Thomas Muller felt Bayern Munich's DFB-Pokal final victory over Bayer Leverkusen was a "sad moment" because the game had to take place behind closed doors. 

Bayern have been in electric form since top-flight football in Germany resumed after the coronavirus shutdown, storming to an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title before closing out another campaign of domestic dominance with a 4-2 win in Berlin on Saturday. 

David Alaba's brilliant free-kick opened the scoring at the Olympiastadion and Serge Gnabry doubled the advantage. 

Although Leverkusen improved considerably after the break, Robert Lewandowski scored a brace to move past 50 goals for the campaign and seal glory. 

Nevertheless, playing at Germany's most famous stadium without fans led to mixed emotions for Muller.

"It's a bit of a sad moment," he told ARD.  "When the fans are missing at a cup final like this, it's not the same. 

"We did well for most of the way, but it hurts a little bit too." 

Wherever they were watching, once again Bayern supporters had plenty to enjoy from a team revitalised under Hansi Flick, who will now aim to repeat the 2012-13 treble when the Champions League concludes next month.

"We leave the stadium proud that we have achieved this," Flick told Sky. "What the team has achieved in the last few weeks is sensational. The attitude is simply fantastic.

"I am very, very happy. The way the team performs is extraordinary."

There was little doubt over the destination of the trophy after Gnabry drilled home an unerring finish in the 24th minute.

"We are so lucky to have won the double today," he told Sky.

"In the first half we had the game completely under control, we could have scored one or two more goals.

"Then Leverkusen had a lot of counter-attacks, but in the end we won 4-2, and that's the most important thing."

Manuel Neuer is one of the survivors of Bayern's last treble season and the captain is eager to go all the way again.

"We have experienced in the last few weeks how motivated and hungry FC Bayern is," Neuer told Sky.

"What we have achieved is something very special. The attitude was sensational.

"We have a little break now, and then we'll prepare ourselves at the top and of course try to bring in the treble."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manuel Neuer wants to captain Bayern Munich until 2023 and is hoping to lead them out in a home Champions League final at the Allianz Arena in 2022.

The Bayern goalkeeper and skipper on Wednesday signed an extension to a contract that was due to expire at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is now tied to Bayern until 2023, though he will have added competition from next season, when Alexander Nubel will join from Neuer's former club Schalke.

However, Neuer clearly has designs on retaining his place as number one between the posts and wants to keep the armband for the duration of his deal.

"I am convinced by our team and the whole club and I am sure we will be playing successful football throughout the coming years," he told club media. 

"Of course, we have some goals we can reach within this current season. We have a good team for the next few years and it is a lot of fun working for FC Bayern, also as captain. This is also my job and I want to continue until 2023."

Bayern lead the Bundesliga - which resumed last weekend having been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic - by four points.

They are also in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals and hold a 3-0 lead over Chelsea from the first leg in the Champions League last 16.

Neuer is hopeful Bayern can complete the treble and has an eye on May 2022, when the Champions League final comes to his home stadium 10 years after their penalty shoot-out defeat to Chelsea on the same stage at the same venue.

"You start every year from the beginning of course wanting to win it all. There is now the championship to win this year and we are still in every competition," he added.

"But right now it is a different situation for us and everyone has to adjust to the current situation, not only us football players.

"One of our big goals for the next few years is definitely having the chance to play a home Champions League final, like we did in 2012. 2022 will be another European final in Munich, which is a great incentive for me and the whole team.

"It would be a dream for us all to be able to reach this final at home."

Manuel Neuer is set for three more seasons at Bayern Munich after penning a contract extension until 2023.

The Germany international has established himself as one of the greats of the modern era and is well-placed to win an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title.

The 34-year-old also counts the 2012-13 Champions League and 2014 World Cup among his career honours, but recent seasons have raised questions over whether he remains the same peerless operator he was during those mid-decade glory days.

Alexander Nubel's pending arrival from Schalke suggests Bayern are keen to insure themselves against any dip in form from their club captain over the coming years, so it feels a good time to ask - is Neuer still an elite goalkeeper when compared to contemporaries widely considered to be at the top of their trade?

HEADING BACK IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Sunday's 2-0 win at Union Berlin saw Neuer chalk up his 11th Bundesliga clean sheet of the season.

Aside from the 2017-18 campaign, when injuries restricted him to three top-flight outings, he has reached double figures for shutouts every year of his senior career – dating back to 2006-07 when he managed 13 from 27 games at former club Schalke.

