Bayern Munich defeated Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 to retain their DFB-Pokal crown and wrap up a domestic double for a second successive season. 

Having missed out on Champions League qualification, Leverkusen were aiming to cause an upset and clinch their first trophy since 1993 in the process, but Kai Havertz and company failed to step up in Berlin. 

David Alaba and Serge Gnabry put Bayern in cruise control by the interval, with a 20th DFB-Pokal triumph all but wrapped up when Lukas Hradecky fumbled Robert Lewandowski's effort over the line moments after a glaring miss by Kevin Volland. 

Sven Bender headed in four minutes later to make things interesting, but Hansi Flick's side held firm before adding a fourth in an eventful finish, Lewandowski on target again before Leverkusen scored from the penalty spot.

Bayern cut through Leverkusen's press with an exceptional move in the 10th minute but Kingsley Coman failed to beat Hradecky. Yet Bayern only had to wait another six minutes for their opener, Alaba sending an exquisite free-kick into the right-hand corner. 

Hradecky pulled off an outstanding stop to deny Thomas Muller, playing in his eighth DFB-Pokal final, though he was beaten again when Gnabry drilled home after being released by Joshua Kimmich. 

Volland was introduced as Leverkusen searched for a way back into the contest, though the substitute completely missed his attempted shot with just Manuel Neuer to beat. 

Leverkusen's misery was compounded before the hour as Hradecky let Lewandowski's long-range strike slip through his grasp.

Bender took advantage of slack marking to swiftly pull one back, though it never looked likely to be enough to spark a comeback. After missing from point-blank range in the 73rd minute, Lewandowski added his second of the contest in the closing stages, lifting a delicate finish over Hradecky.

There was time for more drama, though, with Havertz hammering home from the penalty spot after Alaba's handball was spotted by VAR.

 

What does it mean? Two down, one to go for Bayern...

Bayern's development under Flick has been outstanding and with a domestic double once again wrapped up, this feels like a team with the confidence and quality to go all the way when the Champions League resumes in August. 

Kimmich in control as Thiago exit nears 

If reports are to be believed, Thiago Alcantara will soon be swapping Bayern for Premier League champions Liverpool. Yet in Kimmich, the Bundesliga giants are in excellent hands. He was typically composed as he dictated proceedings, topping off his display with a fine assist for Gnabry. 

Havertz's blushes spared by Hradecky 

Havertz failed to impress in what could well be his final outing for Leverkusen, but it was a calamitous error from team-mate Hradecky which will take the glare off his subdued display. The in-demand youngster did at least make an impact with a superbly taken penalty.

What's next? 

Bayern's players now face a month-long break before they take on Chelsea in the Champions League, leading 3-0 from the first leg. Leverkusen, meanwhile, will hope to retain their key players ahead of next season. 

Hansi Flick and Manuel Neuer were delighted to welcome Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich on Friday but quickly turned their attention back to the DFB-Pokal final.

Bayern have confirmed the long-anticipated arrival of Sane from Manchester City on a five-year deal.

But the Bundesliga champions have little time to reflect on their successful pursuit of the winger as they prepare to take on Bayer Leverkusen in Berlin on Saturday in the second leg of their treble bid.

Flick said of his new signing: "We're happy, but it's not the time to talk about it."

Captain Neuer was slightly more forthcoming when asked about his Germany team-mate Sane, but his primary focus is on lifting another trophy.

"I hope [Sane] can win the Pokal with Bayern in the future," he said. "We Bayern players are happy that he will be with us next season."

Flick hopes to have Niklas Sule back involved, with his defence tasked with containing Leverkusen's Kai Havertz, another Germany international linked with Bayern.

Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz says his side cannot rely solely on 21-year-old Havertz.

"He is important but cannot win the game alone," Bosz said. "I don't think the game has anything to do with his future."

Flick agreed individual quality alone would not decide the day, adding: "Both teams have very good players, but you cannot be successful alone.

"You need a good team effort. We shouldn't think about who the top player is."

Leroy Sane will wear the number 10 shirt belonging to Philippe Coutinho when he plays for Bayern Munich next season.

