Xavi has insisted Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland were never realistic targets for Barcelona, though he is confident he will have money to invest in the squad. 

Barca wrap up what has been a turbulent season against Villarreal on Sunday. 

The Blaugrana will finish second in LaLiga, a testament to the work done by Xavi since he replaced the much-maligned Ronald Koeman earlier in the campaign. 

However, they were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage and fell to a defeat to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals, while there was no success in the Copa del Rey either. 

The 2021-22 season came on the back of Lionel Messi's shock departure, as Barca grappled with financial issues that saw the superstar leave for Paris Saint-Germain. 

Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore arrived to bolster the squad in January, though the latter two were on a free transfer and a loan respectively. 

Barca were linked with moves for Mbappe and Haaland. However, Mbappe is weighing up offers from Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid while Haaland is joining Manchester City, and Xavi has claimed there was never any chance of the Blaugrana having the financial capability to sign such players. 

"Ask me another question," he told a news conference on Saturday. "Mbappe, let him do what he wants, let him be happy.  

"We do not enter into this equation. I do not understand the question. 

"We cannot put a lot of money in. The economic situation is what it is. We did not enter the bidding of Haaland or Mbappe but that is what we have inherited. 

"There is no need to look back. You have to carry on. We have to compete and win titles again, we need to be competitive from now on. 

"The president transmits confidence to me and that we will be able to invest in our squad. We have made a plan and we will try to execute it.  

"The economic situation is serious but it is not my turn to talk about money. I'm here to talk about football. The economic problems are what they are, but let's talk about football." 

One player who has been heavily linked is Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, who plundered 50 goals in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign. 

No player across Europe's top five leagues has scored more goals than the Poland striker this season, but he has told Bayern he wishes to leave and will not be signing a new contract, with his deal ending in June 2023. 

However, LaLiga president Javier Tebas on Friday cast doubt on Barca's ability to be able to afford the 34-year-old. 

Asked about Lewandowski, Xavi said: "It is one of the possibilities that may come. He has said it himself.  

"There are some negotiations involved. It will not be easy with Bayern involved." 

One possible outgoing at Barca who could free up funds would be Frenkie de Jong. Both Manchester clubs are credited with an interest in the Netherlands international who joined from Ajax in 2019, though it has been reported the 25-year-old is in no rush to leave the Camp Nou. 

"Here we go back to talking about the economic situation," replied Xavi when pressed on the De Jong speculation.  

"He is, for me, a great player who is very capable and very dominating, he can help us a lot, but we go back to talking about money and I don't want to do that." 

Bayern Munich chief executive Oliver Kahn insists Robert Lewandowski was offered a new contract and will not be allowed to leave in the close season. 

Lewandowski has one year remaining on his existing deal and it was previously reported Bayern could look to sell the striker ahead of the 2022-23 campaign to avoid him going on a free.

The Poland international, who has scored 110 goals over the past three Bundesliga seasons, has asked to leave and said after their final game against Wolfsburg last week that he had not received a proposal for new terms. 

But Kahn denied that is true, telling Welt: "We submitted a concrete offer to his agent, otherwise we wouldn't have said that."

Asked what fee would be required for Bayern to grant Barcelona-linked Lewandowski an exit before the end of his deal, Kahn was defiant. 

"This isn't a question for us. Robert Lewandowski has a contract until 2023 and he will fulfil it," he said. 

"I cannot say how Uli [Hoeness] or Karl-Heinz [Rummenigge] would have acted. When I started here, I was aware that the bar was set very high and that there would be situations where the past would always be brought up. 

"Every situation is different and I act as I believe is right." 

He added: "Bayern is not and will not become a development club. Bayern are still a big force. There are many players who would die to play for us. 

"A development club is forced to sell players every now and then. That's not us. We want to keep our top players for as long as possible.

"That's why we renewed [Joshua] Kimmich, [Leon] Goretzka, [Kingsley] Coman and [Thomas] Muller this season. Jamal Musiala is also key for the future." 

