Is the end nigh for Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford?
 
Wan-Bisakka joined Manchester United in a big-money deal in 2019 but the Red Devils are reportedly ready to replace the Englishman.
 
A talented RB Leipzig defender could be the team's next right-back.

 

TOP STORY – NEW RIGHT-BACK SET FOR OLD TRAFFORD?

Manchester United are eyeing RB Leipzig right-back Nordi Mukiele, according Fichajes.net.

United are reportedly keen to sign a replacement after losing patience with Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to be interested in Leipzig's 23-year-old star Mukiele.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Milan and Juventus are interested in United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

- Inter are willing to let Alexis Sanchez leave the Serie A champions, reports Calciomercato. Marseille, Real Betis and Sevilla are among the possible options for the 32-year-old Chilean.

Tottenham are weighing up a move for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins, per Fichajes. It comes amid continued uncertainty over Spurs star Harry Kane, who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as well as United.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo is showing no signs of slowing down, despite his advancing years.

But the evergreen 36-year-old is still planning for life once he decides to call it quits.

A coaching career in Manchester is believed to be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO DOESN'T WANT TO LEAVE OLD TRAFFORD

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to stay at Manchester United beyond his retirement, according to The Sun.

Ronaldo is back at United for a second spell after re-joining from Juventus before the transfer window closed, having left Old Trafford in 2009.

The 36-year-old, however, is already planning for life after football as he eyes a coaching role with United's youth team in order to work with his son Cristiano Jr.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are interested in Juventus star Federico Chiesa, who has also been linked with Borussia Dortmund.

- Chelsea are preparing to make a big-money move for Juve centre-back Matthijs de Ligt after missing out on Sevilla star Jules Kounde, reports Diario AS.

- The Daily Mail says Arsenal and Tottenham are eyeing a January loan move for Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho.

- Staying in London and the Mirror claims Tottenham are considering an approach for Juve's Dejan Kulusevski.

Atletico Madrid are hoping to sign Fabian Ruiz from Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Determined to prise the Spain international, LaLiga champions Atletico could use Marcos Llorente as part of the deal. Fabian has also been linked with Real Madrid and Barca.

- Per Corriere della Serra, United, Chelsea and Juve are among the heavyweight clubs plotting a move for disgruntled Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has found himself on the bench since joining on a free transfer.

 

Manuel Neuer was full of praise for Thomas Muller and his "weird" celebrations after the Bayern Munich forward got a milestone goal in the 3-1 win at Greuther Furth.

Robert Lewandowski's long goalscoring streak ended at 15 consecutive Bundesliga games – one short of Gerd Muller's record – but the champions moved three points clear of Wolfsburg.

That is now 40 goals in their past eight matches for ruthless Bayern, who led 2-0 courtesy of great finishes from Muller and Kimmich at half-time.

Benjamin Pavard was given his marching orders for a professional foul on Jeremy Dudziak early in the second half, but a Sebastian Griesbeck own goal extended their lead.

Cedric Itten's header in the closing stages was too little, too late for bottom side Furth in the Bavarian derby at Sportpark Ronhof on Friday.

Muller, who also scored the opener in recent victories over Barcelona and Hertha Berlin, is now on 218 goals for Bayern, one more than Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Neuer was delighted for his long-time team-mate, although he joked the forward could be summoned to a meeting with the former Bayern CEO after taking his place in the all-time list.

"He doesn't get tired and has been around for a long time," Neuer said, as per Bayern's website.

"I've accompanied him for long stretches of this time, and I'm always happy about every one of Thomas' goals and celebrations, which sometimes look a bit weird with him.

"I'm especially happy for him personally, because we've been playing together for a long time, but I think he'll have to report to Kalle [Rummenigge] today."

Bayern, who next face Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Wednesday, have started the season with eight consecutive victories under coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Neuer himself added: "It looks quite good. We scored three goals and showed a good attitude. In the first half, we didn't make enough of it when we had space. We wasted a lot of chances. That's annoying.

