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."

Milan coach Stefano Pioli is keen to retain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who he called "a champion with a capital C", but knows the forward will make the final decision on his future.

Ibrahimovic is still going strong at the age of 40, but is out of contract at the end of the season.

Milan top the Serie A table heading into their final home game of the campaign against Atalanta on Sunday, though they hold only a two-point lead over city rivals Inter.

Should the Rossoneri win or draw and Inter fail to beat Cagliari, then a first Scudetto in 11 years will be confirmed with a game to spare.

Ibrahimovic played a key role in that title win in 2010-11, and returned for a second stint at Milan in 2020. 

Injuries have limited him to just 11 Serie A starts this season, and 22 appearances in the competition in total, though he has still scored eight goals, and Pioli hopes he will be able to call on the Swede heading into the 2022-23 campaign.

"No, I don't think so," Pioli replied when he was asked in a news conference if Ibrahimovic would be playing at San Siro for Milan for the final time on Sunday.

"There are two games to go. Last at San Siro? I hope not, he is a champion with a capital C."

 

Pioli will accept whatever decision Ibrahimovic makes, however.

He added: "My opinion of him is immeasurable.

"I hope that we don't lose him, but Zlatan has the intelligence and the maturity necessary to understand what will be in his future.

"Now Sunday's match is as important for him as it is for all of us, it is useless to talk about his future and our future now.

Milan have won their last two Serie A meetings against Atalanta, after winning only once in their previous 11 (D6 L4). 

However, Atalanta are unbeaten in their last seven away Serie A games against Milan (W3 D4), keeping a clean sheet five times.

Indeed, Milan's last home win against Atalanta in the competition was in January 2014.

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."

Robert Lewandowski has told Bayern Munich he wishes to leave the club and head to Barcelona in the upcoming transfer window – and manager Julian Nagelsmann will reportedly not stand in his way.

Lewandowski, 33, is in the midst of a historic season, averaging more than a goal per game in both the Bundesliga and Champions League. He has 34 goals and three assists in 33 league fixtures, and 13 goals with three assists in his 10 Champions League games.

With his contract set to expire in just over 12 months, there was a feeling Bayern would prefer to hold on to the Polish star to boost their chances in the Champions League instead of cashing in, but that may not be the case.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI PUSHES FOR BARCA MOVE

Crowned The Best FIFA Men's Player two years in a row, and coming off his third consecutive season with at least 34 league goals, Lewandowski's time in Munich appears to be over as Sport reports he has his heart set on a Barcelona move.

Whether motivated by cashing in while the club still can, or simply honouring the wishes of one of the greatest players to ever wear the badge, Nagelsmann is said to be on board with Lewandowski's decision and will try to facilitate the transfer.

The report includes a note that it may be a difficult move for the Spanish giants to pull off financially, although he is likely central to their off-season plans, meaning the club will do everything in their power to prioritise making it happen.

 

ROUND-UP

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Real Madrid are "more confident than ever" in landing Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe

– According to Mediaset, Chelsea have reached an agreement with Inter's Ivan Perisic to bring the Croatian over on a free transfer, although Fabrizio Romano insists that Perisic has not made up his mind yet.

– Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong will reject any advances from Manchester United and his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, according to the Daily Star.

– Calciomercato claims Paulo Dybala's agent is reportedly in London weighing up offers of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal.

Jude Bellingham will remain with Borussia Dortmund for next season, despite interest from Liverpool and United, according to the Daily Star.

Everton manager Frank Lampard is "not worried at all" about Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park.

Calvert-Lewin was superb for Everton last season, scoring 16 Premier League goals, but has endured an injury hit campaign this time around.

The 25-year-old has only scored three goals, with all of those coming in the opening three matches of the season, while two of them were from the penalty spot.

Rafael Benitez wanted to continue the trend set by Carlo Ancelotti and make Calvert-Lewin the focal point of Everton's attack, but having played with a broken toe throughout August, the forward suffered a serious quad injury that resulted in him missing over four months of action.