Barcelona are not in a position to finance a deal for Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

Lewandowski last week confirmed that he has informed Bayern he will not be extending his contract beyond the end of next season.

The Poland international hinted he is interested in a move away from the Allianz Arena in the upcoming transfer window, rather than departing as a free agent in a year's time.

Barca are the favourites to land Europe's most prolific striker, with head coach Xavi insisting age would not be a barrier when it comes to his rebuild project.

However, uncertainty lingers over whether Barca have the financial clout to make a move as they attempt to come through an economic crisis that has hit Camp Nou hard.

And unless certain players, such as midfielder Frenkie de Jong, are sold to bring in additional funds, Tebas does not see the Lewandowski transfer being a possibility.

"The numbers are easy: if you have more than €500million losses from the past two years, you have to recover money," Tebas is quoted as saying by Spanish publication Sport.

"Lewandowski has one year left at Bayern. Between what he wants to earn and what Bayern want to take... as of today I don't see him at Barcelona. Other things must happen.

"Selling players could be enough, depending on how much they raise and what Lewandowski costs. It could be €100m plus that is saved.

"De Jong could give them that possibility, but I don't know if they are even planning to sell. To date they have not sold him."

 

Lewandowski has scored 50 goals in 46 games for Bayern in all competitions this season, making him the top scorer among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Next on that list is Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema with 44, followed by Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe with 36 in 45 matches.

Mbappe had been widely expected to join Benzema at Madrid next season, but reports on Friday suggested the forward might decide to stay at PSG.

However, Tebas expects the France international to end up at the Santiago Bernabeu in the coming weeks.

"I think he'll be at Real Madrid, though one day he is white and another day he is black – he changes," Tebas said. "But yes, I think [he'll sign for Madrid].

”I have seen these twists and turns so many times – it's not unexpected, because there are always twists. 

"The feeling I have is that if he had wanted to renew he would have already done so, but I could be wrong."

Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe wants a salary of €50million net and Barcelona had no interest in going that high, according to Joan Laporta. 

World Cup-winning attacker Mbappe has reportedly agreed personal terms to make a free-transfer switch to Madrid after his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires next month, though the Ligue 1 champions still hope to persuade him to stay.

The 23-year-old, who has scored 168 goals and supplied 77 assists in 216 games in all competitions for PSG, had also been linked with a switch to Barca.

However, the Catalan giants' president insists they would not have been willing or able to get anywhere near his demands.

"There are things that even if we had the money to do it, we wouldn't because it distorts our wage bill and that cannot happen again. It is something we are instilling in the club in all areas," Laporta told Catalunya Radio.

"We can't go past a certain level of spending. Mbappe is asking for 40-50 million [euros] net. He wants 50 [million euros] net. Mbappe is at the highest level but hasn't won the Champions League. That must also be taken into account.

"We will not talk about salaries of 25, 30 or 40 [million euros] net. It would be offensive to players who are expected to be a reference in world football and are just starting out at Barcelona. We are not going to do that, nor do we want to."

Barca have been tipped to sign another of European football's elite strikers in the form of Robert Lewandowski, though.

Lewandowski does not wish to extend his Bayern Munich contract, which has a year to run, and he could become available for a transfer before the start of the 2022-23 season.

Asked if the Poland international will sign for Barca, Laporta said: "Let's let the football management and technical secretariat work. I don't want to answer in detail.

"We are working to be more competitive, but it's not easy due to the economic situation. We are working to clean up the club's finances. Then we can do things.

"I hope to be able to say that in a year we have largely cleaned up the club's finances. If we manage to clean it up, all the operations we are contemplating will be able to be dealt with."

A departure for Frenkie de Jong could be one way Barca look to raise funds, but Laporta was unwilling to divulge much when asked about the Netherlands midfielder.

"There are Barcelona players who are coveted on the market and we will do what is best for Barcelona," he said.

