Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick expressed frustration after Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller earned yellow cards in the win over Bayer Leverkusen that will rule them out of their next Bundesliga match.

Despite falling behind early on, Bayern rallied and ultimately ran out comfortable 4-2 winners, with Kingsley Coman, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and Lewandowski on target. 

For Lewandowksi, his effort took him on to 44 for the season across all competitions, a personal best, while Muller claimed a pair of assists to move him to 20 for the 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign, tying Kevin De Bruyne's record.

But both of Bayern's key men were booked, meaning they will miss next weekend's visit of Borussia Monchengladbach.

Although Bayern have a commanding lead at the summit, Flick did not hide his irritation at having the pair ruled out.

"It's annoying but we cannot change it and have to accept the situation," he said.

"You are emotional on the pitch, but I spoke to the referee Manuel Grafe. He said that Lewandowski was hitting the opponent and that's why he saw the yellow card. I didn't see it so I cannot really comment.

"Thomas was blocking the ball when they had free-kick, so the yellow card was okay. It is what it is. We accept it.

"We will have two other players. This is also good sometimes, but it's important that both can play 90 minutes against Eintracht Frankfurt [in the DFB-Pokal] on Wednesday. Then we try to prepare ourselves well for the game against Gladbach."

Goretzka was a standout performer once again and that was not lost on Flick, who is desperate for the Germany midfielder to remain injury-free.

"We are knocking on wood [hoping Goretzka remains fit] and hope he continues like that," Flick said.

"Of course, how we fought back was also due to the intensive pressing – we were more aggressive and had good ball possessions.

"Leon was directly involved in those moments and had a big influence on the first two goals.

"He showed exactly what you need as a team when you still have to find your way to the game. He did that great.

"Regarding his physical condition, he has a very strong role on the pitch and this helps us a lot."

Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller reached personal milestones as Bayern Munich broke Bundesliga records in a 4-2 defeat of Bayer Leverkusen.

This was the most difficult remaining game on paper this term for the league leaders, who went into the contest with a seven-point lead over Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table.

It proved as much in the first half when Lucas Alario's clever finish past Manuel Neuer secured a 1-0 lead for Leverkusen, who were without star man Kai Havertz due to injury.

The advantage was short-lived, though, as Hansi Flick's record-breaking side struck three times before the break through Kingsley Coman, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry.

Coman's precise finish was Bayern's 62nd goal in just 20 Bundesliga matches under Flick, a number beyond that of any previous coach in the history of the competition.

Muller teed up Goretzka to make it 2-1 and reach 19 league assists for the season, which became 20 in the second half when he crossed for Lewandowski to head in the fourth.

Muller is the first player to reach that number of assists in Europe's top-five leagues since Kevin De Bruyne for Wolfsburg in 2014-15. One more for the Bayern's number 25 will see him move beyond De Bruyne's division record.

As for Lewandowski, his emphatic header brought up 30 league goals for 2019-20 and took him to a remarkable 44 in 39 games in all competitions. It is the most the Poland striker has ever scored in a single season.

Lewandowski's goal took Bayern's tally for this Bundesliga campaign to 90, a league record for a team after 30 matches, as they stretched their winning run to nine consecutive games.

Bayern Munich's ominous charge towards an eighth successive Bundesliga title continued with a crushing 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen, as Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller reached impressive personal milestones.

Hansi Flick's side - wearing 'Black Lives Matter' armbands - looked rusty during the opening exchanges on Saturday yet rallied to overpower their hosts and go 10 points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the summit.

It all began so well for Leverkusen, who opened the scoring early on through Lucas Alario, but they capitulated and conceded three goals in less than 20 minutes – Kingsley Coman, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry all punishing the hosts.

Lewandowski added a fine header to set a new personal best of 44 goals in a single season, turning in a cross from Muller, who equalled the Bundesliga assists record for a solitary campaign.

Despite not being able to call upon Kai Havertz, missing with a muscular issue, Leverkusen began positively and deserved the lead nine minutes in – Alario prodding past Manuel Neuer after being released by Julian Baumgartlinger.

But their confidence soon vanished and Bayern duly restored parity just before the half-hour mark, Coman slotting past Lukas Hradecky after Goretzka robbed Moussa Diaby to set up his team-mate.

Leverkusen then fell apart late in the half. Goretzka rounded off a well-worked move with a left-footed effort than squeezed under Hradecky's hand, while Gnabry lobbed the goalkeeper to make it 3-1 after a punt up the pitch by Joshua Kimmich.

Peter Bosz took the drastic step of making three changes at half-time, and while chances became slightly harder to come by for Flick's team, Leverkusen did not improve a great deal going forward.

