Bayern Munich winger Leroy Sane says he has been unfairly put in the "bling-bling drawer" and will take criticism as an incentive to realise his potential.

Sane was unable to hit the ground running at Bayern after joining the European champions on a five-year deal from Manchester City in July for a fee of €49million, which could rise to €60m.

The winger missed almost the entire 2019-20 season with City due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament before returning to his homeland.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge last month warned Sane must show more desire and says Bayern will be prepared to "kick his butt" if needed to get the best out of their big-money signing.

Sane has since taken his goal tally to seven for the season, while also providing five assists in 21 games, and Rummenigge this week rubbished suggestions the Bundesliga leaders could sell the 25-year-old this year.

Bayern and Germany great Lothar Matthaus stated the Bavarian giants should have signed Timo Werner rather than Sane before the Germany forward moved to Chelsea.

Sane insists people have got the wrong impression of him. 

"You are welcome to come to my house and see if there are really diamonds, gold chains and stuff like that lying around. I don't own any of these. Still, people put me in this bling-bling drawer." he said in an interview with Der Spiegel.

He added: "I have the feeling that people look at me differently than others. Apparently I provide people with material like this, even though I don't want to. So of course I have to question myself."

Sane took note of Rummenigge's criticism and has vowed to repay the faith Bayern have shown in him.

"I'm working very hard to get there [back to his best]." the former Schalke man said. "I just have to really prove myself at Bayern. 

"I know that the club is behind me, otherwise they wouldn't have taken me. I also take this criticism as an incentive."

Sane also said he has no problem with Germany coach Joachim Low after he was overlooked for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, although he described the snub as a "hard blow" to take.

"The national coach had his reasons and I always had a good relationship with him. After the World Cup he came to me and said that I should continue like this. That he believes in me. That was the end of the topic for me." Sane added.

Finally, 2020 is history - there won't be many people who aren't happy to see the back of a difficult year.

While the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of making a swift exit, the turn of the year at least gives us the chance to look forward, and the same is true in the world of sport.

2020 saw many promising young players make the step up, some undoubtedly down to the absences caused by coronavirus or the packed schedule that the pandemic has led to.

We've picked out 21 under-21 players to keep an eye on in 2021 - and while you may already be familiar with some of them, there's good reason to give them your attention this year...

 

Illan Meslier, 20 - Leeds United

Few goalkeepers can come away from a 6-2 defeat having impressed, but Meslier did so against Manchester United recently. His eight saves prevented Leeds' crushing loss from getting even more embarrassing, while only three goalkeepers have produced more in a single Premier League match this term. His total of 63 is also the second most in the division – the France Under-21 talent, who joined on a permanent deal from Lorient last year, appears to have a big future ahead of him.

Kristoffer Klaesson, 20 - Valerenga

Goalkeepers tend to break through a little later than outfield players, but Norway youth international Klaesson has already been first-choice at Valerenga for the best part of 16 months – he only turned 20 in November. Coincidentally, he could have become a team-mate of Meslier's in 2020 as Leeds were reportedly interested, but he remains in Norway for the time being.

William Saliba, 19 - Arsenal

Saliba is certainly one of the most recognisable names on this list – after all, he has been owned by Arsenal for getting on for two years. Unfortunately, he has not been afforded much of a chance by Mikel Arteta this term, which makes him an interesting prospect to watch in 2021. Either he'll eventually get an opportunity at the Gunners, or a loan move will provide him with a crack at first-team football. After a tricky 2020, he'll want to get his career back on track.

Perr Schuurs, 21 - Ajax

Given his appearance, playing style and the fact he has come through Ajax's academy, comparisons between Schuurs and Matthijs de Ligt were to be expected. He may not reach the Juventus star's level, but he has certainly shown real promise that is reportedly interesting Liverpool. Schuurs is one of the five youngest players to have featured for at least 500 minutes in this season's Champions League, while his 47 ball recoveries was the sixth highest of any player in the group stage.

Ethan Laird, 19 - Manchester United

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was supposed to fix Man United's issues at right-back, but this season his defensive positioning has been concerning and he appears to have become even less effective in attack – his chances created and open-play crosses per 90 minutes have decreased significantly. Laird has long been considered a fine prospect at United and boasts the technical abilities to be a threat in attack. If he can stay fit, chances could be in the offing.