However, having stopped around four of every five shots for the majority of his Bayern days, Neuer's save percentage plummeted to 59.7 last season, while his 23 goals conceded outstripped Opta's expected goals on target (xGOT) number of 20.1.

xGOT gives an indication of the number of goals a goalkeeper should concede based upon the quality of shot faced.

This term, Neuer has those numbers in the right order once more. Although 26 let in is already his highest figure in the Bundesliga since his final season at Schalke (a whopping 44 in 2010-11), his xGOT number is 29.5 and his overall save percentage is back up to a more respectable 70.1.

TER STEGEN PRESSING A CASE FOR DIE MANNSCHAFT?

Having stood apart as Germany's number one for the best part of a decade, Neuer has seen Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen make an increasingly strong case to displace him in the national team.

Neuer's fitness woes coupled with a disappointing 2018 World Cup performance played a part, while Ter Stegen has arguably established himself as Barca's most important player not named Lionel Messi.

This campaign, Neuer is statistically out-performing his Germany rival. Ter Stegen has conceded 29 times with an xGOT reading of 26, while he has managed eight clean sheets from 26 LaLiga matches.

Last season, Ter Stegen's efforts made for very impressive reading, however, with 16 clean sheets and 32 goals conceded in 35 top-flight matches.

His xGOT was up at 38.3 and his save percentage was 72.7 – better than 65.5 this time around.

Both men have shown themselves to be fine proponents of the modern art of sweeper keeping, although Neuer is more active in this regard of late. According to Opta, Ter Stegen has five "keeper sweepings" to his name in each of the past two seasons, with Neuer making nine and 17.

OBLAK THE LEADER OF THE PACK

Looking beyond Germany's number one and two goalkeepers, there is a clear standout performer.

Jan Oblak's virtuoso display at Anfield as Atletico Madrid ended Liverpool's Champions League defence in March was enough to hearten any keeping enthusiast over the intervening barren months.

Such heroics are not unusual for the Slovenia star, who conceded 27 goals despite an xGOT number of 40.3 in 2018-19.

Oblak finished with 20 clean sheets last season, a figure Neuer touched in the back-to-back 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns at Bayern. Remarkably, Oblak had 24 league shutouts (and a save percentage of 81.8) in the latter, while he amassed 22 in 2017-18.

This time around, he only has 11 and his save ratio is below 75 per cent for the first time in his Atleti career, and 21 goals conceded compared to xGOT 22.3 has levelled out.

Oblak's two keeper sweepings in 2019-20 underlines his reputation as more of an "old school" goalkeeper, rather than someone accustomed to raiding out of their penalty area.

DE GEA COMING OFF HIS PEAK

Manchester United's David de Gea is also a player who would be counted as being at odds to the new wave of players between the posts, although a dip in his imperious levels has left the Spain international facing similar questions to Neuer over the past couple of seasons.

If United's second-place finish in the 2017-18 Premier League was one of Jose Mourinho's greatest achievements, it certainly ranks as one of De Gea's. He saved in excess of 80 per cent of shots and kept 18 clean sheets, conceding 28 times in 37 matches.

De Gea has already let in more in 2019-20 (30), while he shipped 54 in an increasingly error-strewn 2018-19. Although, perhaps it is as much a case of performances reverting to a mean and not bailing out some haphazard defending in front of him.

In the past two seasons, United's expected goals against (xG) – based upon the quality of chances afforded to opposition players – read 51.2 and 30.2.

SAFE HANDS AT THE BACK OF KLOPP'S MACHINE

Liverpool have transformed from great entertainers to a relentless winning machine since Alisson arrived from Roma in 2018, with Adrian's flimsy showing against Atletico in European competition serving as an uncomfortable reminder of the recent past for the Reds.

Able to build from the back, Brazil's number one has 29 keeper sweeping in a 58-game Premier League career, while also dealing well in the old currency of clean sheets, tallying up 31 in the competition.

Undoubtedly well protected by a defence led by Virgil van Dijk, Alisson is reliable when called upon. His 2019-20 save ratio is up to 80.4 from 77.1 per cent.

Last season, he out-performed his xGOT of 27.5 by letting in just 22, although 11 conceded is slightly higher than a staggeringly low 9.7 xGOT in 2019-20.

That number drops from an xG against of 17.5, suggesting Alisson – who missed an early chunk of the current season due to a calf injury – has also benefitted from wasteful finishing by opponents during Liverpool's march towards the title.

