Julian Nagelsmann has no problem with his Bayern Munich players partying in Ibiza this week, saying they can do what they want on days off and telling the media: "I'm not their Dad".

The majority of the Bayern squad jetted off to the Spanish island after a 3-1 Bundesliga defeat at Mainz last weekend, with their 10th consecutive title already secured.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the Bavarian giants' sports director, stated the players had been allowed to take the short trip as a "team-building measure".

However, Bayern and Germany great Lothar Matthaus described the mini-holiday as unacceptable, while Hertha Berlin coach Felix Magath felt it was a bad look to go prior to the end of the campaign.

But the Bavarian giants' head coach Nagelsmann had no issue with his players for heading off on a short jaunt.

He said: "I am responsible for the team, for everything sporting, for training, planning, for the content and the preparation of the games.

"I lived up to my responsibility by giving two days off. Our players are all old enough and of legal age. They can also decide for themselves what they do on their days off.

"If they decide to fly there as a very large group, they should do so. They're old enough - I'm not their Dad or their tutor.

"Instead, together with Holger Broich [Bayern's club doctor], I have the task of designing the training plan in such a way that the load structure makes sense.

"That's why we gave the days off. The players can do whatever they want on their days off."

Julian Nagelsmann says Thomas Muller's new contract sends a "positive signal" and hopes other Bayern Munich players follow suit.

Long-serving forward Muller this week extended his deal with the Bundesliga champions until 2024.

Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer and Serge Gnabry are only under contract with the Bavarian giants until the end of next season, while Corentin Tolisso and Niklas Sule are nearing the end of their deals, with the latter set to join Borussia Dortmund as a free agent ahead of 2022-23.

Bayern boss Nagelsmann says it was vital to keep Muller and believes the 32-year-old's decision to commit his future to the club may prompt some of his team-mates to stay.

He said in a press conference on Friday: "It was very important that he extended, this will also send a positive signal to people both within the club and outside of the club.

"It could mean others will follow suit now. I'm really happy about it."

Bayern face relegation-threatened Stuttgart in their final home game of the season at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.

The champions will be presented with the Meisterschale trophy and Nagelsmann wants his side to put on a show in front of a sell-out crowd.

He said: "I want to win the game, even though I have a lot of respect for Pellegrino Matarazzo as a man and as a coach.

"We will give our all to try and win our final home game in front of a sold-out Arena this season."

Stuttgart are 16th in the table and battling to avoid the drop but Nagelsmann says they can pose a threat.

He added: "They're a very versatile team. They can set up in a number of different ways. Matarazzo has some creative ideas. They're in a tough situation as they fight relegation. They've had a number of injuries at key moments this season."

In the past 38 seasons, Bayern have lost their final Bundesliga home game only once and it was Stuttgart who inflicted that defeat on them, winning 4-1 in 2018.

Barcelona are reportedly open to "big-money" offers for Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong.

De Jong, who has 40 caps for the Netherlands, arrived at Barcelona from Ajax for a €75million fee in 2019, accumulating 137 appearances for the club in all competitions.

The midfielder has been a key pillar in Barcelona's line-up this season, appearing 44 times, but the Catalan giants may be ready to move on as the interest from United intensifies.

TOP STORY – BARCA ARE CONSIDERING OFFERS FOR DE JONG

The Blaugrana are open-minded about potentially parting ways with De Jong, who is being closely linked with his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag for his new venture at United.

He is one of the main players on the Red Devils' wish-list, which Fichajes reports also includes Southampton's James Ward-Prowse, Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia and West Ham's Jarrod Bowen.

The Telegraph adds that Ten Hag has identified eight players "he can trust" at the club, while being on the fence about Marcus Rashford's future.

ROUND-UP

– L'Equipe is reporting RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku would like to leave the club after this season, with a desire to head to Manchester City, United, Paris Saint-Germain or Milan

Newcastle United have met with the agent of Watford's Ismaila Sarr but will have to match the club's £40million asking price, per FootballTransfers.

