Virgil van Dijk is the best centre-back in world football according to Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng.

Former Germany international Boateng has enjoyed a renaissance at Bayern this season, impressing alongside David Alaba at the heart of defence after Hansi Flick replaced Niko Kovac as head coach to guide the Bavarian giants to an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title.

But he feels Van Dijk, now himself a top-flight champion after Liverpool clinched Premier League glory on Thursday, stands apart among the elite.

"He is up there with his consistent performance," Boateng said during a Bayern 'Fan-Talk'.

"But I also like [Kalidou] Koulibaly from Napoli. [Sergio] Ramos from Real Madrid has been playing at a high level for a long time."

As for his own upturn, the 31-year-old Boateng is keen to give plenty of credit to Flick.

"Since Hansi Flick became coach, you feel good in training and in everything. The fun and good mood are back," he explained.

"Hansi is very special, otherwise he would not be so successful with the team.

"He gives us a lot of trust, everyone. He wants to improve everyone and he does that. He gives us an incredible amount of self-confidence."

Thiago Alcantara, David Alaba and Jerome Boateng are yet to sign new contracts that will keep them at Bayern Munich beyond next year, but Hansi Flick wants them all to remain.

Speculation has swirled around numerous key Bayern players in recent times, with several having contracts that expire at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Reports have suggested Thiago has been in talks with the club regarding a new deal, but that Bayern are growing frustrated by the Spaniard's prolonged silence.

That has led to suggestions Thiago might be looking for a way out, and if his desire is to leave, Bayern will have to offload him in the coming months or risk losing him on a free transfer next year.

As for Boateng, the experienced central defender also has a season left on his current terms, and despite enjoying an impressive resurgence under Flick, Paris Saint-Germain and Hertha Berlin – his first club – have been mooted as potential destinations.

Alaba finds himself in a similar position with his contract, but Flick reiterated a preference for the trio to stay with the Bundesliga champions.

"Thiago is an exceptional player, an excellent football player," he told reporters on Friday. "He brings every team a great level of play and is very intelligent.

"I would like him to stay here. He and the club know that. I want him and Alaba to help us next year.

"We are in good spirits that it can work out, but in sport you never know how it will turn out. Both players are top, top players.

"David and Jerome are doing very well, he [Boateng] is in a very good shape. That is the basis that we are defensively so good.

"It is clear that you want to have such experienced players in your own ranks. I cannot say what thoughts Jerome has. He's at a certain age, maybe he wants another challenge by switching. He has another year of contract. If he stays, I'm not sad."

Flick also wants Bayern's loan players, such as Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho, to remain at least until the end of the latter stages of the Champions League, which will take place in August.

But he accepts both could have to return to their parent clubs, Inter and Barcelona, respectively.

"We are in an exchange, but it is still too early to talk about departures," he said. "We have three games left, then there is a short break, then there is the Champions League.

"We want to play the Champions League as we started the season and have finished. I want the loan players to stay there, but the clubs have to negotiate."

Jerome Boateng is planning for his future at Bayern Munich rather than scoping out the possible next stops in his career - and he gives Hansi Flick all the credit. 

The defender had been toying with a move away from the Allianz Arena before Flick stepped in to replace previous head coach Niko Kovac in November. 

His contract runs to the end of the 2020-21 season, and the 31-year-old feels reassured about his Bayern career after being a mainstay of Flick's team. 

That was not always the case under Kovac, but the change has not only lit a flame under Bayern but sent confidence surging through Boateng. 

"Before Hansi Flick, I was already thinking about my future. At the moment, I feel good and can imagine that I will stay," Boateng told Welt am Sonntag. 

Boateng has been at Bayern since arriving from Manchester City in 2011. 

He added: "I need the trust of the coach and his coaching team. I have it again. 

"Even before the time with Hansi Flick, I trained well and hard, but was not allowed to play and never had the chance to get into my rhythm. 

"It is difficult for every player. Hansi Flick told me right from the start that he was planning with me and appreciated my qualities. Now I'm really enjoying football again." 

Bayern Munich's record signing Lucas Hernandez will have to wait for his chance because coach Hansi Flick prefers a settled back four.

France international Hernandez was signed from Atletico Madrid for €80million prior to this season, but the World Cup-winning defender has started just seven Bundesliga games.

Knee and ankle injuries have not helped the 24-year-old's cause, though he has been an unused substitute in the previous three Bundesliga games either side of the break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic.

