Tottenham are reportedly looking to swoop in with an offer for Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus, who has been a key target this transfer period for rivals Arsenal.

Just days ago stories were written about Arsenal feeling "cautiously optimistic" about their chances of landing the 25-year-old Brazilian, despite their reported bid of £30million falling well below City's £50m asking price.

That move is now in jeopardy thanks to Tottenham's involvement, with the club able to offer Champions League football to the striker who has scored 20 Champions League goals across City's past five European campaigns (38 games).

 

TOP STORY – SPURS SWOOP IN WITH OFFER OF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOOTBALL

There is no doubt about Jesus' ability to perform at the highest level, scoring at least seven goals in each of his Premier League seasons since arriving as a 19-year-old. He has also added more creativity to his game, with 21 Premier League assists in his past three campaigns compared to 10 from his first three with City.

The Mirror reports another aspect of his game that Spurs boss Antonio Conte values is his willingness to play out wide on a wing, which means he could still complement star Harry Kane if their formation only calls for one striker.

It is not mentioned whether Tottenham are willing to meet City's asking price, but a second serious bidder will mean Arsenal's desire to land him for a much smaller figure is likely no longer possible.

 

ROUND-UP

– Chelsea will loan striker Romelu Lukaku back to Inter for a fee of at least £8.5m, according to the Daily Mail.

– The Athletic is reporting that Raheem Sterling has been asking friends about life in west London after Fabrizio Romano revealed Chelsea had a £21.5m bid turned down for the City winger.

– Fabrizio Romano claims Manchester United are preparing another bid for Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, but if Barcelona will not bring their asking price down, the Old Trafford club are prepared to pivot to Wolves' Ruben Neves.

– According to Sport, Bayern Munich are demanding €50m from Barcelona for Robert Lewandowski, while the Spanish club are currently offering €40m plus performance bonuses.

Newcastle United have been told by Bayer Leverkusen that 22-year-old French winger Moussa Diaby will cost €50m, according to The Sun.

Bayern Munich face a tricky early test when they begin their Bundesliga title defence at Eintracht Frankfurt in the season's opening game on August 5.

Whether the champions still have Robert Lewandowski in their ranks come that date remains to be seen, as the prolific Polish striker pushes for a move away, and there could be turbulent times for the Bavarian giants before the game comes around.

Frankfurt won the Europa League in the 2021-22 season, while Bayern have landed 10 consecutive Bundesliga titles, making it a tasty appetiser for the new campaign.

It will be the first time in the history of the Bundesliga that the reigning champions will have come up against the UEFA Cup or Europa League holders on matchday one, Opta said.

Frankfurt finished a modest 11th in last season's German top flight, with their form in Europe offering a striking contrast to their domestic fortunes.

They will hope that home advantage proves significant, and history tells us that Bundesliga champions can struggle early on. Teams beginning the defence of their Bundesliga title have started with an away fixture in 21 league seasons and have lost 10 of them (W6 D5).

While Julian Nagelsmann's Bayern and Oliver Glasner's Frankfurt get the season under way with their Friday night game, the standout fixture on the opening weekend is set to take place at Signal Iduna Park as Borussia Dortmund host Bayer Leverkusen.

That is a clash of the teams that finished second and third respectively last season. Dortmund will be starting life without Erling Haaland, the prolific striker who has elected to move on to Manchester City, with Karim Adeyemi signed from Salzburg as his replacement.

Strong starters in recent seasons, Dortmund have won each of their last seven Bundesliga openers.

RB Leipzig head to Stuttgart on the first weekend of the campaign, while promoted Schalke and Werder Bremen both face away trips as they tackle Cologne and Wolfsburg respectively.

Bayern face further August fixtures against Wolfsburg, Bochum and Borussia Monchengladbach, with the first Klassiker of the season against Dortmund scheduled for the long weekend of October 7-10. Dortmund will have home advantage for that one, with Bayern then hosting BVB over the weekend of March 31 to April 3.

Adam Hlozek has signed for Bayer Leverkusen on a five-year deal, joining Czech Republic team-mate Patrik Schick in the Bundesliga side's attack.

