Robert Lewandowski is enjoying an outstanding start to the season with Bayern Munich but insists there is room for him to get even better.

The Poland international has 23 goals in 18 club matches so far this term, more than any other player in Europe's top leagues.

However, Lewandowski believes he is only now approaching his peak and can improve further, insisting he does not feel his 31 years.

"I worked very hard for this form. Currently it is going perfectly, my body feels good," he told Sport Bild.

"It's good to have that in mind, but it does not mean that I'm resting. I want to get even better.

"I know when I can do more and when I need to slow down. My passport says: 'Robert Lewandowski, 31 years old'. But that's not how I feel.

"My best spell is just starting now and hopefully will continue for some more years. The best is yet to come."

Lewandowski is set to return to club action following the international break on Saturday, as Bayern visit Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Thomas Delaney has suffered torn ligaments in his right ankle and will be out of action until January.

Borussia Dortmund confirmed the nature of the 28-year-old's injury on Wednesday after he returned from international duty.

Midfielder Delaney was substituted 13 minutes into Denmark's crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Republic of Ireland on Monday, unable to assist his country as they secured a 1-1 draw to qualify for the finals.

Delaney has played six times in the Bundesliga this season, having appeared 30 times last term following his move from Werder Bremen.

Bayern Munich have tied 19-year-old goalkeeper Christian Fruchtl to a new contract that keeps him in Bavaria until 2022.

The Germany Under-20 international's deal with the Bundesliga champions had been set to expire at the end of the season.

Fruchtl, who joined the club in 2014, is yet to feature for the Bayern first team but has been named on the bench 12 times since the start of 2017-18.

"It’s a great feeling that the best club in Germany has put its faith in me," he said. "I want to continue making a name for myself this season in the third division [with the reserve team] and push for the first team.

"When you train with world-class players on a daily basis, you also mature as a person. That's always been something special for me."

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic added: "Christian is a true Bavarian boy and has grown up here in the club. We're very pleased to have him.

"He's shown continuous development and we want to continue that together. We're certain he's got a great career in front of him."

Joshua Kimmich gave a strong endorsement of Mauricio Pochettino's coaching ability after the rumoured Bayern Munich target departed Tottenham.

Spurs brought Pochettino's well-regarded stint in charge to an abrupt end on Tuesday, dismissing the man who led them to the Champions League final following a poor start to the new season.

The development could have ramifications in Bavaria, where the Argentinian is said to be held in high regard.

Bayern were reportedly interested in Pochettino even before they parted company with head coach Niko Kovac at the beginning of November and could now pursue him as a free agent.

The Bundesliga champions have entrusted Hansi Flick with overseeing the team until the end of 2019 but have not committed to a long-term appointment.

"I do not know if he is a candidate for us," Kimmich told reporters when asked about Pochettino after Germany's win over Northern Ireland in Euro 2020 qualifying.

"What you can say is that Tottenham were fighting at the top for years. They have had huge consistency.

"He's a top coach, but I do not know if he's an option for us."

Flick has won each of his two matches since taking charge on an interim basis, the second a 4-0 thrashing of Der Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge last week said: "We decided that he will be coach at least until Christmas and possibly beyond. We trust Hansi Flick."

Bayern have reportedly identified Ajax boss Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Tuchel as their preferred candidates but would likely struggle to prise either coach away from their clubs before the end of the season.

Jose Mourinho had also been linked with the Bavarian club, but he was appointed Pochettino's successor at Spurs on Wednesday.

Manchester City are going to great lengths to keep Raheem Sterling.

Though contracted until 2023, the England international's exceptional form has led to links with Real Madrid.

But it could earn him a fresh extension to his bumper deal at the Etihad Stadium.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SEEK STERLING INSURANCE

Premier League champions City have opened contract talks with star forward Sterling, according to the Mirror.

The 24-year-old agreed a new three-year extension a mere 12 months ago but City are taking no chances with his future amid rumours of interest from LaLiga giants Madrid.

Sterling has scored 14 goals in 17 club appearances this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Corriere dello Sport says Juventus are preparing a €100million offer for Valencia winger Ferran Torres, who has also been linked to Liverpool.

