Why London-raised Musiala chose Germany over England

A few months ago, Jamal Musiala looked like being England’s hottest young prospect – but now he may line up against them at Wembley on Tuesday night.

In November last year he made his England U21 debut and four days later scored his first goal. The Football Association, and England manager Gareth Southgate, breathed a collective sigh of relief, feeling they had convinced the then 17-year-old, already Bayern Munich’s youngest-ever Bundesliga player, to choose the Three Lions over the country of his birth.

Musiala had played a year up through most of his spell in Chelsea’s academy, dazzling along the way, and represented England throughout their youth levels. His only two games for Germany came as an U16 in 2018, and by his England U21 bow, even the German FA had thrown in the towel.

“He has clearly signalled to us that he currently sees his future with the English national teams,” their head of academy coaching Meikel Schonweitz said shortly after that debut appearance, frustrated one of Europe’s brightest talents had seemingly slipped through their fingers.

Musiala has made two appearances for England's U21s, scoring one goal.
Musiala made two appearances for England’s U21s, scoring one goal, before changing allegiances

Barely six months on, Musiala, who turned 18 in February, may well line up against England at Wembley on Tuesday night thanks to a major role in the goal which kept Germany from an embarrassing Euro 2020 group-stage exit.

It would provide another rung on the ladder of a meteoric rise for the midfielder, but one Southgate can only wish was happening on his watch. The England manager, and the FA, may live to feel they were outfought.

Over a year prior to his England U21s debut, Musiala left Chelsea’s academy to join Bayern in the summer of 2019, but not before Germany manager Joachim Low had contacted him to convince him of his route through youth football to the German national team.

Andrew Martin, head of football at Croydon secondary school Whitgift which Musiala attended, acted as a mentor for the talented young player during his school days – and told Sky Sports how Low’s decision to strike up a similar relationship played a major part in deciding his destiny.

“I think that was a massive sway,” he said. “It’s where England have probably missed a trick, not convincing him to stay and to map out a pathway of their own.

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“They saw him progressing, whether that be six months, 12 months, two years. Not only did Bayern want him, but one of the most powerful countries in world football had already made it clear where they wanted him in the future.

“When Jamal was with us he had offers from England and Germany, I remember speaking to him about the decision when he was U15. At that point, his preference was England.

“Playing on the English academy circuit, he knew the boys even if they were from Manchester City or Arsenal, they were playing against each other regularly and had a respect for each other. He didn’t feel as comfortable or know the players, and staff when he was with Germany.

“Moving to Germany at 16, he’s gone onto the German circuits, had a year playing in the German academy system, now he’s in the first team, so he’s used to playing in that system, in the Bundesliga every week, and unfortunately for England drifted away from the English system due to being a regular in the country.”

Musiala’s quality is no surprise to anyone, from Martin up to Germany manager Low as well as the England set-up. An old head on young shoulders has allowed him to compete with world-class professionals, and even bail some of them out against Hungary, in the same month he should be graduating from sixth form.

It is with that in mind why in such a crunch game, which has more personal meaning to the teenager than any of his team-mates, there would be equally few eyebrows raised should Low trust him with a starting berth at Wembley.

“It’s crazy, if he’d stayed with us he would be leaving sixth form this week,” Martin told Sky Sports in the build-up to Tuesday’s game. “He’s helping set up the Germany equaliser to save them in the tournament, while his mates are having their final day at school.

“I messaged him after the Hungary game, telling him he had to beat England now – he replied saying ‘I’ll do my best, sir’. It just shows the type of character he is. He’s a German international and still calling me sir, he could call me anything he likes and I wouldn’t mind. His football speaks for itself, but I can’t speak highly enough of him as a character, he’s an outstanding young man.

“With how his mind works, he won’t think about the sentiment. It’ll just be another game. A big game, one he wants to win for his country, but I don’t think he’ll view it as playing England, where he grew up. Obviously there’ll be some affiliation, you don’t live somewhere for eight years and not grow some affiliation.

“There’ll be some sort of emotion there, but with the character that he is, that’ll be put to the back of his mind.”

The view from Germany: He’s incredible

Sky Germany reporter Uli Kohler previewed Tuesday’s game for Sky Sports and was full of praise for Musiala, who has long-since hit the headlines in Germany for a breakthrough season at Bayern where he scored six goals in only 870 minutes of Bundesliga football.

He said: “He’s incredible. Lothar Matthaus thinks he has to be in the starting line-up against England. I’m not so sure. I think it’s a lot of pressure on his young shoulders. This is the game of games, England vs Germany; it might be a bit too much for an 18-year-old, but you saw when he came off the bench what he could do.

“He was immediately right in the game – he has fun and he had two great moments in five minutes… more than the rest of the German attack had! I think he will be a real weapon if the game is close.

“I remember a story that he was driven to training on his birthday by his mother in an old Opel Corsa… all the other players had their Ferraris! Now he’s playing for the national side in the Euros at Wembley. It’s an incredible story!”

UEFA drops review of Neuer’s rainbow armband

UEFA has dropped an investigation into Germany captain Manuel Neuer’s wearing of a rainbow armband during his side’s Euro 2020 matches, the German Football Association (DFB) has confirmed.

Neuer has worn the rainbow armband, which represents solidarity with the LGBT+ community, during June in honour of Pride Month.

The goalkeeper first wore it in a friendly against Latvia on June 7, and has continued to do so in Germany’s Euro 2020 group stage matches against France and Portugal.

UEFA was understood to be looking into whether the armband had breached its rules regarding on-field political statements, but on Sunday the DFB confirmed the investigation had been stopped.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (AP)
Neuer’s wearing of the armband was under investigation by UEFA, according to the DFB

“UEFA have today shared with the DFB that they have stopped the review of the rainbow captain’s armband worn by
@Manuel_Neuer,” Germany’s football team said in posts on Twitter and Facebook.