David Alaba, who has been converted to a centre-back because of injuries, and Jerome Boateng have instead been at the heart of Flick's defence, with Niklas Sule also sidelined at the moment.

"David and Jerome have shown excellent performances in central defence," Flick told a news conference. 

"We have the best defence in the league. Of course, Lucas is plagued by injuries. Now it is important that he shows excellent performance in training.

"I am very satisfied with his mentality, he gives always 100 per cent.

"But it is also clear that if a chain of four works well, you as a coach rely on this security. But it is clear that we need every player in our squad."

It had looked like Boateng's days in Bavaria were numbered, but Flick's appointment, initially on an interim basis in November, means he is now very much back in favour.

The 31-year-old has a contract that runs until 2021 and, having stated he believes he will fulfil that deal, Flick has praised the defender.

"He still has a year [left on his] contract, it is his decision," Flick added.

"Jerome was a German international and has now shown that he can show performance at this high level.

"He is physically fitter and has created the conditions that he currently has a regular place here. I like to work with him and he's doing very well right now."

Bayern begin the 27th round of Bundesliga fixtures with a four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund, who they will play next week after hosting Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Manuel Neuer's new contract at Bayern Munich means another club great will be on hand to try and shape the Hansi Flick era.

Former Germany assistant Flick took on his full-time post as head coach at the start of April, after impressing as an interim replacement for Niko Kovac.

The club then moved quickly to secure Thomas Muller until 2023, with the versatile forward enjoying a resurgent campaign at the Allianz Arena - contributing six goals and 16 assists in 26 Bundesliga games.

Despite playing down suggestions his own new deal was imminent following last weekend's 2-0 win at Union Berlin, Neuer has now joined Muller in committing until the end of 2022-23.

The 34-year-old appears ready to face a potential battle for his first-team place, with Alexander Nubel poised to make the same move from Schalke that he made almost a decade ago, although an 11th clean sheet of season last time out suggests he still has plenty to offer.

Bayern must now turn their attention towards the expiring contract status of four more global stars and decide whether they have a part to play in Flick's vision, while also considering how the post-coronavirus transfer market might play out.

DAVID ALABA

The lavishly gifted Austria international has flourished under Flick, stepping effortlessly into the heart of defence following injuries to Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez.

The 27-year-old has started each of Bayern's past 17 Bundesliga matches and has no shortage of admirers.

Amid reports of him being unsettled in Bavaria, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City have all been linked with his services of late.

JEROME BOATENG

In many ways, the exemplar of Bayern's renaissance under Flick. The former Germany defender played 13 of 26 matches at the start of the season.

Since Germany's winter break, he has started 10 games, performing with his customary assurance and recording a 92 per cent pass completion rate.

However, Boateng will be 32 in September and this run of form might come to be viewed as a fitting swansong at the Allianz Arena, especially once Sule and Hernandez return to fitness.

JAVI MARTINEZ

A well-liked and versatile performer, Martinez's eight years at Bayern have been peppered with injury woes.

The 31-year-old Spain international was not part of the matchday squad against Union and a return to Athletic Bilbao would not be a surprise.

THIAGO ALCANTARA

Thiago wowed with a midfield masterclass in the game that arguably sealed Flick's long-term future – the 3-0 Champions League win at Chelsea in February.

At 29, Thiago is in his prime and must be a central figure in any Bayern reboot.

Barcelona's pursuit of Lautaro Martinez continues – and they are reportedly offering up six players as part of the deal.

The LaLiga giants continue to be linked with a move for the Inter star, although reports suggest they are likely to struggle to get a deal done.

The latest report shows just how much difficulty they are facing.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA OFFER INTER CHOICE OF SIX PLAYERS FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are offering Inter a list of six players for Martinez, according to Sport.

It says Barca would hope to offload two of the six players plus €60million to get a deal done.

Arturo Vidal, Samuel Umtiti, Nelson Semedo, Junior Firpo, Rafinha and Jean-Clair Todibo are the players they are reportedly prepared to offer.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United continue to be linked with a move for Jack Grealish. The Sun reports the Premier League giants are stepping up their pursuit of the Aston Villa star in a £50m move.

- Staying at Old Trafford and Sport reports Marc Jurado has rejected a contract renewal from Barcelona and will instead join Manchester United.