Bayer Leverkusen are planning a move for PSG youngster Eric-Junior Dina Ebimbe after failing to secure the deal during the January transfer window, according to RMC Sport.

– Sport is reporting Samuel Umtiti will leave Barcelona in the next transfer window and wants to return to Lyon, who will be competing for his services with Rennes, Montpellier and Nice

– Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha is unlikely to sign an extension with the club and could be sold in the next transfer window with his contract set to expire in 2023, according to The Times.

Freiburg have confirmed the signing of Germany defender Matthias Ginter, who will join from Borussia Monchengladbach at the end of the season.

Ginter came through the Freiburg academy and made his Bundesliga bow for the club at the age of 18 in January 2012, scoring the winner against Augsburg.

He went on to make 81 appearances for Freiburg before joining Borussia Dortmund in 2014 and played 102 times across three seasons, helping them to a DFB-Pokal triumph in 2017.

Ginter switched to Gladbach ahead of the 2017-18 season and established himself as a key player in defence, and has made 46 appearances for Germany.

However, it was confirmed earlier in the season that the 28-year-old would not be signing a new deal with Gladbach, and Freiburg announced on Wednesday that he will be making a return to his first club.

 

"I wanted to do something special in my career, and there's nothing more meaningful to me than a return to my home," Ginter said.

"The development the club has undergone, as well as the potential in the team and the discussions with the club over the last weeks have been great. To find something like that in my hometown, especially nowadays, is extremely rare. It was just a perfect fit all round."

Ginter could well be playing in the Champions League next season, with Freiburg sitting in fourth place after a superb season.

They have won three of their last four Bundesliga games – drawing the other one against Gladbach – and hold a one-point advantage over RB Leipzig and a three-point lead over sixth-placed Cologne, while they are three behind Bayer Leverkusen, who they face in a potentially huge clash in the final game of the league season after a contest with seventh-placed Union Berlin on Saturday.

That will not be the last match of Freiburg's campaign, however, as they also have a DFB-Pokal final against Leipzig to look forward to on May 21. It will be their first appearance in the final of the competition.

Barcelona's financial volatility has necessitated a cut of overall wage spend, and Philippe Coutinho has long been viewed as dispensable.

Since his big-money signing from Liverpool, the incompatibility the Brazil international has represented has only been reinforced with loan spells at Bayern Munich and Aston Villa.

However, in need of funds, the Blaugrana have reportedly set the Birmingham club a timeframe for confirming his permanent signing.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA GIVE ASTON VILLA COUTINHO ULTIMATUM

Barcelona have given Aston Villa until the end of the month to confirm whether they will sign Coutinho on a permanent deal, Sport is reporting.

The cash-strapped Catalan giants loaned Coutinho to Villa in January with a €40million (£33.7m) purchase option, but Villa have now been given until the end of May to finalise the deal.

Barcelona have reportedly insisted that the finances be resolved by the end of June, as it would help balance their accounts for the season. 

The 29-year-old has played erratically despite four goals and three assists in 14 appearances, not directly contributing to a league goal since early March against Leeds.

ROUND-UP

- Romelu Lukaku has no intention of joining Milan or Newcastle United despite frustration over a lack of opportunities, according to the Evening Standard.

- Chelsea want to sign 20-year-old Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol from RB Leipzig, Goal reports.

- Football Insider reports Inter Milan are looking to sell Stefan de Vrij, with Tottenham and Aston Villa among the clubs interested.

- Lazio are willing to lower their asking price for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to around €80million, per Calciomercato.

Thomas Muller has extended his deal with Bayern Munich until the end of the 2023-24 campaign, the Bundesliga champions have announced.

The Germany international, who has spent his entire 14-season senior career with Bayern, was due to be out of contract at the end of the next campaign.

However, after playing a vital part in the Bavarian giants' 10th successive league triumph this season, Muller and Bayern have agreed to fresh terms.

"I'm delighted to have extended my contact with FC Bayern Munich until 2024," Muller told the club's official website on Tuesday.

