Pep Guardiola denied Manchester City's loss to Chelsea in last season's Champions League final was a failure, insisting it was an "incredible achievement".

European club football's biggest prize continues to elude City, who underwhelmed in a 1-0 loss to the Blues in Porto back in May.

Guardiola has not won the Champions League since doing so with Barcelona in 2011, but he views City's campaign in last season's competition as a success.

Ahead of their opening fixture of this year's tournament with RB Leipzig on Wednesday, Guardiola said: "Every time I start this competition with drive. I'm incredibly happy here.

"Man City made a step forward last season, we improved a lot. We had 13 games and we won 11. We played incredibly well in Porto when we drew and deserved to win.

"We lost the final. People can say Man City was a failure but it was an incredible achievement last season playing really well in many of the games and losing well against a big contender.

"Now we start a new one and every team wants to win. We're going to try but I won't tell you which team is going to win because I don't know it.

"We're going to train this afternoon and try to continue the rhythm from Norwich, Arsenal and Leicester.

"The most important thing for the club is we were always in this competition in the last years. We do really well, which is why we deserve to be there.

"After that, compete with the best teams in Europe. It is not guaranteed that if you do a really bad Champions League season you're going to do a really bad Champions League season again and it is the same with the opposite.

"The first target is to win tomorrow, try to continue the rhythm and the way we played last season and the last three games, and see what happens."

Asked if the expectation of needing to win the Champions League annoys him, Guardiola replied: "I accept it. Every year is the same. If I win the Champions League I will be happy for the club. If I'm not able to do it, I'm not able.

"After, you can judge the success of my period. I try to do my best every single day, winning or not winning. People judge my job like I judge my players and how incredibly they've done in the last five years."

Are Barcelona set to make a splash in 2022?

After losing Lionel Messi on a free transfer due to their crippling debt, Barca are busy planning for next season.

Franck Kessie and Youri Tielemans are believed to be on the radar at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYEING PAIR

Barcelona are targeting Milan star Franck Kessie and Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, according to reports.

Kessie is out of contract at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at Milan amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.

Mundo Deportivo claims LaLiga giants Barca are considering a move for the Ivory Coast international, as well as Tielemans – who is reportedly wanted by the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fichajes says Premier League champions Manchester City are plotting a bid for Leeds United and England star Kalvin Phillips.

Real Madrid are interested in Lyon's Rayan Cherki as a long-term replacement for Karim Benzema, per Fichajes. It comes as Madrid continue to pursue PSG's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are considering a move for Madrid left-back Ferland Mendy.

United are ready to rival Barca, Juve and Bayern Munich for RB Leipzig attacker Dani Olmo, according to Marca.

Serge Gnabry will "probably" miss Bayern Munich's Champions League opener against Barcelona on Tuesday, according to Hasan Salihamidzic. 

A back problem forced Gnabry off in first-half stoppage time during Bayern's 4-1 victory at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga on Saturday. 

The 26-year-old started two of Germany's three World Cup qualifiers during the international break and was introduced as a second-half substitute in the other. 

Salihamidzic was frustrated that Gnabry sustained an injury after playing in all those matches, while Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus left early with a knee injury but recovered in time to face Bayer Leverkusen this weekend. 

Reus withdrew from selection for Euro 2020 but had said he wanted to play "an important role" for Germany ahead of the three qualifiers. 

"I find it surprising when you leave the national team and then play again a few days later. Our players stay and play anyway," Salihamidzic told Sky. 

"It's not the first time either. When you're injured, okay, you drop out, but otherwise... Serge Gnabry stayed there. He'll probably be out against Barcelona now, but that's just the way it is. 

"If you want to be a leader, you always have to be there. Otherwise, a team won't work. What [Joshua] Kimmich does, what [Manuel] Neuer does, what [Leon] Goretzka does – that's leadership for me. The coach can rely on that." 

On Gnabry's availability to face Barcelona, he added: "It's getting really tight. He's been treated and it's already better. I was there today and saw him. We'll have to see if it's enough." 

However, Bayern could be boosted by the return to fitness of Kingsley Coman. 

