Jens Lehmann has been sacked by Hertha Berlin after a racist message he sent to a television pundit was revealed on social media.

The ex-Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper replaced Jurgen Klinsmann on the Bundesliga club's supervisory board in May 2020.

But Lehmann has left his position with Hertha for comments made regarding fellow former Germany international Dennis Aogo, who works for Sky Sports.

Lehmann appeared to accidentally send a WhatsApp text to Aogo, who posted a screenshot of the image via Instagram and captioned it: "Wow, are you serious? This message was probably not meant for me."

Hertha parted company with Lehmann on Wednesday and president Werner Gegenbauer said: "Such statements are in no way representative of the values that Hertha stands for. 

"We distance ourselves from all forms of racism and welcome the action taken by TENNOR Holding."

Lehmann, who also represented Schalke, Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart during his playing career, has issued an apology to Aogo.

"In a private message from my mobile phone to Dennis Aogo, an impression was created for which I apologised in conversation with Dennis," he posted on Twitter. 

"As a former national player he is very knowledgeable and has a great presence and drives ratings to Sky."

Hertha Berlin have requested three matches be postponed due to being forced into 14-day quarantine as a result of COVID-19 cases within the Bundesliga club.

Hertha have asked to delay scheduled fixtures against Mainz (April 18), Frieburg (April 21) and Schalke (April 24) after left-back Marvin Plattenhardt tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday. 

Head coach Pal Dardai, assistant coach Admir Hamzagic and striker Dodi Lukebakio had positive tests earlier in the day, prompting the German club to implement the two-week quarantine. 

Hertha initially had planned to play their matches during that period but the additional positive test to Plattenhardt prompted the plea to push them back.

"Due to the cases that have occurred, we are now forced to a 14-day quarantine at home," said sporting director Arne Friedrich, who took charge of training on Thursday with Dardai out.

"From a health point of view, this is absolutely the right step. because we now have to play six Bundesliga games by the end of the season on May 22, 2021 in the fight to stay relegated in May. 

"During the quarantine at home, the team will keep fit with virtual training units under the guidance of the coaching team. 

"We accept the situation despite the difficult circumstances and will throw everything in our power for a successful season finale into the balance."

There was no immediate response from the German Football League (DFL), which had announced new dates for several 2.Bundesliga matches that had been postponed due to coronavirus cases. 

Hertha sit just outside the relegation play-off place on goal difference ahead of fellow strugglers Arminia Bielefeld, while the capital club are three points clear of the automatic relegation positions with six games remaining.

 

Hertha Berlin sacked goalkeeping coach Zsolt Petry following comments he made in an interview regarding immigration and LGBTQ+ people.

Petry, who has spent six years with the Bundesliga club, was quoted as telling Magyar Nemzet that immigration in Europe was causing the "moral degradation" of a "Christian continent".

He also questioned why RB Leipzig and Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi had spoken publicly in support of LGBTQ+ rights, saying that, while entitled to express his views, "the majority of Hungarian society does not agree with Peter Gulacsi's liberal opinion on 'rainbow' families".

Hertha confirmed on Tuesday that Petry had been dismissed with immediate effect. Magyar Nemzet described it as "shocking" that the 54-year-old had been punished for a "political opinion".

"Hertha BSC signed the Diversity Charta for German companies and actively promote values such as diversity and tolerance, because these values are important to us. The remarks made by Zsolt Petry as a club employee in the public eye do not respect these values," the club said in a statement.

CEO Carsten Schmidt said: "Zsolt Petry's work over the years at Hertha BSC has always been greatly appreciated. He was always open, tolerant and prepared to help. He never acted in a homophobic or xenophobic way.

"Even taking into account the finer details regarding the translation of his remarks, and the fact that several of Zsolt's remarks from the interview were left out of the publication without consultation, we ultimately concluded that the remarks on the whole do not comply with Hertha BSC's values. We thank Zsolt Petry for his work with the club and wish him all the best for the future."

Petry stated: "I would like to stress that I am not homophobic or xenophobic. I deeply regret my comments about immigration politics and would like to apologise to all those seeking refuge here who I have insulted. I enjoyed working for Hertha BSC and respect their decision. I wish everyone at the club all the best for the future."