Manuel Neuer's contract extension is a strong statement of intent from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, according to Oliver Kahn.

Neuer agreed terms until 2023 on Wednesday, with his previous deal having been due to expire in 2021.

The news laid to rest doubts over the goalkeeper's future, with the impending arrival of Schalke's Alexander Nubel potentially heralding a new era between the sticks.

Former Bayern keeper and current board member Kahn was delighted to see the 34-year-old commit to the club, who are eyeing an eighth consecutive top-flight title. 

"Another big decision for a successful future! Manuel Neuer is the captain and one of the most important pillars of our team," Kahn tweeted.

"He embodies great years of German football and we're happy to continue the way of FC Bayern together.

"This extension is a strong signal."

Neuer told Bayern's website he was looking ahead "with great optimism", revealing he felt "very comfortable and at home in Bavaria", having arrived at the club from Schalke in 2011.

Hansi Flick's side returned to Bundesliga action following the coronavirus-enforced lockdown with a 2-0 win at Union Berlin on Sunday, with Neuer in the starting XI.

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.

Manuel Neuer has signed a contract extension with Bayern Munich to keep him at the club until 2023.

Goalkeeper Neuer's contract had been due to expire at the end of next season in 2021.

Doubts over the 34-year-old's future at the club were raised when Bayern made the signing of Schalke's Alexander Nubel, who will move to the Allianz Arena at the end of the current campaign.

However, Neuer will not be leaving for pastures new, with the Germany international telling Bayern's official website: "I feel very comfortable and at home in Bavaria.

"FC Bayern are one of Europe's top football clubs.

"During the weeks of the shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic, I didn't want to make a decision because nobody knew if, when and how Bundesliga football would continue.

"It was important for me to continue working with our goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic. Now this has been resolved, I look to the future with great optimism." 

CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: "FC Bayern are very happy Manuel has extended his contract until 30 June 2023.

"Manuel is the best goalkeeper in the world and our captain."

Neuer joined Bayern from Schalke in 2011 and has gone on to enjoy remarkable success for both club and country.

He has lifted the Bundesliga title seven times in his time at Bayern, with whom he has also won four DFB-Pokals, the Champions League and the Club World Cup.

Voted as World's Best Goalkeeper on four occasions, Neuer won the World Cup with Germany in 2014 and was selected as the recipient of the Golden Glove award for his efforts in Brazil.

Bayern lead the Bundesliga, which resumed last weekend behind closed doors, by four points with eight games remaining.

Manuel Neuer denied Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's suggestion that he is close to signing a contract extension at Bayern Munich.

Germany international Neuer is contracted to Bayern until the end of next season and negotiations over a renewal have become tense.

The 34-year-old goalkeeper last month denied reports he was demanding a five-year deal worth €20million annually and expressed his disappointment that details from the talks had been leaked in the media.

Bayern have a deal in place to sign Alexander Nubel from Schalke at the end of the season but Rummenigge remains confident fresh terms with Neuer will be agreed.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that Manuel will soon accept FC Bayern's offer," Rummenigge told Sky ahead of Bayern's 2-0 win over Union Berlin on Sunday, their first game since the Bundesliga was suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic in March.

"Manuel Neuer knows what he has at FC Bayern and FC Bayern knows what it has in Manuel Neuer. Therefore, it is a marriage that will continue in the future."

However, Neuer painted a different picture after the match.

He insisted confirmation of the extension was not imminent but still believes an agreement can be reached.

"I think Karl-Heinz Rummenigge knows what's going on. There is nothing to announce at the moment," said Neuer.

"There is no ultimatum. It is not necessary to make such a decision at the moment.

"We are both optimistic, of course, but it is still not clear at all."

Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer said Bundesliga players must be aware of their responsibility upon the proposed restart of the season.

The 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign has been postponed since March amid the coronavirus pandemic, but German chancellor Angela Merkel is set to announce a return date on Wednesday.

According to reports, the competition could resume as early as May 15, which would make the Bundesliga the first of the five major European domestic leagues to return since the COVID-19 crisis.

Hertha Berlin's Salomon Kalou was suspended for flouting social-distancing measures, potentially jeopardising the Bundesliga's hopes of returning, and Bayern goalkeeper Neuer urged a responsible approach.

