Bayern Munich, Real Madrid & Barcelona Interested in Kai Havertz Ahead of Summer Bidding War

?Bayer Leverkusen talent Kai Havertz has been tipped to choose between Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona next summer as he prepares to take the next step in his fledgling career.

The 20-year-old is one of the most talked about talents in European football after managing 27 combined goals and assists for Leverkusen from attacking midfield last season.

Kai Havertz

Havertz has been linked with Liverpool and the youngster has a reported value of as much as €100m (£91m). But, as things stand, Anfield or anywhere in England doesn’t appear to be the likely destination for a player who also already has five senior caps for Germany.

According to Bild, Borussia Dortmund are also expected to miss out on Havertz, despite apparently holding strong interest in the player.

That is perhaps surprising given the club’s reputation for promoting and developing emerging talents, with Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho fine recent examples of their record.

Jadon Malik Sancho

It is said that Dortmund are likely to be able to afford Havertz’s vast price tag if they sell Sancho at the end of the season, with the England international heavily linked with Manchester United and the subject of the confirmed talks in March.

But even if Dortmund have the funds, Bild suggests they may be out of luck. The German publication suggests that there is more chance of Havertz sealing a move to domestic heavyweights and rivals Bayern, or Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona instead.

All three European giants have been in the process of rebuilding this summer and largely recruiting younger players with long-term potential, with those jobs not yet complete.

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The player’s own recent take on his future was one of patience, stating, “I am happy to stay at Leverkusen for one more year. What happens next summer will be experienced in the future.”

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This Weekend’s 7 Must-Watch Games as Club Football Finally Returns

?The early interlude brought rudely around by the international break is over as domestic hostilities resume across Europe this weekend. 

It’s already week five in the Premier League, and with some tasty looking fixtures coming up in England’s top flight and across the rest of the continent’s big leagues, there should be no shortage of big matches to keep us entertained. 

With that in mind, here are seven fixtures you need to look out for this weekend from across the footballing calendar.


Saturday: Liverpool vs. Newcastle  (Premier League)

Roberto Firmino,Mohamed Salah


A fixture steeped in dramatic history and epic drama, surely a 0-0 is out of the question – even if Newcastle fans would shake your hand for that right now. 

A 4-0 drubbing at Anfield last December was proceeded by a comfortable 2-0 home win for the Reds the previous season. However, Liverpool needed a stoppage time header from Divock Origi to rescue them the last time these side’s met in a closely fought match that ended 3-2 to Jurgen Klopp’s title chasing side. 

Heading into the 49th Premier League meeting between the sides, ?Liverpool will be looking to record their fifth straight win of the season. Steve Bruce’s Newcastle will be looking to build on decidedly sturdier displays of late, as they have steadied the ship following a whirlwind summer.


Saturday: Barcelona vs. Valencia (La Liga)

Antoine Griezmann


Saturday’s late clash between Barcelona and Valencia promises to be an interesting one. The two sides have made similar stuttering starts to their league campaigns and will be looking for a headline grabbing win to kick-start their respective seasons. 

?Barcelona were held to a disappointing 2-2 draw with Osasuna last time out, and they will be looking to bounce back this weekend.

Ernesto Valverde’s men were held to back-to-back draws by Los Ches before losing to them in the final of the Copa del Rey last season. With Luis Suarez out and Lionel Messi still struggling with a thigh strain, Valencia may be well be looking to inflict more pain on their illustrious rivals on Saturday. 


Saturday: RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich (Bundesliga)

Emil Forsberg,Serge Gnabry

RB Leipzig are the early leaders in the Bundesliga, winning all three of their opening matches, scoring nine in these three. They will hope to continue that red hot streak of form against the reigning German champions on Saturday. 

For their part ?Bayern have also made a strong start with only a 2-2 home draw with Hertha Berlin being the only blemish on their record thus far. The Bavarians are without Leon Goretzka for the game but will hoping to leapfrog their opponents at the top of the table this weekend.


Saturday: Manchester United vs. Leicester City (Premier League)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

?After another disappointing result away to Southampton?Manchester United will be looking for a much needed victory this weekend. It will not be easy though against an in-form Leicester City. 

However, Brendan Rodgers will be looking for an improvement in his side’s recent form against the Red Devils after they lost home and away to United last season, and are without a win in their last five league clashes against Saturday’s opponents

With two attack-minded managers in either technical area this could be something of a classic in the making.


Sunday: Monaco vs. Marseille (Ligue 1)

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Two heavyweights of French football go toe-to-toe on Sunday as Monaco host Marseille in what promises to be an entertaining bout. ?