Following the interview, Magyar Nemzet published a brief notice saying Petry had asked them to "express his position in a more nuanced way on certain issues", stressing that he "respects the opinion of Peter Gulacsi to the maximum" and "did not discriminate" against LGBTQ+ families.

Matteo Guendouzi insists his Arsenal career is not over and he wants to fight his way back into Mikel Arteta's plans next season.

Guendouzi, 21, has been on loan with Hertha Berlin since last October where he has made 19 appearances for the Bundesliga club.

The French midfielder was a regular starter with the Gunners under previous boss Unai Emery but failed to make an appearance for Arteta's side in the opening weeks of the season prior to securing a temporary move away.

When asked if his Arsenal career was over due to an apparently strained relationship with Arteta, Guendouzi was emphatic in his response.

"No, not at all," he told France Football.

"I am focused on my season at Hertha Berlin. Then, we will make a point with my agent and the people of the club to sit down and discuss the future. I am still an Arsenal player."

Guendouzi joined Arsenal from Lorient in 2018 and has made 57 Premier League appearances for the Gunners, registering just one assist and no goals in the competition.

In those games he attempted a total of 75 tackles, the third-most among Arsenal players across 2018-19 and 2019-20, while his 263 duel wins over the same period was only bettered by four of his team-mates.

His contract with Arsenal expires at the end of next season and he acknowledged his long-term future will be at stake when he returns to the Gunners.

"This summer will be a decisive moment," he added.

"Could I come back to the club with Mikel Arteta on the bench as coach? Yes, of course. I will be with Arsenal for another year.

"I am here to move forward. When I played for Arsenal, I have always given everything for this club, for these fans, for the team, for the staff. I will work hard for the jersey as usual."

RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann insisted his side must "stay on the gas pedal" despite closing within two points of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

Leipzig defeated Hertha Berlin 2-0 on the road on Sunday, capitalising on leaders Bayern's 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Bayern also dropped points last week following their return from the Club World Cup in Qatar, drawing 3-3 with Arminia Bielefeld, meaning the margin at the top has been cut from seven to two points within a week, offering renewed title hope for Naglesmann's side.

However, the 33-year-old German maintained the hard work has only just begun for Leipzig, who have finished the past two Bundesliga seasons in third position.

"It's nice to get closer [to Bayern]," Nagelsmann said. "It used to be a seven-point-gap at one point. My team's reaction impressed me a lot… We have to remain focused and try winning our games.

"I think I said at the beginning of the season that February and March will become harder for the teams, as the impact of the Corona pandemic needs to be overcome in the right way.

"There are a lot of games and we need to stay on the gas pedal, and we did that in today's 90 minutes, as we did in the previous Bundesliga games.

"A lot of good teams are coming up now, with [Borussia Monchengladbach] Gladbach on the weekend, which will be a challenge. But we want to keep being successful in the Bundesliga and winning the games should speak for us."

RB Leipzig believe they are now in a Bundesliga title "duel" with Bayern Munich after closing the gap to two points with another win, this time at Hertha Berlin. 

With a draw at home to Arminia Bielefeld and then defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern have dropped five points this week since returning from the Club World Cup in Qatar. 

Those setbacks granted Leipzig an opportunity to re-enter a title race that had looked to be over - and Julian Nagelsmann's side capitalised with a 3-0 success at Hertha on Sunday. 

Leipzig have won all five of their Bundesliga away games against Hertha, although they only pulled clear of their hosts in the closing stages. 

Marcel Sabitzer's sublime long-range strike was all that separated the sides until the 71st minute when Nordi Mukiele added a second. 

Sabitzer and Mukiele had each committed errors leading to goals in the midweek Champions League defeat to Liverpool. 

There was then a clinching third courtesy of Willi Orban, moving Leipzig five points ahead of third-placed Wolfsburg while piling the pressure on Bayern. 

Sabitzer, who has 12 career Bundesliga goals from outside the area, albeit this was his first of 2020-21, told Sky Sport: "It was not to be expected that Bayern would drop five points.

