Javi Martinez labelled Robert Lewandowski an "animal", but insisted he never feared the Bayern Munich star would leave for Real Madrid.

Lewandowski is enjoying another prolific season with the Bundesliga giants, scoring 43 goals – equalling his best in a single campaign – in 37 games.

The 31-year-old has been linked with a move to Madrid previously, but is instead in his sixth term with Bayern.

Martinez hailed Lewandowski's form, saying the Poland international was enjoying his best season yet.

"He is in the best year of his career," the midfielder told Marca.

"He is an animal, the best nine in the world. Keep it that way until August."

Asked if he ever worried Lewandowski would join Madrid, Martinez said: "Not fear, because great players have left Bayern and they have always replaced them well.

"It is clear that it would have been a great loss, but it didn't happen."

Martinez arrived at Bayern from Athletic Bilbao in 2012 and has won seven top-flight titles and a Champions League among numerous trophies with the German giants.

The 18-cap Spain international is out of contract next year and said he was ready for whatever was next in his career.

"I have to sit down and talk to Bayern. It expires in 2021. I'm ready for anything. What I have experienced here has been great," Martinez said.

"We have to wait because there is a lot of uncertainty. We don't know if there will be a market, if the Champions League will be played."

Bayern Munich are considering a joint protest over the death of George Floyd, with Joshua Kimmich keen for players to use their platform to help.

Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis last week after an officer knelt on his neck while he lay handcuffed on the ground, sparking demonstrations and riots over racism and police brutality across the United States and beyond.

Jadon Sancho, Achraf Hakimi, Weston McKennie and Marcus Thuram all made gestures of support at the weekend, which were examined by the German Football Association (DFB).

FIFA urged leagues to use common sense on the issue given the context and on Wednesday the DFB said no players will be sanctioned for showing solidarity with anti-racism messages.

Kimmich revealed Bundesliga leaders Bayern have discussed the possibility of protesting together when they face Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend.

"As a football player you have a big power in this world. My opinion is we should feel this responsibility and say something like Sancho did," said Kimmich.

"It's good that it's not just one player. Maybe it is also an option to say something as a team. "We are one world, one club, one football team. It doesn't matter if you are black or white.

"We as footballers, like with Sancho, have a lot of power to reach other people, to be role models and to say something.

"What we say to people outside gives us a big chance to make a statement.

"We discussed it and maybe we can do something. We maybe have to do something because we cannot give something like this a place."

Thomas Muller has been impressed with how effortlessly Hansi Flick has handled the pressure that comes with being Bayern Munich's head coach.

Flick signed a contract to be Bayern's boss until 2023 in April, having taken over from Niko Kovac on an interim basis in November.

He has overseen a run of eight straight league wins either side of the enforced break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, helping the Bavarian giants open up a seven-point lead at the Bundesliga summit.

The role is Flick's first as a head coach since 2005 and Muller, who has been in fine form since he took over, praised the way the 55-year-old has dealt with the scrutiny.

"I knew him from the German national team, but he also developed," he told a virtual media conference.  

"I didn't know him as a head coach, but I am very impressed by how well he has handled this situation. It's a difference to be assistant coach in the national team, where the media is a little bit more on your side as we are all playing for Germany and they are reporting for Germany and everyone wants Germany to win.

"But here in Munich, it's a little bit different. When you work for a club as big as Bayern is, you are always under pressure. The media is not always on your side and you have to be very successful to have a nice time here. I think he is handling it very, very well, so I am very satisfied about it."

Bayern have scored 13 goals in their four games since returning to action last month, with Muller in no doubt Flick's desire to play aggressive football has been key to their success.

"The most important thing for me was that he wants us to play very aggressively without the ball," he added. "Now, we play very aggressively, pressing in the opponents' half. We try to attack the opponent very early and with high intensity.

"With these early wins of the ball, the distance to the opponents' goal to create chances is less, so we score a lot of goals. When we get the ball with our pressing in spaces where the opponent is not organised, we can do what you have seen in the last month."

Bayern will be looking to make it nine consecutive Bundesliga wins when they travel to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. 

Thomas Muller says Bayern Munich are "afraid of nobody" in the Champions League even if the scheduling looks set to work against the Bundesliga giants.

Germany's top flight was the first of Europe's elite leagues to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic and Bayern have returned in scintillating form as they march towards an eighth straight title.

Their performances under Hansi Flick have prompted talk of a treble bid, with the Bavarian club also going strong in both the DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Bayern won 3-0 at Chelsea in their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie before the competition was suspended and Muller sees no reason to fear any potential opponents in the latter stages.