"Despite being a man down, we made it 3-0, which gives you a good feeling. Then we got in between the lines better, but sometimes we were too sloppy.

"It's nitpicking really, but we can still play more flowing football. We're happy with how it's going, but we always have to take the next step and improve."

Anthony Martial has reportedly been permitted to explore his options by Manchester United.

Martial has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo's return.

France international Martial scored four league goals for United last term, after netting 17 times in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND PLOTS MARTIAL MOVE

Borussia Dortmund are bracing for Erling Haaland's departure by plotting a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, claims 90Min.

Haaland, who has a release clause in his contract that activates in mid-2022, is being chased by a host of top clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Liverpool and United.

Martial is still contracted to the Red Devils until 2024, having penned a five-year deal in January 2019, amid reported interest from Barca, Tottenham and Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Transfer Window podcast claims City owner Sheikh Mansour wants to hijack Madrid's bid for PSG star Kylian Mbappe and sign him "at any cost". Mbappe has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

- Barcelona are looking at Reims' Spanish head coach Oscar Garcia as a replacement for under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman, per RMC Sport.

- Madrid midfielder Isco has held numerous rounds of negotiations with Serie A challengers Milan about a move to Italy, according to Todo Fichajes.

Barca are considering a move for Porto's Colombia international forward Luis Diaz next off-season, claims El Nacional.

- Diario AS says Theo Hernandez is ready to commit his long-term future to Milan amid interest from PSG and City.

Joshua Kimmich warned "hungry" Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich still have room for improvement after they beat Greuther Furth 3-1 despite Benjamin Pavard's red card.

Robert Lewandowski's long goalscoring streak ended at 15 consecutive Bundesliga games - one short of Gerd Muller's record - but the champions moved three points clear of Wolfsburg.

That is now 40 goals in their past eight matches for ruthless Bayern, who led 2-0 courtesy of great finishes from Thomas Muller and Kimmich at half-time.

Pavard was given his marching orders for a professional foul on Jeremy Dudziak early in the second half, but a Sebastian Griesbeck own goal extended their lead.

Cedric Itten's header in the closing stages was too little, too late for bottom side Furth in the Bavarian derby at Sportpark Ronhof on Friday.

Bayern have won eight consecutive matches in a great start to Julian Nagelsmann's reign and midfielder Kimmich says there is more to come.

 

The Germany international told DAZN: "The character of the team is great. We have players who want to develop, who are hungry.

"We want to win every game. We're in good form at the moment, but we haven't been able to manage all of the games this season with confidence. There's room for improvement."

Kimmich, who delivered the free-kick that was turned into his own net by Griesbeck, added: "It wasn't exactly a brilliant performance on our part, but we had the game under control even when we played with 10.

"We made mistakes in the first half, and we kept inviting Furth via set-pieces."

Robert Lewandowski's scoring streak ended and Benjamin Pavard was sent off, but Bayern Munich still cruised to a 3-1 victory over Greuther Furth in the Bundesliga.

In a Bavarian derby battle between top and bottom on Friday, Bayern were in control at half-time following goals from Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich at Sportpark Ronhof.

There was hope for Furth when France full-back Pavard was shown a straight red card early in the second half for a professional foul on Jeremy Dudziak.

The champions remained a class apart from their newly-promoted opponents despite Pavard's dismissal and a Sebastian Griesbeck own goal increased their advantage, with a late Cedric Itten header no more than a consolation for the home side.

Lewandowski was unable to match Gerd Muller's record of scoring in 16 consecutive Bundesliga games, but Julian Nagelsmann's moved three points clear at the summit.

Bayern wasted no time in stamping their authority on the game, with Leon Goretzka's early long-range drive flashing just wide.

The champions were in front in the 10th minute, when Thomas Muller finished clinically with his left foot after Maximilian Bauer could only divert Alphonso Davies's cross into his path.