The 19-year-old moves from Sparta Prague, where he scored 34 goals in 105 games across four seasons in the Czech Liga.

Leverkusen are reported to have paid €13million for Hlozek, who was also linked with Sevilla.

He boosts Gerardo Seoane's options going forward ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, when Leverkusen will return to the Champions League.

They have also committed leading scorer Schick to a new contract, although Florian Wirtz remains out following an ACL tear and Moussa Diaby has been linked with a move away.

Ruben Neves is Erik ten Hag's number one midfield target in his first transfer window as manager at Manchester United.

Neves, 25, signed for Wolves from Porto in 2017, and quickly asserted himself as a crucial cog in midfield.

United made a move for the Portugal international in the January transfer window, and were rebuffed, but they reportedly prepared to come in with a much more substantial offer this time around.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS LAUNCH ANOTHER MOVE FOR NEVES

After United's January offer of £35million was unsuccessful, The Sun is reporting Wolves will want in the range of £50m to sell star man Neves.

Wolves have reportedly been preparing for life without Neves for some time now, and are targeting 26-year-old Sporting CP midfielder Joao Palhinha as his long-term replacement. They are also said to have strong interest in Benfica's Martim Neto, demonstrating the clear links their scouting department has with the Primeira Liga.

However, United will have stiff competition for Neves' signature, with Barcelona reportedly keen. 

ROUND-UP

– Paris Saint Germain are open to Neymar leaving in the upcoming window, according to ESPN, with Chelsea named as a club that have interest.

– The Star is reporting Benfica have told interested parties – including United – that striker Darwin Nunez will cost £100m.

Bayern Munich will pay £25m for Liverpool's Sadio Mane as a replacement for Robert Lewandowski, per L'Equipe.

– The Telegraph is reporting that Aston Villa will explore the possibility of signing manager Steven Gerrard's former team-mate, Luis Suarez, who is a free agent.

Newcastle United have made enquiries about Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby, and hope to add the France international to their attack for next season, according to The Telegraph.

Bayer Leverkusen have secured the future of their coveted striker Patrik Schick by signing up the prolific Czech for the next five years.

Schick was joint-top goalscorer alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at last year's delayed Euro 2020 tournament, hitting five goals.

He carried that form into the 2021-22 Bundesliga campaign, tallying 24 goals in 27 league games as Leverkusen finished third to earn a Champions League place.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski scored more in the German top flight, and Schick had been linked with a host of clubs, including Premier League outfits Arsenal and Newcastle United.

He was prepared to forgo the possibility of such a switch as he extended a previous contract that ran to 2025 with the new deal that takes him through to the end of the 2026-27 season.

"I just feel good here," said 26-year-old Schick. "It's a lot of fun with these guys. Qualifying for the Champions League is a good next step. 

"A lot is possible here, which is exactly why I extended my contract at Bayer 04."

Leverkusen's departing sporting director Rudi Voller left a parting gift by playing a significant part in the negotiations, with the 1990 World Cup winner saying: "Renewing with such a player is an expression of our ambitions and a clear sign that things will continue at the top level at Bayer Leverkusen even after my departure.

"For me, Patrik Schick is currently one of the world's best centre forwards. I'm looking forward to seeing him in the Werkself shirt in the years to come."

Voller is vacating his position as former Leverkusen midfielder Simon Rolfes steps up to inherit the role.

Rolfes said: "There are only a few centre forwards of his stature internationally. Added to Patrik's exceptional sporting qualities as a full-fledged striker are the skills of a leader."

Schick came to international prominence thanks to his sensational long-range strike for the Czech Republic against Scotland, which was voted Euro 2020's goal of the tournament.

He showed brilliant vision to shoot from just inside the Scotland half, with the goal measured at 49.7 yards, making it the furthest distance from which a goal has been scored at the European Championship since such data was first recorded in 1980.

Borussia Dortmund bade farewell to several players on an emotional day at Signal Iduna Park, with Erling Haaland signing off in style.

Haaland is moving to Manchester City ahead of the 2022-23 season, with that move confirmed this week.