"At Bayern Munich, we have our 'Mia San Mia' slogan. The slogan means we are afraid of nobody," he told a remote news conference on Wednesday.

"We always trust in our strength and I think right now, in this moment, we are in a very good shape. In my opinion, everyone who wants to come to the Allianz Arena and play against us is invited.

"But of course, in the Champions League, there are always tough teams to beat. I think Barcelona...

"But we have to watch out for how the international teams come out of the coronavirus break. You don't know how they can handle it. Maybe there are some injuries.

"For the moment right now, here in Bayern Munich, everything works great and the players are in good shape, so we are looking forward to playing against anyone."

Bayern's Bundesliga campaign will conclude before the end of June, yet the Champions League is reportedly not set to restart until August.

Muller acknowledges this break is "not positive" for Bayern, as rival clubs will be concluding their domestic seasons, but he remains confident.

"When I think about the future, the next two months, I think the break for us is not that positive," he said.

"Now we are in the rhythm. We did the 'mini-prep' in May, so now the engines are fully loaded and we play three games a week and are used to doing the work.

"I'm a little bit sceptical because when we have the break, we will have 10 days or one week off in the middle of July. Then we have to start again.

"Maybe that's not the best preparation, but in this situation, right now, there is no space to complain. We have to handle the situation, and when we want to win, we have to handle it the best.

"For me, there is no problem but I think it's not positive that there is a break."

Bayern Munich's approach to conducting transfer business will not change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the club's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. 

Clubs across the globe face financial uncertainty amid the COVID-19 outbreak and it remains to be seen what sort of impact the health crisis will have on teams' dealings in the market.

Salihamidzic recognises the challenges that await in terms of recruitment but says Bayern have always acted with prudence when it comes to signing players.

In an interview with Bayern magazine '51', he said: "Nobody needs a crystal ball to predict that our society and therefore all clubs will face major tests in the short and medium term. 

"Squad planning is always challenging, regardless of corona. We have to think even more creatively. 

"Before corona, the market had taken absurd moves. However, I can only speak for Bayern and say that we have always managed reasonably in this heated phase. 

"We will continue to handle this in the future. How we see football, which economic principles we follow and how we want to act in the transfer market does not change. And there are always opportunities in crises.

"In success, not losing sight of those who are not doing so well, [we have] always had a culture at FC Bayern. Compassion, solidarity, support - we will also try to live on for the European idea in this difficult time. Corona will challenge us all like nothing before. But we at FC Bayern are up to the task."

Bayern are top of the Bundesliga by seven points with five matches remaining.

Lautaro Martinez's move to Barcelona is seemingly getting closer.

The star Inter forward has been linked to the LaLiga giants, although questions have been raised over whether Barca can find a deal to land the 22-year-old.

But the Argentina international could be nearing a switch to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – LAUTARO, BARCELONA AGREE TO FIVE-YEAR DEAL

Martinez and Barcelona have reached an agreement on a five-year deal at about €12million per season plus bonuses, according to Sport.

The report says Inter have given up on the star forward, but are yet to reach an agreement with Barcelona.

Martinez has scored 16 goals in 31 games this season.

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have already decided not to purchase Philippe Coutinho, who has been linked with an extended stay on loan. However, Sport Bild reports there is no chance the playmaker stays in Munich.

- Timo Werner is reportedly a target for Liverpool, but another Premier League club could be making their move. The Telegraph claims Chelsea are plotting a move for the RB Leipzig forward.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Arsenal future remains uncertain. The Telegraph reports head coach Mikel Arteta is trying to persuade the striker to stay at the Premier League club, while The Sun says Arsenal will keep Aubameyang until the end of his contract in 2021 if they cannot get more than £20m for him this close season.

- Could Eric Garcia return to Barcelona? Sport reports the LaLiga giants are tracking the defender, who came through their youth system before joining Manchester City in 2018.

- Having impressed at Lyon, Houssem Aouar may be ready for a move. According to CalcioMercato, the attacker would prefer a switch to Juventus over Manchester City.

- After contract talks with Newcastle United broke down, Matty Longstaff could be heading abroad. The Times says the midfielder is set for a move to Serie A, with Udinese frontrunners to sign the 20-year-old.

Thiago Alcantara has returned to team training after missing three Bayern Munich matches through injury.

The midfielder sat out the Bundesliga victories over Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund and Fortuna Dusseldorf due to muscular problems.

The Spain international took part in the team session on Tuesday as the leaders prepared for Saturday's meeting with Bayer Leverkusen.

Lucas Hernandez, who suffered adductor problems in the 5-0 win over Dusseldorf, could only train individually, while long-term absentees Niklas Sule and Philippe Coutinho continued their fitness programmes.

