Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc confirmed Jadon Sancho has a "gentlemen's agreement" over a possible transfer, but that is not the case for fellow star Erling Haaland.

Sancho was heavily linked with Premier League giants Manchester United at the start of the season, while English rivals Liverpool have now emerged as a possible suitor for the Dortmund attacker.

It comes as Europe's elite – including Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain – reportedly queue up to sign Haaland, who has a release clause that is not valid until next year.

Zorc discussed the futures of Dortmund duo Sancho and in-demand forward Haaland.

"We already had a gentlemen's agreement with Jadon last year that he can switch under certain conditions," Zorc told ARD.

"He's been with us for a couple of years. However, this agreement does not exist with Erling."

After United's reported pursuit of Sancho at the start of 2020-21, Zorc added: "In the end, the requirements were not met."

Sancho provided two assists as Dortmund routed second-tier outfit Holstein Kiel 5-0 in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals on Saturday.

Dortmund became the first team in history to score five goals in the first half of a DFB-Pokal semi-final fixture, while they are also the first side to reach eight consecutive finals.

Edin Terzic is hopeful Erling Haaland will not take long to recover from a thigh injury that forced him to miss Borussia Dortmund's emphatic DFB-Pokal win over Holstein Kiel.

Striker Haaland watched on from the stands as Dortmund clinched a place in the final, triumphing 5-0 against second-tier opponents as all their goals arrived in the first half of the contest.

Giovanni Reyna was on target twice while Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard and Jude Bellingham also scored for BVB, who will now face RB Leipzig in Berlin on May 13.

However, before having the chance to secure silverware, the focus reverts to securing a top-four finish in the Bundesliga - and Terzic is confident leading scorer Haaland will be involved in the run-in.

Dortmund have a final rehearsal against Leipzig to come next, the first of three crucial league games as they aim to qualify for next season's Champions League.

"Erling being out had its origins in Wolfsburg last weekend, where he had a great performance," Terzic told the media. 

"Two or three minutes before the end he conceded a hit on his thigh. He stayed in pain. In the first few days, he tried to return to training but had some little problems.

"Yesterday, he told us that he couldn't play, that it would be too painful, so we decided to take him out for today's game. But we are confident that it won't take long to recover.

"Maybe he can join the team's training midweek and fully recover for the next Bundesliga tasks and the cup final."

While Haaland could be back soon, team-mate Mateu Morey seems set for an extended spell on the sidelines after suffering what looked to be a serious leg injury late in proceedings.

Morey had only come on as a substitute just after the hour mark, yet had to be carried off on a stretcher in the 74th minute.

Terzic admitted the full-back's situation had tarnished the result, particularly as Dortmund were coasting towards the final whistle at the time it happened.

"We totally wanted to go to the cup final and up until the 75th minute, it seemed like a perfect night for us," he said. 

"But the injury to Mateu tarnished everything for us. Especially when you know what a good boy he is.

"When he lies on the floor in pain, it is hard to think about the win or the game."

Borussia Dortmund breezed into the DFB-Pokal final despite the absence of Erling Haaland, Giovanni Reyna scoring twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Holstein Kiel.

Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard and Jude Bellingham were also on target in a first-half rout, Dortmund dismantling their second-tier opponents to set up a showdown with RB Leipzig on May 13.

Kiel had sensationally ended Bayern Munich's reign in the competition when knocking out the holders on penalties in the second round. They also came out on top in a dramatic shoot-out against Darmstadt in the last 16, while they progressed to the semi-finals thanks to a 3-0 triumph away at Rot-Weiss Essen.

However, any hopes of another upset had long disappeared by half-time at Signal Iduna Park as the injured Haaland – ruled out with a muscle issue – watched on from the stands.

Reyna scored the first two. His opener was teed up by Jadon Sancho before he added another from close range, tapping in after Reus' attempted cross had been back-heeled into the path of the United States international by Raphael Guerreiro.

Reus was next to score, poking the ball past goalkeeper Thomas Dahne after Emre Can's lofted pass had picked out his team-mate's run beyond Kiel's overworked defence.

