Kylian Mbappe is a more complete player than Erling Haaland, according to Barcelona defender Dani Alves.

Two of the hottest properties in world football, both players are heavily linked with moves away from their respective clubs.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe, who is widely believed to be heading to Real Madrid in the close season, has scored 28 goals and assisted a further 17 in 38 appearances across all competitions this term.

Meanwhile, despite a string of injuries, Haaland has been directly involved in 29 goals (scoring 23 and assisting six) for Borussia Dortmund in 2021-22.

Barcelona are among a host of clubs reportedly interested in both forwards, with Manchester City and Real Madrid also in contention to make blockbuster moves.

 

But if the Blaugrana are to spend big on one of them, Alves believes that Mbappe should be their main priority. 

Speaking to Sport, the veteran defender said: "Mbappe is a more complete player than Haaland in all aspects of the game.

"I wouldn't do crazy things for Haaland. Honestly, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on him.

"I would spend a lot of money on Mbappe, but not on Haaland.

"If you are going to make a giant investment, you have to do it in the best way. If it depended on me, I would bet on Mbappe."

Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann says he is "happy" the Bundesliga leaders will not be stripped of their victory over Freiburg following their 12-man mix-up.

The German top-flight champions fielded an additional player briefly during Saturday's 4-1 league win, with Kingsley Coman staying on despite Nagelsmann making a double substitution.

Freiburg reluctantly lodged an appeal to the German Football Association (DFB) for their opponent to forfeit the result, though Nagelsmann may have been more preoccupied with a surprise midweek defeat.

Bayern were off the pace at Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final as they fell to a 1-0 loss, but a positive decision for the Bavarian giants on the DFB's ruling was confirmed on Friday.

The league has decided to uphold the original result against Freiburg and the former RB Leizpig coach expressed his satisfaction after seeing the points preserved ahead of Saturday's game with Augsburg.

"I'm happy we keep the points," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference. "I think that's quite normal.

"What's important to me [is that] I'm in no way disappointed with Freiburg. The contest against the result has not changed that."

Bayern take a nine-point lead into their clash at Allianz Arena, but could well be more focused upon their return leg against Unai Emery's Villarreal in Europe.

Nagelsmann, however, says that both games are vital for him, laying out that he intends to rotate his side in order to help his squad find rhythm across two crucial games.

"We have a very important game on Tuesday, probably the most important game of the season," he stated. "But [in] the Bundesliga, we also have to give players some rhythm.

"We will certainly rotate on a few positions. We will let Niklas Sule play from start, we will let [Leon Goretzka] play from the start.

"Alphonso Davies will have a break and [we'll] give a couple [of other] players a little more rhythm for Tuesday.

"It's a very important game for us tomorrow that we are taking very seriously, and are determined and desperate to win."

One man expected to figure will be evergreen playmaker Thomas Muller, with the World Cup winner in line to feature against Augsburg.

If he does so, and if Bayern are victorious, the 32-year-old will become the first outfield player to amass 300 wins in the Bundesliga.

After a number of false dawns since Alex Ferguson's retirement from coaching, Manchester United are reportedly looking to make a splash with Erik ten Hag.

West Ham's Declan Rice has emerged as one of Europe's premier defensive midfielders and is seen as a key piece in a potential rebuild.

According to reports, this off-season might be the time West Ham and Rice's representatives look to cash in.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TO MAKE RECORD PLAY FOR RICE

Manchester United are ready to break their transfer record and make him a marquee signing under new boss Erik ten Hag, according to 90Min.

It is understood West Ham made an offer to extend Rice's contract last year, but ultimately, the Hammers would be unable to compete with likely wage offers elsewhere.

For Rice, United appear willing to break their transfer record set in 2016 for Paul Pogba, a midfielder who has never really found a set position or provided a return on sizeable investment.

They would face stiff competition from Manchester City and Chelsea, who are also keen on the 23-year-old England international.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are preparing a deal to sign Leeds United and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, per the Manchester Evening News.