"Now we have caught up the points, now there are only two. We are a bit clear of third place, so it's a duel. 

"It doesn't help to talk about it, we have to do it and stick with it week after week. Otherwise I can say something completely different next week and then everyone will laugh at me again." 

Nagelsmann added: "Of course, we're pleased to have moved back to within two points of Bayern. 

"Some teams behind us also picked up points, which makes the victory today even more important." 

Bayern, who have already lost twice in the Bundesliga in 2021 after a sole defeat last year, visit Leipzig on April 3.

Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez were not part of the Bayern Munich squad that departed for the Club World Cup on Friday.

Bayern caught a flight to Qatar after their 1-0 victory over Hertha Berlin, which was secured by a deflected first-half strike from Kingsley Coman.

Hansi Flick's side kept a clean sheet thanks to Manuel Neuer's seven saves but they looked vulnerable on the counterattack with Joshua Kimmich anchoring the midfield alone at the Olympiastadion.

Goretzka and Martinez were absent following positive coronavirus tests and they did not travel to Doha with their team-mates.

"We have to look from day to day how things are going for both of them," Flick said.

"Leon is looking a little better, Javi will probably not make it. If not for the first game, then maybe for the second."

Bayern take on Al Ahly on Monday and will contest either the third-place play-off or the final against Palmeiras or Tigres UANL three days later.

The European champions left Germany after opening a 10-point advantage at the Bundesliga summit, though a missed penalty from Robert Lewandowski in the first half against Hertha meant the match was tighter than expected.

"You could tell it would be fiercely contested. Pal Dardai's team fight for every square centimetre," Thomas Muller, who set up Coman to become the first player to reach double figures for goals and assists in the Bundesliga this season, told DAZN.

"We should definitely have scored one or two more goals, so it was a close run thing in the end.

"You can't celebrate in every game. What is striking is that the clean sheet is becoming more and more common."

Kingsley Coman's deflected goal gave Bayern Munich a 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin in their final Bundesliga outing before the Club World Cup.

Amid heavy snowfall at the Olympiastadion, Coman scored in the 21st minute after the returning Rune Jarstein – making his first league appearance since June – became just the second Bundesliga goalkeeper to save a penalty from Robert Lewandowski.

Dodi Lukebakio and Krzysztof Piatek had chances for Hertha in Pal Dardai's first home game since taking over as head coach for a second time but Bayern held on for the win.

Hansi Flick's side consequently opened up a 10-point lead at the summit over RB Leipzig, who face bottom side Schalke on Saturday.

Manuel Neuer did well to keep out Lukebakio and Jarstein matched him by denying Leroy Sane, but he tripped the former Manchester City winger to concede an early penalty.

Lewandowski was unable to score from the spot, though, as his run of 16 straight converted penalties in all competitions ended with a redeeming moment for Jarstein.

However, there was nothing the Hertha keeper could do when Coman's shot from just outside the box deflected off Niklas Stark and looped into the back of the net.

Lewandowski was denied by Jarstein before World Cup winner Sami Khedira came off the bench to make his Hertha debut.

Matheus Cunha had a chance to snatch a point for the hosts when he was released by Matteo Guendouzi in the 89th minute but his dink over Neuer drifted just wide.


What does it mean? Bayern show vulnerability

With Javi Martinez and Leon Goretzka absent following positive COVID-19 tests, Joshua Kimmich anchored the midfield alone behind a quartet of Coman, Sane, Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry while Corentin Tolisso, Marc Roca and Jamal Musiala sat on the bench.

Unsurprisingly that left Flick's side vulnerable on the counter-attack and Neuer was forced to make five saves in the first half of a Bundesliga game for just the second time in his Bayern career.

Hertha were unable to take their chances and Flick will likely have his experienced options available again when they return to Bundesliga duty against Arminia Bielefeld a week on Monday.

No beating Neuer

Things could have been very different had Neuer not got a foot to Lukebakio's third-minute effort. The Germany international made seven saves in total to record his 16th Bundesliga clean sheet against Hertha – a record for any goalkeeper against one particular opponent, having surpassed Oliver Reck's 15 against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Lewandowski runs end

After scoring in nine successive Bundesliga matchdays, Lewandowski failed to find the back of the net against Hertha despite taking a penalty. He was also unable to extend his record run of scoring in eight consecutive top-flight away matches.