- Talk around Philippe Coutinho continues. With Newcastle United potentially being taken over, Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the top job and Mundo Deportivo reports one of the Argentine coach's first wishes would be signing Coutinho from Barcelona.

- Manchester City are reportedly looking to strengthen their defence during the upcoming close season. Sport reports the Premier League side are willing to pay £30.6m (€35m) for Marseille defender Boubacar Kamara.

- Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng could be set for Bayern Munich exits. Kicker reports Bayern are preparing to sell the duo this close season, with both coming out of contract in 2021.

- Are Newcastle United looking for a new goalkeeper? Sport 24 reports they are looking at Benfica and Greece goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos, with the Primeira Liga club wanting £17.5m (€20m) for the shot-stopper.

Jerome Boateng is loving life at Bayern Munich under Hansi Flick and would be happy to stick around for the remainder of his contract.

The centre-back appeared primed to depart the Allianz Arena in the next transfer window but he has been won over by Flick, who took the top job initially on an interim basis in November.

Boateng's deal runs until 2021 and he envisages seeing it to the end, with Flick having taking Bayern back to the Bundesliga summit since replacing Niko Kovac.

"I owe Hansi Flick a lot. If he wasn't coach now, I might not be at FC Bayern anymore," the 31-year-old told Sport Bild.

"My contract in Munich runs until 2021 and I can imagine fulfilling it under Hansi Flick.

"I know that this club have done a lot for me, just as I have done a lot for this club. The club will always remain something special for me.

"The combination of the city, the fans and the family feeling around the team is probably unique."

Bayern sit four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, which is expected to resume later this month.

Hansi Flick is hopeful Bayern Munich can come to a positive resolution with a group of club stalwarts whose contracts are set to expire in 2021.

Flick was on Friday signed to a three-year deal by Bayern, having taken over as interim coach in November and restored them as Bundesliga favourites after a poor start under Niko Kovac.

Bayern are four points clear at the top with the Bundesliga, like most leagues across Europe, suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thomas Muller penned a new deal to remain with Bayern until 2023 on Tuesday, but a host of others will be out of contract at the end of next season.

Manuel Neuer, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara will all be heading into the final year of their current deals in the 2020-21 campaign.

Asked about prospective extensions for the quintet, Flick told a media conference held via Zoom: "These are also decisions that every player has to decide for themselves.

"In the past weeks and months, I have already explained how important Manuel Neuer, David Alaba or Thiago are to us.

"They have undergone enormous developments over the past six months and were real top performers. The club also noticed that and I hope that it goes in the right direction."

The Bundesliga is suspended until at least April 30 and the likelihood is that, if it is to resume, the season will be completed behind closed doors.

On the so-called 'ghost games', Flick added: "The DFL [German Football League] is based on very clear guidelines. So everything is controlled.

"We have to be open to changes in the short term in connection with politics and the whole development.

"At the moment we should avoid physical contact, so we concentrate after three weeks of cyber training.

"It's a welcome change for the players. It takes time to get things back in. It's important that you can get used to it again.

"We will also have to get used to the fact that the games will take place without fans. We want to deal with it professionally."

Hansi Flick was handed the Bayern Munich job on a permanent basis on Friday with the future of several first-team regulars top of his agenda.

Six of his most experienced players were out of contract at the end of next season but that number can be trimmed to five after Thomas Muller extended his stay at the Allianz Arena.

The 30-year-old has penned a new deal until 2023 after a hugely impressive 2019-20 season that has seen him contribute six goals and 16 assists in 25 Bundesliga games.

It is a promising start to Flick's tenure, although there remains much to do.

Here, we look at the five players whose contracts expire in 2021.
 

 

MANUEL NEUER

A symbol of the modern era at Bayern and captain for club and country, Neuer has kept more clean sheets (10) than any other Bundesliga goalkeeper this term.

However, the 33-year-old's save ratio of 69 per cent leaves plenty to be desired, meaning Alexander Nubel's pending arrival next season should apply significant pressure.

It feels unlikely Bayern will not put a deal on the table for Neuer, but would the 2014 World Cup winner hang around as a number two?


DAVID ALABA

The lavishly gifted Austria star has flourished under Flick, stepping effortlessly into the heart of defence following injuries to Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez.

The 27-year-old has played every minute of Bayern's past 20 matches and has no shortage of admirers.