Bayern looked the more threatening and eventually got a fourth just past the hour – Lewandowski belatedly getting in on the act with an emphatic header from Muller's pinpoint cross.

Florian Wirtz, who was introduced at the break, opened his Leverkusen account in style with a curling effort late on to become the Bundesliga's youngest ever scorer at 17 years and 43 days, but it was a mere consolation for the hosts.

 

What does it mean? Bayer's remorse

While Bayern's place at the top was secure regardless of the result, this was an opportunity – albeit a difficult one – for Leverkusen to take charge in the race for fourth after Borussia Monchengladbach's 1-0 defeat to Freiburg on Friday.

They could not do so, though, meaning they remain fifth and outside of the Champions League spots. As for Bayern, they strengthened their grip on the title.

Muller delights

It was another wonderful performance from the Bayern maestro. He teed up Goretzka in the first half and then supplied a lovely assist for Lewandowski to take his tally to 20 for the campaign, matching Kevin De Bruyne's Bundesliga record.

Bailey hooked

It was a difficult day for Leverkusen, particularly their attackers. Diaby was woeful, his end product proving continuously frustrating, but at least he was lively. Leon Bailey, in contrast, offered little before he was withdrawn at half-time.

What's next?

Bayern return to the Allianz Arena for their DFB-Pokal semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday, then host Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga three days later. Leverkusen are also in cup action in midweek, against fourth-tier Saarbrucken on Tuesday, and then go to Schalke at the weekend.

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."

Erling Haaland cannot yet be compared to Robert Lewandowski, according to Hansi Flick, though Bayern Munich's coach firmly believes Borussia Dortmund have a star in their ranks.

Haaland has hit the ground running since his move to Dortmund in January, continuing the stellar form he showed in the first half of the season for Salzburg.

The 19-year-old has scored 10 goals in 10 Bundesliga appearances, propelling Dortmund on in the title race.

Lucien Favre's side sit four points behind leaders Bayern heading into Tuesday's behind-closed-doors Klassiker at Signal Iduna Park.

Haaland's form has been touted as a potential match for former Dortmund striker Lewandowski, who netted his 41st goal of the season in all competitions in Bayern's 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, yet Flick believes it is too early for such comparisons to be made.

"It is [Haaland's] first season, so comparing him now is too early," Flick told reporters.

"Robert has always been at a world-class level in recent years. But Haaland is a huge talent.

"He is a young player, but he has a huge pull towards the goal. He just wants to finish.

"He has a brilliant dynamic. He is greedy, is an enormous size but is still agile. But we don't just have to watch out for him [on Tuesday]."

Flick, who is anticipating a resilient Dortmund performance, also acknowledged the peculiarity of playing such a pivotal match in front of no supporters, due to the coronavirus crisis.

"It is a very special game," Flick said as he was asked if playing behind closed doors could present an advantage to Bayern.

"The atmosphere can inspire any team. It is about how you can cope with it. You have to accept the current situation. You can't look for an excuse. We have to implement the match plan."

Thomas Muller has been in scintillating form since Flick took charge of Bayern, and was at his best once more against Frankfurt, providing his 17th league assist of the season before helping himself to a seventh goal of the campaign.

"Thomas is a player who can lead a team very well and gives commands over and over again," Flick added.

"He played very well against Frankfurt and was always available – he brought dynamism into play. Thomas has enormous experience but wants to win every game.

"He embodies 'Mia san Mia' perfectly and knows that he has to go to the limit again and again to win games."

Robert Lewandowski might be Bayern Munich's most lethal forward, but the prize for their best player this season arguably belongs to Thomas Muller.

A regular fixture at the Allianz Arena for 11 years, Muller is sixth on Bayern's all-time appearance list on 523 games and has scored 196 goals. His 147 assists give him a total of 343 goal involvements in a club career that has yielded 21 trophies.

His place in Bayern folklore is secure. At the start of the season, the same couldn't be said for his future.

Muller started just three of 11 Bundesliga games under Niko Kovac and did not complete 90 minutes even once. His struggles at club level came after Germany coach Joachim Low decreed he would no longer be required for international duty, a century of senior caps and a World Cup winners' medal not enough with which to plead his case.

It seemed Muller's career at the highest level was petering out. And then, last November, came a Flicker of hope.

When Kovac's troubled time in charge came to an end, assistant Hansi Flick was tasked with steadying the ship and getting a trophy challenge back on track. Six months on, the former Germany number two has done just that, rewriting the story of the season with Muller as his chief protagonist.