What's next?

Bayern go from the snow of Berlin to the sun of Qatar with a Club World Cup semi-final meeting with Al Ahly on Monday. Hertha will look to end their six-game winless run at Stuttgart on Saturday week.

Bayern Munich are still waiting on Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez to return negative coronavirus tests so they can resume first-team duties.

The midfield duo are set to be absent once again for Friday's Bundesliga match at Hertha Berlin after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

Speaking at a pre-match news conference, head coach Hansi Flick confirmed Martinez's spell of self-isolation is set to end on Wednesday, with Goretzka having to wait until Friday.

After the Hertha game, European champions Bayern will fly to Qatar to commence their Club World Cup campaign.

"With Javi and Leon it is the case that we do a test after the quarantine, I can't comment on that because I don't have the results," he said.

"Javi has to take the test and then it will be determined if he still has the virus in his body. We have to wait from day to day.

"We also know with Leon that it takes a few days longer. He also has to be tested, everything will depend on that."

With or without Goretzka and Martinez, Flick conceded the Club World Cup will place an additional strain upon Bayern within an already condensed schedule.

"Qatar is very stressful, we have the flight and the games on Mondays and Thursdays. It was clear to us that we would not have time for proper training," he said.

"The team, coaching team and club want to win the next title, we all know that it is not easy.

"In addition to getting some vitamin D [sunshine], it is also a change from everyday life, even if the journey is dangerous.

"We want the sixth title in a year, the team would make history."

Flick had some words of encouragement for Niklas Sule, the defender who has only started two of Bayern's past six Bundesliga matches and was recently linked with a move to Chelsea.

"Niklas is an absolute option, whether in the centre or full-back position," he said of the Germany international, who suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament last season.

"He did well at Schalke [last month's 4-0 win where Sule played at right-back]. Don't forget that he had a long injury.

"Niklas is a fast player who is serene on the ball and helps shape the game from behind. Given his size, he has absolute strength and I'm glad he's on our team.

"We will see how everything develops and how he sees his future. I am satisfied with his development, you can rely on him."

Sami Khedira is not intending to make himself "the big boss and the big saviour" of Hertha Berlin following his arrival from Juventus.

World Cup-winning midfielder Khedira joined Hertha on deadline day after being frozen out at Juve – he did not make a single appearance in a matchday squad under Andrea Pirlo.

Hertha sit 15th in the Bundesliga and are only outside the relegation play-off spot on goal difference, with Pal Dardai replacing Bruno Labbadia as head coach last week.

Khedira hopes to use his experience to steer the club away from the bottom three, though he has no intention of being an overbearing presence in the dressing room.

He told reporters: "I'm not coming here and saying, 'I'm the big boss.' I'm a normal man on the team.

"There are players who have more to say, that's in my nature a bit. But I'm a normal footballer who wants to do my part here.

"I want to bring in my experience and make clear statements. But I haven't come here to portray myself as the big boss and the big saviour. I'm part of the team."

Despite having played just 30 minutes of football since the 2019-20 season was suspended in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, Khedira assured he is ready to get straight down to work.

"I'm 100 per cent fit," said Khedira. "When you train with world-class players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Giorgio Chiellini and Alex Sandro, you are always challenged.

"I left [Juventus] as I arrived: with a laugh. I spent five and a half fantastic years there. But now it's Hertha."

Khedira has an agreement with Hertha until the end of the season but is not ruling out staying beyond that.

"We've come to an agreement to work together until the end of the season. That doesn't mean that it will definitely end there, though," he said.

"There's huge trust between me and [sporting director] Arne Friedrich, so we don't need a piece of paper binding us together."

Liverpool's need for defensive reinforcements was always likely to dominate the headlines on transfer deadline day and so it proved as the Premier League champions made two late signings.

Centre-back Ben Davies arrived from Preston North End, while Liverpool made a further addition to the heart of their backline with the loan signing of Ozan Kabak from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke until the end of the season.