Bayern completed the signing of Sane from Manchester City in a deal worth €60million on Friday, the Germany international putting pen to paper on a five-year contract.

When he is eligible to feature in 2020-21, Sane will occupy the number worn by Coutinho during his season-long loan from Barcelona.

However, while advertising replica 'Sane 10' shirts for sale in their official club store, Bayern said: "Out of respect for Philippe Coutinho, who is the current number 10 and could play in the upcoming DFB-Pokal final in Berlin and any games in the Champions League in August, Sane decided not to use the number in his photos on Thursday."

The decision appears to suggest Coutinho is unlikely to remain at Bayern for the long term.

The Brazil international has been linked with a host of clubs across Europe after the Bundesliga champions let their option to sign him permanently expire.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has not ruled out moving again for Coutinho entirely, saying: "We'll see if he still has a role to play with us or not."

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of winger Leroy Sane from Manchester City.

Sane, 24, has agreed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who confirmed the transfer on Friday.

The Germany international will initially cost Bayern €49million (£44.5m), rising to €60m (£54.5m), Stats Perform News understands.

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "We're very happy to welcome Leroy Sane to FC Bayern. He is an outstanding player who has proven his qualities over the past few years, especially in the national team.

"Our goal is to gather the best German players at FC Bayern and the signing of Leroy emphasises this goal. I would like to congratulate Hasan Salihamidzic on successfully concluding the transfer."

New Bayern Munich winger Leroy Sane has made winning the Champions League his "top priority" in Bavaria.

Sane's long-awaited move from Manchester City to Bayern in his native Germany was confirmed on Friday.

The 24-year-old has signed a five-year contract following a transfer for which, Stats Perform News understands, Bayern have paid an initial €49million (£44.5m), potentially rising to €60m (£54.5m).

Sane was a Bayern target last year before injury ruled him out for much of the 2019-20 campaign, but he is delighted to have finalised the deal, quickly revealing some lofty ambitions.

"FC Bayern is a great club with big goals and these goals suit me as well," Sane said. "I'm looking forward to the new challenge and can't wait to train with the team.

"I know Hansi Flick from the under-21 national team, we had a very good relationship there.

"I want to win as many trophies as possible with FC Bayern, and the Champions League is the top priority."

Sane will not be available for Bayern in this season's Champions League, however, with the Bundesliga champions considered among the favourites ahead of August's eight-team finals.

Meanwhile, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic thanked City for "trusting and constructive negotiations", and the Premier League club wished Sane well.

Manager Pep Guardiola, formerly of Bayern, said: "We wish Leroy all the best in this new chapter of his career.

"Leroy has been part of one of the most special periods in this club's history and he leaves with the best wishes of everyone here at Manchester City."

City director of football Txiki Begiristain added: "From arriving as a fledgling young talent four years ago, we are proud of the contribution Leroy has made since joining Manchester City.

"He leaves with many friends and fond memories of his time at the Etihad."

Sane scored 39 goals in 135 appearances for City in all competitions, helping Guardiola's side to win the Premier League and EFL Cup in 2017-18 followed by a domestic treble the following season.

He addressed the City fans on his Twitter page, writing: "Thanks so much for the great time and all the support over the past four years.

"It has been a really intense and successful time which I surely won't forget."

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of winger Leroy Sane from Manchester City.

Sane, 24, has agreed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who confirmed the transfer on Friday.

The Germany international will initially cost Bayern €49million (£44.5m), rising to €60m (£54.5m), Stats Perform News understands.

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "We're very happy to welcome Leroy Sane to FC Bayern. He is an outstanding player who has proven his qualities over the past few years, especially in the national team.

"Our goal is to gather the best German players at FC Bayern and the signing of Leroy emphasises this goal. I would like to congratulate Hasan Salihamidzic on successfully concluding the transfer."

Speaking ahead of the move on Wednesday, Pep Guardiola wished the player all the best at the City boss' "fantastic" former club Bayern.

Sane joining Bayern is a switch that has been mooted since last year, however the German side were said to be unwilling to match City's previous asking price.