Amid reports of him being unsettled in Bavaria, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City have all been linked with his services of late.


JEROME BOATENG

In many ways, the exemplar of Bayern's renaissance under Flick. The former Germany defender played 13 of 26 matches at the start of the season.

Since January he has started nine of 11 games, performing with his customary assurance and recording a 92 per cent pass completion rate.

However, Boateng will be 32 in September and this run of form might come to be viewed as a fitting swansong at the Allianz Arena, especially once Benjamin Pavard and Hernandez return to fitness.


JAVI MARTINEZ

A well-liked and versatile performer, Martinez's eight years at Bayern have been peppered with injury woes.

The 30-year-old Spain international has started five of the past 12 games and a return to boyhood club Athletic Bilbao would not be a surprise.


THIAGO ALCANTARA

Thiago wowed with a midfield masterclass in the game that arguably sealed Flick's long-term future – the 3-0 Champions League win at Chelsea last month.

The Spain playmaker has supplied eight assists this season and won 61 per cent of his duels.

At 28, Thiago is in his prime and must be a central figure in any Bayern reboot.

When Barcelona were in danger of losing to Arsenal in the 2009-10 Champions League quarter-finals, Lionel Messi – as he so often does – turned the game on its head.

Monday marks 10 years since Messi took that game against Arsenal by the scruff of the neck and produced one of the stand-out displays of his illustrious career.

The Argentina great has lifted the Champions League trophy on four occasions and is the second-highest scoring player in the competition's history, sitting 14 adrift of all-time leader Cristiano Ronaldo's haul of 128 goals.

We take a look back at some of Messi's greatest performances in the Champions League

 

April 6, 2010 – Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal (6-3 agg)

After they came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the first leg at Emirates Stadium, Nicklas Bendtner put Arsenal ahead for the first time in the tie after 19 minutes in the return game at Camp Nou.

Messi ensured it was Barcelona who progressed to the semi-finals, though.

He slammed a stunning finish past Manuel Almunia two minutes later and slotted home a pass from Pedro to double his tally.

A stunning chip over Almunia gave Messi his hat-trick before half-time, and he rounded off the 4-1 victory by grabbing a fourth at the second attempt after the Arsenal keeper stopped his initial effort at the end of a fine solo run.

 

April 27, 2011 – Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona

A semi-final Clasico made for a mouth-watering prospect and, of course, Messi delivered on the grand stage.

No list of his greatest goals would be complete without his second against arch-rivals Madrid. A one-two with Sergio Busquets enabled him to race free of Lassana Diarra and he shifted through the gears to skip away from Sergio Ramos and Raul Albiol.

He then darted in front of Marcelo and slid the ball beyond Iker Casillas to silence the Santiago Bernabeu.

A 1-1 draw in the second leg sent Barca into the final to face Manchester United…

 

May 28, 2011 – Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United

In a repeat of the 2009 final, the outcome at Wembley proved the same.

Messi caused Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic problems from the off and, with the game locked at 1-1 after Wayne Rooney cancelled out Pedro's opener, he found the back of the nine minutes after half-time.

After dropping deep from his centre-forward position, he received a pass from Andres Iniesta and drove forward before unleashing a powerful effort into the bottom-right corner.

David Villa completed the scoring as Barca came out on top against Alex Ferguson's side again.

 

March 7, 2012 – Barcelona 7-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen were on the receiving end of the greatest individual goalscoring display in Champions League history.

Messi became the first player to score five in a single game in Europe's premier club competition, enrapturing Camp Nou with a supreme performance in the second leg of this last-16 tie.

He got the ball rolling by scooping a long pass from Xavi beyond Bernd Leno, while his second came in trademark fashion – dribbling across the box from the right and firing a left-footed shot into the corner.

After a delightful chip to secure his hat-trick in the 49th minute, a stunning exchange of passes with Pedro preceded an error from Leno that Messi nipped in to punish.

A cool 18-yard finish left coach Pep Guardiola with an astonished look on his face. He had witnessed a performance for the ages.

 

May 6, 2015 – Barcelona 3-0 Bayern Munich

Guardiola returning to Camp Nou as Bayern boss was the big story ahead of kick-off, but Messi was the only subject of conversation after the final whistle.

It took 77 minutes for Messi to find the breakthrough, and his second three minutes later likely still gives Jerome Boateng nightmares.