Those signings came on a day that saw Joel Matip ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees and Liverpool were forced to play Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Phillips at centre-back in Sunday's win at West Ham.

Heading for the Anfield exit door is Takumi Minamino, the forward moving to Southampton on a six-month loan deal having only joined Liverpool last January.

It came after Southampton loaned veteran Shane Long to promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth.

Bournemouth also sanctioned the departure of Joshua King to Everton for a nominal fee until the end of the season.

There were outgoings at Arsenal as well, with Shkodran Mustafi signing for Schalke on a short-term deal and Joe Willock going on loan to Newcastle United, who let DeAndre Yedlin leave for Galatasaray.

Arsenal also sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles to West Brom on loan.

Turkish giants Galatasaray acquired Gedson Fernandes on a temporary deal from Benfica following an unsuccessful stint at Tottenham.

In Serie A, Parma landed Bayern Munich's teenage forward Joshua Zirkzee in a loan deal that contains the option to sign the 19-year-old permanently.

Atalanta are firmly in contention for a top-four finish in Serie A and bolstered their ranks for that push with the capture of Ukraine midfielder Viktor Kovalenko from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Roma can afford to have hopes of a title challenge and brought in teenage full-back Bryan Reynolds from MLS outfit Dallas on an initial loan deal, with an obligation to buy, to help them.

Frozen out at Juventus, midfielder Sami Khedira is back in the Bundesliga following a switch to Hertha Berlin, but one of European football's most exciting talents is heading to Italy after Udinese signed Jayden Braaf on loan from Manchester City with an option to buy.

Elsewhere, Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny joined Celtic on loan for the rest of the season, Brighton and Hove Albion signed highly rated midfielder Moises Caicedo from Independiente del Valle, West Brom loaned Okay Yokuslu from Celta Vigo and defender Teden Mengi moved from Manchester United to Wayne Rooney's Derby County on a temporary basis.

Sami Khedira hopes to repay Hertha Berlin for bringing him back to the Bundesliga by helping the club enjoy success on the pitch. 

The German midfielder has returned to his homeland to try and kick-start his career having been frozen out at Juventus this season. 

Khedira won five Serie A titles during his time with Juve but featured sparingly across the previous two campaigns as he was hampered by injury issues.

However, the 33-year-old – who was part of the Germany squad that won the 2014 World Cup – insists he is fit and ready to get back playing again with Hertha, who have struggled so far this term. 

"Hertha made great efforts to sign me and offered me the opportunity to return to the Bundesliga," Khedira said. 

"I'm grateful for that and I honestly cannot wait for the moment when I'll be wearing the blue and white shirt on the pitch for the first time. 

"I feel great physically would like to use the experience I have gained in recent years to help the team and lead Hertha to more sporting success."

Khedira won the Bundesliga with Stuttgart in 2006-07 and also had domestic and European success during his time with Real Madrid, including lifting the Champions League trophy in 2014. 

Now, though, he has joined a Hertha side that sit just above the relegation places. They recently made a coaching change, bringing back former boss Pal Dardai to try and improve their fortunes. 

"Sami Khedira is a successful leader on the pitch and a name that is recognised around the world. I am delighted that we have been able to bring him to Hertha BSC," said Hertha CEO Carsten Schmidt. 

"I am convinced that with his personality on and off the pitch, he will give our young team the stability it needs to be successful."

As well as Khedira, Hertha also confirmed the arrival of winger Nemanja Radonjic from Marseille on deadline day, initially on loan for the rest of the season but with an option to buy. 

Sami Khedira is in talks with Hertha Berlin over a return to the Bundesliga, the German club's chief executive has confirmed.

Juventus midfielder Khedira is expected to leave the Serie A champions before the transfer window closes on Monday.

The contract extension the World Cup winner signed in 2018 is up at the end of the season, but he is set to depart early having failed to appear in a single matchday squad for Juve this term.

Khedira initially had a big impact after joining the Turin club in 2015, scoring 19 goals in 77 games across three successive title-winning Serie A campaigns.

He has since played just 22 times in the competition, suffering with injuries and falling out of favour entirely under rookie coach Andrea Pirlo.