Furth were unable to live with Bayern and Kimmich doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark with a measured right-footed strike from 25 yards out after Leroy Sane laid the ball back to him.

Lewandowski flicked Kimmich's corner against the crossbar as Bayern dominated, but they were a man down when Pavard was given his marching orders for upending Dudziak three minutes into the second half.

Bayern continued to pose a major threat despite their numerical disadvantage, Sascha Burchert getting down to keep out Lewandowski's first-time shot.

Nagelsmann was shown a yellow card for dissent before Kimmich's free-kick was turned into his own net by Griesbeck, under pressure from Lewandowski.

Itten nodded in Timothy Tillman's inviting cross with a couple of minutes remaining, but the points were in the bag by then for Bayern.

Julian Nagelsmann has been impressed by Antonio Rudiger's development under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea but insists he has not yet discussed a move for the centre-back.

The Bundesliga champions are rumoured to be among a number of clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, keeping a close eye on the Germany international.

Rudiger is into the final year of his Chelsea contract and will therefore be able to sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs from January unless fresh terms are agreed.

According to reports that emerged on Thursday, Bayern have already been in contact with Rudiger's agent about an end-of-season switch to the Allianz Arena.

But Nagelsmann was unwilling to discuss his side's supposed interest in Rudiger any further during Thursday's news conference previewing the trip to Greuther Furth.

"I'm not talking about players from other clubs, particularly outside of the transfer window," he said. "But I will speak of him as a football fan: He has developed very well.

"Thomas Tuchel has coached him well. Before he was sidelined at Chelsea but now he is a crucial player. I can't saying anything else.

"Believe it or not, I haven't spoken to Brazzo [sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic] about it yet. Even if I had, I wouldn't give that away. 

"I have to see how long he still has to go on his contract. Then I will see if I have any money in my wallet."

Rudiger's importance to Chelsea since Tuchel took charge on January 26 is reflected in the statistics.

The 28-year-old has helped the Blues to 20 clean sheets in 32 matches in all competitions across that period – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are next on the list with 15 each, highlighting Chelsea's defensive solidity under Tuchel.

Rudiger has played seven times this season and has won 0.55 tackles per 90 minutes, compared to 0.76 for Niklas Sule, 0.88 for Lucas Hernandez and 1.64 for Dayot Upamecano among Bayern's regular centre-backs.

The German's 73.77 touches per 90 minutes and 56.86 successful passes is also fewer than each of Sule, Hernandez and Upamecano have managed, albeit in different competitions.

Sule and recent acquisition Upamecano have been Bayern's most regular pairing at centre-back this term and may get the nod for Friday's trip to Trolli-Arena. 

Bayern enter the game on a seven-match winning run in all competitions, scoring 37 goals across that spell, and have lost only one of their last 48 league games against promoted opposition.

Nagelsmann has Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala back in contention following recent lay-offs, but he will not take any risks over the fitness of the attacking pair.

"The good news is that Gnabry and Musiala have both been able to return to training, with Hernandez also taking part today," Nagelsmann said.

"Serge and Jamal are both looking good and ready to play. But we have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.

"Both of their conditions could cause a reaction after training, so we have to wait and see how sensible it is to field them from the start. We also have a Champions League game coming up next week.

"Looking at today's training session alone, I'd say that both players can start tomorrow. But the probability they will both start is very low."

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski believes he can continue improving with age and does not feel the need to prove himself in another league outside of the Bundesliga.

The Poland international was speaking on Tuesday after collecting the European Golden Shoe award as the continent's top-scoring player in the 2020-21 campaign.

Lewandowski scored an incredible 41 goals in 29 Bundesliga games to surpass Gerd Muller's record for the most goals scored in a single German top-flight season.

That was 11 goals more than Lionel Messi managed in his final LaLiga season with Barcelona and 12 more than Cristiano Ronaldo scored in Serie A for then-club Juventus.