He then suffered a serious knee injury in the Community Shield last August and only returned to the pitch last month.

Sane joined City from Schalke in 2016 in a deal reportedly worth an initial £37m (€40m) and went on to show flashes of immense ability during his first campaign.

He elevated his game to the next level in 2017-18 and won the Professional Footballers' Association's (PFA) Young Player of the Year award as Guardiola's side clinched the Premier League title.

Sane helped City to another top-flight crown the following year and scored 16 goals across all competitions, though links with Bayern became commonplace towards the end of 2018-19.

Much of Sane's time on the sidelines through injury coincided with strengthening reports of him desiring a move to Bayern, and on June 19 Guardiola confirmed the club had been informed he would not be signing a contract extension.

As such, Guardiola accepted Sane was either to be sold this year or leave on a free transfer in June 2021.

City have at least avoided the latter scenario, though the fee of up to €60m is significantly less than the £137m (€150m) asking price they are alleged to have set in 2019.

For Bayern, the addition of Sane comes two days after they signed highly rated defender Tanguy Kouassi from Paris Saint-Germain, his contract with the French champions having expired.

The unique competition between the Champions League last eight in August is likely to produce a surprise winner, according to Abel Xavier.

Former Portugal international Xavier is thrilled the country's capital city of Lisbon will host one-off matches from the quarter-final stage onwards as the competition ends with a mini-tournament.

Atalanta and RB Leipzig are among the teams already to have secured their place in the last eight, along with Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid.

Lyon and Napoli are hoping to upset Juventus and Barcelona respectively when the last-16 stage is concluded, while Bayern Munich and Manchester City – who lead their own ties – are rated as favourites to win the competition.

But Xavier feels the unique format and environment could benefit the sides who are not used to playing in the final stages.

"Yes, I think from my analysis of what I've seen with surprising results that have been happening in the [domestic] leagues, there is an extra buzz with the top teams because of the fans," Xavier said to Stats Perform News.

"There is a moment where fans give a buzz to the top teams. I think there is going to be a surprise in this last stage. 

"There are teams who are in the group and they can surprise because the teams are more exposed. 

"The teams who aren't used to being in this stage, they are more strong mentally because they play more freely, they play more open and the gap [in quality] will reduce, making games more competitive.

"For that reason, I honestly believe that it is going to be difficult and there will be a surprise in the end."

Xavier hopes the Champions League conclusion will be a fitting reward for those who have worked hardest during the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Liverpool defender added: "It's a completely different environment because of the pandemic situation and everybody readjusts. There is sporting reasons and also economic reasons.

"When you're looking at the leagues and what options they have to play and finish the leagues, there are a few countries that have decided to not continue playing, repeating the health issues.

"They for me are the priority - before football comes health. Of course, everyone must be protected and safe. 

"Portugal is one of the countries that has managed the [COVID-19] crisis very well. I think when you look at the impact, now things are becoming better, I think it's a safe place [to play football]. 

"For that reason, I believe that the opportunity to receive the eight best teams and play this kind of format in Lisbon is also a way to appreciate and say thanks for all those who made these events possible. 

"We are talking about people who work in health, hospitals because we are talking about health matters. If you are not safe you cannot have football either. 

"For that reason, I think Portugal, if things keep going the same way [with COVID-19], the teams will come here and it's going to be a great competition in a positive way.

"It's also going to attract a very positive image in Portugal because when you look back, Portugal was able to organise the big events in the best way possible. 

"For that reason, I think the final stages will be possible and I hope we can have a percentage of the public in the stadium, that would also be an upgrade if things [with COVID-19] stay like this with safety."

Premier League champions Liverpool will emerge at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday to a guard of honour from previous title-holders Manchester City.

It will be the latest episode in the captivating rivalry between Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

We run the rule over two men whose tactical approaches and high levels of achievement have – and it does not feel too grandiose to suggest this – changed football in the 21st century, as well as one another.

THE BUNDESLIGA YEARS

Guardiola's arrival to take the reins of a treble-winning Bayern for 2013-14 came shortly after their rivalry with Klopp's Dortmund reached its peak.