Calvert-Lewin returned in early 2022, towards the end of Benitez's ill-fated tenure, but has been unable to string together a run of form for Lampard as Everton have battled for their Premier League survival.

The England international came on as a substitute in Everton's 0-0 draw at Watford on Wednesday, a result that left the Toffees two points above the relegation zone with three games remaining.

Arsenal and Newcastle United are said to hold an interest in Calvert-Lewin, with Everton likely to have to cash in on at least one of their prized assets even if they avoid the drop.

Yet Lampard has no concerns about such speculation, or the attitude of Everton's number nine.

"He is a fantastic striker, the pedigree of striker that there aren't many around. It's been unfortunate for me, I think, that I haven't had him fit," Lampard told a news conference ahead of Sunday's crucial clash with Brentford, in which a win or potentially even a draw may be enough to see Everton safe, depending on Leeds United's result against Brighton and Hove Albion.

 

"He's had little moments but we know that strikers need runs of games and fitness and confidence. We've never been able to get that for Dominic to be fair to him.

"But yes, he's a huge player, they are not very common. He is contracted to us, three years left on his contract, and I want to take this club forward and players like Dominic help that.

"I know he hasn't been playing at the minute because he's been getting fit, but now he's fit, so hopefully he will contribute in the last few games for starters and then he's our player. 

"He's a player that would be wanted by clubs because of the level of player he is. There are not many strikers out there, they cost a lot of money. I'm not worried about him at all."

Everton provided Calvert-Lewin with 31 big chances (as defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score) last season, and he scored from 14 of them.

This season, however, Calvert-Lewin has only been provided with three big chances from open play, one of which he converted, in an opening-day win over Southampton, as Everton have struggled for creativity.

Indeed, only Norwich City (27) have crafted fewer big chances than Everton (28) this season.

Philippe Coutinho will go up "another level" after agreeing a permanent transfer from Barcelona to Aston Villa, manager Steven Gerrard has said.

Villa announced on Thursday that Coutinho will complete a £17million (€20m) move at the end of the season, having impressed in his half-season loan spell at the Premier League club.

The Brazil international has created the most chances among Villa players (24) since scoring and assisting on his debut against Manchester United on January 15.

Coutinho has also crafted the most 'big chances' – from which Opta would expect a player to score – in that period (five) to go along with his four goals and three assists.

Villa boss Gerrard expressed his delight at securing Coutinho's signature and suggested the 29-year-old will develop in the knowledge he has the full backing of Villa Park.

Asked why he thought Coutinho made the swap from Barcelona to Birmingham, Gerrard joked with reporters: "Probably my banter and my company to be honest!"

He added: "I was aware a little bit before it was announced, and I think it's fantastic for everyone connected with the club.

"You've seen the reaction from the supporters, it's very positive, they've seen him over the last five or six months play ever so well.

"He's still got loads left in him, in our opinion. To have him here full time and settled, I think he'll come again and go up another level because of that feeling of knowing where he's going to be playing for the next four years.

"I think he is a player that needs to feel wanted, he needs to feel support. Everyone at Villa is playing their part… the owners especially have made him feel really special.

"He feels really happy here, and it's fantastic that he wants to be part of this journey.

"I think you can't underestimate football happiness. In any walk of life, in any job, you've got to get out of bed with a purpose and with a drive and energy to enjoy your role. In football terms, that is to feel support from your team-mates, from your staff, but also from your supporters.

"If you get out of bed every morning and you're playing for an ambitious club where there's a journey and everyone is pushing to move it forward and improve it, and you're a big part of that and you're made to feel welcome and people want to build around you, that's very important in Phil's situation."

Cesc Fabregas has confirmed he will leave Monaco when his contract expires at the end of the season, but the midfielder has no intentions to retire just yet.

Former Arsenal and Barcelona star Fabregas has been hampered by injuries during the 2021-22 season, in which Monaco are three points behind second-placed Marseille with two games to play.

The Spain international signed on a free transfer in January 2019, and racked up over 800 Ligue 1 minutes a season in his first three campaigns at Monaco.

However, he has appeared just twice in the league this term for his measly 36 minutes and Fabregas has revealed this season will be his last with Monaco.

