Hansi Flick appears to have a long-term future as Bayern Munich head coach after a not-so-cryptic clue from CEO Karl-Heinze Rummenigge.

Bayern appointed Flick as interim boss following the dismissal of Niko Kovac in November and a month later announced he would stay in charge until the end of the season.

Under Flick, Bayern have returned to the top of the Bundesliga and a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Chelsea in Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first-leg tie at Stamford Bridge means they have one foot firmly in the quarter-finals.

Flick celebrated his 55th birthday a day before Bayern's fixture in west London and received a gift at a banquet after the game from Rummenigge, who hinted it was a sign of an extended stay.

"Our coach turned 55 yesterday [Monday]," Rummenigge said. 

"This is a good age. We'll give you a pen in this red packet. Sometimes you sign papers with pens."

He added: "Stay how you are. We are very, very happy with how the team is playing, as well as with the results and the football they are playing."

Bayern have lost just twice in the Bundesliga under Flick and sit one point clear of RB Leipzig after 23 matches.

Serge Gnabry says he always enjoys returning to London, after he scored twice in Bayern Munich's 3-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Gnabry netted four times in a 7-2 rout of Tottenham in October during Bayern's last trip to the English capital and the Germany international – a former Arsenal player – shined once more on his return to London.

The forward scored Bayern's opening two goals in the space of three second-half minutes, with the excellent Alphonso Davies teeing up Robert Lewandowski with 14 minutes remaining.

"I certainly do," Gnabry told BT Sport when asked if he enjoys playing in London. "I have a lot of friends here. A lot of them were in the stands tonight and I think they were giving me good power.

"So of course, I always enjoy coming back!"

Bayern have one foot in the last eight ahead of the second leg on March 18, though Gnabry insists the Bundesliga leaders will not allow any complacency to creep in even with a three-goal cushion.

"Three goals should give us a lot of confidence. We need to be prepared for the second leg and we can't take it serious enough," he added.

"We saw last season with Liverpool beating Barcelona after a 3-0 advantage, we know we have to be careful, we have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.

"We knew we had to be patient, we had the game in control even in the first half, had a couple of chances and didn't take them, but we knew we'd get our chances and in the end we took them.

In his post-match news conference, Bayern coach Hansi Flick was asked whether he found it strange that Arsenal had allowed Gnabry to leave for Werder Bremen back in 2016.

"No I'm happy," said Flick, who also confirmed Kingsley Coman had suffered a muscular strain and would require five days' rest.

It was a sentiment echoed by Thomas Muller, who is delighted to playing alongside a player in such fine form as Gnabry.

"I'm happy he is scoring so much in London now and not five years ago, because if that were the case he probably wouldn't be with us now," Muller told Sky Sport.

Bayern Munich can win the treble under Hansi Flick this season, according to Lothar Matthaus.

Flick took over as Bayern's interim coach in November with the defending Bundesliga champions in danger of being cut adrift in the title race.

However, they now hold a one-point lead at the top of the table and face Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Bayern are favourites for that tie, the first leg of which takes place on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.

Matthaus, who won seven Bundesliga titles with Bayern, is confident they will prove their superiority against the Blues and feels they can claim the European crown as well as the league and DFB-Pokal.

"Since Flick has been coach, Bayern have been calm. This is comparable to the [Jupp] Heynckes period. The club and the entire environment have moved closer together," Matthaus told AZ.

"This is transferred to the fans and the team. Hansi has a good feel for a team, he is great in human and communicative terms. 

"I think three titles are possible, but everything has to fit. It is important that Lucas Hernandez and Kingsley Coman are in top shape to give the team more quality. 

"There are now options in the squad again, strong players can also come from the squad. The Bayern 2013 treble-winning side also recognised this."

On the tie with Chelsea, he said: "Bayern is the clear favourite. This is no longer the big Chelsea from the past with players like Michael Ballack, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

"It is a very young team that has undergone a change. Therefore I assume that Bayern will reach the next round with two good performances. 

"In terms of quality, Bayern is well ahead of Chelsea. In the Premier League, the Blues are only fourth, more than 30 points behind Liverpool. N'Golo Kante is also injured. 

"Overall, the team no longer has the shine of earlier days."

Erling Haaland has taken the world by storm since joining Borussia Dortmund in January.

Already stunning Europe with his exploits for Salzburg, Haaland has scored 12 goals in eight appearances as a Dortmund player.