The 21-year-old – who joined Dortmund from Salzburg in 2019-20 – was presented with a wreath prior to kick-off on Saturday, as Dortmund faced Hertha Berlin in their final Bundesliga game of the season.

He was not the only player given an ovation before the match, with Axel Witsel and Dan-Axel Zagadou, who are leaving the club following the expiration of their contracts, and departing loanees Marin Pongracic and Reinier Jesus also paraded on the pitch, along with Marcel Schmelzer, who has retired.

Long-time sporting director Michael Zorc is also retiring, and was given a huge send-off by the Dortmund crowd.

The enthusiasm in the stands was not initially matched on the pitch, as relegation-threatened Hertha took an 18th-minute lead through Ishak Belfodil's penalty.

However, Haaland got his farewell goal with 22 minutes of normal time remaining, coolly slamming in an 86th Dortmund strike from the spot, in what was his 89th appearance for the club.

Zagadou and Witsel were both subbed off with the game winding down and, fittingly, it was the latter's replacement who netted Dortmund's winner.

Marco Rose insisted Dortmund would "not stop playing football" in the wake of Haaland's departure and 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko showed the future is bright as he converted from Jude Bellingham's sublime pass.

Haaland was able to enjoy a standing ovation as he made way, with Dortmund's 2-1 victory also ensuring Hertha will be in the relegation play-off.

Dortmund's place in second was already sealed, but below them, Freiburg's attempt to get into the Champions League fell just short as they lost 2-1 to Bayer Leverkusen, who took third, while RB Leipzig finished fourth.

Freiburg still have the DFB-Pokal final against Leipzig to look forward to but ultimately slipped down to sixth, with Taiwo Awoniyi's late penalty sending Union Berlin into fifth with a 3-2 win over VfL Bochum.

Barcelona are reportedly open to "big-money" offers for Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong.

De Jong, who has 40 caps for the Netherlands, arrived at Barcelona from Ajax for a €75million fee in 2019, accumulating 137 appearances for the club in all competitions.

The midfielder has been a key pillar in Barcelona's line-up this season, appearing 44 times, but the Catalan giants may be ready to move on as the interest from United intensifies.

TOP STORY – BARCA ARE CONSIDERING OFFERS FOR DE JONG

The Blaugrana are open-minded about potentially parting ways with De Jong, who is being closely linked with his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag for his new venture at United.

He is one of the main players on the Red Devils' wish-list, which Fichajes reports also includes Southampton's James Ward-Prowse, Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia and West Ham's Jarrod Bowen.

The Telegraph adds that Ten Hag has identified eight players "he can trust" at the club, while being on the fence about Marcus Rashford's future.

ROUND-UP

– L'Equipe is reporting RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku would like to leave the club after this season, with a desire to head to Manchester City, United, Paris Saint-Germain or Milan

Newcastle United have met with the agent of Watford's Ismaila Sarr but will have to match the club's £40million asking price, per FootballTransfers.

Bayer Leverkusen are planning a move for PSG youngster Eric-Junior Dina Ebimbe after failing to secure the deal during the January transfer window, according to RMC Sport.

– Sport is reporting Samuel Umtiti will leave Barcelona in the next transfer window and wants to return to Lyon, who will be competing for his services with Rennes, Montpellier and Nice

– Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha is unlikely to sign an extension with the club and could be sold in the next transfer window with his contract set to expire in 2023, according to The Times.

Florian Wirtz can roar back to action for Germany for the World Cup and end a testing year by starring at Qatar 2022, according to Oliver Bierhoff.

The 18-year-old attacking midfielder sustained a major knee injury during Bayer Leverkusen's defeat by FC Koln earlier this month, with a torn anterior cruciate ligament guaranteeing a long-term absence.

But speaking at a news conference ahead of friendlies against Israel and Netherlands, national team managing director Bierhoff believes Wirtz has both the incentive and the physical attributes that mean his prospects are positive.

The teenager has already earned four senior caps for Germany, having made his debut last September after dazzling at club level.

There is no doubt Wirtz is a beneficiary from the World Cup taking place unusually in November and December, given he now has some hope of being able to get fit and match ready.