Arjen Robben's 89th-minute winner saw Bayern down BVB 2-1 in the 2013 Champions League final at Wembley – a game played out against a backdrop of Dortmund's star playmaker Mario Gotze agreeing terms to move to Bavaria.

In hindsight, Klopp's gegenpressing machine – winners of back-to-back Bundesliga crowns in 2010-11 and 2011-12 – were coming off the top of their curve, having finished 25 points behind a relentless Bayern domestically that season.

The decline continued over the next two seasons. Dortmund were remarkably in relegation trouble halfway through 2014-15, before a post-Christmas recovery preceded Klopp's emotional farewell.

Nevertheless, there was still time for telling blows to be landed. Guardiola's first competitive game in charge saw Bayern beaten 4-2 in the 2013 DFL-Supercup at a delirious Signal Iduna Park.

Stung by that loss, Guardiola sprung a notable surprise in the first league encounter between the sides that November, where he broke Dortmund's rabid press by playing Javi Martinez as an attacking midfielder and repeatedly targeting the rangy Spain international with long balls.

The high priest of tiki-taka (a label Guardiola famously loathes) had presided over "more long balls than in the last three years combined" from a Bayern team, according to Klopp, who bristled after Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller added to Gotze's inevitable second-half opener in a 3-0 win.

A depleted Munich were similarly reactive when they won the DFB-Pokal final 2-0 in extra-time, even if flooding midfield numbers was a more recognisably Guardiola tactic.

Diverting from his dizzying 4-3-3 of swirling triangles has remained something the Catalan tactician has frequently done across his meetings with Klopp, and not always with the success he enjoyed in Germany.

HOLLOW VICTORIES AND THE PHONEY WAR

Klopp ended his homeland head-to-head against Guardiola with three victories, making it back-to-back Supercup triumphs in 2014, having claimed a 3-0 Bundesliga result at Allianz Arena earlier that year – the authority of which was dimmed by the fact Bayern had already cantered to the title.

Guardiola had four victories to his name, with one draw ultimately falling in Dortmund's favour as Bayern failed with all four of their penalty attempts in a 2015 DFB-Pokal semi-final shoot-out.

However, Klopp was denied a glorious farewell as his team lost in the final to Wolfsburg and the fact Robert Lewandowski had followed Gotze to Munich by this point underlined a deck stacked against him.

Liverpool came calling for Klopp in October 2015 and he helmed helter-skelter runs to the EFL Cup and Europa League finals. Manchester City and Sevilla prevailed respectively.

That was Manuel Pellegrini's final honour as City boss as he made way for Guardiola, who collected a third successive Bundesliga title in 2015-16. Thomas Tuchel's Dortmund finished closer in terms of position and points (second, 10 behind) than Klopp's version had managed when in direct competition.

With the stage presumably set for renewed hostilities between Guardiola and incoming Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, the similarly newly installed Antonio Conte did not read the script as Chelsea romped to 2016-17 Premier League glory.

Klopp got the better of his head-to-heads with City as a Georginio Wijnaldum goal sealed a 1-0 New Year's Eve win at Anfield before Sergio Aguero rescued a point for the hosts in the return game.

Guardiola laid it on thick after that 1-1 draw, declaring it to be "one of the most special days of my life".

"He is Spanish. They are a little bit more emotional than the Germans," Klopp chuckled in response.

TON-UP BUT NOT INVINCIBLE AND THE ROAD TO KIEV

Liverpool beat City three times in 2017-18, when most other teams could barely lay a glove on Guardiola's record-breaking side.

But the game where City prevailed, an unusual 5-0 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium where Liverpool subsided meekly after Sadio Mane's red card for clattering Ederson with a high boot, arguably had the biggest influence on the campaign.

When that game was 11 v 11, Guardiola's back three was horribly exposed. Aguero's opener arrived against the run of play, with an unusually wasteful Mohamed Salah having tormented Nicolas Otamendi.

City never used 3-5-2 in the league again that season, reverting to a swashbuckling 4-3-3 that churned out 19 consecutive wins and made the second half of the schedule a virtual procession.