He sent Germany international Boateng to the deck by turning inside and back out on the right side of the box. He then sent a wonderful dink over Manuel Neuer.

To cap things off Messi fed Neymar for a counter-attacking third in the 94th minute, and Barca went on to beat Juventus in the final and claim the trophy.

A fine goal from Thiago Alcantara was the highlight as Bayern Munich cruised to a 3-1 victory away to Mainz, their sixth straight Bundesliga triumph.

Bayern go two points clear at the top ahead of RB Leipzig, who have a chance to return to the summit when they play Borussia Monchengladbach later on Saturday.

The visitors were three up inside 26 minutes at Opel Arena, with Robert Lewandowski's 22nd top-flight goal of the campaign setting them on their way.

For the third straight game, both Thomas Muller and Thiago scored, as Jeremiah St. Juste's first-half header no more than a consolation.

Having reached 58 goals in their first 20 matches, a club record, Hansi Flick's side have huge momentum going into a huge match against Leipzig next week.

Mainz, meanwhile, have lost six of their last seven league matches and sit just three points off the bottom.

They had conceded six times in their last two meetings with Bayern and it only took eight minutes for the German champions to move in front, Lewandowski sending a thumping header past goalkeeper Robin Zentner from eight yards after Benjamin Pavard picked him out with a pinpoint cross from the right.

It was two just six minutes later, as Lewandowski ran in on goal and collided with Zentner, prompting Leon Goretzka to gather the loose ball and square for Muller to convert with a simple finish.

A clever Leandro Barreiro effort struck the post at the other end and Mainz were left to rue that near miss after 26 minutes, when Thiago took a pass from Alphonso Davies 25 yards and embarked on a weaving run past Pierre Kunde, St. Juste and Barreiro, before firing in with a left-footed finish.

St. Juste got one back in the last minute of the first half, heading in Daniel Brosinski's corner via a heavy deflection off Goretzka.

A quiet second period almost had a tense finale only for Thiago to make a decisive challenge as Mainz substitute Adam Szalai bore down on goal, while Lewandowski screwed wide from a late chance to make it four.

What does it mean? Bayern flying ahead of top-of-the-table clash

A key contest against Leipzig awaits next week, where depending on their rivals' result against Gladbach they will either go in top or just one point behind. With six straight wins, in which they have scored 23 times, Bayern are in great shape.

Lethal Lewandowski not slowing down

Lewandowski's impressive early header set the tone and he also created four chances for his team-mates. The clinical 31-year-old frontman has already matched his league goals tally for the whole of last season, though he should have added a late second.

Mainz lacking creativity

Jean-Philippe Mateta did not have his finest outing, substituted after 74 minutes having not had a shot or created a single chance for Mainz. But he did not have much help, with the trio behind him - Robin Quaison Jean-Paul Boetius and Levin Oztunali – not producing a single key pass between them.

What's next? 

In-form Bayern host Hoffenheim in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday, while Mainz are away to Hertha Berlin next Saturday.

Leon Goretzka and Jerome Boateng's training ground incident has been settled, with Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick hopeful there will be no such further displays of emotion from his squad. 

Goretzka and Boateng were pictured in a bust-up on Wednesday as Bayern prepared for Saturday's Bundesliga trip to Mainz.

Images showed Boateng appearing to slap Goretzka in the face having reportedly been angered by a mistimed challenge from the former Schalke playmaker.

Flick, though, insists the dispute has already been put to bed.

"There were a lot of emotions in training. We played a small tournament, every team wanted to win," Flick told a media conference. 

"This shows that the attitude of this team is correct. What I didn't like was the emotionality. 

"I spoke to both of them on the phone in the evening. I am satisfied that it is in the past.

"I don't want to see this behaviour in the team. We have certain values. These things can be verbally sorted out, that's what I expect from the team.

"I don't think much of punishments. It happened for the first time under me. 

"I do not expect such forms of emotion again."

Bayern are a point behind Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig in a fascinating title race. They host Leipzig at the Allianz Arena a week on Sunday, but Flick is adamant their focus is entirely on the challenge posed by Mainz.

"It's important for us to play well in Mainz on Saturday," he added.

"The opponent will put us under pressure in certain situations, switch quickly. They have fast and good players on offense who are looking for a goal. 

"We think from game to game, Leipzig is of no interest to us at all."

Barcelona appear ready to turn to their next coaching target as the LaLiga giants eye Mauricio Pochettino.