Had the tournament run in June and July, as has been the custom, he would have been ruled out of Germany's plans by now.

"I'm absolutely convinced that he can do it, for various reasons," Bierhoff said. "First, there is the mental aspect when you have a World Cup in front of you.

"But he's also a light-footed player, and I'm always confident that they'll get over it a little faster. We will give all possible support in coordination with the club."

 

"Our demand is that the players have the World Cup in their heads all year round.

"I am firmly convinced that if you start early and also deal with this topic mentally and build up this inner will, you will do everything you can to want to play a successful tournament in November.

"We will always give the players material so that they can take this one step further."

With 10 goals and 14 assists across all competitions, Wirtz has the most direct goal involvements among players under the age of 21 in 2021-22 from Europe's top five leagues.

The 19 big chances created by Wirtz is bettered only by Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Muller and Dimitri Payet (all on 20), as well as Trent Alexander-Arnold (22) and Bruno Fernandes (23).

Germany head coach Hansi Flick is confident Bayer Leverkusen star Florian Wirtz can return just as strong after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The 18-year-old sustained the damage in Saturday's 1-0 Bundesliga loss to Cologne when twisting awkwardly on the turf 28 minutes into the contest.

Wirtz has earned four senior caps for Germany, having made his debut last September, but is now in a battle to be fit and ready for the World Cup in November.

The news is a big blow for Flick ahead of his first tournament in charge of Germany, but the ex-Bayern Munich boss has faith that Wirtz will make a full recovery.

"He is one of the greatest talents that German football has produced in recent years," Flick told the DFB's official website. 

"That's why we were all shocked when we found out about his cruciate ligament rupture. I've already phoned him and tried to encourage him. 

"He's still young, he'll come back at least as strong, I'm sure of it. He gets our full support. 

"We wish him all the best and keep our fingers crossed that the healing process goes as optimally as possible."

 

Wirtz is considered to be one of the highest-rated young players in European football and has been linked with the likes of Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

With 10 goals and 14 assists, Wirtz has the most direct goal involvements among players under the age of 21 in 2021-22 across Europe's top five leagues.

The 19 big chances created by Wirtz is bettered only by Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Muller (both 20), Bruno Fernandes and Trent Alexander-Arnold (both 22).

Bayer Leverkusen star Florian Wirtz suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the 1-0 Bundesliga defeat to Cologne on Sunday.

The 18-year-old is expected to be out of action for several months after an MRI scan showed the extent of the damage to his left knee.

The attacking midfielder twisted awkwardly on the turf just 28 minutes into the game at the BayArena, which was settled by Kingsley Schindler's second-half goal.

Wirtz is one of the highest-rated young players in Europe and has been linked with transfers to the likes of Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

He already has four senior caps for Germany, having made his debut last September, and would have been in contention to make the squad for the 2022 World Cup.

With 10 goals and 14 assists, Wirtz has the most direct goal involvements among players under the age of 21 in 2021-22 across Europe's top five leagues.

Leverkusen are third in the Bundesliga, a point ahead of Freiburg and Hoffenheim.

Georginio Wijnaldum only joined Paris Saint-Germain in June but is reportedly unsettled.

The 31-year-old Dutch midfielder had signed a three-year deal with the Parisians.

Wijnaldum has been linked with several clubs given his situation.

TOP STORY – VILLA PLOT WIJNALDUM MOVE

Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa are considering a move for PSG's Wijnaldum , claims Sport.

Gerrard is keeping tabs on ex-Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum, who is reportedly ready to leave PSG whom he joined less than 12 months ago.

The Villans were quoted with a £21million price tag for Wijnaldum who is contracted until 2024.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims that 35-year-old Luis Suarez will leave Atletico Madrid at the end of this season, with Inter, Ajax and Sevilla pursuing him along with unnamed Brazilian clubs.

- Newcastle United will table a £50m offer for Bayer Leverkusen's French winger Moussa Diaby,  according to the Mail. Leverkusen have set a £75m valuation for Diaby.

- PSG want to re-sign Italy international forward Moise Kean, who is currently on loan at Juventus from Everton, claims Calciomercato. Kean was on loan at PSG last season, netting 17 goals in 41 appearances.