Brazil are willing to offer Manchester City manager Josep Guardiola a substantial salary to follow on from Tite as the country's national team manager, according to Marca.

Everton boss Frank Lampard has the confidence of club owner Farhad Moshiri and the board, despite the Toffees' relegation battle, the Daily Mail reports.

– The Athletic has reported RB Leipzig and Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol has emerged as a target for Tottenham .

Barcelona have asserted they will not break the bank in pursuit of Erling Haaland, but they remain keen on a striker to help Xavi's rebuild.

Robert Lewandowski is seen as a potential option if does not extend his deal at Bayern Munich.

According to reports, Lewandowski is weighing up his options, as Barcelona prepare themselves for a possible move.

 

TOP STORY – DEST TO BE USED AS MAKEWEIGHT?

Sergino Dest will be added as a sweetener to get a potential deal for Bayern's Lewandowski to Barcelona over the line, Sport reports.

Bayern already made a transfer request during the previous off-season's transfer window for the 21-year-old United States international, who has struggled for consistent minutes since Xavi took over as coach in November.

While a combination of Ronald Araujo, Dani Alves and Oscar Mingueza have all filled in at right back this season, Dest has been increasingly viewed as expendable under Xavi's tenure.

Lewandowski's contract runs out in 2023, but a move at the end of this season is still on the cards. Barca could use Dest to partly subsidise what is sure to be a huge asking price.

 

ROUND-UP

– The agent of Chelsea and Germany forward Timo Werner has been in Italy meeting with representatives from MilanJuventus and Atalanta, according to Corriere dello Sport.

– Ajax and Netherlands midfielder Ryan Gravenberch has agreed personal terms with Bayern Munich, per Bild.

– The Mirror is reporting senior figures at Inter are now more open to the idea of a return for Chelsea and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku.

– Villarreal and Netherlands winger Arnaut Danjuma is viewed by Liverpool as a potential replacement for Sadio Mane, Goal has reported, but the Reds are not expected to make a bid until 2023.

Julian Nagelsmann launched a withering attack on Freiburg as Bayern Munich's substitution blunder risks costing them points.

A nine-point lead over Borussia Dortmund could be trimmed to six if Bayern's 4-1 win at Freiburg on Saturday is overturned.

That is a live possibility after Freiburg went to the German football association (DFB) with their concerns about the episode, late in the game, that saw Bayern have 12 players on the field for a matter of seconds.

Nagelsmann questioned how Freiburg could justify their complaint, given they were soundly beaten, and said the Champions League hopefuls would have to look at themselves if they get into Europe's top club competition thanks to being handed three points from such a game.

Bayern were 3-1 up when Nagelsmann removed Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman and sent on Marcel Sabitzer and Niklas Sule.

However, Coman did not realise he was being replaced after his number was not raised, and he did not leave the pitch immediately, with referee Christian Dingert resuming the game before the error was noticed.

The DFB will consider the case, and its rules appear to indicate Freiburg may be awarded a 2-0 win.

"In the end I'm not surprised, to be honest," Nagelsmann said. "It is a procedure that lies with the DFB sports court. It has to make a judgement. In my opinion it can only go one way.

"From a personal point of view I don't understand it. Freiburg would not have scored two goals in those 18 seconds.

"I personally wouldn't have done it. I find that you are exploiting the mistakes of a third party to maybe score points yourself.

"I don't know if you can pat yourself on the back with the sponsors at the AGM in November if you play internationally because of the three points you won, which you actually didn't win in sporting terms.

"I wouldn't be so happy if that were the case. I would have clearly communicated to the club that we would not appeal. In the end everyone has to decide for themselves."

Nagelsmann was speaking in Bayern's pre-match news conference for their Champions League quarter-final first leg at Villarreal.

The topic of the Freiburg game is one that Nagelsmann would love to brush aside, given how unwelcome it is as a distraction when there is so much on the line.