Hazard capitalised on a loose pass to make it four goals in a crazy 16-minute spell, while a long-range shot from Bellingham found the net thanks to a sizeable deflection off Simon Lorenz that left poor Dahne with no chance.

The onslaught allowed Dortmund coach Edin Terzic to make a slew of changes with one eye on a pivotal Bundesliga run-in, while poor Kiel were happy to avoid any further punishment in a second half that had a testimonial feel to it.


What does it mean? Silver lining still a possibility

Securing a top-four Bundesliga finish is the priority for Dortmund, but an up-and-down season that has included the departure of head coach Lucien Favre could yet see silverware secured. They have not won the cup since 2017 when current Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was in charge.

While Leipzig had to work hard to seal progression on Friday, beating Werder Bremen with a dramatic winner at the end of extra time, their opponents for the Berlin final were able to coast through.

Just kidding around

While Haaland's future may be unclear beyond the current campaign, Dortmund have two more outstanding prospects coming through to take centre stage when, rather than if, the Norwegian departs.

Reyna scored with two of his 23 touches before being replaced at the break, yet Bellingham played the full game in midfield, completing 97 per cent of his attempted passes.

Visitors Kiel over

This was a harsh way for a superb run to end, with Kiel seeing fortune desert them as BVB benefited from several lucky breaks to run up the score.

Fabian Reese had every reason to feel frustrated after his wonderful long-range strike beat Marwin Hitz but was kept out by the post, albeit a comeback would still have been unlikely with the hosts already 3-0 up.

What's next?

There will be a final rehearsal next Saturday when Dortmund host Leipzig, though Bundesliga points – not prizes – will be on offer. Kiel, meanwhile, host SV Sandhausen in league action on Tuesday as they continue their quest for promotion to the top tier.

Julian Nagelsmann says he wants to "say goodbye with the title" after RB Leipzig secured a spot in the German DFB-Pokal final following a 2-1 extra-time win over Werder Bremen in Friday's semi-final.

Nagelsmann confirmed during the week that he would be joining Bayern Munich next season, ending his two-year tenure at Leipzig.

Leipzig were Champions League semi-finalists last season and finished Nagelsmann's debut season in third in the Bundesliga but he has not won any silverware for the club.

The Red Bulls appear destined to finish runners-up in this season's Bundesliga campaign but Nagelsmann is eyeing off a winning farewell in the DFB-Pokal.

"I would like to say goodbye with the title," Nagelsmann said. "We hope that we play a good cup final.

"When you see how the guys work so hard after such a turbulent week, of course it's great."

Emil Forsberg struck a late winner at the end of extra time after a scoreless 90 minutes to send Leipzig into the final against either Borussia Dortmund or Holstein Kiel.

Hwang Hee-chan had opened the scoring for Leipzig before Leonardo Bittencourt swooped on an error to equalise.

"At the end of the day, the close matches are the best wins," Nagelsmann said.

"It was very emotional and that releases more energy. The boys fought and gave everything.

"The turbulent week had no effect, everyone on the pitch saw that today. The boys had their hearts in the right place and deservedly won."

Emil Forsberg struck a late winner at the end of extra time as RB Leipzig overcame determined Werder Bremen 2-1 to reach the DFB-Pokal final in dramatic fashion.

After a scoreless 90 minutes, Leipzig took the lead with a goal from Hwang Hee-chan early in the first extra period, only for a Dayot Upamecano error to gift Leonardo Bittencourt the chance to equalise.

A penalty shoot-out appeared to be on the cards until Forsberg popped up in added time, Hwang heading the ball back across the face of goal for his fellow substitute to convert from close range.

The win means Julian Nagelsmann remains on course to deliver a first major trophy for Leipzig before his departure, the Bayern Munich-bound coach set to lead his current employers against either Borussia Dortmund or Holstein Kiel in the showpiece fixture in Berlin on May 13.

 

 

Julian Nagelsmann has given his approval to RB Leipzig's choice of Jesse Marsch as his successor and future Bundesliga rival.

American coach Marsch will arrive from Salzburg, close affiliates of the German side, at the end of the season to take over from Bayern Munich-bound Nagelsmann.

The 47-year-old has spent two years as Salzburg boss and previously worked as an assistant coach with Leipzig so knows the club well.