- Football Insider reports that Arsenal are monitoring Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins as a cut-price forward option if moves for Alexander Isak, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Darwin Nunez fail to materialise.

Bayern Munich defender Niklas Sule insisted he will "give everything" to ensure Borussia Dortmund finish second in the Bundesliga this season, despite agreeing to join Marco Rose's side in 2022-23.

Sule has agreed to join Dortmund when his deal expires at the Allianz Arena in June, but Julian Nagelsmann has repeatedly assured that the centre-back remains committed to the cause.

That was evident when Sule opened the scoring against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, although the reigning Bundesliga champions had to settle for a 1-1 draw after Thomas Muller's own-goal.

The 26-year-old was a standout performer against Gerardo Seoane's side, completing a game-high 99 successful passes, with no player attempting more in the opposition half (53).

While Bayern missed the chance to go 11 points clear at the Bundesliga summit, Sule expressed his commitment to Nagelsmann's side with his focus solely on domestic and Champions League success this term before joining Dortmund.

"I'm nothing but grateful. I'll give everything for this club until the last day, hopefully with two more titles," Sule told Sky Deutschland, as quoted by BILD.

"I believe in that. I'm grateful for the way people here are coping with my decision.

"I deliberately haven't spoken out yet. I'm still a Bayern player. There are still two big titles to play for and I will give everything to make sure Dortmund finish second this season."

The Bavarian giants sit nine points clear at the top, with second-placed Dortmund boasting a game in hand but they are not in action next until March 13.

But Nagelsmann was disappointed with his team's outing as he acknowledged Leverkusen squandered as many presentable opportunities as Bayern.

"The first half an hour was very good," he told reporters. "We had a lot of control and missed the second goal. We had chances. The goal we conceded was avoidable. The communication between Thomas [Muller] and Sven [Ulreich] was there, but I think it was too quiet.

"We were lucky not to concede a second. In the second half, Leverkusen defended deep. They had three good chances on the counter.

"The final touch was missing for us. I think in the end a point was fair for both teams, even though, of course, both wanted to win."

Bayern will look to make amends in the league when they visit Hoffenheim in a week's time, after Nagelsmann's men host Salzburg on Tuesday in the return leg of their Champions League last-16 clash, which is finely poised at 1-1.

Bayern Munich missed the chance to open an 11-point gap at the Bundesliga summit as they were held to a thrilling 1-1 draw by Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

Julian Nagelsmann's side were 5-0 up after 37 minutes in the reverse meeting last October, and needed just 18 minutes at the Allianz Arena to take the lead through Niklas Sule.

Thomas Muller's own goal levelled things up in the first half, but neither team could find a winner after the interval despite an end-to-end affair that produced a host of opportunities.

The result leaves Bayern nine points clear of second-placed Dortmund, who have a game in hand and are not in action until March 13, while Gerardo Seoane's Leverkusen sit 14 adrift of the leaders in third.

 

Amine Adli drilled the first chance of the contest narrowly wide for Leverkusen, and it was Bayern who opened the scoring shortly after.

Sule slammed past Lukas Hradecky following Charles Aranguiz's goal-line clearance from a deflected Joshua Kimmich corner, before Serge Gnabry flashed just wide.

Parity was soon restored when Muller poked Kerem Demirbay's free-kick into his own net, and Leverkusen should have headed into half-time ahead.

Adli rounded Sven Ulreich following Dayot Upamecano's wayward pass but could only strike the post, before the same visiting player shot wide when clean through, and then the Bayern goalkeeper thwarted Aranguiz minutes later.

Jamal Musiala forced a smart Hradecky stop after the break, while Florian Wirtz's deft touch squirmed just off target with Ulreich seemingly beaten at the other end.

Hradecky denied substitute Marcel Sabitzer when one-on-one immediately after his introduction as Bayern's push for a winning goal came to no avail.

Julian Nagelsmann confirmed that Manuel Neuer returned to full training on Friday, but a home clash with Bayer Leverkusen will come too soon for Bayern Munich's goalkeeper.