Freiburg indicated they had reluctantly pursued an appeal, detailing an "intensive and extremely differentiated process of deliberation" before going ahead.

Christian Eriksen has been in sparkling form since returning to action with Brentford following his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

Inter allowed Eriksen to end his contract after the Denmark international was unable to play in Serie A after having a cardiac device implant fitted, allowing the Bees to sign him on a six-month deal.

Eriksen has since scored for both club and country, and his form has some familiar faces swirling.

 

TOP STORY – TOTTENHAM WANT ERISKEN REUNION

With his return to health, and some form, Tottenham want to bring Eriksen back to the club where he made a name for himself in England.

Eriksen departed from Ajax in 2013, and would spend seven seasons with Spurs, scoring 69 goals in 305 appearances, before signing with Antonio Conte's Inter in Serie A.

As luck would have it, Conte is now the man in charge at Tottenham, and The Daily Mail is reporting he would like to bring Eriksen back on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of this season.

Spurs will have some competition, though, as it is also reported that Manchester United will be seeking the Dane's services.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting that Jurgen Klopp is "happy" with the fact that Mohamed Salah and "decisive parties" are talking to each other regarding a contract extension at Liverpool.

– If Salah was to leave the club, FourFourTwo is reporting that Liverpool will explore replacing him with Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe – while according to RMC Sport, a third "mystery team" has entered the race for Mbappe, with Real Madrid also circling.

– Real Madrid will be offering out Eden Hazard on loan for the 2022-23 season, according to AS.

– Union Berlin's Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi will fetch a price of £25million if Newcastle, West Ham or Southampton want to prise him away, per Bild.

– The Daily Mirror is reporting that Newcastle could offer England midfielder Kalvin Phillips a contract worth £120,000 per week to lure him away from Leeds United.

Freiburg have reluctantly decided to appeal to the German Football Association (DFB) following "intensive" discussions within the club after Bayern Munich inadvertently briefly fielded 12 players on Saturday.

The Bundesliga leaders were 3-1 up and on the way to winning 4-1 when Julian Nagelsmann removed Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman and sent on Marcel Sabitzer and Niklas Sule.

However, Coman did not realise he was being replaced after his number was not raised, and he did not leave the pitch immediately, with referee Christian Dingert resuming the game before the error was noticed.

The game continued for several seconds before being halted as all concerned attempted to make sense of the situation, and the incident may see Freiburg declared 2-0 winners, as per the DFB rules.

According to paragraph 17, article 4 of the rulebook: "If a player was not eligible to play or be fielded in a game, the team that culpably fielded this player lost the game 2-0 and the opponent won 2-0."

This rule is only to be utilised if the match is allowed to proceed by the referee, as it was at the Europa-Park Stadion – an additional 12th player on the field would be considered ineligible to take part.

Referee Dingert acknowledged that an incorrect number for Coman was initially displayed and that it did not change the outcome of the game, but added "everything else will be decided by the DFB" to TZ.

Freiburg undertook an "intensive and extremely differentiated process of deliberation" to discuss the "mistake" by Bayern and concluded that they must appeal even if against their will in an "uncomfortable" scenario.

A club statement on Monday read: "First of all: We are in a dilemma through no fault of our own. SC Freiburg had no part or influence on the events surrounding the change process. 

"Nevertheless, the legal and procedural rules of the DFB formally force us to play an active role in order to have the processes legally checked. In principle, we have no interest whatsoever in this active role, which has been given to us against our will in terms of procedural technology, and we feel extremely uncomfortable in it.  

"We therefore consider this procedural regulation in its overall construction to be inappropriate. Ultimately, it burdens the completely uninvolved club - in this case us - with the responsibility for processing an obvious violation of the rules.

"Nevertheless, after intensive discussions at different levels and a legal examination, the board of the Sport-Club Freiburg eV decided to appeal against the rating of the game."