Coman withdrew from France duty due to a calf injury and reportedly returned to training in Bavaria on Sunday. 

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann is also confident of having Robert Lewandowski available for selection following the striker's early withdrawal against Leipzig for "precautionary reasons".

Robert Lewandowski was withdrawn during Bayern Munich's 4-1 win at RB Leipzig as a "precaution", though Serge Gnabry does appear to be a doubt to face Barcelona on Tuesday.

Julian Nagelsmann enjoyed a personally satisfying return to former club Leipzig on Saturday, as Bayern ran out comprehensive winners at the Red Bull Arena.

The coach was given a frosty reception at the start, with fans annoyed that he took several members of the coaching staff and Marcel Sabitzer to Bayern despite promising not to raid his former club.

Leipzig's social media team stoked the tension by poking fun at Nagelsmann and the situation before the game, posting a mocked-up image of Nagelsmann driving a car with his coaching staff, Sabitzer and Dayot Upamecano – who agreed a deal with Bayern before his boss arrived – present as passengers. "Remember, it's the away dressing room for you this time, guys," read the caption.

Nagelsmann had the last laugh as Bayern comprehensively left with all three points – Lewandowski's early penalty was added to by a Jamal Musiala volley, Leroy Sane's tap-in and a late Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting strike.

Musiala was ultimately the key man with a goal and an assist, but he was only on the pitch due to an injury suffered by Gnabry late in the first half, and Nagelsmann could not be sure he will be fit to face Barcelona in Tuesday's Champions League opener.

"With Serge there is something in his back, maybe lumbago [lower-back pain]," he told Sky. "I can’t make a prognosis for Tuesday just yet.

"He's already being treated by the medical staff and we'll have to see how he's doing tomorrow and what extent things are to know if he'll be back to work by Tuesday."

Lewandowski was also withdrawn later in the game once Nagelsmann was confident the contest was over.

It seems he too was struggling with an injury, though Nagelsmann was less concerned about the prolific striker's condition, adamant they planned to give him a bit of a rest towards the end anyway.

"It's like that with Lewy, he's had a few problems in the adductor area," Nagelsmann added.

"I don't think that's anything structural, at least the doctor told me that. It was just a precautionary measure.

"When it was quickly 3-0, we decided to switch him earlier so that he would just stay fit and healthy."

Julian Nagelsmann enjoyed a glorious return to former club RB Leipzig on Saturday as Bayern Munich ran out comfortable 4-1 victors in the Bundesliga.

Nagelsmann became a source of anger among Leipzig fans after he departed for Bayern and then also took Marcel Sabitzer with him, and any such ill-feeling will not have eased after this victory.

Robert Lewandowski put Bayern in front early on with a well-taken penalty and then a quick-fire double courtesy of Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sane early in the second half put the game beyond the hosts.

Jesse Marsch's men quickly pulled one back in spectacular fashion through Konrad Laimer, but it was not enough to inspire a comeback as Leipzig's miserable record against Bayern continued, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting adding a stoppage-time fourth for good measure.

Leipzig had already seen a penalty shout of their own controversially ignored when Kevin Kampl was penalised for handball after a VAR check in the 12th minute, with Lewandowski sweeping home the resulting spot-kick.

The hosts grew as a threat as the first half progressed and Bayern received a blow just before half-time when Serge Gnabry was forced off.

But his replacement quickly made an impact just after the break, as Musiala volleyed home Alphonso Davies' cross.

The misery of Andre Silva's disallowed goal shortly after was compounded by Sane burying a Musiala cross to essentially end Leipzig's hopes of a turnaround.

They certainly showed spirit as Laimer got one back with a sumptuous long-range strike and Silva almost reached a Christopher Nkunku pass for a tap-in.

But it was Bayern who got the only late goal, Choupo-Moting showing good composure to slam past Peter Gulacsi after Kimmich sliced open the Leipzig defence.

 

Julian Nagelsmann is ready to run the gauntlet of hate if RB Leipzig fans react bitterly when he returns to the Red Bull Arena as boss of Bayern Munich.