Reigning UEFA and FIFA Player of the Year Lewandowski only failed to score in four of his 29 top-flight outings and found the net more than once on 10 occasions.

He has picked up from where he left off last season by scoring 14 goals in 10 appearances for club and country, including a goal in every game Bayern have played.

Indeed, the 33-year-old has now scored in 15 successive Bundesliga games stretching back to last season, one short of another long-standing record held by the late Muller.

The former Borussia Dortmund man was linked with Real Madrid and Chelsea during the most recent transfer window, but he is in no rush to depart the Allianz Arena.

"I don't have to prove myself in another league," he said when collecting his latest award. "I can compete with the best from other leagues in the Champions League.

"I am 100 per cent focused on Bayern Munich. I don't think about anything else but my team."

 

Lewandowski may face competition from rising star Erling Haaland to finish as the Bundesliga's top scorer this term, with the latter having also scored five goals in seven games.

But Bayern's prolific striker has warned Haaland, who has been touted as Lewandowski's successor in Bavaria, that he may not have even reached his peak.

"I am still here – and I will be here for a long time," he said. "Age is just a number. I feel very good and I have the best stats I've ever had. 

"I know that with my body I can play at the top level for years to come. I'm like a good wine and I hope to get even better."

Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka says the side "just love playing football" after hammering Bochum 7-0 in the German Bundesliga on Saturday.

The German champions turned on the style with a stunning display, with Joshua Kimmich netting a double, while four others scored along with a Vasilios Lampropoulos own goal.

Bayern raced to a 4-0 half-time lead with first-half strikes from Leroy Sane, Kimmich and Serge Gnabry before the Lampropoulos own goal.

Robert Lewandowski added a fifth on the hour, before Kimmich and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting rounded out a comprehensive performance as Bayern dominated with 24-5 shots including 15 on target to Bochum's none.

"We just love playing football," said Goretzka who got the assist for Kimmich's second goal.

"We want to develop more, from game to game, and absorb our new coach's philosophy more and more.

"Today was a lot of fun for us, but not so much for Bochum. Of course, I'm always a bit sorry about that from a personal standpoint.

"We didn't give Bochum any breathing space. The first 10 minutes were a bit hectic. That's when they got into playing the game they wanted to play - long balls, a lot of fighting for the second ball.

"But then we gradually found our structure and defended very well. That's just how we dominated."

Bayern have enjoyed an excellent start to life under new head coach Julian Nagelsmann, who replaced Hansi Flick in the off-season.

The Bavarians are top of the Bundesliga with 13 points from five games, while they have won their past seven games in all competitions.

Nagelsmann said he was happy with the way his side played and offered praise to Sane, who opened the scoring with a fine free-kick.

"I see [Sane] developing very positively," Nagelsmann said. "He was highly committed but he was also a full throttle in the games before the international break.

"He is fully committed in situations which don’t have anything to do with talent. He rewards himself by getting in these situations.

"I remember a situation in which he kept on defending for 30 metres and won the ball before his own box. He showed the same with the national team and scored today. Offensively he is always in a good position.

"Everyone tries to limit him to the wing but he has now played for the fourth time as a bit of an attacking midfielder. He finds spaces where he can use his qualities."

Former Manchester City attacker Sane has scored two goals and provided two assists from five Bundesliga games this term.

Bayern Munich continued their storming start to the Bundesliga campaign with a thumping 7-0 rout of promoted Bochum at the Allianz Arena.

Leroy Sane's brilliant free-kick opened the floodgates on Saturday and Julian Nagelsmann's side did not look back as they cruised to a seventh straight win in all competitions.

Vasilios Lampropoulos' own goal capped off a torrid first half for Bochum, with Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry having previously netted.

Another record fell to Robert Lewandowski in the second half, as he became the first player in Bundesliga history to net in 13 consecutive home matches, and Kimmich helped himself to a second before Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting got in on the act to complete the scoring.