A win for Bayern at the BayArena could be a crucial moment in this season's title race.

Hansi Flick's side are seven points clear of Dortmund at the top of the table with only five matches left, with the trip to Champions League-chasing Leverkusen likely to be the most challenging of their remaining games.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich… take your pick.

Kai Havertz is not short of options following his stunning form for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.

As clubs queue up to sign Havertz, a Premier League giant is reportedly leading the race.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD FAVOURITES FOR HAVERTZ

Manchester United are favourites to sign in-demand Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, according to The Sun.

Havertz has been linked to the likes of Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid after his exploits for Bundesliga outfit Leverkusen.

United are ready to swoop for Havertz, as well as Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho.

 

ROUND-UP

- Le10Sport says Paul Pogba is open to swapping United for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. Linked to former club Juventus and LaLiga giants Madrid, PSG have emerged as a possible destination for the disgruntled Frenchman.

Manchester City are determined to sign Juve centre-back Leonardo Bonucci, but Calciomercato claims the Serie A holders are unwilling to sell the key defender.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona are positive about signing Lautaro Martinez from Inter following Mauro Icardi's move to PSG. Inter recouped at least €50million after Icardi's loan deal at PSG became permanent. While Barca are aware it will be difficult to prise Martinez to Camp Nou, the LaLiga champions view Icardi's transfer positively.

Chelsea are leading the race to sign Barca outcast Philippe Coutinho, according to the Daily Express. Coutinho has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern but the German giants opted not to exercise their transfer option. Now, Chelsea are prepared to bring the former Liverpool star back to the Premier League on loan. Tottenham have also been linked.

- Juve's Douglas Costa is wanted by Atletico Madrid. That is according to Calciomercato, which claims Atletico want to bring in the Brazilian attacker in exchange for either Thomas Partey or Stefan Savic. Douglas Costa has been linked to United, while Arsenal are eyeing Partey.

Milan will meet with potential new head coach Ralf Rangnick, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. The Rossoneri continue to be linked to Rangnick while Stefano Pioli remains in charge.

- La Repubblica claims Juve have entered the race for Hellas Verona defender Marash Kumbulla. The 20-year-old has been linked to the likes of Napoli, Lazio, Fiorentina, United, Tottenham, Chelsea, PSG and RB Leipzig.

Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard said he was dreaming of winning the Champions League to seal a treble this season.

Hansi Flick's side are on track to win the Bundesliga and are in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals, while they are also in the Champions League last 16.

Pavard, who only arrived at Bayern from Stuttgart ahead of this season, said he was eyeing a treble.

"We have a very good squad, we are performing well in the cup and in the Bundesliga," the France international told beIN SPORTS on Sunday.

"We must continue like this. Bayern must win the championship and the cup every year.

"And the Champions League, we dream of it and we want to make the treble."

While Pavard has played 39 games this season, Bayern are reportedly looking for a right-back and plan to use the Frenchman in the centre of defence in the long-term.

The former Lille man said he was focused on winning titles with Bayern despite talk about his position.

"I signed for five years at Bayern, I play my matches, I am performing and I will do everything to improve further. And I want to win a lot of titles," Pavard said.

"I don't know yet what the future holds, we know that in football it can go very quickly, but I don't ask myself many questions."

Bayern are seven points clear atop the Bundesliga, while they claimed a 3-0 win over Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Barcelona are continuing their push for Lautaro Martinez, while Liverpool have renewed their interest in Ousmane Dembele.

Martinez, 22, has been linked with a move to Barcelona, although just whether the LaLiga giants can get a deal done has been questioned.

Inter have insisted the only way Martinez will leave is by his €111million release clause being paid. That has seemingly not put Barca off.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PUSH AHEAD IN LAUTARO PURSUIT

Barcelona are continuing to chase Inter star Martinez, according to Marca.

The report says the LaLiga side remain firm in their intention to sign Martinez despite Inter wanting his release clause paid.

Martinez had scored 16 goals in 31 games this season when the campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move for Dembele previously, Liverpool could target the Barcelona attacker again. Mundo Deportivo reports the Premier League leaders will consider a move for Dembele if they fail to land RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner.

- Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is out of contract at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2021. However, Sport reports the defender is set to renew with Madrid.

- Kai Havertz continues to attract plenty of interest. But Marca says the Bayer Leverkusen star will have to wait for Real Madrid, who it reports have been in advanced negotiations for the attacker. Havertz is also said to be wanted by Bayern Munich.