The coach who led Leipzig to a Champions League semi-final appearance in 2019-20, followed by a runners-up finish in the Bundesliga last term, has since switched allegiances to join Bayern.

Nagelsmann has defended himself against accusations of being "a liar" for the way he handled his move to the German champions, with the 34-year-old coming in for criticism after going back on a pledge not to take others with him to Bayern.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's clash between Leizpig and Bayern, Nagelsmann said: "I'm looking forward to it. I had two fantastic years in Leipzig. I think the coaching staff and the players are looking forward to seeing me.

"Of course I read something about me being a liar. Some fans aren't happy I left Leipzig. At the time, I said in a press conference I wouldn't take players or staff members.

"When you're sitting in a press conference and say, 'I want to take six players and seven members of my coaching staff along', I don't think that's going to go down very well in public either.

"That's also going to cause a very negative reaction. At the time I didn't plan to take anyone along."

When Nagelsmann's move to Bayern was announced in April, it was revealed immediately that assistant coach Benjamin Gluck would join him in making the switch.

Since then, Xaver Zembrod and Dino Toppmoller have also joined as assistant coaches, both making the switch from Leipzig in July.

Versatile midfielder Marcel Sabitzer has also moved from Leipzig to Bayern, with Nagelsmann saying that deal suited all parties as the Austrian was entering the final year of his contract.

Dayot Upamecano had already agreed to leave Leipzig for Bayern before Nagelsmann was picked to succeed Hansi Flick.

 

There could be a frosty reception for the previously popular coach, but Nagelsmann said: "It's not going to influence my performance. I worry about other things.

"We brought a good spirit into the club, had a good relationship with fans, and I think we furthered the club, developed the club. I tried to pay back the money that I earned there. It won't influence me tomorrow – I'm not going to be a worse coach tomorrow if some fans boo me.

"Things like hate and all the insults and the words thrown at you, I find it very questionable. I assume there are going to be some unhappy fans there. From a coaching perspective I don't really care.

"It's not as if I'm experiencing friendly welcomes in Dortmund, for instance. I'm not worried – if doesn't matter if a couple of people whistle, and if all 34,000 whistle or boo at me then it's OK too, my right ear isn't that good anyway."

Nagelsmann could not end Bayern's hold on the Bundesliga during his time in Leipzig, and Die Roten Bullen have won only one of 10 league games against the team who have won the last nine titles.

Leipzig are winless against Bayern in six games since a 2-1 home win in March 2018 (D4, L2), and their lone home defeat in the last 10 Bundesliga games came against Bayern – a 1-0 loss in April, prior to Nagelsmann agreeing his move.

Nagelsmann's Leipzig successor Jesse Marsch has begun with two defeats in his first three Bundesliga games, and he has recent experience of tackling the champions.

As coach of Salzburg last season, his side were drawn together with Bayern in the Champions League group stage, losing 6-2 at home and 3-1 at the Allianz Arena. The 6-2 loss was his heaviest in charge of Salzburg.

Dani Olmo departed Barcelona's youth setup in 2014, moving to Croatian giants in Dinamo Zagreb.

Now playing for RB Leipzig, the 23-year-old continues to catch the eye.

Olmo is reportedly eyeing another chance at Barca.

 

TOP STORY – OLMO WANTS BARCA COMEBACK

RB Leipzig star Dani Olmo is hoping to return to Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Olmo came through Barca's famed La Masia before joining Dinamo Zagreb's youth team in 2014 and eventually Bundesliga outfit Leipzig in 2020.

The 23-year-old Spain international, however, wants a new chance at Barca and has reportedly set yes to a Camp Nou comeback without looking at contract terms.

 

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- Everton are hopeful of launching a bid to sign Edinson Cavani from Manchester United following Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford, per Todo Fichajes.

- Calciomercato says Inter are considering a move for Eintracht Frankfurt and Serbia winger Filip Kostic, who was poised to join Lazio on deadline day before a move fell through.

- The Sun says Wolves are set to make Adama Traore their highest earner amid interest from Tottenham and Liverpool.

Chelsea could target Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly in January, reports Football London. The Senegal star has previously been linked with Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barca and others.