"If we manage to clean up the club's finances, we will have fair play, cash … I don't know if there will be sales."

Barcelona are reportedly in the box seat to land Leeds United winger Raphinha in the next transfer window.

Raphinha, 25, is believed to be finished with Leeds, regardless of if they remain in the Premier League for next season.

After a season where he has so far scored 10 goals and provided three assists in 34 Premier League appearances – including a goal away at Stamford Bridge – the Brazilian international is said to have his selection from some of the world's best clubs.

TOP STORY – BARCA LEAD RACE FOR LEEDS' RAPHINHA

According to 90min, Raphinha favours a move to Barcelona if all things are equal, but the Spanish giants will have plenty of competition for his services.

If Leeds are relegated to the Championship, a release clause in Raphinha's contract will mean he can be had for £25million, although it could be double that – or more – if the Whites retain their Premier League status.

Vying with Barca will reportedly be West Ham, who supposedly made a bid in the January window, as well as Newcastle United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Mail is reporting Ilkay Gundogan will be allowed to leave Manchester City in the upcoming transfer window, with one year remaining on his deal.

– According to The Guardian, Chelsea have entered the Robert Lewandowski sweepstakes, although he is believed to be destined for Barcelona.

Newcastle will test the waters to see if Jose Mourinho could be lured away from Roma, according to Marca.

– Marca also reports that Kylian Mbappe has agreed to a five-year deal with Real Madrid, although The Athletic insists no paperwork has been signed and PSG still hope to retain the France star.

Bayern Munich are showing interest in Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele ahead of his contract expiring in a month's time, per Sky Sports.

Julian Nagelsmann has "two or three" transfer targets in mind for when Bayern Munich have to replace Robert Lewandowski.

Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski has told Bayern he wants to leave and is eager to move on during the close season, rather than have to wait for his contract to expire in June 2023.

That conflicts with the club's plan, as they remain steadfast Lewandowski will remain at Bayern for the duration of his deal.

It remains to be seen what happens next and Nagelsmann is not looking for an immediate signing to take the place of Lewandowski.

Instead, he is planning for the striker who might come in in 12 months' time and the Bayern head coach said on Sunday: "I have two or three names in mind, but we still have to explore the market."

Speaking to German broadcaster BR, Nagelsmann confirmed he would nevertheless be looking to bolster Bayern's squad in certain areas over the coming months.

He said: "We're trying to strengthen the team. We'll see what is financially possible. We'll meet with players to convince FC Bayern of their path."

Nagelsmann said he "would be happy if things would be a little quieter next year", after a testing first season at the helm in Munich. A disappointing Champions League exit to Villarreal in the quarter-finals followed a crushing 5-0 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal.

Before any calm descends, the Lewandowski situation may have to be resolved.

The 33-year-old is reportedly wanted by Barcelona and Bayern would sorely miss the contributions of a player who hit 50 goals in the season that ended on Saturday for the Bundesliga champions.

Speaking at Bayern's championship celebration event on Sunday, star midfielder Thomas Muller sang the praises of Lewandowski, but said the club would find a way to succeed without him.

"FC Bayern is constantly changing," Muller said. "We are constantly losing players, including those we would have liked to keep.

"You're not solely dependent on one player. Of course, Robert is a brutally good individual player. I don't know how long he'll be here. Maybe longer, but there was Bayern before Robert Lewandowski. The club is above everything."

Manchester United's midfield has long been an area of dysfunction, even in relative terms at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils have not been able to find balance with the likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Fred.

As a result, Erik ten Hag's rebuild at United could mean a big-name signing to rejuvenate their play in the centre of the pitch.


TOP STORY – KANTE TARGETED BY 

New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants N'Golo Kante to form the basis of his rebuild at Old Trafford, according to the Mirror.

The 31-year-old has one year left on his contract at Chelsea and Ten Hag is reportedly confident in Kante's sustained ability to perform at the highest level.