- Will Miralem Pjanic get to Barcelona? With the Juventus midfielder linked with a switch to Camp Nou, Sport and Tuttosport report the Serie A giants have asked for 17-year-old forward Ansu Fati to be included in a deal. Arthur has also been linked to Juventus.

- A possible return to Juventus for Paul Pogba appears to be difficult. However, CalcioMercato reports the Italian champions have offered Adrien Rabiot to Manchester United in a deal for the midfielder.

- David Luiz could be set for an Arsenal exit. The Mirror reports the defender will have to take a huge pay cut to secure a return to Benfica if Arsenal opt against triggering a one-year extension to his deal.

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick revealed he told Robert Lewandowski he was "surprised" the striker had not scored against Fortuna Dusseldorf before that changed on Saturday.

Lewandowski netted a brace in Bayern's 5-0 win and his double meant he has now recorded a goal against all 18 Bundesliga clubs.

Flick revealed how he had tried to inspire the striker, who moved onto 43 goals in all competitions this season.

"I told Robert Lewandowski that I was surprised to hear at the press conference that he had not yet scored a goal against Fortuna Dusseldorf and that he should change that as soon as possible," he told a news conference.

"And of course he did."

Bayern's win saw them move 10 points clear at the top as they near an eighth straight league title, and they have netted 86 goals in 29 Bundesliga games this season.

But Flick insisted the 100-goal milestone was not a priority, with Bayern having five matches to net 14 times.

"There are other goals that are more important to me. That we have a very successful season," he said.

"If this is the case, that we can score one or two goals more, that's even better.

"But currently the focus is on the Bundesliga. To finish the league on the same pitch as we are now."

David Alaba suggested there could be movement on a possible contract extension at Bayern Munich in the coming weeks. 

After Manuel Neuer was recently tied down to fresh terms, Bayern boss Hansi Flick said on Monday he is keen to retain the services of Alaba. 

The versatile Austria international's existing deal is due to expire at the end of next season. 

According to reports, Bayern are willing to offer Alaba a contract until 2025, but the defender's salary demands have led to an impasse with talks more difficult to conduct during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Alaba confirmed he would be happy to stay at the Allianz Arena but is in no rush to get the situation sorted. 

"Look, I try to focus on the essentials, on the games," Alaba told Sky. "It is very good for me. That is where my focus is entirely. 

"We have no deadline. We will see in the coming weeks what will happen next. At the moment, everything is calm." 

The 27-year-old was speaking after Bayern thrashed Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday to move 10 points clear at the Bundesliga summit, though Borussia Dortmund could cut that back to seven by beating Paderborn on Sunday. 

An own goal from Mathias Jorgensen set them on their way after 15 minutes, with Benjamin Pavard and Robert Lewandowski also on target before half-time. 

Lewandowski added a second before Alphonso Davies rounded off the scoring two minutes later in an emphatic victory. 

"We are very, very ambitious. The mood in the team is really great," said Alaba. 

"We want to win every game, and you can see that too. We are keeping our foot on the gas." 

With converted winger Davies deployed at left-back, Alaba once again featured in the heart of defence. 

He launched a sweeping move that culminated in Lewandowski's first goal and, while he is happy to continue at centre-back, admitted he is still keen to play an attacking role for Bayern. 

"I try to help the team. It's fun to play on this team. I still have an urge to attack that I want to let happen," said Alaba. 

"[Davies] is a super boy. He always wants to learn, listens and enjoys developing himself further." 

Lucas Hernandez sustained an adductor problem during Bayern Munich's demolition of Fortuna Dusseldorf, Hansi Flick has confirmed.

In the only change from the Bayern side that beat title rivals Borussia Dortmund 1-0 on Tuesday, Hernandez replaced Jerome Boateng in the centre of defence.

It was the France international's second start in all competitions this year, having spent three months out with an ankle ligament injury he suffered in October.

Hernandez - an €80million signing from Atletico Madrid ahead of the 2019-20 season - was replaced by Michael Cuisance at half-time on Saturday as Bayern held a 3-0 lead, with Joshua Kimmich moving to centre-back.

Flick revealed the decision was a precautionary measure.

"He had an adductor problem. Considering the score, the risk was too high, we didn't want to take it," said Flick.

An eighth straight Bundesliga title now looks a certainty, while they are in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals and have a 3-0 lead in their Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea, and Flick praised the mentality of his players.

They took the lead via an own goal from Mathias Jorgensen and extended their advantage through Benjamin Pavard and Robert Lewandowski.

Lewandowski scored his second four minutes into the second half and Alphonso Davies rounded off the scoring in a comprehensive triumph soon after.

"We want to have a successful season but there is still a lot left to play," Flick told Sky.