Liverpool halted their designs on invincibility however, claiming a raucous 4-3 Anfield win in January. Klopp hailed "pressing from another planet" by his front three as Roberto Firmino, Mane and Salah were all on target in a euphoric nine-minute spell after half-time.

Guardiola had again seen a swift avalanche of goals bring the roof in during a big match and his tweak to a 4-4-2 diamond, eyeing avenues around those Liverpool pressing lanes, backfired in that season's Champions League quarter-final.

A 3-0 first-leg loss at Anfield, with all the goals arriving during the first half, left City with a mountain to climb and a death-or-glory approach in the return fixture – deploying a formation probably best described as 3-CHARGE!!! – eventually ran out of steam in a 2-1 loss.

But it was Liverpool who came up short in the Kiev final on Loris Karius' nightmare outing against Real Madrid, while City sauntered to a 100-point haul as dominant Premier League champions. Sitting 25 points back in fourth, the Reds had a considerable gap to bridge.

CHASING PERFECTION

Despite that deficit, their efforts in going blow-for-blow with City over 90-minute periods left the impression Liverpool were the best placed of the pretenders to overthrow the champions.

Both teams reconvened on Merseyside undefeated in October 2018 and remained that way as the free-flowing nature of recent meetings gave way to a cagey 0-0 draw.

Reprising the theme of those early Klassiker meetings, Guardiola took his foot off the throttle as City played at a controlled tempo – an approach that would have ended the club's Anfield hoodoo but for Riyad Mahrez's ballooned late penalty.

Fire and brimstone returned the following January, though, with a wobbling City recovering their poise and avoiding a 10-point deficit at the top. Aguero and Leroy Sane were on target either side of Firmino in a bravura display, where Aymeric Laporte took on the unfamiliar role of left-back to stifle Salah.

That was Liverpool's only loss of the season as they finished on 97 points, agonisingly one shy of City. However, their subsequent Champions League final win over Tottenham improbably propelled them further along.

Just as Guardiola has tempered some of his more cavalier tendencies when faced with Klopp, the challenge of an unrelenting City also forced the Liverpool boss into subtle and decisive tweaks.

In bringing in Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, he spent big for what many see as the finest goalkeeper and centre-back on the planet. Their very presence means risk can be reduced.

Heavy metal football has given way to a steady pulsing beat that never wavers. In the city of Merseybeat, Klopp has gone electro.

Amid their steamrollering of the opposition this season, Liverpool have 19 wins by a solitary goal in all competitions. They are frighteningly and ruthlessly clinical. A profligate City trail in their wake, although Guardiola has used this relative freedom from pressure to thumb intriguingly through his tactical playbook in 2020.

Both men have inspired the other to reach beyond their comfort zones and the result is the two best teams in world football. With Klopp contracted to Liverpool until 2024 and Guardiola talking up an extended stay, the thought occurs that they are each other's motivation for sticking around. There is nowhere better to measure their greatness than against one another.

Pep Guardiola is not looking to bring Jadon Sancho back to Manchester City as Leroy Sane's replacement as the manager plans for a rebuild he insists is "a normal situation".

Stats Perform News understands Sane is set to sign for Bayern Munich after an initial €49million (£44.5m) deal - potentially rising to €60m (£54.5m) - was agreed between the clubs.

Sane has missed much of the season due to injury but had previously been linked to Bayern and has now played his last match for City.

Yet if City are to recruit a winger in the Germany international's place, Sancho – who has been linked with a Borussia Dortmund exit – does not appear a viable candidate.

Sancho left City for Dortmund in 2017 in pursuit of first-team football, soon establishing himself in the Bundesliga.

The England star has been linked with Manchester United, among a host of other elite clubs, but Guardiola does not foresee a return to City.

"No, he decided to leave," Guardiola said of Sancho. "Why should he decide to come back?

"We wanted him to stay - like Eric [Garcia] and Phil [Foden], like Leroy now. So when he decided to move to Dortmund, it's not because he's going to decide to come back a year later.

"He didn't want to be here, so I don't think he wants to come back here."