Now, Real Madrid could be about to come sniffing in their pursuit of goals.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND AN OPTION FOR MADRID

Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland could be a cheaper alternative for Real Madrid instead of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, writes Marca.

Mbappe has long been linked with a move to Madrid, where Zinedine Zidane is a keen admirer of his fellow Frenchman.

However, 19-year-old Dortmund recruit Haaland – whose €75million release clause is set to kick in next year – has emerged as an option for Madrid, with PSG set to demand a mammoth fee for Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Reports linking Inter star Lautaro Martinez to Barcelona are gathering steam and Calciomercato says the LaLiga champions want to start negotiations by May. Madrid and Manchester United are also reportedly interested.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barca are keen on signing Valencia centre-back Hugo Guillamon, according to Sport. The 20-year-old will be available on a free transfer at season's end.

Bayern Munich are interested in RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano but Kicker claims the Bundesliga champions believe he is too expensive at €60m. Upamecano has been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham, Barca and Madrid.

- Remaining in Munich and Kicker also says Bayern are unconvinced by the €100m price tag of Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz, whose admirers include the likes of Liverpool and United.

Bundesliga side Paderborn have confirmed the death of a 14-month-old girl during Friday's match at Bayern Munich.

Bayern won 3-2 at Allianz Arena, but the result has been overshadowed by Saturday's announcement that a child died after collapsing at the venue.

The club also revealed the girl, who was taken to a Munich hospital but could not be resuscitated, was the niece of Streli Mamba, their forward who was substituted after 53 minutes of the fixture.

"Paderborn are deeply shaken and expresses its deepest sympathy to the family," a club statement read. "The club asks to respect the privacy of the player's family and, like the family, will not comment on this incident."

Bayern also issued a statement, offering their condolences to the family.

"The whole of FC Bayern is devastated and expresses deepest sympathy and condolences to the girl's family," the Bundesliga champions said.

Manuel Neuer was "relieved" after Bayern Munich survived a scare against Bundesliga's bottom team Paderborn thanks to Robert Lewandowski's brace.

Lewandowski scored twice – including the 88th-minute winner – as Bayern maintained their lead atop the table with a hard-fought 3-2 victory on Friday.

Bayern twice saw a one-goal lead erased by lowly Paderborn but managed to see off the visitors in unconvincing fashion at Allianz Arena.

Reflecting on the result, which ensured Bayern will remain top of the standings ahead of RB Leipzig, goalkeeper Neuer said: "I'm really relieved!

"The three points had been our goal. It was important to keep our foot on the gas and to believe we can win the match. It was annoying that we had to toil after the second equaliser.

"We achieved it together, it was a team effort. We had to change our formation a bit due to the one-match bans, so it was clear we couldn't play as we had in the last few weeks."

German champions Bayern are on a nine-match unbeaten streak in the Bundesliga, without a loss since December 7.

"I'm satisfied with the result," Bayern head coach Hansi Flick said. "Paderborn pushed us to our limits. We tried everything after the second equaliser.

"A compliment to my team, we fought. It's part of it to put up a fight as a team after setbacks and to force victories. We switched to a back three, so it was clear not everything would work out perfectly. We allowed them hardly any chances in the first half, but we didn't finish our moves well in some situations. We addressed that at half-time.

"It wasn't an easy match, but we'd told the team beforehand. Paderborn play well, they try again and again to find positive solutions and attack with determination. At the end of the day I'm glad we've taken three points."

Robert Lewandowski scored a late winner to send Bayern Munich four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga with a 3-2 over bottom side Paderborn.

Hansi Flick's men twice saw a one-goal lead erased by their lowly visitors in an absorbing encounter, with efforts from Serge Gnabry and Lewandowski cancelled out by Dennis Srbeny and Sven Michel.

However, two minutes from the end of normal time Gnabry and Lewandowski combined to seal maximum points for Bayern, albeit in unconvincing fashion.

After avoiding a remarkable slip-up, Bayern can watch the rest of the weekend's action with the pressure firmly on challengers RB Leipzig as they visit Schalke on Saturday looking to reduce the gap back to a point.

 

 

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus is reportedly wanted by Serie A giants Juventus.

Jesus, 22, has struggled for regular game time since arriving at City from Palmeiras in early 2017.

And Juve may be prepared to take the Brazil international to Turin.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS WANT MAN CITY'S JESUS

Juventus want Jesus in a €69.9million (£58.5m) move, according to The Sun.

The report adds the Serie A champions also want Mauro Icardi, who is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter.