Tariq Lamptey, 20 - Brighton and Hove Albion

Having joined Brighton last January from Chelsea, Lamptey has quickly made a name for himself as an exciting wing-back. Last year saw the diminutive talent enjoy something of a breakthrough, but in 2021 he'll be looking to truly establish himself and potentially break into the England squad. There are few more exhilarating full-backs in the Premier League – his 3.8 dribbles per game is the third most among defenders to have featured more than twice.

Nuno Mendes, 18 - Sporting CP

Sporting have a wealth of talent coming through at the moment and left-back Mendes is arguably chief among them. Blessed with fine technical abilities, the 18-year-old is apparently a target for Man United, Liverpool and Real Madrid. Already a regular having started 10 of the Primeira Liga leaders' 11 games this term, Mendes' 10 completed dribbles is the fourth-highest among defenders in the division, while his 28 interceptions is second only to team-mate Luis Neto.

Gabriel Menino, 20 - Palmeiras

An intriguing player with a well-rounded skillset, Menino has already transitioned from centre-back to defensive midfield to right-back despite his young age. It is in the latter position where he impressed enough to earn a first Brazil call-up last year and only two players have provided more than his five assists in the 2020 Brazilian Serie A.

Moises Caicedo, 19 - Independiente del Valle

The past month or so has seen Caicedo brought to the attention of a wider audience – or, more specifically, Manchester United fans. The all-action midfielder was the teenager with the most goals (four), shots attempted (24), chances created (19), successful passes (748) and dribbles completed (23) in Ecuador's top flight in 2020, while his passing accuracy of 90.1 per cent was the highest among players to attempt 500 or more.

Billy Gilmour, 19 - Chelsea

Scottish talent Gilmour had shown real promise during his 11 Chelsea appearances last season before a knee injury in July laid him low. He returned to action last month with a few cameos off the bench, and there will be plenty hoping he can return to his previous level quickly. A loan move might be on the cards, but Frank Lampard has high hopes for the crafty midfielder.

Yunus Musah, 18 - Valencia

Valencia are going through another difficult spell, with off-field matters often overshadowing on-pitch performances. Nevertheless, in United States international Musah, they appear to have a reason for optimism. Another tricky winger, Musah's 38 dribbles is the second most among Los Che players this term and he became their youngest LaLiga goalscorer (17 years, 338 days) this century when netting back in November. He's one that got away from Arsenal.

Ander Barrenetxea, 18 - Real Sociedad

A nimble right-footed left-winger, Barrenetxea broke into La Real's senior side last season with 17 appearances in LaLiga. His eight starts this term is already an increase of five on the entirety of 2019-20 and he has been using that extra time on the pitch to excite. He has attempted 41 dribbles in LaLiga, and his 56 per cent completion rate is bettered by only seven players – all of whom are much older – among those to have tried at least 40.

Bryan Gil, 19 - Eibar (on loan from Sevilla)

If Barrenetxea embodies the modern 'inverted winger' style, then Bryan is very much a wide midfielder of the classic variety. A direct touchline-hugger, the left-winger's aim is almost always to beat his man and get a cross into the box, and he is catching the eye on loan at Eibar this term. Only five wingers in LaLiga can better Bryan's 49 open-play deliveries, though his 22.5 per cent accuracy is better than all but one of those with more cross attempts. He's also tried 44 dribbles, his 52.3 per cent completion putting him close to Barrenetxea.

Jaminton Campaz, 20 - Deportes Tolima

Campaz may not be a household name yet, but a move to Europe or one of South America's leading leagues is surely not far away. The attacker, who can play wide or through the middle, is an explosive player but also productive. No younger player had more goal involvements (five goals and four assists) and chances created (32) in Colombia's top division than Campaz.

Amad Diallo, 18 - Manchester United

Although United splashed a reported £19million on Diallo, the young Ivorian remains something of an unknown quantity. A left-footed right-winger, he has only been given a handful of opportunities in Atalanta's senior side – though he has often caught the eye with his ability on the ball. Given United's lack of options on the right flank, he might just establish himself sooner than some expect – either way, he will be one to monitor.

Pedri, 18 - Barcelona

As each week passes, more and more Pedri looks to be settling into the role as Lionel Messi's heir at Barcelona, but whether he's ready to take up such a mantle as early as this year is another matter. Messi's contract ends in June and so he could well depart – taking on his creative burden would be an unenviable task for a teenager, though Pedri is proving effective. He is creating a chance every 45 minutes on average in the league this term, the third most frequent in the squad among those to have played at least five times.

Talles Magno, 18 - Vasco da Gama

Are you really a Brazilian 'wonderkid' if you've not been linked with every major European club? Talles Magno fits the bill there and it's easy to see why there's interest. His end product still needs work, but his ability to excite is considerable – the 18-year-old has completed more than twice as many dribbles (106) as any other teenager in Brazil's Serie A between 2019 and 2020.