Marsch was also head coach of New York Red Bulls from 2015 to 2018, and Nagelsmann sees him as an easy fit at Leipzig.

"I'm very happy that RB Leipzig have been able to quickly find a successor in Jesse Marsch," Nagelsmann said. "It was important to me that the club find a good coach and that they wouldn't have to deal with too much uncertainty following the news of my departure.

"Jesse Marsch is a very emotional coach and has a good connection to his players. I will definitely look to speak with him at the end of the season. I wish him all the best here and that he continues the club's success."

Nagelsmann will perhaps be mindful of being too helpful as the coaches cross and he leaves for Bayern as Marsch arrives at Leipzig, given they have been Germany's top two sides this season.

Bayern look like scooping the Bundesliga title for a ninth consecutive year. With 71 points from 31 games, they head Leipzig by seven points with three rounds of games remaining.

However, Leipzig are very much in the hunt for cup glory as they head into Friday's DFB-Pokal semi-final against Werder Bremen.

The winner of that tie will face either Borussia Dortmund or Holstein Kiel, the second-tier team that knocked out Bayern in the early stages of the tournament.

"Of course, it would be nice to end my time here by winning the DFB-Pokal," Nagelsmann said on Thursday.

"The pressure is there, but that's normal. If you've reached the semi-finals with your team, then it's obvious that you want to advance to the final and win there."

Quoted on Leipzig's official website, Nagelsmann said: "There's nothing worse than losing a final. If we have the chance to win the trophy, then we'll do everything possible to make that happen.

"We don't need any extra motivation for Friday night. The cup is motivation enough. The team will give it everything they have to meet the expectations. They are highly motivated.

"I still have a good relationship with the team and spoke to the lads. All the outside noise won't affect them. All of my players want to continue improving.

"Our goal is to make it to [the final in] Berlin. We also want to break the 67-point mark in the Bundesliga, in order to set a new [club] record this season."

Hansi Flick announced on Saturday that he intends to step down as Bayern Munich boss at the end of the campaign, bringing an end to an illustrious spell in charge of the club.

The 56-year-old succeeded Niko Kovac in November 2019, having previously worked as assistant, and has led the German giants to six major trophies in that time.

Bayern won the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League in 2019-20 and have followed that up with the DFL-Supercup, UEFA Supercup and Club World Cup this season.

Another Bundesliga crown could follow with Bayern seven points clear at the top with five games to go, which would be a fitting way to bring down the curtain on Flick's tenure.

Using Opta data, we look at the extraordinary numbers behind Flick's spell in charge and the players who have played a key part in Bayern's recent success.


AS MANY TROPHIES AS DEFEATS

Flick's shock revelation that he hopes to have his contract terminated came on the back of Bayern's 3-2 win at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

That was the German's 81st game in charge in all competitions, comprised of 67 victories, eight draws and six losses.

Incredibly, that means Flick has won as many trophies - six - as he has suffered defeats in his 17-month tenure. That also equates to one trophy every 14 matches.

NUMEROUS RECORDS SET

Bayern were as dominant as any club in European history en route to winning a treble last season, form that they would carry into the 2020-21 campaign.

The Bavarian giants won 23 matches in a row in all competitions between February 16, 2020 and September 18 that year - a record in German professional football.

With their victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the final, meanwhile, they became the first side in European/Champions League history to lift the trophy with a 100-per-cent win record.


BUT FLICK TRAILS GUARDIOLA

Flick's 83-per-cent win rate is another record among Bayern bosses, as is the average of 3.0 goals per game his side have scored under his watch.

However, the former Germany assistant trails one of his predecessors in Pep Guardiola when it comes to points per game accrued in the Bundesliga.

Guardiola collected 2.52 points per game across his 102 matches, whereas Flick is currently on 2.49 after 53 matches, though that could change before he eventually departs.

LEWA LEADS THE WAY

In the Bundesliga alone, Manuel Neuer has played more games for Bayern (52) than anyone else since Flick initially took charge on an interim basis on November 3, 2019.

Thomas Muller and David Alaba, the latter of whom will also depart the Allianz Arena in June, are next on the list with 50 league appearances.