Kante is believed to be an attainable target if Todd Boehly's takeover at Stamford Bridge is rubber-stamped, giving Thomas Tuchel a sizeable transfer budget to work with.

United are no guarantee to even play in the Europa League, sitting three points ahead of West Ham, who have a game in hand.

ROUND-UP

- The Sun is reporting Frenkie de Jong is prepared to waive €7million of unpaid wages by Barcelona in order to move to Manchester City.

- Arsenal have agreed on a fee of up to €25m with Bologna for Scotland international Aaron Hickey, according to Calciomercato.

- Robert Lewandowski is set to leave Bayern Munich and join Barcelona on a three-year deal, the Sun reports.

- Ousmane Dembele might be moving in the other direction to join Bayern when his contract expires at the end of the season, per Sky Sports.

Robert Lewandowski paid tribute to Thomas Muller for his role in a partnership that delivered the wantaway Bayern Munich striker his seventh Torjagerkanone in 2021-22.

The trophy, awarded to the Bundesliga's leading scorer, will be in Lewandowski's possession once again this season, equalling Gerd Muller's record of seven wins.

This was Lewandowski's fifth triumph in a row as he finished the campaign with 35 league goals – the last of them coming in Saturday's season-ending 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg, before which Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed his talisman had asked to leave.

Team-mate Muller set up Lewandowski's goal with a left-footed cross in what could prove to be the final link-up of a hugely effective attacking combination.

"He's amazing," Lewandowski said of Muller after the match, when he confirmed he would not be renewing a contract that expires in 2023.

"He always plays his style, his performance, his skills.

"I know him very well because we have this feeling. When he kicks the ball, I know when the ball is coming, and that's why I'm always ready to get the ball from him.

"Even today, I should be thankful not only for Thomas, but all the guys who assist me, who give me the ball to score the goals. I'm very proud of this team."

Muller has at least committed to new terms with Bayern, to the relief of captain Manuel Neuer, who addressed the media without knowing of Lewandowski's comments. 

"[Muller and Lewandowski] are absolutely world class and guarantors for our success, for the club's success over the past years," Neuer said.

"So, it is good that Thomas renewed his contract and will stay with Bayern."

Asked about Lewandowski's future, Neuer said: "Lewy just came here for an interview, I don't know what he said there but, as far as I know, he has a contract for another year."

Lewandowski will certainly be missed if he does depart, as is rumoured, for Barcelona, with Jamal Musiala just enjoying being part of a team that features two outstanding forwards.

"They're two masterminds in the game," the youngster added. "They score goals, assist, they do everything in the attack.

"It's just amazing to see, and to be part of it is just as good."

Julian Nagelsmann is taking emotion out of the situation after it was confirmed Robert Lewandowski wants to leave Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored his 50th goal of the season across all competitions as Bayern capped off another successful Bundesliga campaign by drawing 2-2 at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

However, it was revealed before the match that the 33-year-old had refused the offer of a new deal.

Lewandowski is under contract until the end of next season but wants a new challenge after eight years with the Bundesliga giants. Barcelona have been heavily linked with making a move.

While Nagelsmann acknowledged it will be a loss whenever Lewandowski does leave Bayern – the club must decide whether to cash in over the coming months or instead keep him for next season and allow a free transfer – he insisted there is no time for sadness.

Instead, he must focus on the task of finding a replacement for a player who has broken countless records.

Nagelsmann told a news conference: "Yes, it is or would be a loss, but he still has a contract until 2023, and I think we have all already commented on this.

"There is also no other statement about it, except that he has a contract until 2023. There is really nothing more to report.

 

"Of course, it's always the case that if you lose a very good player, or lose a player in general, then it's always not nice. 'Sad' is maybe the wrong word, there are other things in life to be sad about.

"It rather gives the incentive to look for a new striker after the next season or in the next season who can then replace Lewy. That is then the job we have to do.