"It's sure that it's over between Monaco and me," Fabregas told French outlet So Foot. "My contract expires next June, and I'm looking for a fresh start. My head needs a fresh start elsewhere.

"It's the worst year not only in my career, but also in my life, because when I'm not happy in football, I'm not happy in my life. I suffered a lot this year, and it was hard mentally. You just have to stay strong. 

"But sometimes things happen for a reason. I'm grateful that it happened at 35 rather than 25 when I was at the height of my career. 

"So if you look at it that way – 19 years, almost 900 games, winning almost everything – it could have been worse."

 

Aged 35, World Cup winner and two-time European Championship victor Fabregas may be expected to move into a coaching role to utilise his experience, but he insists his preference is to continue playing.

"To be honest, I've already had two or three phone calls in the past two weeks from some of my former coaches to find out what I wanted to do, to see if I wanted to join them this summer as a coach," he added.

"But this year has been so bad that I can't finish on that. Not after building this career. I want to keep playing. 

"I'm grateful for the career I've had, but I don't feel like it's over. I just want to enjoy my football and continue to be competitive at some level."

As for the identity of Fabregas' next club, he has no preference as long as he can rediscover his enjoyment of football.

"I'm open to anything, I just want to have fun," he said when asked about potential clubs, leagues or countries. "After this year, I just want to play and enjoy my football. 

"The place doesn't really matter, it's more my head that counts. When I'm fit I feel really good, when I'm training with my team-mates I don't feel any different when it comes to passion for the game.

"It's just about finding the right project and doing it. I will look for a new project and see where the future takes me."

Romelu Lukaku has seemingly hit out at Federico Pastorello after his agent suggested the striker was unhappy at Chelsea and wanted to return to Inter.

Lukaku has started to find his feet after initially struggling on his £97.5million return to Chelsea from Inter, scoring a brace against Wolves and striking in his last game against Leeds United.

That takes his Premier League tally to eight goals for the season in 25 games, but reports of disgruntlement again circulated on Friday ahead of the FA Cup final with Liverpool.

Thomas Tuchel was left bemused after Pastorello revealed plans to speak to Chelsea's prospective new owners about the striker's future, stating "it is obvious that there was a problem".

Pastorello suggested Lukaku could return to Italy, subject to negotiations with Todd Boehly's consortium, who have signed an agreement to purchase the club from Roman Abramovich in a deal that could be completed by the end of the month, according to reports.

In Pastorello's interview with La Repubblica, he hinted that former club Inter or even neighbours Milan were likely suitors for Lukaku, who has since taken to Instagram to rubbish such suggestions.

"Never ever will I let someone speak for me…," Lukaku posted. "I kept my mouth shut and focused on helping the team and end the season in the best way as possible.

"So if someone out there [is] trying to say something me and the club…Not in my name. RL."

It is not the first time Lukaku's future at Chelsea has been brought into question, after the talisman was quoted by Sky Sport Italy as being "not happy" with his place in Tuchel's first-team plans in December.

Lukaku will look to place off-field concerns to one side when Chelsea face Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, Tuchel's side aiming for revenge for the EFL Cup final loss back in February.

Thomas Tuchel suggested he was unaware and not involved with negotiations after Romelu Lukaku's agent revealed plans to speak to Chelsea's prospective new owners about the striker's future.

Lukaku initially struggled on his Stamford Bridge return after joining Chelsea from Inter in a £97.5million move before the start of the 2021-22 season.

However, the Belgium international appears to be slowly finding his feet after managing a double against Wolves and striking in Wednesday's 3-0 Premier League win at Leeds United.

Yet reports of Lukaku's discontent continue to circulate. In December, the striker was quoted by Sky Sport Italy as being "not happy" with his place in Tuchel's first-team plans.

The 29-year-old again caused a stir on Friday after his agent Federico Pastorello suggested Lukaku could return to Italy, subject to negotiations with Todd Boehly's consortium, who have signed an agreement to purchase the club from Roman Abramovich in a deal that could be completed by the end of the month according to reports.