Robert Lewandowski is next with 46 outings and the striker has been Bayern's top performer over that period in terms of goal involvements.

The Poland international has a combined 65 goals and assists, followed by Muller with 52 and Serge Gnabry with 27.

Lewandowski has 55 Bundesliga goals in total under Flick, while Muller leads the assists metric with 34, 20 more than next-best Joshua Kimmich.

Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig were kept apart in the draw for the DFB-Pokal semi-finals on Monday.

Dortmund will go up against Holstein Kiel hoping to avoid suffering the same fate as holders Bayern Munich, who were knocked out of the competition by the second-tier side.  

In the other tie, Leipzig – who sit second in the Bundesliga – will take on the winner of the quarter-final clash between Regensburg and Werder Bremen, which is scheduled to be played on April 7. 

Bayern have lifted the trophy in the previous two campaigns, including beating Leipzig 3-0 in the 2019 final. 

However, their hopes of triumphing again were dashed by Kiel, who scored a dramatic late equaliser in the second-round tie before going on to seal a famous win on penalties. 

Dortmund, winners in 2017, will host Kiel on Saturday, May 1. Leipzig will be in action the following day, with the final set for May 13 in Berlin.

Marco Rose is plotting to stop one of the players he will have at his disposal next season when Borussia Monchengladbach come up against Erling Haaland and Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal.  

Rose will be leaving his role as head coach of Monchengladbach at the end of the season to take charge at Dortmund, though still has a chance of signing off with a trophy.  

With Bayern Munich already knocked out, the quarter-final clash offers a chance for both clubs to move a step closer to silverware. 

Haaland will be hoping to get one over his future boss in the competition before they join forces, provided, of course, the prolific Norwegian does not depart Signal Iduna Park in the next transfer window.  

The 20-year-old striker has 27 goals already in the current campaign, including 17 in as many starts in the Bundesliga. Rose, however, hopes Monchengladbach can prevent him adding to that tally on Tuesday.  

"Of course there are options to stop him," Rose told the media ahead of the last-eight tie. 

"I don't think you can completely stop him for 90 minutes, but you can look after him and control him in many situations.   

"He is a forward who is very good at transition. He has a good feeling for deep runs and is a very dynamic player.   

"He is very clinical in the box and we need to defend him well there. We have to stop him when he starts his runs, but it would be even better to destroy Dortmund's build-up, so we can bring out our strengths on the pitch."

Dortmund head into the fixture having won three on the spin under caretaker boss Edin Terzic, suggesting they are rounding into form at an ideal time in what has been a see-saw campaign. 

After Monchengladbach in midweek, BVB have a trip to the Allianz Arena on Saturday to take on league leaders Bayern. 

Rose will be determined to lead Dortmund to success in 2020-21 but insists there will be no mixed emotions when he comes up against them, making clear his focus right now remains fully on his job at Monchengladbach. 

"There is nothing to say. It's not a topic at all," he said of the prospect of facing his future employers.  

"The job here is very demanding and I need all my energy here. I need to make the best out of it together with the boys, that means a cup quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund."

Bayern Munich completed a year of dominance by collecting the Club World Cup on Thursday, beating Tigres UANL 1-0 in the final.

Victory in Qatar, courtesy of Benjamin Pavard's scrappy second-half goal, clinched a sixth trophy in under 12 months.

Bayern started a 23-match winning run in all competitions this time last year, winning the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, Champions League and UEFA Super Cup in this time.

They added the DFL-Supercup immediately after seeing that streak ended in September, then completed the set by beating Tigres.

Hansi Flick's side went one better than Bayern's 2013 team, who collected five titles - losing to Borussia Dortmund in the domestic Supercup.

The Bavarian giants were dominant last season and have continued to collect results this term, led by a star-studded cast, as we can see with Opta data.
 

FLICK'S MEN ALMOST FLAWLESS

Going back 12 months to the start of that remarkable winning stretch, Bayern have played 53 matches in all competitions, winning 46 of them.

In fact, they lost games just twice in the last year, to Hoffenheim 4-1 and Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2, both in the Bundesliga, although there was also a penalty shootout defeat to Holstein Kiel that ensured they will not defend their Pokal crown this season.