"There is little room for sadness, but you have to try to make the best out of the situation for the future."

Reflecting on his first season as Bayern coach, in which he led the Bavarians to a 10th straight Bundesliga title but failed to get past the quarter-finals in the Champions League, Nagelsmann said: "It was tough. It was not that easy this season.

"The first half of the season was good. We expected another result in the cup, but in the end, we were very good in the Champions League group stage, and we were very good in the league.

"In the second part of the season, we were struggling a little bit. It was not that stable anymore. Sometimes we played well, we did not get the best results, especially in the Champions League. At the end, I think we could have done it a bit better."

Robert Lewandowski anticipates swift progress after he asked to leave Bayern Munich, a shock to the system for the Bundesliga champions.

The 33-year-old striker, who reached 50 goals for the season by netting a header in Bayern's final match of the campaign on Saturday, has made it clear he does not see his future at the Allianz Arena.

All involved at Bayern are aware of Lewandowski's stance, which was confirmed before the 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

They must either sell him and bring in useful funds or face losing the Poland striker on a free transfer in 12 months' time. Keeping a disenchanted player would be a risk and Lewandowski urged all parties to find a positive outcome.

"I spoke to Hasan Salihamidzic and told him that I had made a decision not to extend my contract with Bayern," Lewandowski told Polish broadcaster Viaplay.

"Both sides must think about the future. I informed the coach of my decision. I am not renewing the contract, and now the most important thing for both parties is to find a good solution.

"It is very possible that this was my last game for Bayern. I have one more year on the contract, everything will be clarified in the near future."

According to Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy, Lewandowski added: "We want to find the best solution for me and the club. Both sides want the decision to quit in the summer or stay for the final season as soon as possible."

Lewandowski finished as the Bundesliga's leading scorer for a seventh season, matching Gerd Muller's record to secure the league's cannon trophy once again. In the league alone, he managed 35 goals, and that form has seen him strongly linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona.

The former Borussia Dortmund star is the top scorer among players from Europe's top five leagues, ahead of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, who came into the weekend on 44 goals across all competitions.

Madrid could yet bring in Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain to pair up with Benzema, and that would add to the onus on Barca to make their own statement signing.

Barca have financial issues to iron out before any deal could go ahead, as head coach Xavi pointed out on Saturday.

He has not spoken directly about Lewandowski to confirm Barca's interest, but Xavi could use a prolific goalscorer if his team are to challenge Madrid for domestic silverware next season.

Xavi explained he would not be averse to signing a veteran player, having noticed how stars in their mid to late thirties are increasingly staying in good shape, pinpointing the likes of Luka Modric, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca's own Dani Alves.

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann said after the Wolfsburg game that a busy week awaits him at the club's headquarters, even with the season at an end.

"Next week is going to be a lot of time for me at Saebener Strasse," Nagelsmann said.

"Lots of appointments, with the players as well, just to work on the future, so we'll hopefully be more successful than we are currently."

Robert Lewandowski scored what he hopes will be a farewell goal for Bayern Munich as the champions drew 2-2 at Wolfsburg in their final Bundesliga game of the season.

The perfectly judged header from Lewandowski was his 50th goal of the season, and 35th in the Bundesliga for the campaign, and it followed an opener from Josip Stanisic.

At 2-0 in front after 40 minutes, Bayern looked to be cruising, but Jonas Wind and Max Kruse surprisingly brought the home side back to level terms.

Lewandowski, who has told Bayern he wants to leave, could not find another goal as Bayern were forced to settle for a point in the final game of Julian Nagelsmann's first season at the helm.

Leon Goretzka was denied by a smart early save from Koen Casteels after Thomas Muller's clever ball over the Wolfsburg defence picked out the midfielder's run, and Bayern were soon in front.

The opener came from Stanisic in the 17th minute as the Croatian defender sent a header looping beyond Casteels from Joshua Kimmich's right-wing corner.