"The journey we've been on since I joined the FCB academy in 2000 has been a fantastic success story up to now.

"It gives me immense pleasure to hold up the red colours year after year, on and off the pitch – even if the wind blows in your face from time to time. Let's keep going together."

 

Muller has won 11 Bundesliga titles with Bayern in total, with his latest triumph seeing him overtake David Alaba (10) as the competition's outright most successful player.

He has made 624 first-team appearances in total and has also lifted two Champions Leagues, the Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and six DFB-Pokal crowns.

Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn said: "Thomas Muller is an icon who wears the club badge on his heart. 

"FC Bayern has always been characterised by continuity, and therefore we're pleased that we've managed to extend the contract of this important player. 

"He's someone who assumes leadership and is also an important character in the dressing room with his personality."

Muller has been as important as ever for Bayern this term, having registered 17 Bundesliga assists – four more than next-best Christopher Nkunku – and scored seven times.

Indeed, those 24 direct goal involvements is a tally bettered only by Erling Haaland (28), Nkunku (31) and team-mate Robert Lewandowski (36).

The 32-year-old still has some way to go to beat the Bundesliga record for assists in a single campaign that he set in 2019-20 when setting up 21 goals.

After tying down 2014 World Cup winner Muller for the next two years, Bayern are reportedly hopeful of agreeing fresh terms with compatriot Manuel Neuer in the coming weeks.

Borussia Dortmund have confirmed they have reached an agreement to sign Germany international centre-back Nico Schlotterbeck from fellow Bundesliga side Freiburg.

The 22-year-old has featured 53 times for Freiburg in all competitions, including 35 outings this campaign, and will remain with the club until the end of the 2021-22 season.

Schlotterbeck, who had a spell on loan with Union Berlin last season, has signed a long-term deal with Dortmund that runs through until July 2027.

He is the second new defensive addition for BVB ahead of the transfer window officially opening, with Niklas Sule also set to join from rivals Bayern Munich.

Dortmund confirmed the imminent arrival of Schlotterbeck, who has featured twice for Germany at senior level, on their official website on Monday.

"After consultation with all parties involved, I have today decided to announce my move to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2022," Schlotterbeck said. 

"In doing so, I want to provide clarity for SC Freiburg, Borussia Dortmund and myself personally.

"It is important for me to be able to fully concentrate on the remaining three games in the season run-in with SC Freiburg, which we hope will be successful. 

"After that, I'm looking forward to the new responsibilities with Borussia Dortmund."

Freiburg occupy the final Champions League qualification spot in the Bundesliga with two games to go and also face RB Leipzig in the DFB-Pokal final on May 21.

Julian Nagelsmann bemoaned Bayern Munich's underwhelming performance and suggested change is needed after the Bundesliga champions succumbed to defeat at Mainz.

Bayern secured a record 10th straight league title with Klassiker victory over Borussia Dortmund last weekend but were caught cold by Mainz after first-half strikes from Jonathan Burkardt and Moussa Niakhate.

Robert Lewandowski reduced the deficit with his 18th away league goal this season, setting a Bundesliga record for a single campaign, while taking his tally to 49 in all competitions – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

Leandro Barreiro Martins restored the two-goal cushion after the interval for Bo Svensson's hosts as Mainz coasted to just a second league win over an uncharacteristically poor Bayern in their last 10 attempts.

Nagelsmann expressed frustration with his side after the defeat but acknowledged a downturn in performance was to be expected after the title win.

"We had too many performances and defeats of this kind this season," he told reporters.

"I have an explanation for it, but I won't give it to you. It's not for the media. I say it internally.

"After winning the 10th title in a row, it's a bit human but we still have to play for the badge on our chest.

"It seems like the passion isn't really there anymore. We reached a point where something needs to change. That's where we are right now."

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich fell to a 3-1 defeat at Mainz despite Robert Lewandowski setting another record.

