Serious reflection is needed at Bayern Munich after Niko Kovac was sacked as head coach, says Joshua Kimmich.

Bayern parted company with Kovac, who led the club to a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in 2018-19, following a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, their heaviest top-flight defeat since April 2009.

Hansi Flick will take the reins for Wednesday's Champions League home meeting with Olympiacos and the visit of Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, with president Uli Hoeness hoping to have a clear idea on how the team will proceed by the end of the international break.

Bayern sit fourth in the Bundesliga, four points adrift of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, but can book a place in the last 16 of the Champions League by defeating Olympiacos.

Kimmich acknowledges it will be difficult for Flick to make his presence felt in a short space of time, so he and his team-mates must raise their standards in a bid to turn things around.

"When a club changes the coach, it means that the players have failed as well. We need to question ourselves and we need to improve and win games," he told a news conference on Tuesday.

"It's not very easy for Hansi because he doesn't have much time, yesterday [Monday] we had a day off and today we trained. Of course, he addressed a couple of things but tomorrow is the next game.

"The main responsibility for the results in the near future lies with us. There can be no more excuses for the players. The excuse of blaming the coach doesn't exist anymore.

"Of course, you want one head coach to stay for a long time because that would mean you are successful. Now if a team plays badly the coach is the scapegoat, if you play badly as a player you're on the bench and that's it.

"Hansi is a great guy who delivers very clear statements to the team. He already had some team meetings where he spoke.

"We have to deliver, we're the guys on the pitch. It's not going to be easy."

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness said the Bundesliga champions will know more about Niko Kovac's replacement in three weeks.

Head coach Kovac departed following Saturday's humiliating 5-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, which left Bayern fourth in the table and four points off the pace.

Hans Flick has been placed in temporary charge ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match against Olympiacos and Saturday's Bundesliga blockbuster with Borussia Dortmund.

Asked about Kovac and the search for a new coach amid links to Ralf Rangnick, Ajax's Erik ten Hag, Arsene Wenger, Massimiliano Allegri and Jose Mourinho, Hoeness told reporters: "Everything has been said already about this topic. I think our press release yesterday [Sunday] evening was very detailed.

"I can't say what will happen the next weeks either. It's not so important now, as we got three weeks now to consider how to deal with it. I think we did well.

"We always had a good relation to Niko Kovac. We came to a mutual agreement. There is no dirty laundry to wash. I've had a phone call with him today, everything is fine. I got the feeling that he is now free from a huge pressure.

"Now we play against Olympiacos and then against Dortmund. In three weeks in Dusseldorf we will know how to continue."

 

Bastian Schweinsteiger says Jose Mourinho "was always asking about Bayern Munich" at Manchester United, as speculation grows the Portuguese could take over the reins at the Bundesliga champions.

Bayern parted ways with coach Niko Kovac on Sunday after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt a day earlier left them fourth in the Bundesliga table.

Pressure had been growing on Kovac all season despite his leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal triumph in his first year in charge.

Meanwhile, Mourinho has been out of a coaching job since being sacked by United in December 2018, with the 56-year-old considered to be among the frontrunners to replace Kovac.

Schweinsteiger played for Bayern between 2002 and 2015 before moving to United, where he played under Mourinho in the 2016-17 season.

He says Mourinho showed a keen interest in Bayern and the Bundesliga, as well as learning the German language in his downtime.

"I can imagine Mourinho in Germany," he told Bild. "I remember he was always asking me about Bayern and the Bundesliga. During our away games, there was always Bundesliga on TV.

"He really knew every single player, even from the smaller teams. He was also learning German.

"He has not worked in the Bundesliga, so I can well imagine that he would be tempted by a commitment in Germany."

Kovac's assistant Hans Flick will oversee Bayern's preparations for their Champions League clash with Olympiacos on Wednesday and Saturday's Der Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund.

Niko Kovac has finally paid the price for a tough start to the season for Bayern Munich, with the head coach departing after a humiliating 5-1 defeat to former club Eintracht Frankfurt.

That result left the Bundesliga champions fourth - four points off leaders Borussia Monchengladbach - having won just one of their past four league matches.

Of course, Bayern also claimed an incredible 7-2 Champions League triumph away at Tottenham, but pressure had been building on Kovac for some time.

So where might Bayern turn next? We examine six potential candidates - including some big names.
 

JOSE MOURINHO

There is scarcely an elite club Mourinho has not been linked with since departing Manchester United, so could he finally end up at Bayern?