- Bayern Munich are interested in Tottenham teenager Troy Parrott and Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, reports the Daily Mail. Parrott, 17, has caught the eye, while Henderson is on loan at Sheffield United.

- Napoli have offered Fabian Ruiz a contract extension through to 2025, claims Mundo Deportivo. Barcelona and Madrid are rumoured to want the Spain international midfielder.

- According to reports in Spain, Athletic Bilbao want to re-sign Javi Martinez from Bayern Munich. Martinez left the Basque club for Bayern in 2012.

Kingsley Coman was back running at Bayern Munich's training ground after leaving the France squad early with a muscle problem.

Coman was forced off in the 88th minute of France's 2-1 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Moldova on Thursday. He was sent home early by France, meaning he missed Sunday's 2-0 away win in Albania.

An examination by Bayern's chief medical officer Dr. Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt revealed a muscle hardening in his thigh.

Bayern said the former Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus forward would undertake a reduced training programme following the injury but he appeared to making progress at the club's Saebener Strasse training ground on Tuesday.

The defending Bundesliga champions are third in the table, four points adrift of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

Bayern visit Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday, before travelling to Serbia to face Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.

Paul Pogba has decided where he wants his next move to be, while Mauricio Pochettino is nearing a Tottenham exit.

Pogba, 26, was linked with a Manchester United departure during the close season but ended up staying at Old Trafford.

However, the France midfielder's future remains a talking point.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA PREFERS JUVENTUS RETURN OVER MADRID MOVE

Pogba would prefer to return to Juventus but would not say no to Real Madrid, according to Tuttosport.

The Serie A champions and LaLiga giants were the two clubs most heavily linked with a move for Pogba – who is contracted until 2021 – during the close season.

A potential Juve deal for Pogba could see Mario Mandzukic head to Manchester United, the report says.

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- Pochettino has held "crisis talks" with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy as he nears an exit, according to The Telegraph. Spurs have struggled this season and sit 14th in the Premier League table through 12 games.

- While Mandzukic is wanted by United, Borussia Dortmund are ready to compete for the striker, according to Kicker. Mandzukic starred during two seasons with Bayern Munich before leaving the Bundesliga in 2014.

- Spain have offered Luis Enrique a chance to lead the nation at Euro 2020, according to AS. The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have called a news conference for Tuesday, with Luis Enrique reportedly set to replace Robert Moreno at the helm.

- Manchester United are preparing to try to sign both Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and RB Salzburg's Erling Haaland in January, according to Goal. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to try and strengthen his squad with United nine points adrift of the top four in the Premier League.

- Chelsea attacker Willian and Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz have slowed contract talks with their respective clubs amid interest from Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo. Willian is out of contract at season's end, while Fabian's deal runs until 2023.

- Manchester City are considering making a move for RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, according to the Mirror. The Premier League champions lost Aymeric Laporte to a knee injury in September and may look to strengthen, although the Frenchman is expected to be back in early 2020.

Bundesliga strugglers Cologne have announced Markus Gisdol as their new head coach, while Horst Heldt has been appointed sporting director.

Gisdol has signed a contract that runs until June 2021 and replaces the recently sacked Achim Beierlorzer, who returned to work on Monday with German top-flight rivals Mainz.

Beierlorzer lost his final four games at the helm to leave Cologne 17th and at risk of relegation from the top tier.

Gisdol will be joined by a new sporting director in Heldt, who has also penned a one-and-a-half-year deal, in the hope major changes can lead to an upturn in fortunes.

Former Hoffenheim and Hamburg boss Gisdol told the club's official website: "Cologne is a top club in German football. 

"The current situation is not easy, but I know these challenges and I am totally convinced that we can overcome these. I want to help the team as quickly as possible, to come back to their undoubted potential."

Cologne return to action after the international break with a trip to second-place RB Leipzig at the weekend.

Achim Beierlorzer has been named the new Mainz head coach just nine days after being sacked by Bundesliga rivals Cologne.

The 51-year-old has signed a contract until the end of the 2021-22 season, having been dismissed by Cologne in the wake of a four-game losing run that started with a 3-1 loss to Mainz last month.

Beierlorzer takes over from Sandro Schwarz, who departed after a 3-2 home defeat to Union Berlin that left Mainz in 16th place in the table.