He added: "Players are being considered important by the club but they decide to leave.

"They don't want to be here, which is the case of Jadon Sancho and especially Leroy - Sancho was in the academy, but especially Leroy.

"I said many times: if a player doesn't want to stay, they have to leave, because we are not getting the best out of a player in his mind if they are not happy here."

Guardiola acknowledges City have work to do in the transfer market, though, saying: "It's part of another process.

"We would like to stay with the players who give this club what they gave us for the last decade. We grow and sometimes we have to replace them, and we are going to do it and replace with new players.

"In some [positions, City need to rebuild] - not for a lack of quality, but for the absences of Vinny [Vincent Kompany] and now David [Silva, out of contract at the end of the season].

"With Fernandinho and [Sergio] Aguero, next season's the last year of their contracts and we don't know if they're going to extend or not, so partly yes, some players we have to rebuild a little.

"But it's not like a disaster or a bad thing, it's part of the age, it's a normal situation and circumstances. It happens in all the clubs."

Pep Guardiola wished Leroy Sane all the best at "fantastic" Bayern Munich as he confirmed the Germany winger's return to the Bundesliga is almost done.

Stats Perform News understands a fee was agreed between the clubs on Tuesday, with the Germany international to cost an initial €49million (£44.5m), rising to €60m (£54.5m) and he is expected in Munich on Wednesday.

It brings a four-year stay in the Premier League to an end and will leave a overriding sense of what might have been – the 24-year-old missed virtually all of 2019-20 due to a serious knee injury.

Prior to that he had shown immense abilities in back-to-back Premier League title triumphs for City, winning the Professional Footballers' Association's (PFA) Young Player of the Year award in 2017-18.

But Bayern had emerged as suitors last year before his knee injury and, with his City contract set to expire next year, the Bundesliga champions have managed to secured a cut-price deal.

While the move is not yet complete, Guardiola confirmed it is close and he wished the former Schalke talent well.

"It looks like it," Guardiola said of Sane joining Bayern in Wednesday's news conference ahead of facing Liverpool on Thursday.

"It's not already done, there are still some little issues, but it looks like he'll go to Munich. I wish him all the best.

"I give him big thanks for these years together and I wish him all the best in a fantastic club.

"He wants to leave - everyone has their own life. I would have loved him to stay here, but he decided to leave, he thinks he'll be better and happier, so I've nothing to say."

Sane's absence has been seen viewed as a reason for City's inability to challenge Liverpool for the Premier League title this season, with the Reds wrapping it up with a 23-point cushion last week.

Guardiola admits Liverpool have simply been the better team, but he vowed to ensure the Reds "feel" 2020-21, as he plots to overthrow Jurgen Klopp's men.

"First of all, there was a team that was better, they played at an outstanding level in every game and you have to do more," he said.

"The supporters help you understand, it's an incredible part of our education to accept another is better, then you have to try to reduce this gap. From the last game to the future seven eight, nine games left through to next season, we must work harder and do better.

"We are going to make Liverpool feel next season, and other opponents will try to fight for the next chapters in the Premier League as well."

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of defender Tanguy Kouassi from Paris Saint-Germain. 

The 18-year-old has signed a four-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who confirmed the move on Wednesday. 

Kouassi made his first-team debut for PSG in December 2019 and went on to make 13 appearances across all competitions, scoring three times. 

However, he rejected a new contract with the Ligue 1 side and his deal expired on June 30. 

"I'm very happy to be able to play for FC Bayern," Kouassi said to his new team's website. 

"It's a big club, rich in tradition. I really hope I'll be able to establish myself here and play a lot of matches. For that I'll work hard." 

Ahead of Kouassi's presentation to the media, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic expressed his view that the versatile defender is one of the continent's brightest prospects. 

"We're very happy that we've been able to bring Tanguy Nianzou Kouassi to FC Bayern," he said. 

"In our opinion he's one of the biggest talents in Europe. His best position is central defender, but he can fill several positions.  

"We're sure he'll have a great career in Munich and will strengthen our team." 

Leroy Sane's long-mooted switch from Manchester City to Bayern Munich has been agreed.