"I am speaking consciously of the football family and football matches, because the fact that advice will be given on the restart of the federal leagues and, if possible, a decision is likely to have consequences for all of football, right down to the many amateur clubs and the youngest generations - and beyond also for many other sports," Neuer wrote for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"Even from other European countries, and indeed all over the world, people will be looking at us. This is an enormous responsibility for us, which we must be aware of with every fibre. We must be aware that it is also important to us now."

Neuer added: "As a role model, we are part of society. We only want to play football, but that's not enough at this time."

Defending champions Bayern were four points clear of rivals Borussia Dortmund through 25 games at the time of postponement.

Bayern Munich are confident they have scared off the mole whose leaks threatened to scupper crunch contract talks with captain Manuel Neuer.

Star goalkeeper Neuer had revealed his irritation at news of negotiations reaching the German media, even if the details were not always accurate.

The Germany international scoffed at talk of him demanding a five-year deal but appeared to indicate there were accurate aspects of private negotiations reaching the public domain.

In an interview last weekend, Neuer said his long-held sense of "appreciation" at Bayern was being affected by details emerging in the press.

Alarmed by the prospect of skipper Neuer having his trust in the club affected, Bayern have taken steps to quash the prospect of any further leaks.

"We have clarified this internally," said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. "And since nothing has become known since then, I assume that the mole has moved on."

Speaking to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Salihamidzic underlined Bayern's desire to see 34-year-old Neuer commit to the club beyond his current deal, which expires after the 2020-21 season.

"Manuel knows that we really appreciate him," Salihamidzic said. "I played with Oliver Kahn. I know how good a world-class goalkeeper is for a team.

"Manuel is a world-class goalkeeper. He is highly valued in our club. I hope we can extend the contract with Manuel."

Bayern head coach Hansi Flick has vowed Neuer will remain his first choice next season, despite the impending arrival of Alexander Nubel from Schalke.

Aside from in the Bundesliga, the resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Players have had plenty of time to analyse their performances this season and we have previously used Opta data to examine some of the best attacking, passing and defending numbers from 2019-20.

Now it is the turn of the continent's top goalkeepers.

We have analysed five metrics for shot stoppers who have featured in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those who have led the way between the sticks.

The metrics include fewest goals conceded, best save percentage, fewest drops, the increasingly important passing accuracy and best keeper sweeper accuracy.

There are some familiar names, but also others you might not be expecting...
 

THE BEST GOALKEEPING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Fewest goals conceded: Alexander Schwolow (20)
Best save percentage: Yann Sommer (74.58 per cent)
Fewest drops: Timo Horn, Lukas Hradecky and Manuel Neuer (all zero from 25 games)
Best passing accuracy: Manuel Neuer (87.69 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Timo Horn, Yann Sommer, Rafal Gikiewicz and Lukas Hradecky (all 100 per cent from 25 games)

LALIGA:

Fewest goals conceded: Ruben Martinez (14)
Best save percentage: Aitor Fernandez (75.61 per cent)
Fewest drops: Manolo Reina (zero in 26 games)
Best passing accuracy: Marc-Andre ter Stegen (85.55 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: David Soria and Aitor Fernandez (both 100 per cent from 27 games)

LIGUE 1:

Fewest goals conceded: Runar Alex Runarsson (17)
Best save percentage: Predrag Rajkovic (79.07 per cent)
Fewest drops: Benoit Costil (zero in 28 games)
Best passing accuracy: Keylor Navas (84.55 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Benoit Costil, Mike Maignan, Regis Gurtner and Benjamin Lecomte (all 100 per cent from 28 games played) 

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Fewest goals conceded: Adrian (10)
Best save percentage: Alisson (80.36 per cent)
Fewest drops: Martin Dubravka and Kasper Schmeichel (both zero in 29 games)
Best passing accuracy: Ederson (86.57 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Jordan Pickford, Rui Patricio, David de Gea and Mat Ryan (all 100 per cent from 29 games played)

SERIE A:

Fewest goals conceded: David Ospina (13)
Best save percentage: Wojciech Szczesny (79.76 per cent)
Fewest drops: Thomas Strakosha (zero in 26 games)
Best passing accuracy: David Ospina (87.07 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Bartlomiej Dragowski and Thomas Strakosha (both 100 per cent from 26 games)

AND THE TOP FIVE:

Fewest goals conceded: Adrian (10)
Best save percentage: Alisson (80.36 per cent)
Fewest drops: Martin Dubravka and Kasper Schmeichel (both zero in 29 games)
Best passing accuracy: Manuel Neuer  (87.69 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Jordan Pickford, Rui Patricio, David de Gea and Mat Ryan (all 100 per cent from 29 games played)

Amid the raging argument about the goalkeeper who should start in the SportsMax Ultimate XI (and you can have your say by voting at SportsMax: Home Of Champions), football lovers must not lose sight of the most fundamental point to be considered in distilling and ultimately, pun intended, selecting that supernova from among the very best to have stood between the sticks at the highest level.