Freiburg cited the opportunity for the sports court to evaluate Bayern's error and the creation of future "legal certainty in comparable cases" for other clubs as decisive in the decision-making process.

Chelsea's midfield targets in the upcoming transfer window have left a potential opening for Real Madrid in pursuit of N'Golo Kante.

The France international reportedly knocked back a move to Paris Saint-Germain in the January window, but midfield rejuvenation is a priority for Madrid.

While Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been mainstays in the middle at the Santiago Bernabeu, Kante would bring new energy to the Spanish giants.

TOP STORY – KANTE LINED UP AS REAL MADRID SOLUTION

The transfer market domino effect could lead Kante to Madrid, AS has reported.

While both Madrid and Chelsea are in the race to sign Aurelien Tchouameni, the Blues also have an interest in Declan Rice, which could open up the possibility of Kante leaving.

The 31-year-old is coming into the final year of his contract, leaving Madrid with potential leverage to force Chelsea's hand.

While Kante has seen extensive time on the sidelines this season, missing game time through a combination of COVID-19, groin and knee troubles, he could be Madrid's top target if they fail to land Tchouameni.

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are keen to sign 30-year-old Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, Sport reports.

– Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is confident the club will be able to keep Antonio Rudiger alongside Cesar Azpilicueta, who triggered a contract extension, per Goal.

– Bild is reporting Bayern Munich have commenced talks over a new deal for Thomas Muller, with his contract expiring at the end of next season.

– Erik ten Hag is the favourite to become the new Manchester United manager, with the Ajax coach seeing a move to the Premier League as a progression in his career, according to Sport1.

Mats Hummels said Borussia Dortmund would have to stomach the criticism after a 4-1 home defeat to RB Leipzig that he felt was particularly harsh.

There was evidence to back up defender Hummels' verdict, with Opta data showing Leipzig only shaded the game 0.79 to 1.24 in terms of expected goals (xG), which is a measure of the quality of a team's chances.

Dortmund had 63.8 per cent of possession, and both teams had 10 shots, but Leipzig were far more clinical with the chances that fell their way.

Indeed, 10 shots is the fewest needed by any team to score four goals in a Bundesliga game this season.

It added up to a desperate day for Dortmund, who were playing inside a full home stadium for the first time since the pandemic hit after restrictions were relaxed in Germany.

In-demand striker Erling Haaland, who played the full game, had only one shot and was largely peripheral.

"That's disappointing for us," Hummels said of the result. "We had a lot planned for the crowd here today. The first time with over 80,000 after two years.

"That was a victory for Leipzig today in terms of effectiveness and the exploitation of chances. It was by no means a 4-1 game in terms of performance ratios, but we have to live with the fact that we are criticised for the result because that's the way it is in football.

"I think the people of Leipzig know that things could have gone very differently in the first half. In the end, it's goals that count in football."

Christopher Nkunku, fresh from winning his first two caps for France, scored one and assisted two of Leipzig goals.

He now has 16 goals for the season and 11 assists, which are both team highs.

 

Leipzig have won more points (26) and have a better goal difference (plus 22) than any other side in the second half of the Bundesliga season, and they sit fourth, three points clear of a Freiburg side that lost at home to leaders Bayern Munich.

Dortmund head coach Marco Rose felt Leipzig said his team, who remain second in the table but nine points behind Bayern, "didn't defend well enough".

"Offensively, we didn't finish the attacks enough and thus gave Leipzig opportunities to counter-attack again and again," Rose said. "We have to work on that."

Leipzig boss Domenico Tedesco, quoted on the Bundesliga website, said: "Winning 4-1 in Dortmund is not something that can be taken for granted.

"We played with discipline, won the ball a lot and in the end we deserved a win. We played well on the counter-attack too, so we could have scored one or two more goals in the second half."

Bayern Munich could pay a high price for their substitution blunder at Freiburg after briefly playing with 12 men in Saturday's Bundesliga game.