Monaco find themselves occupying an all too familiar spot in the bottom three of the Ligue 1 after their opening four matches. However, they have at least managed consecutive 2-2 draws, with former Leicester man Islam Slimani bagging a brace in their last match against Strasbourg

Marseille come into this match looking for a third straight league win which would propel them up towards the top of the table. With a lot already riding on this match for both sides, it could get a little tasty on Sunday. 


Saturday: Fiorentina vs. Juventus (Serie A) 

Gonzalo Higuain

Whenever the reigning Italian champions roll into town, it is never boring. However, ?Juventus fans will be hoping for a more straight-forward three points as they travel down to Fiorentina off the back of their last gasp 4-3 victory over Napoli. 

La Vecchia Signora are still bedding in after a busy summer which brought a new manager and a conveyor belt of exciting new signings. They are much fancied against a Fiorentina side that is also in-flux after a summer of change.

Juventus won home and away last season against Saturday’s opponents, however, Maurizio Sarri’s men will need to be wary going into this fixture. They looked more than a tad vulnerable at the back in that aforementioned last outing, and it will not have gone unnoticed.


Saturday: Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Bundesliga)

Jadon Malik Sancho

?Another top five clash to keep an eye on this weekend, sees two of the Bundesliga’s great entertainers face off against one another on Saturday evening. 

Dortmund did the double over Leverkusen last season and an aggregate score of 7-4 means you are virtually guaranteed goals in this one too. Jadon Sancho has been in electric form early on and should be buoyed going into Saturday’s fixture after scoring his first goals for England against Kosovo last week. 


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Florentino Perez Opens Up on Real Madrid Failing to Sign Paul Pogba & Robert Lewandowski

?Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has revealed he tried to sign Robert Lewandowski for ‘years’ – only to be pushed back by Bayern Munich – while Paul Pogba remains a player his club are unable to sign.

Having been linked with a move to the Spanish capital all summer, Pogba eventually remained at Old Trafford after Madrid were priced out of a move, while Lewandowski put pen to paper on fresh terms to remain in Bavaria.


While blatantly expressing his desire to sign both players, Perez confessed that not every player is an achievable target, with the duo’s respective clubs putting an end to ?Madrid’s interest.

“There are players who don’t get sold,” Perez said, via ?Marca.

“We went for Lewandowski for several years and nothing happened because he has no clause and they [Bayern Munich] won’t sell him. There’s no way. And that’s happened with Pogba. When certain players can be sold, we can go for them.”

While the comments do not definitively rule out another move for ?Pogba in the future, Perez’s stance on any deal appears to have softened, especially considering the amount of money to club parted with as Zinedine Zidane looks to craft a new squad capable of a league challenge and Champions League success.

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The club’s president also addressed some issues that remained from the season before, insisting those creases were ironed out over the summer, in which Madrid spent upwards of £270m on eight additions.

“We had nine Ballon d’Or nominees and a team valued at 1.2 billion euros,” he added. “Last year the problem wasn’t one player, but everyone’s mentality. Important players have been signed, [Eden] Hazard among them.”

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A Tribute to Ali Daei: Cristiano Ronaldo’s Final International Rival

149 games. 109 goals. One gargantuan record, with just one gargantuan rival. 

On Tuesday evening, the world, as it is wont to do every couple of weeks, was abuzz with Cristiano Ronaldo GOAT bleating, after the Portuguese forward bagged four goals against Lithuania, taking his international tally to 93.

And by bleatings, I mean this:

You know the gist. 

But this time though, it wasn’t just GOATs that were profiting from Ronaldo’s achievements with outrageous online proliferation. There was another entity, altogether more human, that was plastered across the tweets and headlines. That entity was Ali Daei.

And, like his namesake Muhammed, he remains the international GOAT for now.

Like most GOATs, both born (you know, a straight-up goat) and anointed (GOAT), Daei came from humble beginnings. Growing up in Ardabil, Iran, which is close to the Caspian sea and closer still to Azerbaijan, from a young age he was discouraged from playing football by his father during the academic year, forcing his mother into surreptitiously smuggling his kit to him every time he left for school. 

This was seemingly not uncommon in the region, considering no one from Ardabil had ever played for the national team.

In spite of these rules and regs, his footballing education stayed very much in the family, with his first club side made up mostly of a variety of brothers, cousins and uncles. A place in the Adabil’s All-Stars was earned, before a degree in – wait for it – Metallurgy at Tehran’s University of Industrial Studies (since renamed the Sharif University of Technology for, well, obvious reasons) curtailed his progress. 


However, it wasn’t long before the wielding gave way to more wizardry on the pitch, and a flurry of goals for Second Division side Taxirini – 14 in 20, to be exact, at least according to Wikipedia… – announced his name on the Iranian football stage. 