The signs were ominous from the first whistle and the only surprise was it taking until the 17th minute for Bayern to hit the front.

Sane made the breakthrough, curling a superb 25-yard free-kick beyond the wall and into the left-hand corner.

Gnabry was denied a wonderful goal by a clearance off the line soon after, though Kimmich swiftly made it 2-0 as his shot on the turn deflected over the helpless Manuel Riemann.

It was 3-0 with just over half an hour played, Gnabry sliding a crisp finish across Riemann, while Armel Bella Kotchap was fortunate not to slice into his own net.

Lampropoulos was not so lucky, panicking under pressure from Lewandowski and skewing into Bochum's goal just before half-time.

Having just failed to turn in a close-range rebound, Lewandowski had no such trouble moments later when he nudged home from a yard out after Sane's cutback was diverted into his path.

Bochum substitute Silvere Ganvoula thought he had snatched a consolation, only for the offside flag to cut short his celebrations. Bayern went down the other end and added a sixth, Kimmich's touch from Leon Goretzka's header clipping in off the upright.

There was time for another, substitute Choupo-Moting converting at the third attempt after a fine double save from Riemann to cap off an emphatic win, with Thomas Muller having a late goal disallowed by VAR.

What does it mean? Bayern purring under Nagelsmann

Since the 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach to start his tenure, Nagelsmann has seen his Bayern side win seven games in a row across all competitions, and just this past week they have beaten both his former side RB Leipzig and Barcelona.

Saturday's win was their largest margin of victory in the Bundesliga under the new coach, and Bayern sit pretty at the top of the table, though they could be overtaken by Wolfsburg should they beat Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Lewy keeps in the hunt

Lewandowski has now scored in 15 successive Bundesliga matches. Only one player – the late, great Gerd Muller – has ever netted in more consecutive games in Germany's top tier (16).

The Poland star also set a record here, overtaking Muller and Jupp Heynckes by scoring in a 13th straight home match in the league.

Bochum suffer another Bayern defeat

Bayern have now lost only one of the past 28 Bundesliga games against Bochum (W20 D7); 0-1 away from home in February 2004. At home, the Bavarians have lost only one of the 35 top-flight matches against Bochum – a 0-2 loss back in August 1991.

Indeed, Bayern have now won each of their previous seven competitive matches against Bochum. Only between 1978 to 1982 have they embarked on a longer winning run against them (eight).

What's next?

Another promoted side, Greuther Furth, come next for Bayern in six days' time, while Bochum host Stuttgart next Sunday.

Kingsley Coman has undergone a minor heart operation, Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann announced.

The France winger had the procedure on Thursday to correct the rhythm of his heart but is expected to make a swift return to training.

Nagelsmann said there was "a manageable risk" involved in the procedure and explained it was not an uncommon condition.

"His heartbeat rhythm had a slight disturbance with a minor added beat. At times he had a slight shortage of breath," Nagelsmann said in a pre-match news conference ahead of his team's clash with Bochum.

"That's why we opted for long-term ECG monitoring and went ahead with this procedure.

"He is doing very well, he has minimal wound pain. When the wound has healed, he will start training again and will not be absent for more than one and a half to two weeks before he starts team training."

Coman should be able to take part in cardio training by Tuesday, Nagelsmann said.

The Bayern boss further explained the impact on Coman before he had surgery.

“It's not that unusual. Several people have it," Nagelsmann said. "He said every now and then that he wasn't always breathing so perfectly. Then there were several tests, including a long-term ECG.

"The procedure involved a manageable risk. He is doing very well, he has minimal wound pain. When the wound has healed, he starts again with the build-up training."

Coman, 25, joined Bayern initially on a two-year loan from Juventus in 2015 and subsequently made the move permanent.

He first emerged through Paris Saint-Germain's academy and scored the winning goal against the Parisians in the 2019-20 Champions League final, as Bayern won 1-0 in Lisbon.