Ernesto Valverde is under enormous pressure after the Supercopa de Espana semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid, but Xavi has reportedly turned down the job – for now.

Amid contrasting reports over Barca's next decision, they may be lining up a move for Pochettino.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONTACT POCHETTINO OVER COACHING JOB

Barcelona contacted former Tottenham manager Pochettino to be their next boss, according to RAC1.

It comes as widespread reports in Spain say Al Sadd boss and former Barcelona star Xavi turned down the position.

Meanwhile, Catalunya Radio reported Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman also rejected the opportunity.

After a meeting on Sunday, Barca decided to stick with Valverde for now, according to Sport.

ROUND-UP

- Amid reports Manchester United had agreed to terms with Bruno Fernandes, the Mirror says the Premier League club are set to bid £65million (€76.1m) for the Sporting CP midfielder this week.

- Tottenham are set to sign Benfica's Gedson Fernandes as further details about a possible move emerge. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Spurs will sign the Portugal international on loan with an option to buy for between £42.7m (€50m) and £51.2m (€60m) in 2021.

- Jerome Boateng continues to be linked with a Bayern Munich exit. Milan are ready to challenge Arsenal for the defender, according to Sky Germany.

- Coming out of contract at season's end, it appears Layvin Kurzawa's future is away from Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe reports the left-back – who has made just five Ligue 1 starts this campaign – recently rejected Inter but the Serie A club remain hopeful of signing the 27-year-old this month.

- Juventus are looking to the future. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A champions are keeping an eye on teenage Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch and AZ forward Calvin Stengs.

Bayern Munich interim coach Hansi Flick expects Jerome Boateng to remain at the club despite strong links with Arsenal.

Boateng, 31, has been at the club since joining from Manchester City in 2011 and was first-choice at the back for the first few years.

But fitness problems began to have an impact in 2015-16 and he is yet to play more than 20 Bundesliga matches in a single season since.

This term Boateng has featured in nine of a possible 17 league matches and, with Bayern looking more towards young players in most areas of the team and Arsenal in need of defensive reinforcements, the experienced centre-back has been linked with a departure.

Flick has doubts about him leaving, however.

"Jerome is a player of Bayern Munich and I will not concern myself with any rumours, that's what I did the last years," he told reporters.

"Jerome came back to training well-prepared, he prepared himself on holiday. So, I am curious what the next week will bring.

"But I will not concern myself with thoughts if he will leave the club or not. He didn't say anything regarding that and we are constantly in an exchange.

"We have to see how these things develop, but right now I cannot picture it [Boateng leaving]."

Bayern are on their mid-season break and will not return to competitive action until January 19 when they visit Hertha Berlin, with the defending champions trailing leaders Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga title race.

Manchester United have identified James Maddison or Jack Grealish as their top January transfer targets.

With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay injured, United have concerns in midfield to begin 2020.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said United were looking at "one or two" January additions, and it appears their targets are also Premier League players.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD IDENTIFY MADDISON, GREALISH AS JANUARY TARGETS

Manchester United are prioritising a move for Leicester City's Maddison or Aston Villa's Grealish, according to the Independent.

United are looking to find greater consistency in the second half of the Premier League season, although they sit fifth in the table.

Grealish has provided five assists in the Premier League this campaign, while netting six times. Maddison also has six goals.

ROUND-UP

- Thomas Lemar is attracting interest from Tottenham. AS reports that if the midfielder joins Spurs from Atletico Madrid, the LaLiga club would be able to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani.

- Tottenham may have more pressing concerns in January. Harry Kane could be set for an extended spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury as Spurs await the results of a second scan, according to The Telegraph.

- Benfica are prepared to let 20-year-old midfielder Gedson Fernandes leave. A Bola reports the club are ready to negotiate for the Portugal international, who has been linked to Manchester United, Lyon and Milan.

- Arsenal are aiming to strengthen their defence with the signing of Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng, according to Sky Sports. Calum Chambers is set for a long spell on the sidelines after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, and Boateng could be set for a return to the Premier League.

- Jean-Clair Todibo is expected to leave Barcelona in January and a surprise potential destination has emerged. Bild reports Schalke are thinking about a loan move for the 20-year-old defender.

- Borussia Dortmund have set their price for forward Paco Alcacer. The Bundesliga club want €40million for the Spaniard, who has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid.

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