Karim Adeyemi, 18 - Salzburg

There has been a buzz around Adeyemi for a few years now as has previously impressed scouts with Germany's youth sides and during a fruitful loan spell at Liefering. Now back at Salzburg, he looks destined to be another serious talent off the club's impressive conveyor belt. Adeyemi is the only player to have been involved in four goals in a single Austrian Bundesliga this term, scoring and getting a hat-trick of assists in the 8-2 victory over St. Polten, while he set up a goal on his league debut for the club in June. A thrilling talent with great vision and dribbling abilities, Adeyemi may get even greater responsibility in 2021 following the departure of Dominik Szoboszlai.

Marcos Leonardo, 17 - Santos

It's still early days for Marcos Leonardo, though Santos clearly rate him highly – the striker's release clause is €100m. He's already the underage player with the most minutes played (296) and goals (one) in Brazil's top division this season, while he became the sixth youngest player to net in the Copa Libertadores (17y, 173d) when scoring a winner against Defensa y Justicia.

Youssoufa Moukoko, 16 - Borussia Dortmund

There's not much that hasn't already been said about Moukoko. He became the Bundesliga's youngest ever player in November when making his debut a day after his 16th birthday, before then also setting a new record for the league's youngest goalscorer in December. New coach Edin Terzic has already given him two starts – his next target will be to break records on the international stage with Germany. He couldn't get into their Euros squad, could he?

Matias Arezo, 18 - River Plate (URU)

Stocky, technically gifted and already proving decisive in front of goal with seven goal involvements (five goals, two assists) in 15 league matches, Arezo has a lot going in his favour. Whether he has the mentality or focus to not let the 'new Luis Suarez' labels distract him remains to be seen, but he's already the youngest Uruguayan (17y, 349d) to ever score a brace in the Copa Sudamericana having done so against Atletico Nacional in November.

Lothar Matthaus has declared Joachim Low must "pack his suitcase" and leave his post if Germany fail at the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

Long-serving national coach Low has faced criticism in the wake of the 6-0 defeat to Spain in the Nations League.

Results and performances had been sketchy in the months leading up to November's humiliation in Seville which brought the team's form into sharp focus.

Matthaus, who captained West Germany to 1990 World Cup glory, is now among Germany's leading football pundits and believes Low should not be the only figure to pay the price if Die Mannschaft fail at the European Championship.

Speaking to the Suddeutsche Zeitung, Matthaus said: "If the European Championship does not go as we would like and as we can expect in view of the players, then not only Low would have to pack his suitcase but everyone who decided that he should stay.

"They too have to bear the consequences."

That would mean the senior figures at the German Football Association (DFB) who have thrown their support behind Low, stating after the Spain debacle that one match should not be used as "the benchmark" for the team's overall performance.

Matthaus, 59, contends that 60-year-old Low can no longer get across his message with the same clarity he managed earlier in his tenure.

Low led Germany to World Cup glory in 2014 but his team were eliminated in the group stage at Russia 2018, after which there was a purge of senior players, with Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels discarded. Suggestions they could be recalled have yet to come to fruition.

Matthaus said of Low: "His answers sound a bit like, 'Just let me do it - the rest of you have no idea!'. And then this indifference on the bench, especially against Spain!"

Although Low has helped to create great moments in German sport, Matthaus feels the public have had enough, saying that "the faith of the fans has been lost, and I think the DFB underestimates that".

Leon Bailey scored a brace as Bayer Leverkusen defeated TSG Hoffenheim 4-1 to move to the top of the German Bundesliga on Sunday.

Joachim Low is still the right man to lead Germany, according to Kai Havertz.

The 2014 World Cup-winning coach's tenure has come under fresh scrutiny following last month's 6-0 Nations League thrashing at the hands of Spain.

That setback came as the latest blow to Low's authority after a humbling group-stage exit when they defended their world title at Russia 2018.

The 60-year-old took charge after the 2006 World Cup, meaning it would be more than understandable for him to be running on empty, although Chelsea star Havertz - who missed the previous international break after contracting coronavirus - believes Low has plenty left to offer.

"For me personally, definitely," he told Sky Deutschland when asked about Low's suitability for his role.

"It feels like everyone is talking about it, but sometimes it goes badly in football. 

"I believe that a young team like the one we have at the moment will learn a lot from a 6-0 defeat. 