A move to rivals Bank Tejarat was earned, where he notched 49 in 75 across four years, in the third of which his fateful call up to the national side occurred. And this is where the story really begins.

Sure, we could go on talking about his journey from the depths of Iranian football to the heights (Bayern Munich) and the mediocrities (Hertha Berlin) of the Bundesliga, but those somewhat inauspicious stints aren’t why we remember Daei, and they certainly aren’t why he’s constantly compared to Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Yes, he became the first Asian player to play in the Champions League at ?Bayern, but it’s his goaltastic stint with the Team Melli (which means national team in Iranian, making it the greatest international nickname of all time) that cements his legacy in the culture writ large. 

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13 years. 149 games. 109 goals.

Such a record is, frankly, staggering, and it certainly came at a cost to his club career, with domestic seasons frequently interrupted by international fare. 

But that was a price that, clearly, Daei was more than willing to pay, and one that now seems like a veritable bargain. Because, at the risk of instantly saying ‘clearly’ again, Ali was not a better footballer than Cristiano Ronaldo. According to Ottmar Hitzfeld, he was not even a better player than Alexander Zickler.

He was a bit ungainly, a bit awkward, stuck in a purgatory somewhere between a target man and a poacher. Indeed, it is rare to see an Ali Daei goal that you could honestly label a ‘banger’. Sure, he was solid – as his metallic studies would suggest – and sometimes he hit the ball quite hard, but more often than not they stayed on the ground, and there was usually a trickling quality to their journeys to the net.

In fact, when there wasn’t, it was probably because it was a header. 

This is not to decry the great man. This is to contextualise his achievements. To say, once again with hopeful clarity, that he was not a generational footballer. Yet he remains the benchmark for the greatest footballers in the world, and comfortably at that. 

And, while it’s probably unfair to condense that international output into three moments – three crowning achievements – we’re going to do it anyway, because your time is valuable, and there’s only so much Daei content to go off.

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Okay, maybe four.

The first came at the 1998 World Cup – Iran’s first since 1978, and only the second in their entire history – when, after Daei’s nine goals in 17 qualifiers had earned them their spot in the group stages, they were drawn alongside the USA.

It has since become known as the most politically charged game in World Cup history. This was not hyperbolic, and neither is it to say that Iran’s ultimate 2-1 victory – their first ever in the competition – is the greatest result in the country’s history. So yeah, a fitting highlight. 

The second came in a lower profile clash against Lebanon in 2003, when he equalled Ferenc Puskas’ longstanding international record of 84 goals. The third came the following year, when he notched his centenary goal in a four-score (!!!) showing against Laos. Talk about doing it in style.

Iranian forward Ali Daei hugs Iranian de

The bonus fourth – you’re welcome – was his 109th and final goal for Iran, notched against Costa Rica in March 2006. His final gift to the international world. One last glint of light in the sunset of his career. A few months later, following a dismal 2006 World Cup campaign, the 36-year-old’s sun had finally set.

But the glorious hues of a glorious career are still there for all to see, and until Ronaldo reaches that lucky number 110, he’ll remain on the fringes of what is Daei’s deserved limelight.

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Philippe Coutinho Reveals He Spoke to Jurgen Klopp & Roberto Firmino Prior to Bayern Munich Move

?Philippe Coutinho has confirmed that he spoke to international teammate Roberto Firmino and his former manager Jurgen Klopp to ask for advice ahead of his loan move from Barcelona to Bayern Munich over the summer.

The Brazilian midfielder flourished alongside Firmino under the management of Klopp during his time at Liverpool, before he sealed a move to Barcelona in January 2018.

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However, Coutinho’s time at Barcelona was hugely disappointing, leaving the club to consider offers for the player during the most recent transfer window.

The 27-year-old opted for a move to the German champions to get his career back on track, but only after learning more about the league from Firmino, who spent four years at Hoffenheim prior to his switch to the Premier League.

“I talked with Roberto Firmino [who knows the Bundesliga from his time in Hoffenheim] about the intensity of the Bundesliga and the tight matches there. He told me a lot about the different Bundesliga teams,” Coutinho told German outlet SportBild.

Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho also confirmed that he listened to Klopp when deciding on his next career move, and was convinced that Bayern was the right club for him having heard Klopp’s views on the matter.

“He [Klopp] sent me a message and wished me luck. He wrote that Bayern is a big club and the Bundesliga a great league. He is very happy to see me there”, he added.

Having made his first competitive start for Bayern in their 6-1 victory over Mainz before the international break, Coutinho is pleased with his start to life at his new club, and is thankful for the reception that he has received since arriving last month.

“Some of my Brazil team-mates asked me how things are going at Bayern. I told them how happy I am to be there. I had a great welcome from my team-mates, club, fans, media and want to repay it with goals and performances on the pitch.”

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