That point can best be made in the form of a question. Are there saves Gigi Buffon would make that Manuel Neuer or Lev Yashin or Gordon Banks or Peter Schmeichel or Sepp Maier wouldn’t? If the answer is yes, which kind of save? Or better yet, in which match did Buffon make a save that only he, of all the outstanding goalies in the world, could have executed? Or which match has any Buffon fan watched where a goalkeeper failed to make a crucial save that the fan was certain the great Italian would have made? And finally, which errors, made by all keepers in games at various points in their careers, is Buffon immune to making? 

The point being made by these questions is not a pedantic one. It is to prove the argument that the margin of difference between great goalkeepers is gossamer thin; almost non-existent. On Wednesday’s episode of the SportsMax Zone, the five-man panel settled on Buffon as its ‘keeper’ of choice in the SportsMax Ultimate XI. The voting from the fans also has the 42-year-old Italian in pole position to get the assignment in goal for this historic selection. But can you consider the questions asked above and then declare that Gigi Buffon is better for the job than any of the other named custodians?

For those who’ve never seen Buffon the vote of the panel and the fans would suggest that this man is the least fallible and most comprehensively skilled of the group of five named above. But is that even remotely true? And if it’s not true, what then has caused Buffon to get the nod from the two panellists who’ve represented two Caribbean nations at a FIFA World Cup? The answer would appear to be less about Buffon’s outstanding qualities and more about the fact that current and past footballers along with fans, just like the guy. It’s as simple as that.

But what if it isn’t as simple as that? What if there’s something about the way he claims corners, organises his defence, parries shots or commands his six-yard box, that in the minds of his supporters makes him superior to those he’s matched up against in the SportsMax Ultimate XI? What if they say he makes wonder saves look routine? What if they say the goals he allows are the ones that all the other top ‘keepers would be incapable of stopping? 

The choice of Buffon owes much to the fact he is a nice man who has proven to be extremely durable. It has less to do with him being measurably better, if better at all than those he has been grouped with for this selection.

So where does this leave us? Easy. Manuel Neuer. If we accept there’s little or no difference in the shot-stopping ability of the top five goalies in the Ultimate XI poll, then it’s only intelligent to choose that player who has something measurably better than his rivals. Nobody can credibly argue against the point that Neuer’s ability with his feet, where he functions at times like an 11th outfield player, sets him apart from the rest. Neuer is like that cameraman who turns up for a job interview and is the only applicant in the group who has on-air training and experience. He is like that guy in a pool of top-notch television producers who’s the only one capable of presenting the major newscast. In this second decade of the 21st century, the 34-year-old German has changed the skill set that the best goalkeepers must have if they are to attract the interest of the richest and most ambitious clubs.

Neuer was built into the prototypical sweeper-keeper by Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. When Guardiola left Germany for England he knew Neuer couldn’t follow him but was certain he needed a Neuer-type player for Manchester City.

Neuer caused him to buy a cheap imitation, Claudio Bravo, for £13.75 million pounds in August 2016. A year later and with Bravo’s limitations with his feet badly undermining Guardiola’s revolution at City, Neuer caused Guardiola to bench the Chilean and sign Ederson for £35 million pounds. That’s almost £50 million pounds spent by Pep to give City the quality between the sticks that Neuer gave him in Germany with Bayern. Funny that some now say Ederson is even better with his feet than Neuer, even though it is accepted he is not in the same class as a shot-stopper.

The ideal goalkeeper for the SportsMax Ultimate XI has to be the man who has added a dimension to the game of OTHER goalies. It has to be a man who has changed the way his team can press opponents. It has to be a man who defenders and midfielders are comfortable passing the ball to, even in the tightest situations, confident he won’t just boot the orb into row X. And because he’s no worse as a shot-stopper, communicator or commander of his six-yard box than any of his rivals, but superior with his feet, that ultimate keeper must be Manuel Neuer. Selah.

Hansi Flick has vowed Manuel Neuer will stay as Bayern Munich's first-choice goalkeeper next season.