- Le10 Sport claims Paris Saint-Germain never made an offer for Ronaldo, who left Juventus for United.

Manchester United had a busy window in the transfer market.

The Red Devils landed Cristiano Ronaldo as well as Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho.

But their plans will not stop there, as the Red Devils set their sights on re-claiming silverware.

 

TOP STORY - HAALAND TO BE UNITED'S TRANSFER PRIORITY

Manchester United's priority transfer target in mid-2021 will be Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland despite their recent spending spree, claims ESPN.

Haaland can trigger a release in his Dortmund contract at the end of the 2021-22 season that is reportedly set at €75 million.

ESPN's report cites sources who claim United's capture of Ronaldo came outside of their transfer budget, meaning it will not impact their 2022 recruitment plans.

 

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- Calciomercato claims that Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne may be willing to leave the club next off-season on a free transfer to join Inter if they cannot agree to a new deal.

- Injured French forward Ousmane Dembele is set to be offered a new deal by Barcelona according to RAC. Barca have seen Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann leave over the past month.

- Barcelona will also look to sign Dani Olmo from RB Leipzig in January after missing out with their deadline day claims Mundo Deportivo.

- Ex-Arsenal and Chelsea defender David Luiz is weighing up options with Lazio , Benfica and Flamengo as a free agent reports Sportitalia.

Barcelona prospect Ilaix Moriba has completed a move to RB Leipzig for an initial fee of €16million.

Tottenham were rumoured to be interested but Marcel Sabitzer leaving for Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich on Monday opened the door for Leipzig's new arrival.

Moriba was unable to negotiate new terms with Barca over his contract, which was due to expire at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Barca president Joan Laporta said Moriba would not feature for the first team if he did not commit his future and Leipzig have taken advantage of the situation to get the player to Germany.

"I'm very happy that my move to RB Leipzig worked out - an exciting club that has always had an offensive style of play and therefore fits my game very well," Moriba, who has signed a five-year deal, told his new club's website. 
 
"I am convinced that Leipzig is the ideal next step for my career and further development - that was ultimately the reason for my decision to change.  
 
"My whole concentration is now fully on arriving at the club, in the team and in the city, in order to then perform on the pitch as quickly as possible. We have ambitious goals for this season and I can hardly wait for the challenge." 

Moriba broke into Ronald Koeman's plans last term, making 18 appearances across all competitions, providing two assists and scoring his sole senior goal against Osasuna.

His finish against Osasuna made him the youngest player to score from outside the box in LaLiga last season, while his debut assist made him the youngest to do so in the competition this century.

The 18-year-old averaged 3.2 dribbles per 90 minutes, a total bettered by only four team-mates, completing 2.8 of those to achieve a success rate of 89.3 per cent.

Despite the limited sample size, Miralem Pjanic was the only team-mate to boast a more successful record of those to attempt more than one dribble per 90 minutes.

In March, Moriba was also rewarded with his Champions League debut, appearing as a late substitute against Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca confirmed the sum received, as well as revealing a further €6m could be due if certain variables are met. They will also get 10 per cent of any future sale, should the teenager move on from Leipzig.

Bayern Munich have raided RB Leipzig once again with the signing of Marcel Sabitzer on a four-year deal.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed on Saturday that the champions were working on a deal for the Austria international, and reports suggest he will cost approximately €16million.

Ordinarily Sabitzer would have been expected to fetch a significantly larger fee, but the 27-year-old – who joined Leipzig from Rapid Vienna in 2014 – has less than 12 months to run on his contract.

Sabitzer will link up once again with Julian Nagelsmann, who left Leipzig for Bayern at the end of last season, as did centre-back Dayot Upamecano.

The attacking midfielder enjoyed arguably his best season in Germany's top flight under Nagelsmann in 2019-20, scoring nine Bundesliga goals (none of which were penalties) and setting up another seven – though 12 players had a hand in more (excluding spot-kicks).

That season was also his best for chances created (59). Although that was only enough to rank joint-eighth for that metric, Sabitzer's 52 key passes from open play was bettered by just Thomas Muller (81), Kai Havertz (57), Jadon Sancho (55), Serge Gnabry and Timo Werner (both 53).