Julian Nagelsmann's side sealed a record 10th straight league title by defeating Borussia Dortmund last time out, but were soon behind on Saturday after strikes from Jonathan Burkardt and Moussa Niakhate.

Robert Lewandowski halved the arrears with his 18th away league goal this season – a new Bundesliga benchmark for a single campaign – before Leandro Barreiro Martins restored Mainz's two-goal cushion after the interval.

Bayern were unable to respond as the champions suffered just a second defeat in their last 10 games against Mainz, who moved up to ninth with victory.

Burkardt cannoned against the crossbar and the post, while the unmarked Alexander Hack was denied by the woodwork but Mainz's early dominance soon paid dividends.

Sven Ulreich thwarted Karim Onisiwo from close range yet could not stop Burkardt when the striker powered a left-footed attempt home following Dominik Kohr's headed offload.

Niakhate doubled Mainz's advantage when he tapped in after Anton Stach's flick, before Lewandowski rolled into the bottom-right corner following Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's pass to reduce the deficit.

Barreiro Martins almost restored the hosts' two-goal lead before the interval, only for his left-footed free-kick to curl narrowly wide.

But Barreiro Martins' luck was in after the break when his strike deflected in off Benjamin Pavard.

Burkardt dragged wide and Onisiwo smashed onto the crossbar from the edge of the area as Bayern, who repeatedly appeared frail on the counter-attack, were unable to mount a comeback.

What does it mean? Bayern caught cold on the road at Mainz again

Bayern had won eight of their last nine league meetings with Mainz, though the one blemish on their record came in this fixture last season when the hosts ran out 2-1 winners.

Mainz scored first on that occasion and followed suit in this game as they opened the scoring for four straight games against the Bavarian giants – no other current Bundesliga side have achieved this consecutively more than twice.

Super Stach shines

Stach was a constant presence in the middle of the park for Bo Svensson's team, setting up Niakhate's goal – one of a game-leading seven key passes the midfielder supplied for Mainz.

Legendary Lewandowski

Despite speculation of a move away from Bayern with just over a year left on his contract, Lewandowski continues to deliver. His tally in all competitions this season now stands at 49.

No player has managed more goals in Europe's top five leagues, while the Poland international also put his name to yet another Bundesliga record.

What's next?

Bayern host Stuttgart on May 8, while Mainz make the trip to Hertha Berlin the day before.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann reiterated his desire for Robert Lewandowski to stay at the club amid ongoing speculation over his future.

Lewandowski has scored 33 goals in the Bundesliga this season, 12 more than nearest rival Patrick Schick, to fire Bayern to a record-setting 10th straight league title with three games to spare.

The Poland international has found the net once every 81 minutes in the top flight this campaign, while no player has managed more than his 48 goals across all competitions in Europe's top five leagues.

However, questions persist as to the future of Lewandowski, who is entering the final year of his contract at the Allianz Arena with Barcelona reportedly preparing to swoop for the 33-year-old.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic insists the talisman will not be sold to avoid losing him on a free transfer, but Lewandowski suggested no new contract talks have been opened by the club.

Nagelsmann, speaking ahead of Saturday's visit to Mainz, reaffirmed his stance on wanting to keep his star striker at Bayern for as long as possible.

"It's always good when you have planning security in all areas of life. I've said it at least 50 times that of course I wish he would stay, nothing has changed this week. That's my point of view," he told reporters.

Salihamidzic has already rebuffed talk of signing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who will reportedly be available for a €75million release clause at the end of the season, as a replacement for Lewandowski.

Nagelsmann echoed Salihamidzic's sentiment as he ruled out moving for Haaland, who has scored 82 goals and supplied 19 assists in 86 appearances in all competitions since his Dortmund debut in January 2020.

Pressed on comparisons between the two strikers, the Bayern coach responded: "These are two different types of players that you can't compare. It's like apples and oranges."

 

Lewandowski is likely to feature at Mainz, fitness permitting, but Nagelsmann confirmed he will be without Thomas Muller, who has 17 top-flight assists this term – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

"Muller is ill and will not travel this weekend. We will try to give some players the opportunity to start," he continued.