While dominating, Bayern have mainly been a great watch, scoring 157 goals (2.96 per game) and conceding 51 (0.96 per game). Indeed, those 53 games yielded only 21 Bayern clean sheets.

The standout results were obvious, scoring eight in games against both Barcelona and Schalke, but they also netted six versus Hoffenheim and Salzburg, plus five in clashes with Eintracht Frankfurt (twice), Fortuna Dusseldorf and Mainz.
 

OLD GUARD THE STANDOUT STARS

Bayern have a wealth of exciting young talents, but they relied heavily on their experienced campaigners over this glorious stretch.

Thomas Muller (51), Manuel Neuer (50) and David Alaba (48) led Bayern in appearances over the past year. Neuer was named in the starting XI on the most occasions - every time he played.

Robert Lewandowski has been unsurprisingly the leading marksman with his 49 goals in 45 games, but Joshua Kimmich came to the fore in terms of assists, his 23 - along with nine goals - coming from 43 matches.

Kimmich had one more assist than Muller, despite the forward creating 141 chances to his team-mate's 108.

With Neuer playing all but three of the 53 matches, he accounted for 20 of Bayern's 21 clean sheets - Alexander Nubel earned the other - and made 139 saves.

Niklas Sule, at 91.9 per cent of 1,656, was the most accurate passer to start a game, although he trailed the team's most prominent passers by some distance; Alaba played 3,743 at 88.2 per cent accuracy.

Alaba (4,210) also led the way in terms of touches ahead of Kimmich (4,089), who was beaten in terms of tackles by the slightly surprising figure of Serge Gnabry (76).

Peter Bosz admitted there were no excuses for Bayer Leverkusen's shock DFB-Pokal defeat at Rot-Weiss Essen, declaring: "We must never lose here."

After holders Bayern Munich were stunned by Holstein Kiel in the previous round, Essen produced another cup shock as they overcame Bundesliga opponents with a 2-1 triumph after extra time on Tuesday.

The first goal of the tie did not arrive until the 105th minute, Leon Bailey's low shot eventually edging dominant Leverkusen - who had 27 attempts and 69.2 per cent of possession - in front.

However, the hosts hit back to level through Oguzhan Kefkir and, just as a penalty shoot-out appeared to be necessary to decide who would progress, Simon Engelmann struck a dramatic winner three minutes from the end.

The upset means that for the second time in as many seasons, a fourth-tier side will be in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Head coach Bosz did offer praise for Bayer's opponents but was critical of his own players for failing to see out the game once they had taken the lead.

"We played against a good team, you have to say that. But we must never lose here," Bosz told Sky Sports Germany.

"We had the chances, especially in the second half. The opportunities were there. Then we take the lead in extra time and can play the game out. Don't give up our position. That's our mistake.

"We are a Bundesliga team and we must never lose here. Never."

It is the sixth time Essen have made it to the last eight in the DFB-Pokal, though this is the first occasion since the 1993-94 season. They have lifted the trophy once before in their history, back in 1953.

"You can't write a better script for a game like this. We're really proud of the boys," coach Christian Neidhart said, according to Kicker.

"There is a spirit in the team but also the club – a dynamic in the last months and last years. That should lead us one day to a title, that's our big goal."

Bayer Leverkusen are one of Germany's biggest clubs, but not since the 1993 DFB-Pokal have they celebrated silverware.

Leverkusen have come close on numerous occasions in the Bundesliga – runners-up in 1997, 1999, 2000, 20002 and 2011, while they also reached the 2002 Champions League final, succumbing to Zinedine Zidane's iconic volley in Glasgow.

There were also runners-up appearances in the DFB-Pokal – 20002, 2009 and 2020. But an exciting and entertaining Leverkusen, even in the post-Kai Havertz era, are on the right track amid Bayern Munich's domestic and European dominance.

Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes told Stats Perform News: "It's not easy if you're playing with the best team in the world – Bayern – but we have made a step forward and quite close to the top. We want to go forward. If it happens this year, fantastic. But we want to proceed and develop the squad, and mentality."