Jesus has scored 36 goals in 90 Premier League games for City, but just 48 of those have been starts.

ROUND-UP

- With his contract at Real Madrid ending in 2021, Sergio Ramos seemingly wants a new deal. AS reports the Madrid captain, 33, wants a further two years on his deal, but the LaLiga giants are not keen to offer it.

- Paulo Dybala looks likely to re-sign at Juventus. CalcioMercato reports the playmaker is getting closer to a renewal with the club with his current contract expiring in 2022.

- Amid Liverpool's reported interest in RB Leipzig star Timo Werner, Roberto Firmino has been linked with a stunning move to Bayern Munich. However, Goal reports the Premier League leaders' front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Firmino are "going nowhere" at the end of the season.

- Newcastle United remain keen to sign Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare. Le 10 Sport says the Premier League club are continuing to press for the 20-year-old to make the move after being unable to get a deal done in January.

- Arsenal are eager to re-sign Bukayo Saka. The 18-year-old, who has impressed at left-back, is in talks over a lucrative long-term deal, according to The Times.

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick is staying relaxed despite the uncertainty surrounding his future and wants to establish his own "philosophy" after his playing style was compared to that of Pep Guardiola.

Flick took over from Niko Kovac in November after the Croatian was dismissed, and following an initial interim spell in charge, he was appointed head coach until the end of the season.

Bayern were fourth in the Bundesliga when Kovac was sacked but have since risen to the summit, winning 13 of 16 matches in all competitions following the 5-1 thrashing at Eintracht Frankfurt that cost Flick's predecessor his job.

But recent reports have claimed Flick is frustrated by Bayern's unwillingness to appoint him on a long-term basis before the end of the season, while other stories suggest he is attracting interest from rival clubs.

Publicly, however, Flick insists he is at ease with his situation and not thinking about the future.

"I live in the present. I just enjoy it," Flick told reporters on Thursday.

"We try to do a good job. What comes next is in the stars. Bayern have a bit of peace and quiet, thinking about what they want to do in the future.

"I concentrate on the here and now. If they are convinced, they will make a decision. If they then want another coach, the world will not end for me either.

"I've never talked about that before. Bayern Munich are my employers. Everything else just distracts."

Flick's rise to the top job at Bayern has facilitated an improvement not only in results but also the perception of their brand of football.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said after Sunday's 4-1 win at Cologne that their first-half performance resembled the Bayern of former coach Guardiola, a three-time Bundesliga champion.

Yet while Flick sees the Manchester City boss as an inspiration, he wants to craft his own ideology.

"Guardiola is the best coach, for me," Flick said. "I was able to get to know him during my time at the DFB [German Football Association].

"The way in which he plays is an inspiration for many, also for me. But everyone has to have their own philosophy. In this respect, it's not derogatory [against Guardiola]."

Bayern are next in action on Friday when they host basement side Paderborn.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly yet to begin talks with Neymar over a new deal.

The Brazil international was linked with a return to Barcelona before the start of this season, but ended up staying in Paris.

Yet after claims last month that Neymar wanted a new deal at PSG, it is reported no negotiations have been held just yet.

 

TOP STORY – PSG YET TO BEGIN CONTRACT TALKS WITH NEYMAR

PSG and Neymar are yet to meet to discuss a possible extension, according to Le Parisien.

Neymar, 28, is contracted to PSG until 2022, but there have been no talks over a stay beyond then.

The forward is expected to return from injury in PSG's Champions League last-16 first leg against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona appear to have found their replacement for the injured Ousmane Dembele. Sport reports the LaLiga giants have decided to pay Leganes forward Martin Braithwaite's release clause of €18million. Braithwaite has six goals in 24 LaLiga games this season.

- Bayern Munich are lining up a replacement for Jerome Boateng. France Football reports RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, who has a €60m release clause, has become a priority for Bayern.

- With Champions League football next season slipping away from Roma, the Serie A club may be unable to sign Chris Smalling. Corriere dello Sport reports Tottenham, Everton and Juventus are interested in Smalling, with Manchester United wanting €20m (£16.7m) for the 30-year-old.

- Two of Arsenal 18-year-olds are apparently attracting interest from Liverpool. Football Insider reports the runaway Premier League leaders are looking at Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.

- Roma are considering a move for RB Leipzig right-back Lukas Klostermann, according to CalcioMercato. Klostermann, 23, has been capped eight times by Germany.

Pep Guardiola's future at Manchester City continues to dominate discussions – and it seemingly still remains unclear.