Bayern doubled that lead when Lewandowski nodded Muller's cross from the right flank into the left corner. It was his 35th goal in the Bundesliga this term, and gave Muller an 18th assist, with both tallies being league highs.

Wind pulled one back when his shot on the turn arrowed past Manuel Neuer in the 45th minute, and surprisingly the home side drew level in the 58th minute as Kruse stretched at the far post to tap in a low cross from the left from Micky van de Ven.

Lewandowski saw a powerful strike well held by Casteels, Serge Gnabry had a menacing shot deflect just over for a corner, and Kimmich almost scored directly from that set-piece.

Bayern were unbeaten in their last 13 Bundesliga matches against Wolfsburg (W12 D1 L0), outscoring their opponents 46-8 during this run, so the fightback here was a jolt to the champions' system.

Eric Choupo-Moting fired just wide before Leroy Sane missed a glorious late chance to give Bayern a winning finish to the season, running through on goal before dragging a left-footed shot wide of the right post.

Robert Lewandowski reached 50 goals for the season on the final day of Bayern Munich's campaign, as it emerged he wants to leave the club.

The Polish striker headed Thomas Muller's smart cross from the left past Koen Casteels for Bayern's second goal of the game against Wolfsburg, helping the visitors to a 2-1 half-time lead.

It took Lewandowski to 25 goals in 22 Bundesliga games versus Wolfsburg, including his only five-goal haul in the top-flight.

In Bundesliga history, only Gerd Muller has scored more goals against a single opponent, having hit 27 against Hamburg.

Lewandowski took his Bundesliga tally for 2021-22 to 35, while he has also scored 13 times in the Champions League and twice in the German Super Cup.

Before kick-off, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic announced 33-year-old Lewandowski has told him he wants to leave the club and has refused a new contract.

Lewandowski is the top scorer among all players from Europe's top five leagues this season, moving six goals ahead of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema after his first-half goal at Wolfsburg.

Robert Lewandowski has asked to leave Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said on Saturday.

The record-breaking striker wants a new challenge at the age of 33 after eight years with the Bundesliga giants.

His intentions had been mooted in recent days but have now been confirmed, with Salihamidzic telling Sky television the Poland international has made his position known.

In response, Bayern have told Lewandowski he remains under contract until the end of next season.

It means there could be months of uncertainty ahead as Lewandowski seeks to leave and Bayern look to convince him his future remains in Munich.

Barcelona have been strongly linked with a move for the striker, but their head coach Xavi would not be drawn on Lewandowski when he spoke on Saturday.

Salihamidzic explained his conversation with the player, who hit a record 41 goals in last season's Bundesliga.

"He said that he would like to do something else. But our attitude hasn't changed: Lewa has a contract until June 30, 2023. That's a fact," Salihamidzic said.

"I spoke to Lewa. In the conversation he told me that he did not want to accept our offer to extend the contract and that he would like to leave the club."

Salihamidzic declined to entertain the question of what might change to alter the stand-off, saying: "I don't deal with that because our stance has always been clear."

The announcement regarding Lewandowski came in the minutes before kick-off in Bayern's final game of the season at Wolfsburg.

Predictably, he scored in the 40th minute to take his goal tally to the season to 50 across all competitions.

Xavi insisted age would not be a barrier when Barcelona rebuild in the close season as the Catalan giants continue to be linked with 33-year-old Robert Lewandowski.

The Barcelona head coach said he had not concluded discussions with club power-brokers over transfer plans, and had not spoken to the team's current players about plans.

Bayern Munich frontman Lewandowski is reportedly keen on joining Barcelona, while Xavi did not rule out an exit for Frenkie de Jong, who has been linked with Manchester United.

Uncertainty lingers over whether Barcelona will have much financial clout in the transfer window, as they attempt to come through an economic crisis that has hit Camp Nou hard.