When star Havertz left for Chelsea at the start of the season in a transfer that could rise to €100million, and Kevin Volland joined Monaco, it left a noticeable hole at BayArena, where the pair scored 30 goals across all competitions in 2019-20.

But led by prodigy Florian Wirtz and a thrilling core of players, including Moussa Diaby, Leon Bailey and Nadiem Amiri, Leverkusen are continuing to challenge this term.

Leverkusen are third in the Bundesliga – three points behind RB Leipzig and 10 adrift of reigning champions Bayern – while Peter Bosz's side are preparing to face Young Boys in the Europa League last 32 and Rot-Weiss Essen in the DFB-Pokal round of 16.

With Havertz having departed, Leverkusen have a better goals/game ratio (2.5) through 26 games across all competitions this season, compared to 1.8 in 2019-20. The club have also improved defensively – goals conceded/game (1.0) and expected goals against (1.0) are better than last term (1.3) and (1.4) respectively.

Collecting 32 points, Leverkusen have played the best first half of a Bundesliga season for seven years – they collected 37 points at this stage in 2013-14.

Leverkusen have also exceeded their xG value of 23.1 to almost nine goals (8.9) – only Bayern have a greater margin between goals and xG (13.9). 

"In general yes because it's a chance for other players to develop and take more responsibility in the team and on the pitch," Rolfes, who was appointed in 2018, said when asked if he was always confident following the exits of Havertz and Volland. "We had the view that there could be other players who could take a step forward. The only thing for sure is Havertz is a world-class player, a fantastic guy and player. It's very difficult to replace him, so we said, it's not our direction to find a replacement for Kai because you will never find that replacement.

"We said okay, we will give our own players the chance to grow, this strategy works out very fast. It's always a risk for sure, but we have the confidence in those players to make a step forward, and also the team. If your superstar is gone, everyone knows we have to give more.

"We try to build-up, play offensive with ball possession, straightforward – the kind of style we showed against Borussia Dortmund [2-1 on January 19] is what we want. We want to have the ball, a lot of clubs and trainers are speaking to play without the ball, in Germany it's very popular, but we want to have the ball and want players who want the ball."

The emergence of teenage sensation Wirtz, and development of Diaby, Bailey, Edmond Tapsoba and Amiri, has further highlighted Leverkusen's successful recruitment and philosophy, which has become synonymous with German clubs.

"You have to have a clear strategy," Rolfes, who made almost 400 appearances for Leverkusen between 2005 and 2015, said. "A clear strategy of recruitment but also your playing style. That's really important for players but also the success of a club – both are strongly connected. For your playing style, you have to sign the right players. Then you have the chance that the players adapt quicker and develop better in your system because they feel comfortable in the way of playing. That's crucial.

"We know the Bundesliga, financially solid, but we are not at the top that we can sign every player, we have to develop players. The strategy is to recruit good players for our style and develop them to the top. Some clubs in Germany are quite successful with this."

"We are focusing on that talent and try to find them," he said. "We analyse millions of data with artificial intelligence, to pre-select and be early. It's not because we know players other clubs do not know, maybe 20 years ago, but everything is transparent. But you have to find them a bit quicker, but also clear in your playing style and what can they develop with your training work, in which areas they can develop in weak points. Because we are not signing players where everything is 100 per cent, we know they have weak points, but we know we have to work with them on that."

Data and AI continue to play a huge role in football, with Rolfes adding: "It's very important and because the data will be better and better, it will become much more important in the future because you will get better results. We are working with our own team on scouting, preparing for next matches – just in our daily work."

The likes of Michael Ballack, Toni Kroos, Bernd Leno and Havertz have all made names for themselves at Leverkusen, and Rolfes continued: "We count on the young players [at Leverkusen]. We give them trust and the opportunity to play. For example, Wirtz, we give him the chance to replace Havertz and not sign another star to put in front of him. That is one thing.

"We have a very professional environment, we really take care of the guys – try to develop them, work on the pitch and prepare them for top football. We have an advantage that the media surrounding is not so big here. That's good for young players to have a familiar environment where they feel very comfortable and less stressful, then try to reach the best level on the pitch."