After winning trophies and plaudits in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, the 'Special One' would surely relish the opportunity to conquer Germany, too. Mourinho passed up the opportunity to give France a go when he told Lyon he had already chosen his next club, but Bayern would be tough to turn down.

MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI

Allegri said he planned to take a year out after surprisingly leaving Juventus at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, but he might be persuaded to cut short his sabbatical if Bayern come knocking.

The 52-year-old was untouchable domestically with Juve, guiding them to five straight Serie A titles, although he was unable to secure a first Champions League title since 1996 for the Italian heavyweights.

He has a proven track record of getting the best out of high-profile names and would certainly be a safe pair of hands as Bayern look to steady the ship after a challenging start to the season.

ARSENE WENGER

Wenger has been out of football for over a year now, but he has repeatedly talked up the possibility of a return - and a man with his resume would expect to go back in at the top.

While there has been talk of directorial roles, few coaching gigs could appeal more than Bayern. After years of fending off the top-spending clubs as Arsenal boss, Wenger would find himself the biggest fish in the Bundesliga sea were he to take the job.

RALF RANGNICK

Any Bayern boss would command lots of scrutiny, leading the biggest club in the country, but Rangnick knows all about being a target for rival sides having led RB Leipzig into the Bundesliga.

Rangnick worked as sporting director for a time at Leipzig, yet he proved his coaching chops, too, and had the team third in the league as recently as last season. He is an out-of-work yet established domestic option.

HANS FLICK

Some of Kovac's public comments might have rubbed players, officials and fans up the wrong way, but it is not necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The 'baby', in this case, could be Flick. The former Hoffenheim boss returned to coaching as Kovac's assistant this season, forming part of the staff that delivered some hugely impressive results - remember Tottenham? 

Flick is familiar with the squad and a seemingly easy hire, and he will take temporary charge for the next two games.

ERIK TEN HAG

Ajax coach Ten Hag was linked with a return to Bayern at the end of last season and, discussing a potential switch as pressure built on Kovac, he refused to rule out the possibility of joining Germany's top club, having previously worked with the team's reserves under Pep Guardiola.

Ten Hag established himself as a leading light in the 2018-19 Champions League, overseeing a pair of gripping draws against Bayern before reaching the last four. Six years on from their most recent European triumph, such a CV would appeal to Bayern.

Niko Kovac has departed Bayern Munich after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt left the champions fourth in the Bundesliga table.

Pressure has been growing on Kovac all season despite the Croatian leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal triumph in his first year in charge.

Saturday's trip to Frankfurt saw Bayern beaten 5-1 by Kovac's old club, who he led to DFB-Pokal glory in 2017-18 before moving to Bavaria.

Bayern failed to keep a clean sheet in any of Kovac's last eight games in all competitions and they needed a late comeback to win at second-tier side Bochum in the DFB-Pokal in midweek.

Despite Kovac leading Bayern to three wins out of three in the Champions League, the Bundesliga champions have now opted for a change of coach.

Former Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss Jose Mourinho has been linked with Bayern after the Portuguese revealed he is learning German.

Mauricio Pochettino, whose future at Tottenham has appeared uncertain since their Champions League final loss to Liverpool, has also been linked with Bayern.

Assistant coach Hans Flick will take charge of the first team as they prepare for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Olympiacos and the Klassiker showdown with Borussia Dortmund next Saturday.

"The performance of our team in recent weeks, and the results, have shown us there was need for action," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement.

"[President] Uli Hoeness, [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and I had an open and serious conversation with Niko on this basis on Sunday, with the consensual result that Niko is no longer the Bayern coach.

"We all regret this development. I'd like to thank Niko Kovac on behalf of FC Bayern for his work, especially for winning the double last season."

Salihamidzic added: "I now expect a positive development from our players and the highest motivation to achieve our goals this season."

Kovac somewhat surprisingly said he felt his departure was for the best for Bayern.

"I think this is the right decision for the club at the moment," he said.

"The results, and also the way we played in the last game, made me come to that decision.

"My brother Robert and I thank Bayern for the past one and a half years. During this time, our team won the title, the DFB-Pokal and the DFL-Supercup. It was a good time.

"I wish the club and the team all the best."

Niko Kovac has been sacked by Bayern Munich after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt left the champions fourth in the Bundesliga table.

Pressure has been growing on Kovac all season despite the Croatian leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal triumph in his first year in charge.

Saturday's trip to Frankfurt saw Bayern beaten 5-1 by Kovac's old club, who he led to DFB-Pokal glory in 2017-18 before moving to Bavaria.