"It was important to me that we didn't let up after the Dortmund game. I am very, very satisfied, we were very aggressive.

"We push each other in the team because the emotions don't come from the stands, you hear that a little more on the pitch."

Bayern Munich faced little resistance as they stormed to a 5-0 victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf to go 10 points clear at the Bundesliga summit.

A 1-0 win against Borussia Dortmund – who play their game in hand against Paderborn on Sunday – last Tuesday gave Bayern a seven-point cushion at the top and they took another step towards an eighth straight title at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Mathias Jorgensen bundled a shot from Benjamin Pavard into his own goal in the 15th minute and the World Cup-winning right-back headed home a Joshua Kimmich corner before the half-hour mark.

Robert Lewandowski finished off a sweeping team move two minutes before half-time and added a second within five minutes of the restart, with Alphonso Davies completing the rout two minutes later.

Dusseldorf were unable to keep Bayern out for long. Thomas Muller's delivery to the back post was centred by Serge Gnabry with a brilliant first touch and Pavard's attempt was diverted into the net by Jorgensen.

Goalkeeper Florian Kastenmeier got down to his left to turn a volley from Muller behind, but he was unable to keep out Pavard's powerful header from the resulting corner in the 29th minute.

Bayern scored a brilliant third before half-time. Lewandowski's flick released Kimmich, who cut the ball back to Muller and he teed up the Poland striker to sweep into the net.

Lewandowski doubled his tally by instinctively using his trailing leg to steer Gnabry's driven cross home between the legs of Kastenmeier.

The onslaught continued when Davies dispossessed Kevin Stoger on the edge of the Dusseldorf box and slid a shot underneath Kastenmeier.

Andre Hoffman missed the target with a header and Niko Giesselmann was kept out by Manuel Neuer in rare chances for Dusseldorf, but they were able to stop Hansi Flick's side adding to the score as they continued what looks sure to be a march to glory.

 

What does it mean? Lewandowski completes the set

In his sixth Bundesliga game against Dusseldorf, Lewandowski finally scored his first goal in a meeting with them.

Although he was unable to complete his hat-trick from close range in the 70th minute, the prolific 31-year-old has now been on target against all 18 clubs playing in Germany's top flight this season.

Lewandowski has also scored 43 goals in 37 games in all competitions in 2019-20, equalling his personal best from 2016-17.

Delightful Davies

It was another exemplary display from converted left-back Davies. He used his incredible pace to halt a counter-attack ahead of Bayern's opener and made a last-ditch block to deny Kenan Karaman a goal in the 33rd minute, before helping put the game beyond doubt early in the second half.

Jorgensen has a day to forget

Things got off to a bad start for the Denmark international with an own goal and he continued to be ran ragged at the back. He failed to track Lewandowski on his first, was not quick enough to get across to stop the striker getting a second and failed to prevent Davies barrelling through when Bayern got their fifth.

What's next?

Bayern face a tricky trip to Bayer Leverkusen next Saturday, while Dusseldorf are at home to Hoffenheim on the same day.

Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness foresees "a new era" at the club as he hopes Kai Havertz could follow Leroy Sane in joining the Bundesliga leaders.

Bayern are widely expected to sign Manchester City winger Sane in the upcoming transfer window, having seen a previous move for the Germany international hindered by a long-term injury.

The Bavarian giants were seven points clear of nearest challengers Borussia Dortmund ahead of Saturday's match against Fortuna Dusseldorf as they close on an eighth straight title.

With that side potentially boosted by Sane's arrival, Hoeness - a member of Bayern's supervisory board after his presidency ended - is excited for the future.

"I believe that we are on the threshold of a relatively great generation," he told BR.

"When I think that we managed to extend with Manuel Neuer, and we have Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Robert Lewandowski and hopefully David Alaba and Thiago Alcantara [also agreeing contracts], and I also hope with Leroy Sane, with [Kingsley] Coman, [Serge] Gnabry, a young, developable team.

"I can imagine, if everything goes well, that a new era is just beginning at Bayern Munich."

Bayer Leverkusen sensation Havertz would appear to belong among such company, with predictable links to Bayern emerging amid a wonderful season in which he has produced 11 goals and five assists in 26 Bundesliga starts.

Hoeness made no secret of his desire to have Havertz join Bayern, yet he acknowledged the potential difficulties of another major signing amid the financial uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We would certainly like to have Kai Havertz," Hoeness added. "But at the moment, it is so that one does not know exactly what the economic future of all football is.

"I would like to see him in Munich from a sporting perspective, but as of today I honestly cannot imagine it, although I would like to see it."

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