His output did decrease last term, managing just four goals (excluding four penalties) and three assists, while his chances created from open play nearly halved (28).

But that does not appear to have perturbed Nagelsmann.

Leipzig look set to pull of something of a coup in signing Sabitzer's replacement, with Barcelona youngster Ilaix Moriba expected to join.

Moriba, a technically gifted midfielder, broke into the Barca first-team set-up last season and went on to feature 18 times across all competitions.

On February 13 this year, he became the youngest player this century to provide an assist on his LaLiga debut at the age of 18 years and 25 days.

The teenager particularly impressed with his confidence and ability on the ball, with his average of 3.2 dribbles per 90 minutes across 14 league appearances bettered by only four team-mates.

His 2.8 completed dribbles every 90 minutes gave him a success rate of 89.3 per cent – granted, it is a small sample, but the only Barca player to attempt at least one per 90 minutes and boast a better completion record was Miralem Pjanic.

Barca had been very eager to tie Moriba down to a new contract, with his deal set to expire next year, but president Joan Laporta suggested the midfielder was being unrealistic regarding his renewal demands.

Laporta said Moriba would not feature for the first team without committing his future to the club and added that he would sold as soon as possible to avoid him leaving for free next year if an agreement could not be met.

Leipzig have seemingly used the situation to their advantage, though their reported €20m outlay is not insignificant for a player with just 14 top-flight appearances to his name.

Wolfsburg made Bundesliga history on Sunday after Mark van Bommel's table-topping side preserved their perfect start to the season with a 1-0 win over RB Leipzig.

Jerome Roussillon scored the only goal of the match as leaders Wolfsburg made it three victories from three games – the only team with a 100 per cent record heading into the international break.

Wolfsburg have collected nine points from their opening three games of a Bundesliga campaign for the first time.

They also ended the day top of the table for the first time since winning the title in 2008-09 (minimum three games played).

"It is always nice to win," former PSV head coach Van Bommel, who was appointed ahead of the campaign, told reporters. "Especially, to do so three games in a row.

"We are the only team in the Bundesliga that has done that at the moment. Anyone can beat anyone. The quality is just very high. Leipzig could have taken a draw or even won. It was very close. Therefore, it was a top game, a proper top game which is decided by details.

"Today we had the advantage. But in two weeks we will travel to Furth and then we start from the beginning again. Bayern [Munich] will do so as well, but not only Bayern. Everyone is behind us. The situation can quickly change.

"We have to be realistic. It is nice to have nine points, it means we are working well. But it is not guaranteed that it will continue this way and no guarantee that we will win every game."

Harry Kane made his first appearance for Tottenham this season on Sunday amid speculation about his future.

Kane has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City, having reportedly told Spurs he wanted to leave late last season.

Spurs have postured that they are steadfast in wanting to keep their star forward, though it has been claimed they may be tempted if City up their bid to around £150million.

TOP STORY - CITY TO MAKE FRESH KANE BID THIS WEEK

The Telegraph claims that Manchester City will make another push to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy remains stubborn.

City want to bring in Kane to bolster their attack but have reportedly been unsuccessful with a £100m bid previously.

The report claims City will make a further bid this week for the England captain ahead of the closure of the transfer window at the end of the month.

 

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Tottenham have reached out to Juventus to discuss a potential deal for United States international Weston McKennie, with Tanguy Ndombele expected to be involved in a player exchange according to Tuttosport.

- Corriere dello Sport claims that Napoli have contacted Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic about a move to Italy. Barca are reportedly hoping to offload several players to ease their financial situation, with midfielder Pjanic among them.

- Sport1 claims that RB Leipzig remain interested in signing Barcelona youngster Ilaix Moriba and may make a move if Marcel Sabitzer leaves the German club.

- Rennes will permit Eduardo Camavinga to leave for €35m as the closure of the transfer window approaches, reports Fabrizio Romano. Chelsea and Manchester United are among his admirers.

- Romano also reports that Chelsea will sell Davide Zappacosta to Atalanta, with personal terms already agreed.