Bayern failed to keep a clean sheet in any of Kovac's last eight games in all competitions and they needed a late comeback to win at second-tier side Bochum in the DFB-Pokal in midweek.

Despite Kovac leading Bayern to three wins out of three in the Champions League, the Bundesliga champions have now opted for a change of coach.

Former Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss Jose Mourinho has been linked with Bayern after the Portuguese revealed he is learning German.

Mauricio Pochettino, whose future at Tottenham has appeared uncertain since their Champions League final loss to Liverpool, has also been linked with Bayern.

Assistant coach Hans Flick will take charge of the first team as they prepare for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Olympiacos and the Klassiker showdown with Borussia Dortmund next Saturday.

"The performance of our team in recent weeks, and the results, have shown us there was need for action," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement.

"[President] Uli Hoeness, [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and I had an open and serious conversation with Niko on this basis on Sunday, with the consensual result that Niko is no longer the Bayern coach.

"We all regret this development. I'd like to thank Niko Kovac on behalf of FC Bayern for his work, especially for winning the double last season."

Salihamidzic added: "I now expect a positive development from our players and the highest motivation to achieve our goals this season."

Kovac somewhat surprisingly said he felt his departure was for the best for Bayern.

"I think this is the right decision for the club at the moment," he said.

"The results, and also the way we played in the last game, made me come to that decision.

"My brother Robert and I thank Bayern for the past one and a half years. During this time, our team won the title, the DFB-Pokal and the DFL-Supercup. It was a good time.

"I wish the club and the team all the best."

Out of work and looking for a job – Massimiliano Allegri could be poised for a return to the dugout.

Allegri left Juventus at the end of 2018-19 after guiding the Old Lady to five consecutive Serie A titles.

The Italian coach has been linked to Manchester United but, with Niko Kovac on the brink at Bayern Munich, Allegri could find himself in Bavaria.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN GO FOR ALLEGRI

Bayern Munich want former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri to replace Niko Kovac, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Kovac is on the verge of being sacked after Bayern's humiliating 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, with the Bundesliga champions cancelling Sunday's public training session as pressure mounts.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax's Erik ten Hag have been linked but Bayern have reportedly identified the man to take over in Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror claims Manchester United are ready to hijack Liverpool's move for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. Champions League holders Liverpool have been linked to Werner, however, United want to bring the Germany international to Old Trafford in January.

Perth Glory are still optimistic they can lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Australia, reports The West Australian. After revealing an approach for Ibrahimovic on a guest-player contract, A-League side Perth have seen Serie A outfit Bologna confirm their interest in the 38-year-old striker ahead of the January transfer window. Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy contract will expire before the end of the year.

Tottenham are eyeing a January swoop for Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. With Hugo Lloris out injured, Spurs are on the lookout for a new keeper and £35million could see Eredivisie champions Ajax sell the Cameroon international.

- According to the Guardian, Arsenal have joined United and Juventus in the transfer chase for Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona have dropped their interest in Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. The Slovakia international has established himself as one of the best defenders in the world since joined Inter in 2017.

United and Paris Saint-Germain are leading the race to sign Juventus midfielder Emre Can, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Bayern Munich have cancelled Sunday's scheduled open training session in the wake of their 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, as the pressure mounts on Niko Kovac.

The Bundesliga champions were humiliated by Kovac's former club on Saturday as they fell four points behind pace-setters Borussia Monchengladbach at the top of the table.

Bayern have won just one of their past four league outings and, though they have found some form in the Champions League, Kovac appears to be under significant pressure.

Following Saturday's result, the club confirmed a planned session that would have been open to the public will not be held.

"After the defeat in Frankfurt, the decision was made at short notice not to train tomorrow in public. We ask all fans for understanding," Bayern said in a statement.

Jerome Boateng was sent off after nine minutes and, although Robert Lewandowski scored his 20th goal of the season, goals from Filip Kostic, Djibril Sow, David Abraham, Martin Hinteregger and Goncalo Paciencia sealed Eintracht's win.

Speaking afterwards, Kovac insisted: "I did not give up last season and I will not give up now. When it comes to such situations, you must not get restless.

"I leave here sad and disappointed. I'm not starry-eyed – I know the business. But I will not give up."