"We'll be coming back. We have a huge quality in the team."

Low's decision to jettison experienced trio Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels has also invited scrutiny, especially with the former two now excelling under his one-time assistant Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich.

"I also get the discussion with Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. For me, these are extraordinary players who have performed very well for the team," Havertz said.

"But we can't decide that, the national coach has to do that. In the end, however, we are very happy with the coach and we still have a lot to do in the future. I appeal to the patience of both the media and the fans."

Pressed on whether he would prefer to see Muller, Boateng and Hummels back in the fold, Havertz tried to remain noncommittal.

"It's not my decision. Ultimately, the coach has to clarify that with his staff. They can judge that best," he added.

"It would be wrong if I were to say something directly about it."

England will face Robert Lewandowski and Poland in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Gareth Southgate's side have been drawn in Group I, also alongside Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino.

World champions France are in Group D with Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

The Netherlands headline a tricky Group G, which also includes Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia and Gibraltar.

Croatia, the beaten finalists two years ago, are in an intriguing Group H with Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.

Spain will face Sweden, Greece, Georgia and Kosovo in Group B, with Portugal in Group A along with Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

Belgium, the world's top-ranked side, face Euro 2016 quarter-final opponents Wales, and Germany will meet Romania and Iceland.

The matches will take place from March to November next year, with the 10 group winners advancing automatically to the finals in Qatar and 10 runners-up heading into the play-offs.

World Cup 2022 UEFA qualifying draw:

Group A
Portugal
Serbia
Republic of Ireland
Luxembourg
Azerbaijan

Group B
Spain
Sweden
Greece
Georgia
Kosovo

Group C
Italy
Switzerland
Northern Ireland
Bulgaria
Lithuania

Group D
France
Ukraine
Finland
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Kazakhstan

Group E
Belgium
Wales
Czech Republic
Belarus
Estonia

Group F
Denmark
Austria
Scotland
Israel
Faroe Islands
Moldova

Group G
Netherlands
Turkey
Norway
Montenegro
Latvia
Gibraltar

Group H
Croatia
Slovakia
Russia
Slovenia
Cyprus
Malta

Group I
England
Poland
Hungary
Albania
Andorra
San Marino

Group J
Germany
Romania
Iceland
North Macedonia
Armenia
Liechtenstein

Joachim Low will do what he feels is best for Germany's hopes of Euro 2020 success when it comes to making a decision on the futures of Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels.

All three players were banished into the international wilderness by Low in March 2019 as he looked to build towards the future after Germany flopped at the 2018 World Cup, exiting in the group stage for the first time since 1938.

Attacking midfielder Muller (100 caps), plus defenders Boateng (76 caps) and Hummels (70 caps), boast 246 international caps between them and were all in the team that won the World Cup in 2014, but are now each 30 years of age.

Low reiterated last month that he would stand by his choice not to recall any of the trio, saying "nothing has changed" his opinion despite Muller enjoying a resurgence for Bayern Munich since being cast aside.

However, Low's decision has been under intense scrutiny following last month's 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain - Germany's heaviest defeat since losing to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline.

The 60-year-old was last week publicly backed by the German Football Association (DFB) to stay on until at least next year's rescheduled Euro 2020 finals and, speaking at a news conference on Monday, he backtracked on his previous comments.

"After 2018 we saw that it was a very unsuccessful year, we said we were making a change," he said. "It is important to give young players time and the opportunity to develop during a transition. 

"Like the 2010 tournament, something where the team developed. And because of the experience they have gained there, we are world champions in 2014. That was our requirement this time too. 

"A trainer is always the first to be held responsible for success. I've always said when I see before the nomination [of the squad] that this team needs this or that - then we will do that. At the moment I don't see any reason, even if we lost a game. 

"But next year we'll have to make a decision and I'll be the first to do that. It's not just sporting reasons that decide what does the best team look like, what is the energy of the team.

"But when I have the feeling, then I will do everything I can to achieve success. I have no idea what the situation will be like in March. I hope all players get through the winter well and stay healthy.

"We had a lot of injury problems. I hope that doesn't happen again. Let's think again about everything and turn every stone over. We then decide what is best for success."

Asked if he has already reached out to Bayern duo Muller and Boateng, or Borussia Dortmund centre-back Hummels, Low replied: "No, I have not."

Low has been criticised in Germany for failing to watch players up close in Bundesliga matches, but he has put his prolonged absence from grounds down to coronavirus-related protocols.

"We'd love to walk to every stadium if we could do that," he said. "It was the clear instruction to us, also from the doctors in the national team, not to go to the stadiums. On the one hand, we have international matches and we have to be in the bubble. 