Wirtz is the heir apparent to Havertz, having made an immediate impact after the 17-year-old swapped Cologne for Leverkusen in 2020.

Having made his debut in May 2020, Wirtz became the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history the following month, finding the net in a 4-2 defeat to Bayern after coming on as a substitute. Dortmund's Youssoufa Moukoko has since snatched that record.

Among all players with at least 50 dribbles in this season's Bundesliga, only Augsburg's Daniel Caligiuri has a better dribbles success rate (70 per cent) than Wirtz (65 per cent). 

Wirtz is one of 50 players born in 2003 or earlier to appear in Europe's top five leagues this season. Those 50 players have collected a total of 14 goal involvements – with seven of them coming from Wirtz. 

Among all players in Europe's top five leagues born in 2003 or earlier, Wirtz played the most minutes in all competitions this season (1,579) and had the most goal involvements in all comps (11 – six goals and five assists). 

"I saw him for the first time at 13. Now I have to say, he is playing Bundesliga the same way he was playing at 13, 14, 15, 16 – I followed him all the years. I always said okay, that's the player for us, the player for Leverkusen. That was not a surprise for me when he came to us and adapted very quick to our style," former Germany international Rolfes said.

"It was also one argument I said to him during the transfer. I said, 'you are a player for us, you will develop your skills and strengths much better because that's what we need in our style'. His development is fantastic."

Like Havertz, Bailey could be the next Leverkusen star to leave amid constant speculation over his future.

The 23-year-old winger, who has scored four goals and supplied five assists in the 2020-21 Bundesliga so far, has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City and Rolfes is unwilling to sell the Jamaican to just any club.

"He's played a fantastic season," Rolfes said. "He struggled a bit last season, but he is performing at a very high level. A good guy in the squad. He has a chance to score goals for sure. A fantastic technique. That's part of lives also, to sell players but we want to sell to the top eight clubs in the world, but not to other clubs. Sometimes a player will leave us. We have a contract with Bailey but we are quite relaxed."

Diaby is another prime example for Leverkusen, where the accelerating Frenchman has 561 sprints in the league this season, more than any other player. 

The former Paris Saint-Germain speedster has been involved in 15 goals in all competitions in this season (in 26 games) – with his next goal involvement the 21-year-old would already reach his value from his first season in Leverkusen (16 in 39 games). 

"When we extended the contract until 2025, that was a really nice Christmas present to extend the contracts of Diaby, Tapsoba and Wirtz," Rolfes said. "[Diaby] is a key player of our squad. His acceleration and speed is outstanding. He has developed on scoring and assisting. To use his acceleration on a top, top level. He has potential to develop further. I'm very, very happy he is part of our squad."

Meanwhile, Timothy Fosu-Mensah could be the latest success story for Leverkusen, who also completed the signing of Netherlands Under-20 international Jeremie Frimpong from Celtic on Wednesday.

After joining Manchester United's academy in 2014, the 23-year-old called time on his Old Trafford stay in January, and Rolfes said: "He is not so young but the last two years, you had the feeling there was more in the box than there was in the last two years. That's interesting for us, to sign that kind of player where you have the feeling they can reach more. We want to help him.

"Timothy is a really good guy, ambitious guy. I like this. He has the ability, the physicality, very fast, a good technique. A lot of fundamental things that are important for our playing style. Then if the mentality and ambition isn't right, then let's work on that to develop you. I'm convinced Timothy can be the next example for our club."

Bayern Munich's shock DFB-Pokal loss to Holstein Kiel left Hansi Flick "very disappointed" but the head coach insisted the German and European champions must move on.

DFB-Pokal holders Bayern sensationally crashed out in the second round on Wednesday, stunned 6-5 on penalties following a 2-2 draw against second-tier Kiel after extra time.

A 95th-minute equaliser thwarted Bayern, who were on the brink of the last 16 thanks to Leroy Sane's sublime free-kick at Holstein-Stadion, where Serge Gnabry's opener had been cancelled out by Fin Bartels.

After Bayern substitute Marc Roca was denied by Ioannis Gelios, Bartels stepped up to complete the remarkable upset – the Bundesliga and Champions League holders beaten in a penalty shoot-out against a lower-tier side in the DFB-Pokal for only the second time after 2000.