Olympiacos come next for Bayern in the Champions League before a crunch Klassiker clash with title rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Niko Kovac accepts his job as Bayern Munich boss is under serious threat but has refused to quit following Saturday's 5-1 loss to former club Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Bundesliga champions had Jerome Boateng sent off nine minutes into the clash at Commerzbank-Arena and were made to pay as they suffered their biggest league defeat since 2008-09.

In-form striker Robert Lewandowski was on target for Bayern after Filip Kostic and Djibril Sow had put Frankfurt two goals ahead, but David Abraham, Martin Hinteregger and Goncalo Paciencia struck in the second half to pile the pressure on Kovac.

Bayern have now dropped points in half of their 10 league matches this term and are fourth in the table, four points adrift of surprise leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

However, Kovac is standing firm amid speculation that Bayern chiefs are preparing to pull the trigger ahead of next weekend's Klassiker showdown with Borussia Dortmund.

"I did not give up last season and I will not give up now," he said at his post-match news conference. "When it comes to such situations, you must not get restless.

"I leave here sad and disappointed. I'm not starry-eyed – I know the business. But I will not give up."

Further pressed on his future at the Allianz Arena, Kovac said: "How should I know? You probably know better. I cannot say anything about that.

"My feelings are not important. Those who decide must be asked."

Bayern have conceded 16 goals in their opening 10 league matches, the most they have let in since 2008-09, and Kovac admitted his side struggled after Boateng's early dismissal.

The experienced centre-back was shown the seventh red card of his Bundesliga career for a last-man tackle on Paciencia inside the opening nine minutes.

"We got a red card and if you play with ten players for 80 minutes, it will be difficult in Frankfurt," he said. "That did not make it easy for us. But you cannot lose even with a man less. It is disappointing and annoying. 

"It cannot be used as an excuse. We still did not play like we should in the first half."

Victory for Frankfurt was their first over Bayern in 17 attempts and lifted them to within a point of their opponents.

"This was not to be expected," Frankfurt boss Adi Hutter told reporters. "I didn't have a good record against them, but we caught them at a good time. 

"We have a great collective and our players took their chances. We are very happy today."

Niko Kovac says he will continue to be honest despite angering Bayern Munich supporters by suggesting former club Eintracht Frankfurt have the best fans in Germany.

Bayern are second in the Bundesliga and needed late goals from Serge Gnabry and Thomas Miller to overcome second-tier Bochum 2-1 in the DFB-Pokal on Tuesday, saving under-fire boss Kovac from further scrutiny.

But Kovac risked backlash speaking after the game as he talked up supporters of Eintracht, Bayern's next league opponents.

Given the opportunity to redress his comments on Thursday, the 48-year-old chose instead to defend his right to have an opinion on such matters.

"I watched three of their [Europa League] qualifying games at the beginning of the season - there was some great choreography and I thought it was great," said Kovac, who won the DFB-Pokal with Frankfurt in 2017-18.

"We also have great fans. I felt that last season, especially towards the end against Frankfurt and also in the cup when my name was chanted. 

"I know how important the fans are for us. I did not say we have bad fans - they are also great. But in the big picture, Frankfurt have a great and unique atmosphere unlike anywhere else in the Bundesliga.

"I will not change myself or my character. If honesty is no longer desirable in this day and age, we can pack it in. I will not change."

Kovac questioned the attitude of his players following their comeback win at Bochum and is now keen to see Bayern start games in more impressive fashion.

"[Bochum] had a huge chance after 40 seconds. I expect my side to be ready from the first minute," he said. "We know we have the quality, but we have to work the same as others."

Bayern have won three in a row in all competitions but are seven games without a clean sheet and have struggled to dominate matches as in the past, leading to criticism from chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Not since 2008-09 have they conceded more goals in their opening nine Bundesliga matches, and Kovac is working on a solution.

"Football is a sport that is results-oriented, but the best combination is to win and play well," he said. "We are not able to do that right now. We have to gain confidence through small victories.

"If you lose the ball five times, it will be difficult to offer yourself a sixth time and then your knees will start to shake, so you have to try to get into a rhythm right from the beginning."

The prolific Robert Lewandowski moved into the Bundesliga record books as he helped Bayern Munich to a 2-1 victory over Union Berlin.

Having matched Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's record of scoring in the opening eight Bundesliga matches of a season when he found the target against Augsburg, Lewandowski became the first player to net in the first nine games of a campaign when he grabbed Bayern's second seven minutes into the second half.

It was a typically composed finish from Lewandowski, who up until that point had been well shackled by Union either side of Benjamin Pavard's superb strike giving Bayern the lead.