MULLERDEPENDENCIA

"Emotionally, it was very tense back then," was how Muller described his time under Kovac, shortly after he extended his contract to 2023 in April.

"With the change of coach and different playing style, everything has developed positively. Not only have I been playing more, but I've also been able to put my stamp on our games again."

Flick certainly saw every reason to put his faith back in Muller, naming the 30-year-old in his starting line-up for 14 of his first 16 Bundesliga games in charge. Muller has repaid that by producing arguably the form of his career.

Since Flick took over, Muller was been involved in 20 Bundesliga goals for Bayern, scoring seven and setting up 13. That's the best record at the club, and came after he endured a goal drought of 1,356 minutes that ended in late November.

This is not a case of a forward feeling unburdened during a 'new manager bounce', either. Muller has been at the heart of Flick's set-up. He has been involved in by far the most open-play sequences to end in a shot (121 – at least 17 more than any other player). In terms of sequences to end in a goal, only Lewandowski on 23 comes close to Muller's 27. He has also had a hand in 27 of Bayern's 49 league goals from open play under Flick.

CHASING DOWN DE BRUYNE

Aside from goalscorer, Muller has taken on something of a new role under Flick: that of playmaker.

Flick seems to have remembered Muller's qualities from their time working together at international level and embraced them. In short, Bayern's best football now goes through their number 10.

Under Flick, Muller is averaging just over 70 touches per 90 minutes, a higher number than he has recorded under any other Bayern coach. His goal-involvement average stands at one every 66 minutes – a personal best in the Bundesliga by far.

Muller's distribution seems to be getting better, too. He has completed 79 per cent of his passes under Flick, created close to four chances per 90 minutes on average, and 1.3 certified 'big chances'. Louis van Gaal, Jupp Heynckes, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti – none of them could get Muller to reach these numbers.

It tallies, then, that Muller is enjoying his best season for Bundesliga assists. His 17 in the first 27 matchdays has only ever been achieved once, by Kevin De Bruyne for Wolfsburg in 2014-15.

Another four assists in the remaining seven games will see Muller eclipse the Belgium star's Bundesliga record of 20 for a whole season. That would be a remarkable number to reach for a forward who doesn't take set-pieces.

Then again, Muller is no ordinary player.

Bayern Munich are planning an inquest into the two goals they conceded against Eintracht Frankfurt, with Hansi Flick calling for a clean sheet against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

Thanks to goals from Leon Goretzka, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski, Bundesliga leaders Bayern looked comfortable with a 3-0 lead after 50 minutes at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

However, they were caught napping at two set-pieces in the space of three minutes, with Hinteregger allowed space to bundle a volley past Manuel Neuer before powering a header into the back of the net.

Alphonso Davies quickly put Bayern back in control before a comical own goal from Hinteregger secured a 5-2 triumph for Flick's men.

The Bayern coach hopes to see better defending when his team take on Dortmund, who sit four points back in second, at Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday.

"After 3-0 we switched off. Frankfurt set very good standards, we knew that. We didn't look good there. We have to talk about it," Flick told Sky.

"We want to keep a clean sheet against Dortmund. It will be difficult because Dortmund have a very good team. We all hope for a good game of football."

Muller, who registered his 17th assist and seventh goal of the Bundesliga season, acknowledged Hinteregger is a significant threat from dead balls but felt Bayern should have been more alert.

"You never know how to get into games without fans, but I still expect us to go to the maximum," said Muller.

"Hinteregger is a very good player in set-piece situations, but if the ball comes in and no one feels responsible for it, of course we have to talk about it.

"We have made it our goal to have three victories this week. This is a very crucial week for us. We are marching, Dortmund are marching, we can look forward to Tuesday.

"We want to bring the championship to Munich, where it belongs."

Goretzka added: "I think Hinteregger is one of the strongest players when it comes to set-pieces, but, of course, we have to talk about it. That is not possible. It does not work that way."

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.

Thomas Muller said Bayern Munich's first Bundesliga game since the coronavirus stoppage felt similar to the start of a new season.

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of most sport across the globe in March, the Bundesliga became the first major league to return behind closed doors this weekend.

Leaders Bayern triumphed 2-0 at Union Berlin on Sunday, with Robert Lewandowski slotting home a first-half penalty and Benjamin Pavard sealing the victory 10 minutes from time.

For Muller, who had a goal ruled out for offside following a VAR check in the opening period, the occasion led to feelings more akin to the excitement of a new campaign.

"We came with the aim of taking the three points back with us and we've done it," said Muller, quoted on Bayern's official website.

"At certain points there was room for improvement, especially in the first 25 minutes when we had too many long balls.