Germany international Leon Goretzka has signed a new long-term contract with Bayern Munich.

The 26-year-old's future had been the subject of speculation, as his previous deal was due to expire next June.

Goretzka will be staying with the Bundesliga champions after agreeing a new contract until June 2026.

The midfielder told the club's official website: "We've won everything there is to win over the past three years. But what would be even better than winning titles is confirming and repeating these successes.

"We want to build on this in the coming years. The team, the club and the environment are not just highly professional, but also familiar.

"This mixture is one of the things that guarantees success at this club. I'm very happy to be extending my contract until 2026."

Goretzka joined the Bavarian giants from Schalke in 2018 and has won three Bundesliga titles, the Champions League and the DFB Pokal twice.

He has also lifted the DFL Supercup three times, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2020.

Goretzka has scored 25 goals in 118 games for Bayern and put pen to paper on the back of a 3-0 Champions League win at Barcelona on Tuesday.

Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn said: "It's crucial for the development of FC Bayern that we keep our top performers long term.

"To be successful as a club, we need players who are permanently motivated - and Leon Goretzka doesn't need to be told about motivation. He always wants to improve and has the ambition to shape an era at FC Bayern.

"This contract extension is also a sign Leon is convinced we’ll continue to be as successful in the future as we have been in the past."

Could Jurgen Klopp and Robert Lewandowski be set to work together again?

The pair enjoyed a successful partnership at Borussia Dortmund.

Now, Klopp is reportedly trying to lure the Bayern Munich forward to Liverpool.

 

TOP STORY – KLOPP WANTS LEWANDOWSKI REUNION

Liverpool are targeting Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, according to Fichajes.

Lewandowski worked with Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund before joining Bundesliga rivals Bayern in 2014.

There has been talk Lewandowski could be ready for a new challenge amid links to Real Madrid and Manchester City, though Klopp is reportedly determined to reunite with the Poland international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bild claims Dortmund have identified Chelsea forward Timo Werner as a possible option to replace Erling Haaland. Club are queueing up to sign Haaland, with City, Manchester United, Bayern, Liverpool, Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain all reportedly interested. Should Haaland leave Dortmund, the Bundesliga outfit reportedly see former RB Leipzig star Werner as a potential successor.

- Fabrizio Romano says Inter forward Lautaro Martinez is nearing a contract extension at San Siro. He has reportedly turned down offers from Tottenham and Atletico Madrid.

Bayern, Inter, Real Madrid and Tottenham are interested in Borussia Monchengladbach defender Matthias Ginter, reports Calciomercato.

Chelsea are looking to sign Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen to new contracts, according to Romano.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has defended Real Madrid's attempts to sign Kylian Mbappe despite football's wider economic struggles, adamant their conduct pales in comparison to that of Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid president Florentino Perez was at the forefront of the European Super League scandal earlier this year, as a group of elite clubs attempted to form a closed breakaway competition.

Perez said their intention was to "save" football, convinced the sport was financially unsustainable in its current form, but plans quickly unravelled when the English clubs involved pulled out.

Yet, despite talk of football's doom, Madrid lodged bids for Mbappe in the most recent transfer window, with their offers thought to have started at €160million – only the Frenchman himself (€180m) and PSG team-mate Neymar (€222m) have ever cost more.

Nevertheless, Madrid have raised significant capital through sales over the past four years, turning a profit in transfer fees in three of the five seasons dating back to the start of 2017-18.

As such, Tebas sees little cause for concern over the financial state of Madrid, but he cannot see them having a transfer window like that of PSG, who brought in Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos and Nuno Mendes.

Speaking at a sponsorship news conference, Tebas told reporters: "I said that Spanish football is not ruined, neither Madrid nor Barcelona.

"There are at least 80 per cent of clubs in Europe that have it much worse. Regarding Real Madrid, I think they have been the club that's been better managed through the pandemic, with enormous rigor in their salary spending. Real Madrid has the capacity to do what they want.