"He has [Inter] and the fans in his heart, he has never hidden it, like his love for Anderlecht where he would like to end his career," Pastorello told La Repubblica.

"But we cannot think about negotiations. Chelsea are in takeover discussions, we do not know the new owners, let alone if we can open talks with Inter or Milan. We have to wait.

"For the cost of the transfer, no one could have expected such a situation. I do not discuss the tactical choices, but it is obvious that there was a problem. The numbers, however, must be considered – he is still the team's best scorer, with less playing time compared to his team-mates.

"The situation must be carefully assessed, now there is Champions League qualification to secure, there is the FA Cup final. Romelu is focused on this, we have not talked about anything else."

Tuchel, speaking ahead of the FA Cup final with Liverpool on Saturday, admitted he did not expect to be involved in the planned talks when asked about Lukaku at a pre-match news conference.

"If he plans to talk with the owner then maybe it's not his plan to talk with me," Tuchel said. "Let's see if he gets a meeting, maybe he can talk.

"It's his right and we will talk to anybody and evaluate the situation of any player including Romelu. I was just [made] aware of it five, 10 minutes ago. That's what it is sometimes in football.

"The attention is so high that sometimes it attracts situations that you don't want to have before big matches. But it's the way it is.

"For me it's not a distraction, and for everyone else who works with the team hopefully it's not too."

Mauricio Pochettino is not concerned Paris Saint-Germain might get left behind in the upcoming transfer window.

Manchester City have made the first huge move in securing an agreement for Erling Haaland, while Borussia Dortmund have replaced their outgoing superstar with Karim Adeyemi – one of three impressive new signings.

Meanwhile, PSG still do not appear to know if Kylian Mbappe will leave the club this year, and uncertainty surrounds Pochettino's position, too.

But the PSG coach is confident the Ligue 1 champions are sticking to their usual process, which last year delivered a widely lauded window in which Lionel Messi arrived, among others.

"Every club works in its own way," Pochettino said in a news conference ahead of Saturday's game against Montpellier that was dominated by transfer talk.

"Paris Saint-Germain has its strategy and must follow it.

"I don't think anyone is ahead or behind; you just have to know where you're going. We must not compare PSG with other clubs.

"The end of the season is coming and the club is already working for next season."

Indeed, Pochettino insists PSG are in a good place, adding: "The work is done during the season. We discover players, we see the profiles, we see the possibilities of incomings that can improve the team.

"There is then a period when departures and arrivals happen, but it's a job that is done in parallel with the league. Most of the work is done during the season."

That could potentially be altered by an unexpected announcement from long-time Real Madrid target Mbappe, who has previously discussed his career options at the UNFP Trophies ceremony.

This year's gala is on Sunday, but Pochettino does not foresee news on the forward's future.

"It's a question for Kylian, but I hope not, because we will be in Qatar," he said with a smile. "And in any case, if there is a communication, we hope that it will be positive for the club.

"But I don't think so – and that's a question for him."

Robert Lewandowski remains part of Julian Nagelsmann's plans for next season, despite speculation that the prolific striker could be on his way out of Bayern Munich.

The Poland international has a little over 12 months remaining on his contract with the Bundesliga champions and has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

According to reports from Germany on Thursday, Lewandowski has informed Bayern he does not intend to sign a new contract as he is seeking a new challenge elsewhere.

Should that be the case, Bayern must decide whether to cash in on the 33-year-old or lose him for nothing in a year's time when his deal expires.

While Nagelsmann was unwilling to confirm whether Lewandowski has made clear his thoughts to leave, the Bayern boss insists the club's position remains the same.

"He has been training very well, showing good commitment and scoring great goals," Nagelsmann said ahead of Saturday's league trip to Wolfsburg.

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

"If you want that then you'll have to ask Robert or [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic. But otherwise our position is known."

 

Nagelsmann said last week that Bayern had held positive talks with Lewandowski, while chief executive Oliver Kahn categorically ruled out a sale in the next transfer window.

Further probed on whether he has spoken to Lewandowski regarding his future, Nagelsmann said: "I don't have to.