Burnley will rival Southampton in their interest for Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie, claims the Daily Record. Italian club Sampdoria are also keen on the Scotland international.

Kylian Mbappe's future continues to dominate headlines.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract at the end of 2021-22 and no closer to re-signing in the French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly holding onto hope of securing his services before the end of the transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL DREAMING OF MBAPPE

Real Madrid have not given up on signing Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Mbappe is into the final year of his PSG contract and while he has been tipped to make the move to Madrid, he has reportedly told friends he will remain in Paris.

However, LaLiga powerhouses Madrid – also linked with Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland – believe it is a strategy to secure a friendly exit from PSG.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are interested in Monaco defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, say reporters Sacha Tavolieri and Jonathan Shrager. United have also been linked with Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, who is reportedly wanted by PSG and Madrid.

- RB Leipzig star Marcel Sabitzer is interested in a move to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich, claims Bild.

- Goal and widespread reports say Arsenal are close to signing Martin Odegaard from Madrid. Odegaard spent six months on loan at Arsenal last season.

Duvan Zapata is Inter's priority signing, according to Calciomercato. Despite signing Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries after Romelu Lukaku's, the Serie A champions are eyeing the Atlanta forward. Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram, Joaquin Correa of Lazio, Torino forward Andrea Belotti and Wolfsburg's Wout Weghorst are other options.

- Italian journalist Sara Meini reports Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit of Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic amid their struggle to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham. Atletico Madrid and Spurs have also been linked with Vlahovic.

Juventus are nearing a deal to re-sign Miralem Pjanic from Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo. Juve, according to Di Marzio, are also listening to offers for Weston McKennie.

Julian Nagelsmann has long seemed destined to be Bayern Munich coach, and the 34-year-old now has his chance after succeeding Hansi Flick.

He has a lot to live up to. Flick, in his 18-month tenure, Flick led Bayern to two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal, a Champions League triumph, Club World Cup glory, the DFL-Supercup and the UEFA Super Cup – a remarkable seven trophies.

While Nagelsmann settles into life in the hottest of coaching seats in Germany, his former team RB Leipzig will look to finally make a title challenge last, this time under new coach Jesse Marsch.

Borussia Dortmund scraped into the Champions League places thanks to a super run late in the season, and now Marco Rose will look to build on their DFB-Pokal success in his first season in charge.

Just what can we expect from each of Germany's big three in 2021-22?


Bayern Munich

Bayern ultimately claimed their ninth successive Bundesliga title with ease last term and Robert Lewandowski was once again the driving force. He had to wait until the last kick of the last day, but he finally broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record of 41 goals in a single campaign.

Unsurprisingly, Bayern scored the most goals in Germany's top tier in 2020-21, netting 99 times across their 34 fixtures. Their tally of 483 chances was also by far the most in the division, 54 ahead of second-ranked Leipzig (429) in that regard, though they conceded 44 times while the Leipzig defence under Nagelsmann was the stingiest, with only 32 goals conceded. 

Bayern averaged 65.39 per cent possession and had 1,304 touches in the opposition box, over 400 more than any other side.

However, Nagelsmann does have to contend with the loss of some players who have been crucial to Bayern's dominance. David Alaba has joined Real Madrid, while fellow stalwarts Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng also left on free transfers.

Dayot Upamecano has made the same switch from Leipzig as Nagelsmann, and the young centre-back adds pace and dynamism to Bayern's backline. Other than that, the squad remains largely the same, with Sven Ulreich having returned after a spell at Hamburg, while Omar Richards arrived on a free transfer from Reading.

Even without much more in the way of incomings, it is difficult to see Bayern letting the chance to make it 10 titles in a row slip from their grasp.

 

Dortmund

Last season was a difficult campaign for Dortmund, but it was one which ultimately ended successfully. They clinched Champions League qualification and ran riot against Leipzig to lift the DFB-Pokal.

It was a fine parting gift from Edin Terzic, who took over on an interim basis after Lucien Favre was relieved of his duties, and now Rose – whose Borussia Monchengladbach team slumped in the back half of the season and missed out on Europe – will look to reshape Dortmund in his own way.