"They can never be PSG, because PSG cheats. They have a salary expense close to €600m, which is impossible. Madrid are not a state club either, so they can't."

Talk of Spanish football's demise intensified following Barcelona's latest comprehensive Champions League defeat on Tuesday, losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich at Camp Nou, while Sevilla stuttered to a 1-1 draw at home to Salzburg.

For Barca, it was the first time since Opta records began (2003-04) that they had failed to get a shot on target in a Champions League game, and Bayern's superiority condemned Ronald Koeman's men to three successive home defeats in the competition for the first time.

Prior to 2020-21, Barca had only ever lost two Champions League home games by three or more goals but that has occurred three times since – with Messi no longer there, many would expect their standard to plummeting further.

But Tebas insists the odd Champions League result does not necessarily mean anything, pointing out the Premier League arguably enjoyed its greatest period of growth during a European trophy drought.

"There is still a lot of the Champions League to go," he continued. "Last year it was the same and then everyone went through to the knockout phase.

"The level of LaLiga does not depend on a few Champions League games. When the Premier League grew the most, it was in a phase of six years without winning the main elite competition."

Lionel Messi's departure to Paris Saint-Germain "ripped out" the soul of Barcelona, former Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said after the Blaugrana's heavy Champions League defeat to the Bundesliga champions.

Barca may have avoided another demolition job at the hands of Bayern, who defeated them 8-2 in the Champions League quarter-finals 13 months ago, but Tuesday's 3-0 loss was a damning indictment of the gulf between them and the teams likely to challenge for European club football's biggest prize this term.

It was the first time since Opta records began (2003-04) that Barca have failed to get a shot on target in a Champions League game, and Bayern's superiority condemned Ronald Koeman's men to three successive home defeats in the competition for the first time.

Barcelona's crippling financial state – which has seen their debts approach €1.4billion – has contributed to a situation where such heavy losses to Europe's elite are no longer a surprise.

Prior to 2020-21, Barca had only ever lost two Champions League home games by three or more goals but that has occurred three times since – with Messi no longer there, many would expect their standard to continue plummeting.

Barca were unable to keep Messi due to salary cap restrictions and Rummenigge sees a hollow shell of a club left without him.

Speaking to Bild TV, Rummenigge – who left his role as Bayern CEO earlier this year – said: "When you looked at the team and how they performed tactically… with Messi [leaving], their souls were ripped out. They are facing difficult times.

"They had to let him leave, but LaLiga scored an own goal with it [his departure]."

Rummenigge was asked if bringing Messi to Bayern was ever a possibility, but he pointed to the Barca's financial mismanagement around the six-time Ballon d'Or winner that made signing him impossible.

"That couldn't be, that was not a subject [considered]," he continued. "You can't think about that.

"His salary is at such dizzying heights, and don't forget, this has a knock-on effect. Then the others want more too.

"That has resulted in Barcelona having staggering debts."

But while Barca are left tending to an institutional crisis, their bitter rivals Real Madrid appear to be in a far less dire situation.

Although club president Florentino Perez stressed Madrid football was running out of money earlier this year when he fronted up the attempted formation of a European Super League, Los Blancos were comfortable enough to lodge bids of at least €160m for PSG's Kylian Mbappe.

PSG did not entertain any offers but the Frenchman will become a free agent next year and Rummenigge believes there is a strong change both he and Erling Haaland could end up in Madrid in 2022, rather than the Norwegian going to Bayern.

"[Robert] Lewandowski is the best centre-forward in the world. Haaland is the second best," he said. "I think Bayern is interested in Robert staying after his contract expires in 2023. Haaland is an investment.

"I don't think he's going to Liverpool. I know the owner very well and he is not known for splashing out.

"With Haaland, I wouldn't rule Real Madrid out. Maybe they'll open the chequebook a little more in the summer and possibly get Haaland and Kylian Mbappe."

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