Neuer required knee surgery in February and has not featured since a 3-2 win over RB Leipzig, in which he matched Oliver Kahn's all-time record of 310 Bundesliga victories by a player. He achieved the first 77 triumphs with former club Schalke.

The Germany international – who holds the record for the most clean sheets in the Bundesliga (209), having surpassed Kahn (196) in 2021 – returned to light training late last month, but Nagelsmann confirmed the 35-year-old is now back into full team sessions.

While Neuer will be unavailable for the meeting with Leverkusen at Allianz Arena, the Bayern head coach suggested a return for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Salzburg on Tuesday could be a possibility.

"Manu did a little more today for the first time, also in team training," Nagelsmann told reporters at a pre-match news conference.

"Things are looking good. He still feels a little twinge when he has to stand up from a deep knee bend. He won't be an option for the squad tomorrow, that would be naive. 

"We'll have to see how sensible that is for Salzburg. We'll have to wait and see how he reacts. He hasn't lost any of his quality."

 

Bayern sit eight points clear at the summit of the German top flight ahead of their clash with third-placed Leverkusen, who are 14 adrift of the leaders.

Nagelsmann's team won the reverse fixture 5-1 and were 5-0 up after just 37 minutes – only in a 7-1 win at home against Hoffenheim in 2012 have they lead by five goals at an earlier point in a league match (after 35 minutes).

However, Leverkusen have taken 44 points from their 24 games in this campaign – the last time they had more at this stage was in 2012-13 (45) – and Nageslmann is expecting a stern challenge.

Indeed, both Bayern, who have managed 75 goals, a Bundesliga record for any team, and Leverkusen (63) have never before found the net as many times after 24 Bundesliga matches as they have done this season.

"A goal spectacle would be good for the spectators, but only to a limited extent for the coaches," Nagelsmann added. "Game control and the defence will be particularly important. 

"[Florian] Wirtz has the ability to move between the lines. [Jeremie] Frimpong initiates a lot, they have a very high pace and a lot of quality. We have to be prepared for that. 

"The first game [against Leverkusen] was very impressive, but we could have conceded a goal or two more.

"I don't expect them to be as offensive as they were in the first meeting and I expect them to keep pushing up but a little bit lower than they have been in recent years."

Niklas Sule, who has agreed to join Borussia Dortmund when his contract expires at the end of the season, also comes back into contention, and Nagelsmann believes the centre-back will continue giving his all for the club until he departs.

"I have a clear opinion," Nagelsmann said. "There is a certain contractual situation, the contract is limited and expires. 

"A player ideally extends, is sold or a contract expires. If the player continues who has the desire and does everything to be successful, I would always let the player play. 

"In many cases, things turn out well for the club. Sometimes things turn out differently, like with [David] Alaba [who joined Real Madrid at the end of his contract] or Sule. 

"That's part of it. You try to get the player on your side for a long time so that he gives everything for the club."

Marco Reus has labelled Borussia Dortmund's heavy 5-2 defeat at home to Bayer Leverkusen "a catastrophic day" for the club.

The sides traded early own goals, but Dortmund were 3-1 down by the 28th minute and then conceded twice more in the second half before Steffen Tigges' late consolation.

After six wins in a row in this fixture, BVB were beaten at home by Leverkusen for the first time since 2014 and conceded five at home to their North Rhine-Westphalia rivals for the first time ever; Leverkusen had never previously netted more than three in Dortmund.

Dortmund actually matched Leverkusen in terms of expected goals, with both teams creating chances worth 1.86 xG, but Reus was not looking for excuses.

Although his side remain second in the Bundesliga, they are now nine points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

"It's a catastrophic day for us," Reus told Sky Sports. "We didn't get into the game well and were a step too late in every situation. We then [allowed] counter-attacks,  even though we agreed before the game that that's their strength. We will be punished for that. It was just not enough today.

"We simply didn't implement the guidelines we prepared [before] the game for two weeks and worked on a lot. We always say the same thing and then have to bring it onto the pitch. We didn't manage that today. A very bitter day, we didn't deserve [to win] today. It was really, really bad overall."

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