"We don't want to endanger anyone and we don't want to be endangered either. It would be bad if we coaches were absent. It was clear that we were in the bubble with the national team. 

"That was also true until the end of the season, because from above - politicians also said to avoid contacts. It is a dangerous situation that, unfortunately, is not ebbing right now. We said we had a certain role model function. 

"Believe me, I know the Bundesliga like the back of my hand. We have a great team, trainers and scouts. We watch all games. We know the strengths and weaknesses of all of our players. 

"We look at the games, enter the data in our database and evaluate them. Then we also target the training in a targeted manner. But we will be role models until the end of the year and will not go to the stadiums."

Joachim Low is "immensely disappointed" at the way stories regarding his future were leaked to the press but is convinced he remains the right person to manage Germany.

World Cup-winning boss Low has been under huge pressure following last month's 6-0 Nations League humbling at the hands of Spain.

It was Germany's heaviest defeat since losing to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline and led to rumours that Low, in charge since 2006, was on his way out.

German Football Association (DFB) president Fritz Keller offered his backing to Low in the days after the loss and the governing body last week confirmed he will stay in charge.

However, reports in Germany have suggested Keller tried to convince Low to cut short his contract by a year so that a new coach could be brought in after next year's rescheduled Euro 2020.

Low broke his silence at a news conference on Monday and, while disappointed at what has been said and reported in the past few weeks, he is hopeful of now moving on.

"I would like to put one thing in the right light: I am always open to constructive criticism," he said. "So I was amazed to read and hear certain stuff after the Spain defeat.

"We were all disappointed and angry that we let the fans down in the final game of 2020. The anger is still seething inside me. We don't have the chance to correct the result. 

"As always, we immediately started looking ahead. There were also some discussions with the DFB last Monday - it wasn't possible earlier. 

"I grew up with the fact that things that are discussed internally remain internal. It has to do with trust and credibility. You can also openly express your opinion. 

"But I was very annoyed that a lot of things leaked out after the first press release - by whoever. That disappointed me immensely. 

"I also said at the meeting that there were things that had happened that disappointed me. I made it clear to Fritz Keller once again on the phone what I heard about the matter.

"There is nothing more to say about it. But that stays with me. We have spoken out and that is the end of the matter for me."

Speaking at the weekend, meanwhile, Germany team director Oliver Bierhoff revealed he held talks with Ralf Rangnick over succeeding Low as head coach.

"I'm not sure whether he actually said that or hinted at it," Low said. "He didn't speak to me personally about it. But of course it's part of his job to think about it fundamentally.

"What happens if...? What are the next steps...? That's why he doesn't have to talk to me about it. That's not a problem for me. I think that's a manager's job. 

"As Oliver always said: After the next tournament, a balance will be drawn. Then the association and also the coach have to decide whether the goals have been achieved or not. 

"So it is completely normal to take care of things that can happen in good time. This is completely understandable for me."

The DFB released a statement a week after the Spain debacle stating Low would be given "time and emotional distance" before a decision would be made on his future.

Again, though, Low was unhappy with the wording of the statement.

"There was a press release that I needed an emotional distance. That was incomprehensible to me. I've been there for a long time and have seen a lot of things. 

"I said give me a day and then I'll be available for anything. I was disappointed with that, with some things that got public. Which partly did not correspond to the truth. 

"I have once again made it very clear internally that I want unity and trust in things that are discussed internally. I made that clear."

Germany's defeat to Spain brought an end to a 12-match unbeaten run and saw them finish second in Nations League Group A4. 

But with preparations now underway for Euro 2020, and with the World Cup 2022 qualifying draw taking place on Monday, Low is readying himself for a busy period.

"I went into last week's meeting knowing the outcome could go either way - yes or no that I'd stay on. If it was to be yes, I wanted it to be with conviction. That was important.

"The defeat still hurts but as a coach you have to ask yourself 'is everything still on the right path?' For me the players want to follow this path. That is the most important thing.

"We have always experienced difficult situations. You learn to deal with it. In any case, we were very disappointed and angry after the 6-0 loss. 

"We started to initiate a change in 2019 and are absolutely convinced that we will embark on this path. We knew there would be setbacks and that was factored in from the start. 

"There is absolute trust in the players and their performance. Overall, we had a very good year in 2019. We have developed very well. In 2020 the development stopped a little. 

"We need players next year that are totally fresh, then we have great potential. If you disregard the Spain game, we are on the right track, which we are convinced of. 