The leaders were 3-1 ahead and on the way to a 4-1 away victory when head coach Julian Nagelsmann elected to make a late double change, removing Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman and sending on Marcel Sabitzer and Niklas Sule.

However, Coman did not realise he was being replaced after his number was not raised, and he did not leave the field immediately, with referee Christian Dingert resuming the game before this was noticed.

The game continued for several seconds before being halted as all concerned attempted to make sense of the situation, and the incident may even see Bayern forfeit the win.

German football association (DFB) rules appear to suggest Freiburg could be declared 2-0 winners.

According to paragraph 17, article 4 of the rulebook: "If a player was not eligible to play or be fielded in a game, the team that culpably fielded this player lost the game 2-0 and the opponent won 2-0."

This rule is only to be deployed if the match is allowed to proceed by the referee, as it was on this occasion. A 12th player on the field would be considered ineligible to take part.

Nagelsmann said of the bizarre incident: "The wrong number was on the board, not Kingsley's 11. Mistakes happen. From the point of view of both teams, from the point of view of a fair sport, there was nothing that speaks against it being fair. You play a good game here and then everyone stands there and asks about the rules."

Freiburg coach Christian Streich, appearing alongside Nagelsmann at a post-match news conference, said rules should not be ignored.

Streich said: "I'm sure there won't be an objection, an appeal, from us, but there are rules to be followed.

"There is a rule and there's plenty of speculation, but we have a rulebook and that's what we have to abide by. Everything else, I'm not going to say anything about it, because there's nothing for me to say."

Referee Dingert, quoted by TZ, said: "It was a totally confused situation: It was a double change from Bayern Munich. An incorrect number was initially displayed, which is why the player Coman did not feel addressed with the number 11.

"That's why a 12th player was on the field for a short time, which shouldn't be. We noticed and then stopped the game.

"It's annoying for us because of course that scene is the focus now. We will note this in the game report. The game had 12 [Bayern] players for 15, 16 seconds. No goal happened. We will note that, everything else will be decided by the DFB."

Leon Goretzka, on his return from injury, scored Bayern's opening goal, with Serge Gnabry, Coman and Sabitzer also on target. Nils Petersen's reply was his 100th goal for Freiburg in all competitions.

Victory kept Bayern sitting pretty at the top of the Bundesliga, taking them nine points ahead of Borussia Dortmund who were not in action until later on Saturday against RB Leipzig.

Leon Goretzka returned from his long lay-off with a goal as Bayern Munich won 4-1 at Freiburg in the Bundesliga – where the leaders briefly had 12 players on the pitch.

Freiburg are in the hunt for a Champions League place and were far from pushovers, despite having won just one of 37 previous Bundesliga clashes between the teams.

Their resistance was broken when Goretzka, back from a hip injury that had kept him sidelined since December, headed a 58th-minute opener.

Freiburg's Nils Petersen scored within moments of coming off the bench to bring Freiburg level, only for Serge Gnabry to do just the same for Bayern in the 73rd minute, and Kingsley Coman drilled in the third before Marcel Sabitzer hit a fourth in stoppage time.

Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich, Leroy Sane and Goretzka threatened early on from Bayern half-chances, before Manuel Neuer comfortably saved a daisy-cutter from Roland Sallai at the other end.

It was just the sixth time this season that Bayern had failed to score in the first half of a Bundesliga game, but they had not drawn a blank over 90 minutes.

Therefore, it was hardly a surprise when Goretzka made a 58th-minute breakthrough, heading in Kimmich's free-kick after Mark Flekken made a misjudged charge off his line and failed to claim the ball.

Goretzka came off after 62 minutes, receiving a hug from Julian Nagelsmann, who also removed Robert Lewandowski. But within seconds it was a Freiburg substitute, fresh from replacing Sallai, who stunned Bayern with a fine equaliser.

Petersen made a bright run between Bayern defenders to meet Christian Gunter's clever pass and drill a left-footed strike across Neuer, finding the bottom-left corner.