"[Eric Maxim] Choupo-Moting will definitely be in the starting line-up, that much I can say for sure. 

"The virtue of a winning mentality is noticeable in the lads even after the championship in training. My everyday life is a little more relaxed than in the middle of the season."

Bayern would surpass the Bundesliga record for most away goals in a season (47, a record set by Bayern in the 2019-20 season) with two strikes at Mainz, but Nagelsmann appeared uninterested by that feat.

"You always have to be a bit careful when it comes to respect for the opponent," he added on the possible record. 

"Of course we always want to score a lot of goals, that's what makes football so appealing. It won't be easy, but we're trying hard to find goals and play a good game offensively."

Borussia Monchengladbach have announced they will play a charity friendly against the Ukraine national team at Borussia Park.

All profits from the game, which will take place on May 11, will be donated to charitable causes for people in or from Ukraine.

The match will be Ukraine's first since the start of the invasion by Russia and is part of Oleksandr Petrakov's team's preparations for their rescheduled World Cup playoff with Scotland in June, as well as subsequent Nations League fixtures.

Gladbach chief executive Stephan Schippers told the club's website: "We're very happy to be able to help the Ukrainian FA through this game, and hope that as many football fans as possible from all over the country come to the stadium and make a donation to a good cause by buying a ticket to the match.

"All Ukrainian citizens will have free entry to the game."

It follows an exhibition match between another Bundesliga side, Borussia Dortmund, and Ukrainian opponents Dynamo Kyiv, who raised €400,000 in support of victims of the war as Dynamo secured a 3-2 win at Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday.

The contest was part of Dynamo's Match for Peace tour, which has also included games against Legia Warsaw, Galatasaray and Cluj.

The dominance of Bayern Munich is not just down to financial muscle, but more the lack of consistency from their Bundesliga competition.

That is according to former Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos, who played 130 times for the Bundesliga giants before swapping Bavaria for Real Madrid in 2014.

Bayern became the first team across Europe's top five leagues to win their respective top flight on 10 successive occasions after a 3-1 victory over Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund last Saturday.

Julian Nagelsmann's side had previously shared the record of nine with Juventus, who won Serie A each year from 2012 to 2020, before cruising to their record-setting triumph with three games to spare.

Many cited Bayern's financial power as an issue in the German top flight, such as being able to prise Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund in 2014.

Indeed, Lewandowski helped power Bayern to the title with 33 Bundesliga goals so far this term, netting once every 81 minutes on average.

However, Kroos does not believe that it is just the disparity in transfer activity that has aided Bayern's dominance, but also the lack of constant pressure from title contenders Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

"The competition has to be more constant. Teams like Dortmund or Leipzig are quite capable of keeping up in certain phases," said Kroos in the Simply Mal Luppen podcast.

"But they are not as consistent. It's not just about money."

While Kroos was quick to question the competition provided by Dortmund and Leipzig, the 32-year-old could take nothing away from another fantastic season for Nagelsmann's men.

"It's an exceptional performance, especially mentally," said the midfielder. "It's no surprise that they are the best team in Germany in terms of quality.

"But wanting to do it year after year and giving the championship title meaning is something special."

 

Thomas Muller was also integral to the success of Bayern once again, with his 17 assists in 30 top-flight games this season unmatched by any player in Europe's top five leagues.

The evergreen Muller also surpassed former team-mate David Alaba (10 titles) as the Bundesliga's most decorated player of all time, having been ever-present in the 10-in-a-row feat alongside the title win in 2010 (11).

Kroos believes his former colleague Muller relishes the prospect of protecting Bayern's dominance every campaign.

"You can also say at some point, after the eighth, ninth, tenth time: 'Well, then not for a year.'," Kroos added.

"But I have the feeling that he has a lot of fun defending the thing year after year."