"It's funny how football can work out; a week ago I was still at Cologne and now I'm head coach here at Mainz," Beierlorzer told his new club's website. "Things can happen quickly in this business, especially when you come to an agreement so easily.

"Mainz is a special club with a great history, which I really respect. It's a team with a very clear football philosophy and it's one I totally agree with - we want to play a fast game with lots of running and we want to play with a lot of passion. That's how we want to entertain our fans.

"I am looking forward to getting to know my team and the rest of the club and I am excited to become a part of the Mainz family."

Beierlorzer's first match in charge will be away to Hoffenheim - the team he faced in his final game with Cologne - on Sunday.

With Barcelona and Real Madrid keen to strengthen their defences, one Inter star is attracting interest.

Milan Skriniar is reportedly wanted by LaLiga champions Barca and Spanish rivals Madrid.

Will Inter be able to retain the centre-back?

 

TOP STORY – SKRINIAR WANTED BY LALIGA GIANTS

Barcelona and Real Madrid have set their sights on Inter defender Skriniar, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Skriniar – contracted to Inter until June 2023 – has established himself as one of the world's best defenders since moving to Milan from Sampdoria in 2017.

The likes of Manchester City and Manchester United have also been linked to the 24-year-old Slovakia international.

 

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Manchester United are desperate to strengthen their squad and ESPN claims the Premier League side have an eight-man shortlist, which includes Leicester City's James Maddison, Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Salzburg's goalscoring machine Erling Haaland, West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, Bournemouth's Callum Wilson, Lyon forward Moussa Dembele, as well as Aston Villa pair Jack Grealish and John McGinn.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Mirror says United are monitoring Sporting CP's Matheus Pereira, who is on loan at Championship outfit West Brom. It comes as The Sun reports the Red Devils could sign Gareth Bale and send Paul Pogba to Real Madrid.

- Bild says Borussia Monchengladbach have no plans to sell midfielder Denis Zakaria in January. Zakaria has reportedly attracted interest from United, Bayern Munich, Dortmund and others.

Manchester City are circling Inter midfielder Stefano Sensi, according to Calciomercato. Sensi moved to Inter on loan from Serie A side Sassuolo and the 24-year-old has starred at San Siro.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are looking at Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Meunier and Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri amid their injury crisis in Turin.

- Brescia sensation and Italy international Sandro Tonali is being chased by Serie A champions Juve and LaLiga side Atletico Madrid, reports Corriere di Torino.

Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria will not be leaving the Bundesliga leaders in January, according to his agent.

Zakaria has been linked with Premier League giants Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, as well as Serie A side Inter and German champions Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

But the 22-year-old defensive midfielder has no plans to leave Gladbach before the end of the season.

"Denis will not leave Borussia in the winter, a change is 100 per cent excluded," Mathieu Beda told Sport BILD.

"Denis is in very good shape in Gladbach and has been playing really well for weeks, but he still has more potential and he wants to show that in Gladbach now instead of dealing with a change."

Switzerland international Zakaria swapped Young Boys for Monchengladbach in 2017.

Zakaria has scored two goals in 11 matches as Gladbach top the Bundesliga table by four points during the international break.

Could Jose Mourinho find a new home at a third Premier League club?

According to one report, the ex-Chelsea and Manchester United manager is keeping a close eye on Tottenham and the uncertainty that lingers over Mauricio Pochettino's future.

The potential of a job opening in north London might even lead to him turning down a big-name former employer.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO SETS SIGHTS ON SPURS

Jose Mourinho has told friends he is "confident" of being offered a return to Real Madrid but may hold out for the Tottenham job, according to The Sun.

Zinedine Zidane is in his second stint in charge of Madrid, while Mauricio Pochettino has spent more than five years at the Spurs helm.

The report suggests it is the latter position that Mourinho covets more, meaning he "would not necessarily accept" another spell in the Spanish capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could launch a January move for Gareth Bale, reports The Sun. According to the newspaper, Real Madrid know of United's interest in Wales winger Bale and would be happy to let him leave the Santiago Bernabeu, providing they can do a deal that involves Paul Pogba moving in the other direction.

- Spanish outlet ElDesmarque reports news that could complicate any Bale-Pogba exchange, stating that although Madrid are indeed keen on France playmaker Pogba, so too are the player's former club Juventus, with Cristiano Ronaldo said to be supportive.

Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be United's strongest rivals for Jadon Sancho and the Ligue 1 side could make a surprise play for another England international. The Mirror claims PSG are interested in poaching Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana on a free transfer. His contract is due to expire in 2020.

- Premier League champions Manchester City will look to sign Kingsley Coman from Bayern Munich if Leroy Sane agrees on a move to the Bundesliga giants, according to Sky Sports. Coman, 23, joined Bayern from Juve in 2015, initially on loan.

- Mainz are seeking a new head coach and the Bundesliga club are reported to be targeting former Cologne boss Achim Beierlorzer. Kicker reports Mainz want a new face in charge by early next week, and Beierlorzer is said to be in the frame. The club sit in the relegation zone after eight defeats in 11 games this term. Beierlorzer would be making a rapid return to bench duty if he lands the job, having left Cologne on November 9.

Xabi Alonso has revealed he left Real Madrid for Bayern Munich because he was "curious" to find out Pep Guardiola's coaching secrets.

The 37-year-old swapped clubs in 2014 after five seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he won six major trophies.

Alonso left Madrid three months after helping them to Champions League glory and went on to spend three years with Bayern before announcing his playing retirement.

Explaining his reasons for wanting to leave the Spanish giants, Alonso told The Athletic: "I was so curious to find out [Guardiola's] secrets.

"He has a relentless natural enthusiasm. Football seasons are long but right until the very end, Pep never seemed to be tired. 

"He was alert, always ready. For the players, maybe this gave us an extra few metres in our legs when it mattered most."

Alonso, who took over as Real Sociedad B head coach in June, also praised the work of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

The former Spain international, who played against Klopp's Borussia Dortmund side during his time at Madrid and Bayern, said: "I didn't enjoy playing against them because they made it so intense, you'd almost break.

"It was like he wanted you to be in a cage. He wanted to trap you. There was an organised pressure. I was under pressure all the time. 

"I enjoyed the mood around those games because they were so important but the challenge of beating Dortmund was immense."

Bayern Munich's new president has praised Pep Guardiola and vowed the club will target the best possible candidate for the vacant head coach position.

Herbert Hainer formally succeeded Uli Hoeness as president at Friday's AGM, assuming the role amid the search for a full-time replacement for Niko Kovac.

Hansi Flick will continue in a caretaker capacity for at least the rest of 2019 while the Bundesliga champions weigh up their options.

Guardiola - along with Erik ten Hag and Thomas Tuchel - is one of three men being considered, according to Sport Bild, and Hainer has great respect for the Catalan, whose contract with Manchester City runs until 2021.

"The board of directors will try to get the best coach for Bayern Munich," Hainer said, as quoted by Sport1.

"When I say the best, it means, on one hand, a coach who we want to have and, on the other, one who is available.

"Pep Guardiola is a great coach but he has a contract with Manchester City.

"For now I would say, let's wait until the board comes to us. Then we will deal with the options. But in principle, we want to have the best coach at Bayern Munich."

Guardiola spent three seasons in charge of Bayern before leaving for Premier League side City in 2016.

The Bavarians won three Bundesliga titles and lifted the DFB-Pokal twice during his time at the helm.

Herbert Hainer has been confirmed as the new president of Bayern Munich.

The former Adidas CEO was nominated by Uli Hoeness as his successor in August when the former Bayern star announced he would be stepping down.

Hoeness was given a standing ovation at Bayern's annual general meeting on Friday, the final day of his presidency at the Allianz Arena.

The 67-year-old, who will continue in his role with the club's supervisory board until November 2023, has been associated with Bayern for 49 years.

Hoeness was a prominent player until injury forced him to retire at the age of 27, after which he took over as the club's general manager.

His presidency has brought about 21 major trophies, including the treble of 2012-13 and seven Bundesliga titles in a row.

He resigned in 2014 after being sentenced to three and a half years in prison for tax evasion but was re-elected unopposed in November 2016, nine months after his release.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge backed Hainer to be a worthy new president, and praised his own future successor as chief executive, Oliver Kahn, who is due to assume that role in 2022.

Speaking at the AGM, Rummenigge said: "I am sure that with these great personalities at the top, there is no need to worry about the future of Bayern."

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