And in a stark warning that underlines the system of meritocracy at Bayern, Flick stressed the incoming Alexander Nubel will face a battle for a seat on the bench.

Neuer and Bayern are in contract talks, with the experienced Germany international having just under 15 months remaining on his deal.

The 34-year-old has dismissed talk he wants a new five-year contract and both sides appear to want a resolution to keep Neuer at the club.

Head coach Flick considers him a key part of the Bayern side, telling Kicker: "Manuel Neuer is clearly our number one, nothing will change in the coming season. Alexander Nubel knows that."

Nubel will join Bayern from Schalke at the end of the season after the 23-year-old established himself as one of Germany's best young shot-stoppers.

It remains to be seen where his first-team opportunities come up at Bayern, given Neuer's presence.

And Flick made it clear he is not discounting Sven Ulreich, the current understudy to Neuer who has a year left on his Bayern contract.

"Alexander Nubel will have the same trust and the same appreciation as all other goalkeepers and players in our team," Flick said.

"We want to develop him further, but it is also clear that performance is what counts at Bayern. And Sven Ulreich is doing really well at the moment."

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is optimistic Manuel Neuer will extend his contract with the club.

The 34-year-old's deal expires at the end of 2020-21 and there has been no breakthrough in talks over fresh terms.

There were reports Neuer was demanding a five-year deal worth €20million annually, but he rubbished those suggestions in an interview with Bild am Sonntag.

Neuer also made it clear he is unhappy with the way certain details around the discussions were being leaked to the media.

Rummenigge, though, is confident both parties will find a way to keep the Germany goalkeeper at the Allianz Arena.

"We both know what we have in each other," he told Bild on Monday. "And under these circumstances, I am optimistic that we will find a solution in the end and that Manuel Neuer will sign a new contract.

"We have the world's best goalkeeper and we have already won everything with him."

When asked about Neuer's anger at the leaks of his contract talks, Rummenigge replied: "His interview was only yesterday, so we could not react to it yet."

Neuer's future has been further complicated by the fact Bayern will sign Alexander Nubel from Schalke on a free transfer on July 1.

The 23-year-old's arrival has also cast doubt on the prospects of Sven Ulreich staying at the club, but Neuer's present understudy plans to fight for his place.

His agent, Jurgen Schwab, told Kicker: "Bayern are a meritocracy, where sporting decisions are made.

"Let's see who ends up behind Manuel Neuer on the bench."

Manuel Neuer is irritated that details from his contract negotiations with Bayern Munich appear to be getting leaked.

The Germany international has a deal with Bayern running until June 2021 but has grown frustrated with ongoing talks over a potential extension.

Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel will arrive on a free transfer ahead of next season, leading to suggestions the Bavarian giants are preparing to phase Neuer out.

It was reported this week Neuer was demanding a new five-year contract worth €20million per year, but he scoffed at the suggestions.

However, the fact that any information was being leaked into the public domain gave him cause for concern.

"I want to play as long as I'm fit. But the most important thing for me is trust," Neuer said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag.

"It is clear to me that it would be fantasy for me to want a five-year contract. I'm 34 and can't predict how I'm going to be at 39. That is why what has been publicly suggested makes no sense at all.

"I want a contract where FC Bayern and I have a win-win situation that everyone is happy with.

"I want to perform, be there for the team and do everything we can to ensure we have maximum success, with 100 per cent passion. The conditions must be right; that's what it's about.

"What irritates me is that all the conversations I've had here since I joined have always been conducted with great confidence. Nothing ever got out.

"Now, however, details from the current talks are constantly in the media, which are often not even correct. I've not experienced that at FC Bayern.

"It was always important to me to be able to work with the employees in management positions in a spirit of trust – as loyal as I am to the club as a player and captain.

"If things are now apparently being leaked out, it affects the area of 'appreciation'."

Neuer explained that Bayern's decision to appoint Hansi Flick as coach on a permanent basis encouraged him to stay at the Allianz Arena.

He also believes Nubel is a great signing but does not believe there is any truth to suggestions his impending competition has been guaranteed regular games.

"He's a good goalkeeper, no doubt," Neuer said of Nubel. "I understand the transfer in perspective, although with Sven Ulreich we already have a strong number two. He would be the first choice at many other clubs. Nevertheless, Nubel is of course a great signing.

"There is no such thing [as guaranteed games] in competitive sports… I don't think you can tell a coach who manages a team like Bayern who to play."

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