"That got a little better. With the first goal we had a little more security and should have had more before the break. The game was okay, but it could have been better.

"There was a tingling sensation, like before the first Bundesliga matchday in August.

"We are four points clear and have moved one step closer to our main goal."

Thomas Muller does not think he would have signed a contract extension at Bayern Munich were Niko Kovac still at the helm as head coach.

Former Germany forward Muller penned fresh terms at the Allianz Arena to run until June 2023 this week.

The 30-year-old will be forever synonymous with Bayern and sits fourth on their all-time scoring charts with 195 goals across 521 appearances.

However, he found himself out in the cold under Kovac, who was sacked in November.

Since Hansi Flick's arrival, initially as an interim head coach, Muller has been a player revitalised, netting six goals and supplying a remarkable 12 assists in 15 Bundesliga games.

"In autumn, I was left out of the starting 11 for six games in a row. It was difficult. Of course, it made me think," he told an online news conference on Thursday.

"Emotionally, it was very tense back then. I wasn't necessarily thinking that I would be extending my contract in the spring.

"With the change of coach and different playing style, everything has developed positively.

"Not only have I been playing more, but I've also been able to put my stamp on our games again."

Bayern's players returned to training in small groups on Monday, with the club offering assurances that "all hygiene regulations will be strictly observed" amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"We try to stick to what is specified from above," Muller said. "I don't know what is specified and restricted in other areas.

"We have to fit into the overall structure. I don't know if football has a special position."

He added: "We all want to play football, of course, but only from the point of view that makes sense. This is an exceptional situation, not only for football."

Thomas Muller is as important to Bayern as Oktoberfest is to the city of Munich, according to club president Herbert Hainer.

Muller signed a new contract on Tuesday to remain with the Bundesliga champions until 2023.

The 30-year-old has spent his entire career with Bayern and has made 521 appearances for the club, scoring 195 times and providing 146 assists since making his debut in 2008.

That has led Hainer to compare the former Germany international to one of Munich's most famous events.

"It is of course very good news and I was incredibly happy when I heard it," he said in quotes published on Bayern's Twitter account.

"Thomas Muller is a hero, a symbol of FC Bayern Munich. He's spent his entire footballing career here and he's blossomed once again in recent months under Hansi Flick.

"He provides so many assists, he's an outstanding player, and I think that Thomas Muller belongs to FC Bayern, much like Oktoberfest belongs to the city of Munich.

"And in that respect, that's really great news."

Muller is not the only key figure at Bayern to have penned an extension in recent days, with Flick agreeing a deal to remain as permanent coach last week.

Flick took over on an interim basis in November and Bayern were on a 15-match unbeaten run - winning 14 of those games - before competitions were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"When the matter was brought to the supervisory board, we made a very quick and unanimous decision," Hainer said of Flick's contract.

"As head coach of FC Bayern Munich, you will of course be measured by titles and that will certainly be the case with Hansi Flick.

"But we are absolutely convinced by Hansi Flick. If you look at what he has done with the team over the past few months, he has not only got the team winning, but it's also about the way the team plays.

"They play incredibly attractive, great, attacking football, they score a lot of goals and win most games.

"They're already so good, but I'm convinced Hansi Flick will continue to develop this team."

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

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

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

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

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

 

MANUEL NEUER

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

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

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


DAVID ALABA

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

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

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


JEROME BOATENG

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

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

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


JAVI MARTINEZ

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

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


THIAGO ALCANTARA

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

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

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

Thomas Muller has signed a new contract with Bayern Munich that ties him to the club until 2023.

The 30-year-old, a one-club man who made his Bayern debut in 2008, follows head coach Hansi Flick in committing to the Bundesliga champions for the next three years. 

Bayern Munich's contract negotiations with a quartet of key players will not be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, insists CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, David Alaba and Thiago Alcantara are all out of contract in 2021 and are mulling over the offer of fresh terms from the Bundesliga champions, who extended Hansi Flick's stay as head coach on Friday.

Rummenigge reassured Bayern fans that any economic impact from the spread of COVID-19 would not play a part in how those talks played out.

"Our offers are extremely fair and serious - without a 'corona discount'," he told Bild

"I think that not many clubs around the world handle [it like] this in this crisis."

Flick signed on for three years after impressing in interim charge at the Allianz Arena.

He took over from Niko Kovac in November before being appointed head coach on a full-time basis until the end of the season.

Having appeared in danger of failing to mount a title challenge under Kovac, Flick has since restored the winning habit, returning Bayern to the top of the Bundesliga.

However, he is likely to face a rebuilding job during his tenure as the nucleus of a squad who have inspired a decade of dominance are reaching the end of their contracts.

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