Sebastian Andersson missed a penalty for Union on 58 minutes and, although Sebastian Polter converted a second spot-kick for the visitors late on, Bayern held firm to secure a first win in three league matches and move top of the table.

Pavard lit up what had been an uneventful opening in the 13th minute, slamming home on the half-volley from Rafal Gikiewicz's poor punch.

Hunting his record-setting goal, Lewandowski went close moments later, just failing to connect with Kingsley Coman's acrobatic cut-back.

Coman was the provider for Bayern's next opportunity, playing a neat one-two with Thomas Muller, who drilled his effort straight at Gikiewicz. Union's goalkeeper then kept out Philippe Coutinho's deflected shot before half-time.

Bayern soon had their second, though. After a fine run from full debutant Alphonso Davies, Lewandowski pounced on a loose ball, setting himself before slotting home into the bottom-right corner.

Union were handed a lifeline when referee Marco Fritz utilised VAR to award a penalty for Ivan Perisic's handball, but Manuel Neuer comfortably kept out Andersson's effort. 

After Lewandowski saw a second goal ruled out for offside, Pavard gifted Union a reprieve with a reckless foul on Polter, who made no mistake with a spot-kick that ultimately came too late.

What does it mean? Bayern top of the pile... for now

It is hugely congested at the top of the Bundesliga but, with this win, Niko Kovac's side nosed themselves ahead of the pack.

However, Borussia Monchengladbach and Wolfsburg could both leapfrog the champions should they win their respective matches on Sunday.

Remarkable Robert at it again

It has been an incredible start to the season for Lewandowski and the Poland international has now capped that off by planting himself into the league's record books.

The 31-year-old has 18 goals from 13 appearances in all club competitions so far this season and, with the Bundesliga so tight at the top as it stands, his form could well be what separates Bayern from the rest.

Andersson fluffs his lines

Union's Swedish forward does have three Bundesliga goals to his name this term, though the last one came on September 14 and he displayed a severe lack of confidence when he stepped up to take a spot-kick, ultimately squandering Union's chance to tee up a grandstand finish.

What's next?

Bayern visit Bochum in the DFB-Pokal in midweek, while Union travel to high-fliers Freiburg in the same competition. Eintracht Frankfurt are next up for Bayern in the Bundesliga.

Niko Kovac has played down talk that he is close to being sacked by Bayern Munich after coming in for criticism from chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Bayern earned a 3-2 win away to Olympiacos on Tuesday to maintain their perfect start in Champions League Group B, but their performance was not convincing.

Speaking in an interview after the game, Rummenigge accused Bayern of playing "too recklessly" and predicted they will run into more problems.

The pressure has grown on Kovac following a home defeat to Hoffenheim and away draw with Augsburg prior to their victory in Greece, but the 48-year-old claimed the speculation over his future has been blown out of proportion.

"When he spoke about carelessness, everyone knows what he meant," Kovac told reporters ahead of Saturday's home league match with Union Berlin. 

"Everyone expects wins - and beautiful football. We expect that too. But you cannot always play nice football. First and foremost, you have to be successful.

"We're struggling defensively at the moment. We're making too many individual mistakes. We have to win our duels and minimise the opponents' chances, then we'll win our games quieter than on Tuesday.

"I can tell you, I'm in contact with my bosses, this storm is being blown in from outside, so I'm quite relaxed. The experience over the past year has been very helpful to me."

Kovac is not the only Bundesliga boss reportedly under threat of being sacked, with Borussia Dortmund counterpart Lucien Favre also in the firing line.

However, with the title rivals due to meet in two weeks, Kovac has questioned why Favre's job is supposedly on the line.

"We're on matchday eight and the coach's future is already being discussed," he said. "It's not just Bayern, but also other clubs. We talk about respect, but this has got nothing to do with respect.

"Lucien has the same points tally as us, has lost one game in the Champions League, and they're still in the [domestic] cup - yet names of possible replacements are already being mentioned. 

"I don't understand. Sometimes the views of a minority is portrayed as majority. You have to be careful."

The biggest shining light for Bayern this term has been the incredible form of [Robert] Lewandowski, who scored for the 12th game running in the victory over Olympiacos.

"I think that he is playing the season of his life," Kovac said. "He enjoys a high status at the club. He is physically in top shape. 

"That gives him the necessary concentration in front of the goal. We are glad to have him."

Thibaut Courtois made the move to Real Madrid in 2018, but he is already seemingly under pressure in Spain.

Life at the Santiago Bernabeu has not gone according to plan for the former Chelsea goalkeeper.