Gnabry pulled off the same trick of scoring within seconds of entering the action when he restored Bayern's lead, taking advantage of charitable defending from Nico Schlotterbeck to fire left-footed into the bottom-right corner after Lucas Hernandez's cross. Coman struck when Flekken could only push his skidding 20-yard strike into the net.

Play was held up for several minutes when Bayern briefly had 12 players on the field, after an apparent substitution bungle, but the game continued when that was resolved and Sabitzer struck late on to add gloss.

Julian Nagelsmann said Bayern Munich "won't take any chances" with Robert Lewandowski's fitness when they face Freiburg on Saturday, with the striker nursing a rib injury.

The Bayern boss offered a promising update on Leon Goretzka's fitness, saying he would "love" to let the midfielder play, but could be left without Joshua Kimmich due to the imminent birth of his child.

Lewandowski netted a second-half penalty to set Poland on their way to World Cup qualification on Tuesday, opening the scoring in a 2-0 play-off win over Sweden.

The 33-year-old's last club outing saw him net twice against Union Berlin to reach 30 Bundesliga goals for a fifth time, a feat only previously achieved by the legendary Gerd Muller.

Ahead of the trip to fifth-placed Freiburg, Nagelsmann said that while Lewandowski is in the squad and in contention to feature, the club would act with caution after he picked up a rib injury. 

"We'll have to see how his rib reacts," Nagelsmann said.

"I assume he's in the squad and playing, but we won't take any chances."

If Lewandowski is deemed fit enough to feature, he could set an outright record for the most away goals scored in a single Bundesliga campaign. 

His current tally of 17 is a joint single-season record, shared with Jupp Heynckes (set in 1973-74 as a Borussia Monchengladbach player), and Timo Werner (2019-20 with RB Leipzig).

Meanwhile, Nagelsmann offered updates on the availability of two key midfielders, indicating that Goretzka is in line for his first appearance since December's 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund.

He also revealed he has set a deadline for Kimmich to join up with the team as he awaits his child's birth.

"Goretzka reacted a bit on the hip, [but] otherwise he trained exceptionally well, and I would love to let him play," Nagelsmann added.

"I discussed with him [Kimmich] that if everything stays calm, he can travel later. We have set a deadline. The most important thing is that everyone stays fit. 

"We have a good squad and we have to control the players' workloads. At the same time, we need to keep our foot on the gas."

Bayern's tally of 81 goals from their 27 Bundesliga games is the best return at this stage of a season in the competition's history. Meanwhile, the perennial champions have scored in 74 consecutive Bundesliga matches, also a German top-flight record.

Dusan Vlahovic joins Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland as "the best players of their generation", according to Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri signed Serbia international Vlahovic from Fiorentina in January in a transfer initially worth €70million, and the striker has managed four goals in his first seven Serie A games for his new club.

The former Viola star also netted 33 times in the league in 2021, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most scored in the Italian top flight during a calendar year.

Indeed, his 21-goal league haul last season was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25), and he has carried that form into the new campaign as well.

Vlahovic has registered 21 goals across appearances for Juve and Fiorentina in Serie A this season, making him the league's joint-top scorer – level with Ciro Immobile – while only Robert Lewandowski (31) and Karim Benzema (22) have scored more in Europe's top-five leagues.

Haaland, who has been limited by injuries at Borussia Dortmund, is ninth in the same list with 16 Bundesliga goals, striking once every 81 minutes on average, while Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe is 11th with 15 to his name in the French top flight.

Allegri hailed the youthful trio as he expressed his excitement to see Vlahovic develop more.

"He is a young player with not much international experience. But he has quality. He wants and can improve. He has time to do it," Allegri said of Vlahovic in an interview with GQ, as quoted by CalcioMercato.

"He is ruthless in front of the goal and Juventus made an important signing. He, Mbappe and Haaland are the best players of their generation."