Renowned for attacking, front-foot football, Rose's style, if all goes to plan, is bound to be a hit with the Dortmund fans upon their return to Signal Iduna Park.

Dortmund may have sold Jadon Sancho, but they still have Norway sensation Erling Haaland, who scored 27 Bundesliga goals last season from 93 attempts, giving him a shot conversion rate of 29.03 per cent, the third-highest in the league out of players to have scored 10 or more times.

Donyell Malen has arrived as Sancho's replacement, and Rose has already been talking up the Netherlands youngster, while goalkeeper Gregor Kobel has arrived from Stuttgart. Like Bayern, Dortmund said goodbye to a club legend in the form of Lukasz Piszczek, but with Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard, Malen and Haaland complemented by the likes of Julian Brandt and Jude Bellingham, there should be plenty of cause for optimism.

It might well be Haaland's final season at the club, and you would not put it past the youngster, who also set up six goals last term, to propel Dortmund into the title race, back where they belong.

 

RB Leipzig

There are plenty of quality teams competing with the three leading lights, and it would certainly not be surprising to see Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt or Gladbach mount a serious push for Champions League football.

However, Leipzig have well and truly established themselves as a Champions League regular now, and will be looking to Marsch, who has made the transition from sister club Salzburg, to continue Nagelsmann's work.

Leipzig sold Timo Werner to Chelsea in 2020, and netting just 60 times, they clearly missed the striker. Indeed, midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, with eight goals, was their leading scorer, with forwards Alexander Sorloth and Yussuf Poulsen only managing five each.

In Andre Silva, signed from Frankfurt, Leipzig have a forward who scored more than Haaland in the Bundesliga last season, with the Portugal international finding the net 28 times in 32 appearances.

Silva boasted an impressive 'big chance', as defined by Opta, conversion rate of 55 per cent, while only Lewandowski (137) had more than the former Milan man's 117 attempts. Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku – who supplied nine and six assists respectively last season – can provide the creativity, with Poulsen and Sorloth able to offer Marsch a variety of attacking options. Caden Clark, who is starring in MLS, will arrive before the turn of the year, while Dominik Szoboszlai is almost like a new signing, given he is yet to feature for the club since his arrival in January due to injury.

Leipzig have faced a reshuffle in what had been a strong defence, with key man Upamacano departing while Ibrahima Konate has also left for Liverpool, though the acquisition of Salzburg's highly rated Mohamed Simakan shows the production line is still ticking along, and a Champions League place will be the minimum expectation. 

England international Kieran Trippier has expressed his desire to return from Spain this off-season.

The Atletico Madrid full-back has spent two seasons in Spain, helping Diego Simeone's side win LaLiga in 2020-21.

A former Burnley and Tottenham defender, Trippier has been pursued by Manchester United who are yet to agree a fee with Atletico.

TOP STORY – ARSENAL ENTER TRIPPIER RACE

Arsenal have joined United in targeting Kieran Trippier, reports The Sun.

The Gunners see Trippier as Hector Bellerin's replacement, with the Spaniard having been linked with Inter as he aims to make a move away from north Lonndon.

Atletico are demanding €40million (£34million) for 30-year-old Trippier.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sunday Mirror are reporting that Harry Kane will need to force through his transfer from Tottenham to Manchester City, after Spurs chairman Daniel Levy's claim the England captain is not for sale. City are reportedly prepared to wait and start the new season without a recognised striker.

- Inter are closing in on a deal for Atalanta's Colombian forward Duvan Zapata, with an offer of €30m on the table, reports Cesar Luis Merlo. Zapata is seen as a replacement for Romelu Lukaku, with the Belgium striker set to exit for Chelsea.

- Atalanta are ramping up their move to sign Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham as part of the three-club shuffle. Fabrizio Romano claims the Atalanta board will meet Chelsea in the next 48 hours, with a price tag of around €40m to be discussed.

- Paris Saint-Germain have held advanced talks with the agent of Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly about a move, reports Foot Mercato.

- Burnley are struggling to complete a move to sign RB Leipzig's Ademola Lookman on loan, according to The Sun.

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