"Of course we have to correct things, we also check ourselves. But we are convinced of the red line or the path we are going."

Germany team director Oliver Bierhoff has revealed he held talks with Ralf Rangnick over succeeding Joachim Low as head coach.

The World Cup winner has been under huge pressure following last month's 6-0 Nations League humbling at the hands of Spain.

It ended a 12-match unbeaten run for Germany and was their heaviest defeat since losing to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline.

The German Football Association (DFB) last week brought an end to the speculation over Low's future by throwing their support behind the 60-year-old.

But Bierhoff has eyed up alternative options should Low leave the position he has held since 2006.

"You have to be careful with words. It is an ongoing process," Bierhoff told Sky Sport. "Anyone who thinks I'll only think about alternatives after the Spain game is insane.

"Of course, you always have something in your head. Joachim is always informed about my thinking - that's my job."

Asked specifically about former RB Leipzig coach and managing director Rangnick, who has long been considered a natural successor to Low, Bierhoff said: "I also spoke with him."

Jurgen Klopp is another to have been touted as a candidate after winning the Champions League and Premier League with Liverpool.

But Bierhoff ruled out waiting for Klopp's Anfield contract to expire, saying: "There is no plan to hire Klopp in 2022."

Low guided Germany to World Cup success in 2014, four years after finishing third, and has reached a European Championship final and two semi-finals without winning the continental competition. His team also triumphed at the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he has not seen enough of Low lately, adding he must "deal more aggressively with the situation", but Bierhoff defended the coach's record in charge of Die Mannschaft.

"Low has had one bad year in 16 years," he said. "It is difficult to drive development under the current conditions. He has energy, conviction and a clear vision."

He added: "I don't see Rummenigge's statements as being that critical. Everyone has their own opinion. The important thing is that you are convinced of your path.

"The one who carries the ultimate consequences is the coach. Joachim does that. There are many examples in which the public opinion has also been different.

"Our team is inexperienced and needs time. Our greatest talent, Kai Havertz, has played only 10 international matches. 

"We need to find some regularity but that has not been possible because of so many injuries.

"Other teams, like the Netherlands, have needed six years to redevelop their side - they missed two tournaments while doing it."

Another hot topic of debate surrounding the Germany national side regards the futures of Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels.

All three players were dropped by Low last year and have not been recalled since, but their fine club form and the defeat to Spain have increased scrutiny.

"Jogi has never once said the door is completely closed to them," Bierhoff said. "Nothing personal happened. There is certainly no stubbornness.

"I'm happy that they are all doing so well. Joachim will ask himself, 'Who are the players I can work with best?' It is not a matter of principle."

Thomas Muller was not thinking about the possibility of a Germany recall after helping Bayern Munich retain their place at the top of the Bundesliga.

Scrutiny of Joachim Low's decision to drop Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels from his Germany squad last year has been under intense scrutiny following their 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain in November.

Low became only the third Germany manager to concede six goals in a match after Otto Nerz and Sepp Herberger, with his team now having won just three of their past eight fixtures.

Muller has enjoyed a resurgence since being cast aside by Low, supplying a Bundesliga record 21 assists as Hansi Flick's side took the title as part of a treble in 2019-20.

The 31-year-old scored twice during Bayern's entertaining 3-3 draw with RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, salvaging a point that stopped Julian Nagelsmann's side displacing them at the summit.

Asked about a return the national team, Muller told Sky: "That's a topic that is very far away for me. I'm trying to help the team I'm on the field with.

"You can talk about it as much as you like. I'll stick with it and then we'll see what happens.

"The DFB decided [to keep Low on as coach], so all Germans have to stand behind this decision and do everything to ensure we get things going again.

"And with Joachim Low, we are going to get things going again."

After Christopher Nkunku's opener, Muller added to Jamal Musiala's equaliser to put Bayern in control against Leipzig.

However, Justin Kluivert and Emil Forsberg turned the match around again, with Muller's second in the 75th minute only enough for a point.

The Bayern forward was pleased to have scored a brace, but with only Angelino (31) surrendering possession on more occasions than him (24), he acknowledged it was not a flawless display.

"I lost too many balls today. Of course I'm happy and satisfied – you don't always score two goals," said Muller.

"We know that we can come back from behind. In the end we have to live with the draw."

All three Bayern goals were set up by Kingsley Coman, earning the winger special praise from Hansi Flick.

"There are few others in his position who have his quality," said Flick.

"We have to be satisfied [with the result]. It was important that we didn't lose. It was a wild game.