The Germany international will initially cost Bayern €49million (£44.5m), rising to €60m (£54.5m) and is expected in Munich on Wednesday, Stats Perform News understands.

Sane joined City from Schalke in 2016 in a deal reportedly worth an initial £37m (€40m) and he went on to show flashes of immense ability during his first campaign.

He elevated his game to the next level in 2017-18 and won the Professional Footballers' Association's (PFA) Young Player of the Year award as Pep Guardiola's side clinched the Premier League title.

Sane helped City to another top-flight crown the following year and scored 16 goals across all competitions, though links with Bayern became commonplace towards the end of 2018-19.

Bayern were rumoured to have been interested in bringing the winger back to the Bundesliga last year, however they were said to be unwilling to match City's asking price.

Sane then suffered a serious knee injury in the Community Shield last August and only returned to the pitch in June.

Much of his time on the sidelines coincided with strengthening reports of Sane desiring a move to Munich, and on June 19 Guardiola confirmed the 24-year-old had informed the club he would not be signing an extension to his contract.

As such, Guardiola accepted Sane was either to be sold this year or leave on a free transfer in June 2021.

City have at least avoided the latter scenario, though the reported fee of up to €60m is significantly less than the £137m (€150m) asking price they are alleged to have set in 2019.

Bayern Munich could be set to match their 2012-13 treble this season, according to former club president Uli Hoeness.

Hansi Flick's side rounded off their Bundesliga campaign with a 4-0 win at Wolfsburg at the weekend, leaving them with a final 13-point margin over Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table. 

This season was Bayern's eighth consecutive success in Germany's top flight – a run that began under Jupp Heynckes in 2012-13, when the club swept the board by also picking up the DFB-Pokal and Champions League. 

They face Bayer Leverkusen in this season's Pokal final on Saturday, while a 3-0 advantage over Chelsea leaves them handily placed for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. 

"If our team can preserve this form, we have a good chance of winning everything," Hoeness told Blickpunkt Sport. 

"I hope that the team can keep the rhythm. 

"It is something very special to score 100 goals in a Bundesliga season. It is a sensational achievement." 

Hoeness balked at the suggestion Bayern's dominance was an unhealthy state of affairs for German football and called on their rivals to do more.

"The others have to put in even more effort," he added.

"You can't expect Bayern to work only half a day to make the Bundesliga more exciting."

Real Madrid or Manchester United? 

The two European giants appear to be the likeliest options for Jadon Sancho, who continues to be linked with a move away from Borussia Dortmund. 

Sancho has been tipped to make the move to Old Trafford but the England international could be set to grace the Santiago Bernabeu instead. 

 

TOP STORY – MADRID AND UNITED FIGHTING OVER SANCHO

Real Madrid and Manchester United are going head-to-head to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to Le10 Sport.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Dortmund for United, though Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have all emerged as possible destinations.

Zinedine Zidane reportedly wants to bring Sancho to Madrid as Dortmund demand a huge fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Sergio Aguero and Milan Skriniar be set to swap clubs? Calciomercato reports Inter are eyeing Manchester City star Aguero in a deal that would see Nerazzurri defender Skriniar move in the opposite direction. Inter could be in the market for a forward as Barca eye Lautaro Martinez, while Pep Guardiola's City are desperate to bolster their defence.

- There has been no decision on David Alaba's future, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk. The Bayern Munich star has been linked to City, Juventus, Chelsea and PSG.

Mauricio Pochettino is in talks to take over Portuguese giants Benfica, Record says. Pochettino has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in November.

- Calciomercato claims Milan's hierarchy will confront Mino Raiola in the next 48 hours to try to finalise a new contract for star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Arsenal have made an offer for Levante midfielder Enis Bardhi, reports Onda Cero. Fiorentina and an unnamed Bundesliga club are also interested.

Barca and Juve are expected to announce the swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic on Monday after undergoing medicals, according to widespread speculation. Arthur will join Juve, while Pjanic is set to replace the Brazilian at Barca.