It may be that the likes of De Jong – in what should be their prime years, at the top of their market value – have to be sacrificed in order to bring in the quick-fix solution that a player such as veteran goal-getter Lewandowski might provide.

Xavi told a news conference: "The circumstances of the club are what rule. I have an important part in decision-making. From here on, we depend on the economic situation.

"In a few days we should know where we are in order to plan for next season. The economic situation keeps us at bay, it is obvious that marks the present and the future of the club."

Asked about Dutch midfielder De Jong, Xavi said: "For me, he is a very important player. He has been a starter almost always, except when he has been rotated.

"He is a fundamental footballer, but then there is the financial situation of the club. He is a player that I like very much, but we are going to see how the situation is."

Xavi said Barcelona have "untouchables" in their ranks who must not be transferred, and although he did not name such players, the growing number of youngsters coming through the ranks such as Ansu Fati, Pedri and Gavi likely fall into that category.

Lewandowski, who has scored 49 goals in 45 games for Bayern this season, could be the player that allows Barcelona to bridge the gap to Real Madrid next season. Barcelona have moved far closer to Madrid's standards since Xavi was appointed in November, after a dismal start to the campaign under Ronald Koeman, but Los Blancos have carried off the LaLiga title with a comfortable cushion.

In light of the Lewandowski reports, Xavi was asked whether he could sign veteran players and was adamant he would, contingent on whether such stars kept themselves in good shape.

"I signed Dani Alves at 38," Xavi said. "It's not age, it's performance. Players take care of themselves so much and every year they are more professional.

"Ibrahimovic, Modric, Dani Alves, they all have a very high performance at important clubs. Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi too. Age is not a priority. If it improves us, that's the important thing."

Xavi declined to say whether Barcelona would be targeting a goalscorer, declaring it was "not the time to talk about this".

However, he said: "The club knows what we need to be competitive. The board will demand titles from us, and we have to improve."

Xavi, whose side face Getafe in LaLiga on Sunday, explained: "We're talking a lot about players for next year, but we still haven't met the goal of finishing second. There are two games left to finish with a good feeling. Then we'll plan and decide."

Bayern Munich are determined to keep Robert Lewandowski away from Barcelona's clutches as speculation mounts that the Polish striker will request a transfer.

After clinching a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title, Bayern were bringing down the curtain on their season as they travelled to face Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Lewandowski has been champion eight times with Bayern and twice previously with Borussia Dortmund, having left Lech Poznan in 2010 to try his luck in Germany.

Now he is reportedly keen on moving to Barcelona, and with only one year remaining on his contract Bayern are facing a quandary.

They could make fresh attempts to persuade him to sign an extended deal. If it has already passed that point, they could dictate to Lewandowski that he must stay for the next 12 months before leaving on a free transfer. That would risk Bayern going into a new season with a disgruntled senior player.

The alternative is that they cash in on him now, when, at the age of 33, he would still bring in a hefty transfer fee.

Lewandowski has netted 49 goals in 45 games this season, making him the leading scorer across all competitions among players from Europe's top five leagues (Bundesliga, Ligue 1, LaLiga, Premier League, Serie A).

Bayern president Herbert Hainer told German newspaper TZ: "Robert Lewandowski has a contract with FC Bayern until June 30, 2023. And he will fulfil it."

The Wolfsburg game could turn out to be Lewandowski's final match for Bayern, if he is serious about wanting a move.

Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann said the striker had shown professionalism in training but deferred to more senior club officials regarding Lewandowski's future.

"He has been training very well, showing good commitment and scoring great goals," Nagelsmann said in a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"He will be in the starting line-up [on Saturday]. His contractual situation is known and I won't give any information about anything else."

Speaking last month, Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn considered Lewandowski's situation, saying: "We are in contact with Robert and want him to stay with FC Bayern for as long as possible."

Kahn added: "Of course, at some point players like this get the idea: I've achieved everything here and won everything. Then it takes time to convince him to stay here."

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