"We generally have to improve as a team. I don't criticise individual players."

Joachim Low will continue as Germany head coach after intense scrutiny over his future following the 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain.

Pressure on the World Cup-winning boss grew immeasurably following the Nations League humbling earlier this month and the German Football Association (DFB) said there would be a "timetable" to assess the "situation".

On Monday, the governing body reaffirmed its support for the 60-year-old to lay to rest any speculation his long tenure was about to come to an end.

The news follows crunch talks between Low, who has been in the job since 2006, and senior members of the DFB, including national team director Oliver Bierhoff.

"It was important for the national coach to discuss the current situation, the defeat against Spain and the months ahead of the European Championship in an open, constructive and intensive exchange," a DFB statement read. 

"In the process, Joachim Low informed those involved about his assessments, ideas and further plans. 

"The members of the Executive Committee agreed that what counts is the high-quality work of the coaching staff, the intact relationship between the team and the coach and a clear concept for the previous and future procedures. 

"A single game cannot and must not be a yardstick for the general performance of the national team and the national coach."

The reverse against Spain was Germany's heaviest defeat since they lost to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline, as Manuel Neuer, who set a new record for a German goalkeeper by winning his 96th cap, conceded six goals in a competitive game for the first time in his career.

The manner of the defeat, described by Low as "awful", was particularly concerning. Germany failed to muster a shot on target, had just 30 per cent of the possession, and Toni Kroos (43) was the only player from the visitors to have more successful passes than Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon (41).

It was their first loss of 2020, yet they won only three of eight matches this year, also drawing with Spain, Switzerland twice and Turkey.

Germany will be keen for a considerable improvement prior to next year's rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament, in which they are in a tough Group F alongside world champions France, holders Portugal and Hungary.

Joachim Low will be given "time and emotional distance" to deal with Germany's stunning defeat to Spain, but Oliver Bierhoff is leading an assessment of the national team’s future.

Pressure is building on World Cup-winning coach Low after the sensational 6-0 reverse in the Nations League last week.

It was Germany's heaviest defeat since they lost to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline, as Manuel Neuer, who set a new record for a German goalkeeper by winning his 96th cap, conceded six goals in a competitive game for the first time in his career.

The manner of the defeat, described by Low as "awful", was particularly concerning. Germany failed to muster a shot on target, had just 30 per cent of the possession, and Toni Kroos (43) was the only player from the visitors to have more successful passes than Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon (41).

It was their first loss of 2020, yet they won only three of their eight matches in Group A4, also drawing with Spain, Switzerland twice and Turkey.

German Football Association (DFB) president Fritz Keller offered Low his support in the aftermath of the shock result in Seville, as did team director Bierhoff.

However, the DFB announced on Monday a "timetable" to assess the "situation" of the national team following the defeat.

"The DFB presidential board has unanimously agreed on a timetable to gather information, evaluate it and advise on next steps," a statement read.

"This also gives the national team head coach enough time and emotional distance to fundamentally review the national side's current situation.

"In sporting terms, to analyse the causes of the heavy defeat in Sevilla, but also, personally, to come to terms with the great disappointment. That's part of the process.

"When the presidential board meets on December 4, Oliver Bierhoff, the team director, will provide an overview and assessment of the current situation regarding the national side.

"That will include lessons learned from the loss against Spain, as well as the side's overall development in the last two years.

"The DFB will provide more information at that time about the results of the discussions and next steps."

Low has been in charge since 2006, finishing third at the 2010 World Cup before claiming the title four years later.

At the European Championships, Germany reached the final in 2008 and the semi-finals in 2012 and 2016.

However, although victory at the Confederations Cup in 2017 – where Low named a scratch squad – and the European Under-21 Championship in the same year hinted at an era of dominance, subsequent results have been less impressive.

The defending champions crashed out of the 2018 World Cup at the group stage and would then have been relegated in the inaugural Nations League but for a change of format.

They missed out on the Finals again due to the defeat to Spain, when only a draw was required to advance.

At next year's delayed Euro 2020, Germany have been drawn into a daunting group alongside world champions France, European champions Portugal and Hungary.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was last week asked about the possibility of replacing Low. "In the future? Maybe," he replied. "Now? No."

Jurgen Klopp welcomed the news Pep Guardiola has committed his future to Manchester City, but the Liverpool manager is wary of challenges from elsewhere in the Premier League.

Liverpool and City have been England's two leading teams in recent seasons, with Guardiola's men winning consecutive titles before the Reds - narrowly beaten in 2018-19 - took their crown last term.