Arjen Robben's retirement lasted just a single season, as the Netherlands and Bayern Munich great announced on Saturday he is to return to boyhood club Groningen for the 2020-21 campaign.

Robben, 36, brought an illustrious playing career to an end last July shortly after his 10-year spell with Bayern came to an end.

Although at the time he was linked with a potential return to the team that gave him his professional debut, Robben - who suffered with numerous injury problems throughout his career - opted to retire.

But now he looks set to return, not only to top-tier football, but at the place where it all began.

In honour of Robben's return to his first club, we identified some other high-profile players who went to finish their careers back home.

Juan Roman Riquelme - Argentinos Juniors

Perhaps more synonymous with Boca Juniors, where he made his professional debut and also spent most of his final years, Riquelme also had a strong affinity with Argentinos Juniors. He came through the club's academy in the early-to-mid 1990s, before then finishing his immense career at Estadio Diego Maradona in 2014, having also played for Barcelona, Villarreal and Argentina. Although the iconic attacking midfielder appeared close to joining Paraguay's Cerro Porteno the following year, the move never materialised.

Dirk Kuyt - Quick Boys

Kuyt briefly came out of retirement two years ago to help Quick Boys, with whom he spent 13 years as a youth. Playing in the Derde Divisie Saturday league, Kuyt was already working as assistant at the time, but made himself available for selection during a striker shortage and he made three appearances. The former Netherlands and Liverpool forward had retired the year before following a second spell with Feyenoord, where he had made his initial breakthrough in the mid-2000s, his form at the time earning a move to Anfield.

Rafael Marquez - Atlas

One of Mexico's greatest players, Marquez's longevity at such a high level was nothing short of incredible, as he accumulated 147 international caps. After breaking into the Atlas team as a teenager having come through their academy, the elegant centre-back enjoyed a sparkling career in Europe, winning 14 titles across spells with Monaco and Barcelona. Time with New York Red Bulls, Leon and Hellas Verona followed, before a final two-year stint back at the Jalisco ended in 2018. Although plagued by off-field allegations towards the end of his career, Marquez went on to become the club's sporting president, before standing down last year to focus on other areas of the sport.

Juan Pablo Angel - Atletico Nacional

Angel perhaps never quite lived up to the expectations he set during his early days as part of River Plate's so-called 'Fantastic Four' with Javier Saviola, Ariel Ortega and Pablo Aimar, having joined from Colombia's Nacional. Nevertheless, he became a fan favourite at Aston Villa in the Premier League, before spending six years in MLS with New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. In 2013 he returned to Nacional for two seasons, having left them in 1997. He called it quits in late 2014, just a few days after losing to his former club River in the final of the Copa Sudamericana. "I am ending my career with a final between the two clubs I love the most," he said.

Henrik Larsson - Hogaborgs

While the Swedish club most may associate with Larsson is Helsingborgs, he actually made the breakthrough at a smaller side – Hogaborgs. It was here where he trained from the age of six, before eventually becoming a regular in the senior side and earning a move to Helsingborgs. A trophy-laden career followed, taking him to Feyenoord, Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United. Although he retired in 2009, he returned to the pitch for Raa in the Swedish third tier three years later, before then finding himself back in the team at Hogaborgs in 2013, helping out due to an injury crisis despite him only previously being registered to a casual team for 'seniors'. This gave him the chance to play alongside his son, Jordan.

Carlos Tevez - Boca Juniors

The Tevez-Boca love affair has dominated most of the striker's successful and complex career. After coming through their youth ranks, the feisty forward was seen as the heir to Maradona. A brief stint in Brazil with Corinthians followed, but Europe had long since beckoned, even if West Ham was by no means the expected destination. He went on to play for Manchester United and Manchester City, increasing tension between the clubs, before then going to Juventus, but throughout this time Tevez seemed to long for a return to Boca. He went back to La Bombonera in 2015, his homecoming interrupted by a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 in the Chinese Super League, though even Tevez acknowledged he saw his time in China as a "holiday". "He filled Santa's sack with dollars and now he has returned to Boca" was Maradona's assessment upon 'El Apache's' return from the CSL.

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