Khedira spoke of a potential move to the Premier League ahead of January, but Berlin and Hertha – 14th in the Bundesliga – now appears his most likely destination.

Hertha CEO Carsten Schmidt told Sky Sport: "Yes, we are having talks with Sami Khedira. I can confirm that. I also spoke to him on the phone.

"We are dealing with it, but there are still a few things to be clarified, of course. We still have many questions to answer."

But Schmidt would not comment on Hertha's reported interest in Werder Bremen attacker Milot Rashica.

Rashica has been hindered by knee and thigh problems this season, playing just 379 minutes in all competitions and failing to score. He has provided a single assist from five chances created.

Pal Dardai had no doubts about stepping back up to coach Hertha Berlin again following his appointment on a deal that runs until the end of the 2021-22 season. 

Having played for the club between 1997 and 2012, the former Hungary international was head coach from 2015 through to 2019. 

Since then, Ante Covic, Jurgen Klinsmann and, most recently, Bruno Labbadia have been in charge, the latter fired - along with sports director Michael Preetz - following Saturday's 4-1 home loss to Werder Bremen that left Hertha down in 14th position in the Bundesliga table. 

The club have moved quickly to find a replacement, returning to a familiar face by promoting Dardai, who had been working in the academy. 

"It certainly wasn't my plan to move from the under-16s back to being first team coach, but nobody needs telling what Hertha means to me, so there was no doubt in my mind that I would be ready to help out in this situation," Dardai said.  

"I am looking forward to the challenge and working together with the team."

Dardai's former assistants Andreas Neuendorf and Admir Hamzagic have also returned to their previous roles, joining fitness coaches Henrik Kuchno and Hendrik Vieth, plus goalkeeping coach Zsolt Petry, on a new-look staff. 

Hertha - who are winless in four games, scoring just once during that run - are next in action on Saturday, travelling to in-form Eintracht Frankfurt.

Hertha Berlin have sacked head coach Bruno Labbadia and general manager Michael Preetz following a poor run of form.

Saturday's 4-1 home loss to fellow strugglers Werder Bremen proved to be the final game in charge for Labbadia, who was only appointed nine months ago.

Labbadia guided Hertha from 13th to 10th upon taking over from Jurgen Klinsmann last season but the Old Lady have failed to push on this term.

They have lost three of their previous four games and have won just four of their 18 league matches all season.

With the capital club only two points above the relegation play-off spot having played a game more than 16th-place Cologne, the board has now taken action.

Hertha confirmed the news on their official website on Sunday, with chairman Carsten Schmidt concerned about his side's slide down the division.

"Week in, week out, Bruno and his coaching staff have invested a lot of hard work into the team's development and we would like to thank him greatly for that," Schmidt said. 

"Ultimately, however, the return of 17 points from 18 games leaves us in a very precarious situation. 

"After much deliberation, we feel that a change of head coach can give the team fresh impetus. We will clarify his successor as head coach in the coming days."

Preetz has spent close to a quarter of a century at Hertha, including the past 12 years as part of the management staff.

Sporting director Arne Friedrich will take over Preetz's duties until the end of the campaign, when a permanent replacement will be announced.

President Werner Gegenbauer said: "Hertha have a lot to thank Michael Preetz for. During his time here, he has established Hertha as a Bundesliga club.

"But looking at the development both in the last campaign and the current one, we have decided to take a different direction for his role in the future. 

"Nevertheless, I want to express my sincerest thanks to Michael Preetz for his fine work for so many years."

Hertha were among the biggest spenders in European football in 2020, bringing in the likes of Krzysztof Piatek, Matheus Cunha and Lucas Tousart.

Piatek and Cunha have scored a combined 19 goals in 60 Bundesliga appearances since arriving in January last year, with the latter responsible for 11 of those goals.

While their big-name forwards have failed to fire, Hertha have also struggled defensively. Only bottom-two sides Mainz (38) and Schalke (44) have conceded more than their 32 goals in 2020-21.

Hertha's next permanent head coach will be their fifth in the past two years with Pal Dardai, Ante Covic, Klinsmann and now Labbadia having departed since June 2019.

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