“In a letter, the armband has been assessed as a team symbol for diversity and thus for a ‘good cause.'”

Meanwhile, Germany are considering lighting up their stadium in Munich with rainbow colours for their final Group F match against Hungary on Wednesday.

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter said on Sunday he was going to write to UEFA to ask for permission for the Allianz Arena to be lit up with the Pride flag colours as a sign against homophobia and intolerance.

“This is an important sign of tolerance and equality,” Reiter told news agency dpa.

Munich’s city council had already called for the stadium to be lit in rainbow colours for the game to protest a law passed by Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday that prohibits sharing with minors any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment. The law has been denounced as anti-LGBT+ discrimination by human rights groups.

Germany could light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Wednesday's match against Hungary (AP)
Germany could light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Wednesday’s match against Hungary

“It is important for the state capital Munich to set a visible sign of solidarity with the LGBTI community in Hungary, which is suffering from the current stricter homophobic and transphobic legislation of the Hungarian government,” the Munich council said in its application.

UEFA, as organisers of the event, will have the final say.

Meanwhile, UEFA confirmed on Sunday that it is investigating potential discriminatory incidents that occurred during Hungary’s first two Euro 2020 games at the Puskas Arena.

Anti-discrimination in football group Fare sent a report highlighting a homophobic banner in the stands during the hosts’ defeat to Portugal in Budapest on Tuesday.

Monkey chants were also heard during Hungary’s draw with France on Saturday, with UEFA saying an ethics and disciplinary inspector has been appointed to conduct an investigation.

Coman wants PL move after rejecting Bayern contract

Kingsley Coman’s desire to play in the Premier League is one of the main factors in his recent decision to reject a new contract offer from Bayern Munich.

Sky in Germany report that the France international winger is becoming increasingly unsettled at Bayern, where he has asked for a significant pay rise and feels underappreciated.

Coman is understood to be looking for a new deal at the financial level of Leroy Sane, who joined Bayern Munich from Manchester City last summer.

The 25-year-old has been with Bayern since 2015 but his current deal runs until the summer of 2023, making the renewal less of a priority for the Bavarians.

Club president Uli Hoeness said in an interview with MagentaTV: “We’re very relaxed there. I think the financial ceilings will not be exceeded.

“If he doesn’t accept it, in the end you have to be consistent as a club.

“With [David] Alaba, we obviously didn’t like to lose him but the contract expired. With Kingsley, we still have two years – until then a lot will happen in the world.”

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Rummenigge to step down early as Bayern chairman

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is stepping down as Bayern Munich chairman six month earlier than anticipated.

Rummenigge was due to leave the Bundesliga champions at the end of 2021 but has brought forward his departure to June 30.

Former Bayern and Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn will take over from Rummenigge, who has been on Bayern’s board for almost 30 years.

Rummenigge is reported to have argued for the change to be made early to avoid a 2021-22 season being split under two different leaders.

“A hugely successful era is coming to an end at FC Bayern,” a club statement said.

“At his own request and in close consultation with president and supervisory board chairman Herbert Hainer and the supervisory board, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge will retire from his position as CEO of FC Bayern München AG with effect from 30 June 2021.”

The 65-year-old also played for Bayern for 10 years and made 95 appearances for West Germany, winning the European Championship in 1980.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (AP)
Rummenigge has enjoyed unprecedented success with Bayern in recent years

He is the last member of the trio, along with Beckenbauer and former longtime president Uli Hoeness, who turned Bayern into a European and domestic sporting and financial powerhouse, to leave the club.

“Strategically it is the most logical time to do it,” Rummenigge said. “It is the end of the fiscal year and the start of a new coaching team.

“It is a departure filled with satisfaction and pride that I hand over the club that is intact on a sporting level as well as financially and structurally.”

Rummenigge has enjoyed unprecedented success with Bayern in recent years, with the club winning 14 of the last 19 league titles since the 2002-03 season.

They have also won nine straight league titles after clinching the Bundesliga crown last month. Bayern also won six domestic and international titles in 2019-20, including the Champions League and club World Cup.

Alaba joins Real Madrid on five-year deal

Real Madrid have signed David Alaba from Bayern Munich on a five-year contract.

Sky in Germany reports the deal with Real that will earn him around £10.5m per year following the expiration of his Bayern contract.

Real Madrid confirmed the signing on Friday evening and said Alaba would be unveiled after Euro 2020.

Alaba had been at Bayern since 2008 but turned down multiple offers to extend his contract, including a €15m-a-year deal, but talks ceased in November.

He enjoyed a prolific 13 years in Bavaria, winning 10 Bundesliga titles, two Champions Leagues and six German Cups.

The Austria international had also been attracting interest from Premier League sides, including Liverpool and Manchester City.

City tried to lure Alaba to Manchester last summer and had hoped to include him as part of the deal which saw Leroy Sane move to Munich.

Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus were also understood to be keen on signing the 28-year-old.

Conte in frame for Real

Antonio Conte is being considered as Zinedine Zidane’s successor at Real Madrid after they missed out on first-choice Max Allegri, according to Sky in Italy.

Former Inter Milan head coach Antonio Conte
Former Inter Milan head coach Antonio Conte could be set to move to Real Madrid

After Zinedine Zidane stepped down from the Bernabeu for a second time this week, the Spanish giants had been hoping to appoint long-term target Allegri – but he is set for a sensational return to Juventus to replace Andrea Pirlo, who was sacked on Friday.

They have now turned to Conte, who is a free agent after parting company with Inter Milan on Wednesday despite leading them to the Serie A title, due to the club’s need to make significant financial cuts.

Conte is a prolific title-winner with Juventus himself, as well as Chelsea and now Inter.