Jordi Cruyff declared "dreaming is free" when asked about the prospect of Barcelona signing Robert Lewandowski and says now is not the time to talk about Frenkie de Jong's future.

Lewandowski has only 14 months remaining on his Bayern Munich contract and has been linked with a move to Camp Nou.

Erling Haaland is also reportedly a target for the Blaugrana, but Manchester City are the favourites to land the Borussia Dortmund striker.

Barca technical director Cruyff on Wednesday stated the Catalan giants are keeping their options open in the transfer market.

He said at the inauguration of the Cruyff Court Constanti: "I haven't ruled out anyone. I'm not very willing to talk about names. There will be others who respond.

"The only thing you do is annoy the clubs where they play, I'm more concerned about the [current] squad. They're all great players."

Quizzed specifically about prolific Poland captain Lewandowski, Cruyff replied: "He is a player who has a contract, we are the last to decide. Dreaming is free."

 

De Jong's Barca future has been the subject of speculation, with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain thought to be keen on the midfielder.

Cruyff says the focus must be on securing Champions League qualification rather than potential transfer business.

He said: "They ask me about him because there is some criticism or doubt and I said that he is a highly valued player within the club and in the world of football and this is not the time to talk about this type of thing.

"We are in the middle of something that is above everyone, each one of us. We have to meet the minimum objectives and we are fighting for it."

Cruyff also revealed contract talks with Gavi and Ousmane Dembele are ongoing after Ronald Araujo signed a new deal this week.

"I think that these days or these weeks, it's time to work on them, we'll see if they end well or not," he said. "We're trying to achieve the same success as with Araujo."

Erik ten Hag appears as though he will have a huge say over his own Manchester United transfer targets.

The Dutchman has inked a three-year deal at Old Trafford, with the option for a further year.

Ten Hag will officially take over on July 1, with Ralf Rangnick remaining in interim charge.

A face familiar to the Premier League could now be headed to Old Trafford with Ten Hag from Ajax…


TOP STORY - TEN HAG TO BRING HALLER TO UNITED

Manchester United may make a move for Ajax striker Sebastien Haller in the off-season according to The Sun.

Haller currently plays under ten Hag, who will take over at United at the end of the campaign.

The Ivory Coast striker, who spent two years with West Ham United, has netted 33 goals in all competitions for Ajax this term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are optimistic that they can land Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski in the off-season, reports Sport. Lewandowski is contracted with Bayern until 2023.

- Liverpool have contacted 22-year-old Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni about a move to England, claims Foot Mercato.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Inter are not interested in signing Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic, contrary to reports. Pjanic is currently on loan at Besiktas from Barcelona.

- David de Gea and Manchester United are ready to enter into talks on a contract extension reports 90min.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Luka Modric will ink a new deal with Real Madrid running until 2023.

Former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich player Torsten Frings believes it was the latter's experience that led to them winning this season's Bundesliga title, their 10th in a row.

The Bavarians secured the championship after a 3-1 win against Dortmund at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Frings played for Dortmund between 2002 and 2004, before spending the 2004-05 season with Bayern, winning a Bundesliga and DFP-Pokal double.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Frings pointed to Bayern's key experienced players, while suggesting that Dortmund suffered too many "slip-ups" to challenge.

"The paths both teams are taking are different," the former Germany international said. "Bayern have a lot of experienced players in the team, a real axis with [Manuel] Neuer, [Thomas] Muller, [Robert] Lewandowski and [Joshua] Kimmich.

 

"They have leading players in the national team, they have the Best FIFA Men's Player, a striker who scores 40 goals every year [Lewandowski].

"On the other hand, Dortmund are a club where [sporting directors] Sebastian Kehl and Michael Zorc have to be praised for the players they bring in and the profit they make by selling them on.

"But that is the difference. Bayern have a team of experienced players who are always on the spot. And Dortmund have a very talented team that certainly has what it takes to play for championships.

"But every now and then there is a slip-up, where perhaps the experience is missing a bit. And when you make three or four slip-ups in the Bundesliga, it can be too much."

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