Talk around the Spaniard has intensified after City were handed a two-season Champions League ban by UEFA for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play rules, although they deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal.

But will Guardiola, who is contracted at the Etihad Stadium until 2021, stay or go?

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA TO STAY AT MAN CITY DESPITE BAN

Guardiola will remain at City next season whether they have their ban overturned or not, according to the Mirror.

However, Tuttosport reports the chances of the former Barcelona head coach leaving City are "70 per cent".

Guardiola has reportedly suggested previously he intends to honour his contract at City.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea are making their move for Jadon Sancho. France Football reports the Premier League club have started talks with the Borussia Dortmund star, who has attracted interest from numerous European giants, including Manchester United.

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are set to pay £23million (€27.7m) for Inter midfielder Matias Vecino at the end of the season, according to the Daily Express.

- After strong links during the close season, Bayern Munich's interest in Manchester City attacker Leroy Sane has cooled, according to Kicker. Sane tore his anterior cruciate ligament in August.

- Staying at Bayern and Kicker reports the Bundesliga giants are keeping tabs on Liverpool's interest in RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner. Werner has been linked with the European giants after scoring 20 goals in 22 Bundesliga games this season.

- Alexander Isak's form for Real Sociedad this season is leading to interest, but Mundo Deportivo reports clubs wanting the forward at the end of the campaign must pay €70m. Former club Borussia Dortmund reportedly have an option to buy Isak for €30m, but that only comes into play in 2021.

- Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu has impressed this season and the 20-year-old is on Atletico Madrid's radar, according to Marca.

Bayern Munich returned to the top of the Bundesliga as they swept aside Cologne 4-1 on the back of three goals in the opening 12 minutes.

RB Leipzig leapfrogged Bayern with a 3-0 victory over Werder Bremen on Saturday, but Hansi Flick's side responded the following day by blowing away their hosts early on.

Thomas Muller laid on goals for Robert Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman before Serge Gnabry rifled in a third from a Joshua Kimmich corner.

Gnabry added a second 24 minutes from time, with Mark Uth pulling one back for Cologne, as Bayern went back above Leipzig, who now trail the reigning champions by one point after 22 games.

Lewandowski reached 40 goals for club and country this season in the third minute, collecting a Muller pass and smashing into the roof of the net to make it 12 goals in 14 games against Cologne.

The home side were being cut open at will and Lewandowski and Muller were involved again when the latter found Coman, whose effort deflected in off Rafael Czichos to make it 2-0.

Bayern refused to let up and they had a three-goal lead when Gnabry brought down Kimmich's delivery to the far post and steered into the bottom-right corner of the net.

Only the woodwork prevented the Bavarian giants' lead from being greater at the interval as an off-balance Gnabry hit the crossbar and Timo Horn tipped Kimmich's long-range effort against the post.

Cologne might have found a way back had Jhon Cordoba not had two goals disallowed for offside inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

Bayern had eased off but scored a fourth in the 66th minute when Gnabry cut in off the left and curled home his second before Cologne finally got a consolation, Uth remaining onside to apply the finish to Florian Kainz's cross.

Gnabry squandered a glorious chance for his hat-trick when he fired wide after a lovely backheel from Muller, who missed out on a treble of assists in the process.

 

What does it mean? Bayern deliver perfect response to Leipzig win

Bayern, 29-time Bundesliga champions, are not used to playing catch up but Leipzig's win on Saturday added some extra pressure to this fixture.

Cologne were in good form too having won four top-flight home games in a row, yet Bayern's blistering start meant the result was a foregone conclusion after just a dozen minutes.

Muller's here to assist you

With another two assists, Muller reached 14 for the season, already equalling his personal best from the 2017-18 season.

The 30-year-old's contract expires at the end of next season and his recent form shows Bayern would be wise to agree fresh terms.

Katterbach caught out all too often

None of Cologne's back four came out of the early exchanges with any real credit but Noah Katterbach in particular struggled against Coman.

Katterbach's rotten afternoon was ended by injury inside the opening half an hour and it did not help that his replacement Kainz was arguably Cologne's best player.

What's next?

Bayern have the chance to move four points clear of Leipzig as they next play on Friday when they host Paderborn. Cologne head to Hertha Berlin the following day.

Philippe Coutinho is not surprised to see former club Liverpool dominate the Premier League but insists he does not "look back" despite enduring a difficult time since leaving Anfield.

Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in January 2018 in a move potentially worth €160million (£142m), but, after initially impressing at Camp Nou, he failed to convince in his first full LaLiga season and was allowed to leave on loan for Bayern Munich, who also have a purchase option.

He has been similarly underwhelming in the Bundesliga, however, making just 12 league starts out of a possible 21.

Bayern have supposedly already decided they will not trigger their buy option, which is reportedly set at €120m.

While Coutinho has struggled after leaving Liverpool, the Reds have gone from strength to strength and look destined to add Premier League success to last season's Champions League crown – but the Brazilian insists he has only happy thoughts for his former club.

"Liverpool is flying, and it doesn't surprise me," Coutinho told Sports Illustrated. "We've seen it already last year when they won the Champions League, but I'm also not surprised because of their fantastic squad and manager.

"I am so happy for them, because I have so many friends there, former team-mates, so I'm just so happy for them. But that's it. I don't look back.

"I took another path, and now I am on another journey, much like everyone else. I'm focused entirely – just like them – on reaching my dreams.

"I'm happy with what I did in the past, and now I can only look forward."

Despite Coutinho's occasional issues at Bayern, Hansi Flick – who is in charge at least until the end of the season – recently offered words of encouragement for him, and the Brazil international has been impressed by the former assistant of Niko Kovac.

"He [Flick] is working so hard, and thanks to him the team is playing well and that's what's most important," he added.

"It can't be easy to manage a team like Bayern Munich, and I think he came in and has been doing a great job."

Following Sunday's 0-0 draw at home to RB Leipzig, Bayern remain one point clear of Julian Nagelsmann's side at the Bundesliga summit.

Juventus are reportedly lining up an incredible move for Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola has been in charge of City since 2016 and is contracted to remain at the helm of the Premier League champions until the end of next season.

However, Juve seemingly have other ideas.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS PLAN TO MAKE MOVE FOR GUARDIOLA

Juventus will give Guardiola whatever it takes to join them ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, according to The Sun.

The Serie A giants were linked with a stunning move for the Spaniard last year, but did not get their man.

Guardiola apparently intends to honour his contract at City, but Juve are prepared to give him whatever he wants.

ROUND-UP

- Philippe Coutinho has no plans to return to Barcelona and wants to make his move to Bayern Munich permanent, according to Catalunya Radio. The Bundesliga club hold an option to buy the attacker, but are reportedly yet to make a decision over whether they will make the move permanent.

- Barcelona are not yet giving up on signing Willian Jose from Real Sociedad. Marca reports the LaLiga giants are still considering the attacker amid a negotiable price despite Willian Jose's buyout clause being set at €70million.

- Jose Mourinho is planning for next season at Tottenham. The Daily Express reports the Spurs head coach is looking to spend £120m on defenders ahead of 2020-21, with Benfica's Ruben Dias and Bournemouth's Nathan Ake leading the list of targets.

- Liverpool tried to sign Villarreal attacker Samuel Chukwueze during January, according to France Football, which reports the European champions offered £29.6m (€35m) for the Nigeria international. Staying at Anfield and the Daily Express says Liverpool are set to offer 18-year-old full-back Neco Williams a new contract.

- Amid surprise reports Barcelona tried to bring Andres Iniesta back to Camp Nou in January, Marca says the LaLiga club's sporting management never considered a return to the club for the Vissel Kobe midfielder.

- Inter are set to decide in the next 48 hours whether to sign goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano after the 34-year-old completed medicals at the Serie A high-flyers, according to CalcioMercato. Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic suffered a finger injury last week.

Manuel Neuer has reiterated his intention to remain at Bayern Munich but confirmed there is not yet anything to announce regarding a contract extension.

Neuer's current deal with the Bundesliga champions – who drew 0-0 with title rivals RB Leipzig on Sunday – expires at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Bayern have already moved to bring in what would appear to be Neuer's long-term replacement, securing Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel on a free transfer, with the 23-year-old to join at the end of the campaign.

However, Neuer – who said in January that Nubel's arrival would have little impact on his position – repeated his stance following the clash with Leipzig.

"My plan is that I continue to play football for Bayern, and Alex Nubel will be there from summer, then it will continue," Neuer told Sky Sport.

"There is nothing we can announce at the moment."

While talks over a new contract continue, Neuer remains fully focused on helping Bayern see off the challenge of Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach in order to retain their Bundesliga crown.

"We are one point ahead," the goalkeeper said. "You cannot take this one game to judge whether there is a clearly better team."

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