And Madrid already have their eyes on a potential replacement…

 

TOP STORY – MADRID EYE SIMON AS COURTOIS REPLACEMENT

Real Madrid have identified Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon as a potential replacement for Thibaut Courtois, according to El Desmarque.

Courtois swapped Chelsea for Madrid in 2018, yet the Belgium international has not convinced amid growing criticism in the Spanish capital.

Simon has reportedly attracted interest from Madrid, who would need to pay the 22-year-old's €50million release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

Borussia Dortmund fear losing Manchester United target Jadon Sancho, according to Sport1. Sancho was suspended for last week's Bundesliga win over Borussia Monchengladbach after returning late from international duty.

- Sport claims Barcelona are ready to offload midfielders Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena and Riqui Puig in January. Rakitic has been heavily linked to Serie A side Inter, while Tottenham are rumoured to be interested in Alena.

Manchester United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Mario Mandzukic after the Juventus striker slashed his wage demands, according to The Sun. Mandzukic is out of favour in Turin and set to leave in the January transfer window.

- Sport Bild says Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel has turned down offers from Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig and Roma. The 23-year-old only wants to join Bayern Munich should he leave Schalke when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- The German publication also claims Ralf Rangnick is a candidate to replace Niko Kovac if Bayern Munich decide to part with their current head coach. Bild, however, also says Rangnick is a candidate at Manchester United.

- Calciomercato says AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund are interested in Bayern Munich centre-back Lars Lukas Mai. Dortmund is believed to be the teenager's favoured destination.

- Real Madrid have informed Brahim Diaz he can leave the LaLiga club, reports AS. It comes less than a year after his arrival from Manchester City.

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag has refused to rule out a high-profile return to Bayern Munich.

Dutchman Ten Hag coached Bayern's reserves from 2013 to 2015 before returning to his homeland to join FC Utrecht.

The 49-year-old then moved to Ajax and led the powerhouse to the Eredivisie title last term, as well as the Champions League semi-finals.

Bayern have struggled for consistency in the Bundesliga this season and sit third in the table, just one point above ninth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

As a result, Bayern coach Niko Kovac's future has been the subject of speculation, and when asked by Kicker if he would be open to going back to the Bundesliga giants, Ten Hag said: "I do not exclude anything."

"But I'm almost 50 and [I am] not a dreamer. It comes - or it does not come."

Asked to comment on his time in Munich, Ten Hag added: "For me, it was about coming to an association like Bayern.

"Pep Guardiola was there, and more importantly, [sporting director] Matthias Sammer with his strategic approach and mentality, which he brings to a club.

"Under Guardiola, Bayern played dominant [football] … everyone on the pitch knew what he had to do."

Despite the big-money departures of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, Ajax have started the 2019-20 campaign in good fashion, winning eight of a possible 10 Eredivisie matches to top the table, three points ahead of rivals PSV.

Bayern Munich's missed chances at Augsburg left coach Niko Kovac and star winger Serge Gnabry frustrated as the Bundesliga champions had to settle for a point.

Kovac's side recovered from Marco Richter's first-minute opener and then led when Gnabry teed up Robert Lewandowski before scoring himself.

However, Bayern passed up two big opportunities to stretch their lead, with Augsburg goalkeeper Tomas Koubek excelling while Thomas Muller, who has made his frustration at a lack of match action clear, was guilty of a glaring miss.

This profligacy came back to bite Bayern as Alfred Finnbogason struck in second-half stoppage-time, pouncing on an error from Lucas Hernandez - another man in the spotlight following a fitness row with France.

Both the slow start and the failure to put the game to bed were of great annoyance to Kovac as he faced the media at full-time, with his side third ahead of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach's clash with Borussia Dortmund.

"We started very badly in the game. That must not happen to us, as we have previously pointed out," he said. "We have to be awake [immediately] and not be there in five minutes.

"But then we had everything under control. We had the ball and huge chances but did not score them. If you cannot do that, you cannot concede a second goal at the back.

"Two shots on goal, two goals [for Augsburg]. That annoys me."

Gnabry took a similar tact, adding: "We have moved on from the last game against Hoffenheim [a 2-1 defeat before the international break]. We came out fresh and played a great game, controlling it all the time.

"We ended up with two almost 100 per cent chances to get a third. If we score, the game is over. That's where we spoiled it.

"We had a lot of possession and a lot of chances - we should have won, but we were a bit too careless and then something happened at the back. That's football."

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