While there were expectations that Vlahovic's arrival may knock Alvaro Morata down the pecking order of Juve strikers, Allegri reiterated that the Spain international remains integral to his plans in Turin.

"I called him that night [when Juve signed Vlahovic] to tell him: 'You are going nowhere, with him, you will become even more important,' and that's what happened," Allegri added on Morata.

"It's crazy to question Morata. He can't be at his best if he is asked to do things that he can't. But he's always been available playing in a position which is not exactly the best one for him."

Allegri will be hoping for Morata and Vlahovic to link-up once more when Juve, who are fourth in Serie A and seven points adrift of leaders Milan, host Inter on Sunday.

Manchester City have not yet made an approach for Erling Haaland, though Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke knows that any offer the Premier League champions did make would be unmatchable for the Bundesliga club.

Haaland is reportedly City's priority target ahead of next season, as Pep Guardiola looks to bring in a top-class striker.

The 21-year-old has had a stop-start campaign with Dortmund due to injuries, but has still scored 23 times in as many matches, averaging a goal every 77 minutes across all competitions.

Haaland has been a sensation since signing for Dortmund in the middle of the 2019-20 season, though seems likely to leave the club at the end of the campaign when a €75million buy-out clause in his contract reportedly kicks in.

City, along with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, have been heavily linked. Watzke, however, insisted no official approach has yet been made by any club.

Dortmund's chief executive is under no illusion, though, that the club would be unable to compete financially should City make an offer. But he is confident that BVB's model of investing in new talent after losing star players will continue to prove fruitful.

Speaking to Sport Bild, Watzke said: "I've given up judging media rumours. Otherwise, my day would have to have 36 hours.

 

"We don't currently know anything specific from the player side, nor has anyone approached us. However, we cannot keep up financially if Manchester City comes in [for Haaland].

"We've seen it a few times: we lost [Robert] Lewandowski to Bayern in 2014 and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang to Arsenal in 2018.

"We've always created a new star. If Haaland leaves, we will find another new talent and develop it into a star, and that will also do the Bundesliga good."

Watzke would not comment on any potential targets for Dortmund, though.

Haaland scored twice in Norway's 9-0 hammering of Armenia on Tuesday, having previously netted for his country in last week's 2-0 win over Slovakia.

Now, the striker's immediate focus will be on helping Dortmund push Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga title race, with Marco Rose's team – who face RB Leipzig in a huge game on Saturday – trailing the league leaders by six points.

Jack Grealish is in awe of England team-mate Jude Bellingham, labelling his abilities as "scary" for one so young.

Bellingham played the full 90 minutes as the Three Lions beat 10-man Ivory Coast 3-0 at Wembley on Tuesday, catching the eye as he featured in an advanced role ahead of James Ward-Prowse and Declan Rice.

It was Bellingham's 12th senior cap, with England winning every single match he has played in – only Theo Walcott (14 matches) has enjoyed a longer winning start to his Three Lions career than the Borussia Dortmund midfielder.

Bellingham is in his second season in the Bundesliga with Dortmund and has already established himself as a key player, making 25 league starts from a possible 27.

Links to other major European clubs have been frequent for the youngster, and Grealish could not hide the admiration he holds for his fellow West Midlands-native after a mature performance.

Asked if he had ever played alongside a teenager as good as Bellingham, Grealish told reporters: "I haven't actually. It is scary how good he is at 18.

"He is just so mature. He is built like he is my age at 26. He has so much technical ability and he is mature for his age.

"I can tell you one thing, I was nowhere near as good at 18. I was at Notts County [on loan from Aston Villa] and I was a scrawny little thing as well.

"You see talented 18 or 19-year-old kids but not many are that mature as he is on the pitch. He is so versatile and can play in many different positions on the pitch.

"He can be a six, eight or a 10. It was good to play with him and I think it was my first time playing with him. It is nice to play with a fellow Brummie."

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