"It's a shock of course. We're very disappointed, we wanted to defend the treble. Taken altogether it was down to details, the team showed great spirit," Flick said.

"We were dominant, which was our aim. It's very annoying that we conceded the equaliser in the last second. We must congratulate Kiel, they made it a real cup fight, they were completely committed. We must put it behind us and improve.

"We must be more compact at the back. We must apply more pressure and be more solid when it comes to balls over the top.

"It's surprising, that's what the cup is like. Kiel defended well, their keeper turned in an outstanding performance. It just happens in penalty shoot-outs, I don't blame Roca."

For the first time in more than 12 years, Bayern were forced into extra time against a lower-tier team in the DFB-Pokal after Kiel captain Hauke Wahl struck at the death.

Bayern star Thomas Muller added: "At the end of the day we lost against the underdogs from Kiel. It may sound silly after such a defeat but lady luck wasn't really on our side today.

"We had a pretty good feeling in the first half and played decently. We had good chances, we combined well, we enjoyed more of the ball. Kiel gave it their all. It was certainly a good performance from their point of view.

"It wasn't an upset that was looming from the off. We made mistakes when it came to the details and Kiel were pretty clinical, as they were in the shoot-out."

Bayern Munich have been knocked out of the DFB-Pokal on penalties by second-tier side Holstein Kiel following a 2-2 draw after extra time.

The Bavarian giants had reached the last 16 stage in each of the previous 19 seasons and had lifted the cup in the last two of those, but they were stunned by Kiel in Wednesday's clash at Holstein-Stadion.

Leroy Sane had Bayern on the brink of a place in the next round with his sublime free-kick early in the second half after Fin Bartels had earlier cancelled out Serge Gnabry's close-range opener.

But Kiel skipper Hauke Wahl scored in the 95th minute to force extra time and Bayern, who brought on star striker Robert Lewandowski with 74 minutes played, could not find a third goal as the tie went the distance.

The first 10 penalties were successfully put away but substitute Marc Roca was denied by Ioannis Gelios, setting up Bartels to convert and send the home side through 6-5 on spot-kicks, with Darmstadt to come in the last 16.

Erling Haaland could be used alongside Youssoufa Moukoko when he returns from injury in January, Borussia Dortmund interim head coach Edin Terzic has suggested.

Prolific striker Haaland had been in fine form for Dortmund prior to injuring his hamstring in training earlier this month, forcing him out of BVB's past six matches.

Dortmund's latest teen prodigy Moukoko has profited from Haaland's absence, though, forcing his way into the side at the age of just 16 and starting their most recent two matches.

He netted in Friday's 2-1 loss at Union Berlin to become the Bundesliga's youngest ever scorer, having already been the youngest player to appear in the competition after coming off the bench against Hertha Berlin the day after turning 16 last month.

The Dortmund academy product also became the youngest player to appear in the Champions League when featuring as a second-half substitute against Zenit at the age of 16 years and 18 days, breaking the record held by Celestine Babayaro.

The young attacking duo boast many similarities, not least that they both favour their left feet, but Terzic is open to the idea of pairing them together in the coming weeks.

At a news conference previewing Tuesday's DFB-Pokal second-round trip to Eintracht Braunschweig, he said: "If we ever get the feeling that we can use both Erling and Youssoufa at the same time... why not?"

Haaland, who has scored 17 times for Dortmund in all competitions this term, will play no part against second-tier Braunschweig as he continues his recovery from injury.

However, Terzic - placed in charge until the end of the campaign following Lucien Favre's departure little over a week ago - has provided a positive update on the Norway international's rehabilitation programme.

"I saw him for the first time today," Terzic said on Monday. "We are happy and things are looking up for him. He is completely on schedule in terms of timing and we assume he will be immediately back at the beginning of January."

Ten of Haaland's goals this season have come in the Bundesliga at a rate of one every 65 minutes, nine of those via his left foot and one with his right.

In a further fitness boost for Dortmund, Terzic confirmed Thorgan Hazard - who has missed three games with a muscle injury - returned to training on Monday and a late decision will be made on whether he plays against Braunschweig.

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