"It's normal he's in my plans because he has a contract until June 2023. I often meet and speak with him. But we don't need to talk every single day."

Lewandowski joined Bayern from domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014 and has scored 343 goals in 374 appearances for the Bavarian giants.

That is 16 more than next-best Lionel Messi (327) in all competitions across the same period among players from Europe's top five leagues, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo (321).

He has scored 49 goals this season alone, which again makes him Europe's most prolific striker, with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema (44) next on the list.

Lewandowski's goals have helped Bayern to a 10th straight Bundesliga triumph this season, though they disappointingly fell short in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Asked if he will have the final say on whether Lewandowski stays or leaves, Nagelsmann said: "It's always a discussion with Kahn, Salihamidzic and me. I'm not more important."

Philippe Coutinho will complete a permanent £17million (€20m) move to Aston Villa from Barcelona at the end of the season, it has been confirmed.

The Brazil international has enjoyed a resurgent half-season loan spell at Villa Park since January and has signed a contract until June 2026 after being effectively frozen out of starting contention at Camp Nou.

The deal, which will see Barca paid 50 per cent of any future sale of the player, brings to a close an unhappy four-and-a-half year tenure with the Blaugrana, who originally signed him in 2018 from Liverpool for a club record nine-figure sum.

Despite success in La Liga in terms of trophies, winning two titles and two Copa del Reys, the playmaker struggled to slot in with the Catalan outfit and spent the 2019-20 season on loan with Bayern Munich, where he won a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, although the German giants declined to make the move permanent.

It has been his return to England under former Reds team-mate Steven Gerrard that has arguably seen him hit his best form since leaving Anfield, though.

Coutinho has played more than twice as many minutes with Villa than he did with Barca this season, and has notched four goals in 16 appearances for the Midlands club.

Gerrard said: "This is a brilliant signing for Aston Villa. Phil is a model professional and his impact on the group has been very clear since he joined in January. 

"With the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch, he's also a valuable role model for our younger players who can only benefit from his experience. 

"As we look to build towards next season, it is incredible to work at a club that executes its business so decisively and smoothly." 

Erling Haaland's departure will not mean Borussia Dortmund "stop playing football", head coach Marco Rose declared while wishing the soon-to-be Manchester City forward well for the future.

City have agreed a deal to sign Haaland, who had been one of the most sought-after players in the world.

The 21-year-old will now follow in the footsteps of his father Alf-Inge Haaland, who played for City between 2000 and 2003.

Haaland has netted 85 goals since making his Dortmund debut in January 2020, with 28 of those coming from 29 games in all competitions this season.

Across the top five European leagues, only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has a better ratio (1.13) of goals per 90 minutes in all competitions than Haaland's 1.1.

 

The move to City is subject to personal terms, though that is unlikely to present an issue, with Pep Guardiola's side all set to add a world-class striker to their star-studded squad.

Dortmund signed Salzburg youngster Karim Adeyemi – a former team-mate of Haaland's – as the Norwegian's replacement, and while Rose wishes the latter well in Manchester, he knows BVB will move on.

"Borussia Dortmund will not stop playing football after Erling leaves us. He decided to do his next step with City, we wish him all the best for that," Rose told a news conference ahead of Saturday's final game of the season, at home to relegation-threatened Hertha Berlin.

"I think he gave us a lot, gave us goals, gave us energy, he's a player who always wants to win.

"I think he still can improve, he is still young but we wish him all the best on his way. I've known him a little bit longer, I had him at Salzburg too, so we will follow him, I think we will meet again, I hope we will meet again. All the best to Erling Haaland."

On signing Adeyemi, Rose said: "He's brutally fast and has a good finish, giving us a lot of flexibility on the offensive.

"Of course, he's still young, so we shouldn't overload him. We'll help him get used to BVB quickly."

Dortmund, who are assured of second place, have lost two of their last three Bundesliga home matches (W1), as many as in their previous 17 league outings at Signal Iduna Park combined.

The last time BVB suffered consecutive home defeats in the league was in 2020 (three in a row).

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