That battle is set to continue, even with both sides facing problems, after the City manager signed a new two-year contract at the Etihad Stadium.

Klopp is looking forward to further tussles with the Catalan coach, yet he does not see a two-horse race resuming at the top of the table.

"I'm happy about Pep signing the new contract, but I'm a little bit afraid that it will be Guardiola versus Klopp, or something like that, over the next few years," Klopp said.

"Because it looks like Frank [Lampard] and Chelsea are building a proper team there, Manchester United will not stay without trying and Arsenal will do the same.

"Tottenham look really dangerous this year, Leicester are already really good and 100 per cent Wolves, too, because I see the development and watch a lot of football.

"I see the stats they are making, that's a threat for all of us. [But] I'm happy that Pep stayed with me for longer."

Klopp's future is similarly secure, despite a potential opening with the Germany national team, where pressure is building on Joachim Low after a sensational 6-0 defeat to Spain.

It is a role that interests the Liverpool boss - just not yet.

"Wow! This is one of the questions I have answered most often in my life," Klopp said when asked about coaching his country. "In the future? Maybe. Now? No.

"I have no time for it; I have a job. I'm not sure if anyone has asked for me, or after me, in public, but if they don't know, I have a job here at Liverpool.

"I am responsible for a lot of things here, so I will not go and search for another challenge out there. I have enough challenges after waking up in the morning, so that's enough."

Hansi Flick once again rejected questions about the possibility of him taking over as Germany coach in the wake of their humiliating UEFA Nations League loss to Spain.

Germany were thumped 6-0 by La Roja on Tuesday, Joachim Low's men suffering Die Mannschaft's heaviest defeat since they lost to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline.

The result has piled further pressure on Low, who has overseen just three wins in eight games in 2020.

Last month, following a 3-3 draw with Switzerland, Bayern Munich boss Flick incredulously dismissed a question about him potentially coaching Germany in addition to his duties with the Bundesliga champions.

Ahead of Saturday's game with Werder Bremen, Flick - assistant to Low when Germany won the 2014 World Cup - was again asked about the chances of him taking over the national team one day.

He told a media conference: "Obviously I watched the game, I think I felt the same way everyone did, like you all did.

"I was disappointed with the way we played football, on the other hand, these things are possible in football, sometimes you get run over and, in the end, you have to draw the right conclusions but that's not my job.

"You know that I live in the here and now, which is why those are things that are too far away from me to even consider."

Former Germany international Jerome Boateng and Austria's David Alaba are both out of contract at the end of this season.

Reports say Bayern have decided against offering Boateng a new deal.

"He's a player of Bayern Munich," Flick said of Boateng. "He's showed outstanding performances for years, he won the treble for the second time so we don't need to talk about Jerome Boateng's quality here.

"We are always talking, I talk to the players, I talk to the officials, I talk to [sporting director] Hasan [Salihamidzic] all the time and of course you're always thinking about the future.

"Both players [Boateng and Alaba] are part of this season, we have a huge schedule ahead of us, they're part of our team, my plan is they are 100 per cent going to be a part of the Bayern team."

Sergio Ramos is expected to miss at least three games for Real Madrid after the club confirmed he has suffered a hamstring strain.

While Madrid did not specify how long they will be without their captain, reports in the Spanish media claimed he will not be available again in November.

Zinedine Zidane's side are due to face Villarreal in LaLiga on Saturday, with a clash against Deportivo Alaves following a Champions League trip to Inter on Wednesday.

Ramos was forced off with the injury in the first half of Spain's 6-0 triumph over Germany in the Nations League on Tuesday.

A Madrid statement released on Thursday read: "After the tests carried out today on Sergio Ramos by the Real Madrid medical department, the player has been diagnosed with a strained hamstring in his right leg. His recovery will continue to be assessed."

Zidane will also have concerns over Raphael Varane after the centre-back went off at half-time in France's 4-2 victory against Sweden.

Madrid's defensive options are not expected to be depleted entirely, however, with Eder Militao (coronavirus) and Nacho Fernandez (knee) set to return for the trip to Estadio de la Ceramica.

Los Blancos have played 115 LaLiga games without Ramos since he signed from Sevilla in August 2005 and have only lost 10 of those.

Their win percentage when he does not feature is 78.3 per cent, compared to 67.1 across his 462 appearances in the top flight.

Madrid have lost two of their past four LaLiga games, as many as in their previous 33 matches in the competition, and they will be looking to stop Villarreal making it seven unbeaten in the league, which would represent their best run since October 2016.

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