and living quarters for players and core team staff over that period.

The new rules will apply to all 18 clubs in the Bundesliga and also those that make up the 2. Bundesliga, with the DFL declaring it had told clubs in March that this step was under consideration.

Hertha Berlin players were ordered to isolate last week in a move that has seen three of their Bundesliga games postponed, while the second division of the league has also been hit by call-offs due to COVID-19 cases, complicating the task of finishing the season on time.

Any further cases in the closing weeks of the campaign could cause fixture backlogs that may prove insurmountable before the Euros. Relegation play-offs follow the Bundesliga regular season, and Euro 2020 begins on June 11.

The DFL said in a statement: "Two steps are planned: firstly, the group of persons included in the regular PCR testing programme, comprising the professional team, coaching team and team officials, must stay solely in their home environment or on the training premises/in the stadium ['quasi quarantine'] from Monday, 3 May.

"This is intended to reduce contact and further minimise the infection risk and was successfully implemented in the final phase of last season after the resumption of match operations.

"In the next step, from Wednesday, 12 May, the corresponding group of persons at all 36 clubs will enter a 'quarantine training camp', having undergone a PCR test with a negative result no more than 24 hours beforehand. The 'quarantine training camp' is compulsory until the end of the final match of the respective club on matchday 34 [22/23 May]. Consequently, the last two matchdays of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 according to the fixture list fall within this specific period.

"The purpose of the 'quarantine training camps' is to provide extra safeguards for the staging of matches, particularly in view of the time pressure caused by UEFA EURO, which follows the regular season.

"It is the clubs' responsibility to ensure that players, coaches and training staff come into contact with no one but each other during the stated period."

Bayern Munich, who said they welcomed the quarantine plan, look set to wrap up the Bundesliga title before their players are forced to collectively isolate. Victory over Mainz on Saturday would guarantee a ninth successive championship for the Bavarians.

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