?Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller has named Real Madrid’s captain, a retired legend, and three of his own teammates when asked about to select a top three of the world’s toughest defenders.
Having faced so many over the years, Muller seemingly found it difficult to stick with just three, but heavily decorated superstar Sergio Ramos is definitely one that stands out.
“Of course, Real Madrid won three Champions League titles, I think Sergio Ramos is one top level defender,” the German international told Goal.com.
Muller was too young to play against Jaap Stam in a real game but did encounter the intimidating Dutchman in an exhibition game.
“I met Jaap Stam one time in Mark van Bommel’s testimonial. It was a friendly match and he was in my team. So I was lucky!” he added.
And Muller is also able to test himself against three more players he considers to be among the best in the world on a daily basis in training.
“But also with Mats Hummels, Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng – when I play against them in the training sessions, it’s very tough,” the 27-year-old continued.
Having enjoyed the best individual season of his career in 2015/16 when he scored 32 goals in all competitions for Bayern, Muller is looking to bounce back after a rather disappointing 2016/17.
He managed just five Bundesliga goals, the lowest single full season tally of his career to date, and similarly failed to reach double figures overall for the first time.
?Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti has insisted that midfielder Renato Sanches “will stay” at the club amid interest from Chelsea.
The 19-year-old was linked with a move to Chelsea after Blues boss Antonio Conte reportedly spoke with him following the two sides’ pre-season friendly.
But Ancelotti has dismissed rumours that Sanches is set for an exit this summer, having only joined the Bundesliga champions last summer from Benfica in a €35m deal.
“Renato Sanches will stay with us until the end of the transfer window,” the Italian coach said at a press conference ahead of the Audi Cup, quoted by ?Squawka.
The Portuguese international has struggled to make an impact in the Bundesliga since his big money arrival.
He was restricted to just six league starts last season, unable to establish himself ahead of Bayern’s plethora of gifted midfield players.
Ancelotti last week suggested that there was a possibility Sanches could be set for an exit.
“The transfer window ends on August 31 and right now Renato Sanches is training and working with us,” he said.
“We have time to make a decision together. There’s a chance he could leave, but he could also stay with us.”
Chelsea had reportedly hoped to bring Sanches to Stamford Bridge as a replacement for Nemanja Matic, who has now completed his transfer to Manchester United.
Now, though, there appears to be little doubt in the mind of Ancelotti that the youngster will remain at the club beyond the end of the transfer window.
?Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti has praised the competitiveness of English football – claiming that as a result of the Premier League sides that have qualified for this season’s Champions League, the competition will become tougher.
Leicester joined Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham in Europe’s premier competition last season, after the Foxes’ incredible Premier League victory the season prior.
Whilst Leicester were assumed to be the easiest opponent of the English clubs at the beginning of the season, it was the Midlands club that progressed the furthest out of any UK side last term.
However, now with Arsenal and Leicester being replaced with Liverpool and Chelsea, Ancelotti has hinted that their English opponents more competitive than last season – making the competition that bit harder to win.
??Furthermore, after Manchester United’s Europa League final victory over Ajax, the Red Devils will also be competing in Europe’s most prestigious trophy – meaning that Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp will all be managing English teams in this year’s competition.
Undoubtedly, Ancelotti will be sad to see that Arsenal didn’t qualify for this season’s competition – and is likely to be a reason as to why he feels the Champions League will be more competitive this coming campaign. The Bavarians have beaten Arsenal in the Champions League in four of the last five years, but won’t get that opportunity this season.
Regardless of how competitive it gets, Ancelotti will still expect his team to aim to win the competition – with an expectation already placed upon them to win the Bundesliga. Their last triumph came in 2013, and will feel that it is about their time to win it again in 2018.
?Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben could be set to return from a calf injury against Liverpool in the Audi Cup this week, ?ESPN have reported.
The 33-year-old was back in training on Sunday having missed the Bundesliga champions’ 12-day tour of China and Singapore.
Robben picked up the injury while playing tennis on holiday, but he has expressed his optimism that he will be ready for the start of the new season.
“I’m doing well so far,” he said. “I’ve still got almost three weeks until the opening Bundesliga game. I am making good progress and increasing my training load gradually.”
The Dutch international is entering his ninth season for Bayern, who he joined in 2009 from Real Madrid.
He has been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League as he enters the latter stages of his career, although Shanghai SIPG director Mads Davidsen dismissed the possiblity of the division bringing in players of the age of Robben or teammate Franck Ribery.
“It’s a misconception that makes me really angry when players in Europe believe they can freely choose the time to move to China,” Davidsen told ?Bild.
“This was the situation three or four years ago but those times are over. If Ribery had an offer two or three years ago from China then that was his chance, but an ambitious Chinese team like Shanghai SIPG wouldn’t sign him or Robben now.
“Why should a Chinese club sign a 33 or 34-year-old when they can get 27-year-old stars like Axel Witsel or Alex Teixeira, or Oscar at 25?”
Bayern Munich have rejected an offer from AC Milan for midfielder Renato Sanches.
The 19-year-old struggled during his first season with the Bundesliga giants, making 17 league appearances and failing to contribute a goal or an assist as the likes of Xabi Alonso, Arturo Vidal and Thiago Alcantara featured heavily.
Sanches is still seen as a hugely promising young player and Bayern remain eager to keep hold of the teenager, with Sky Sports believing the German side have rejected a €10m loan offer from Milan with the possibility of a €35-40m permanent switch.
The former Benfica man has previously spoken out at his dismay over his playing time, citing Milan as a potential destination should he decide his development is being halted by Bayern.
?He told ?SportBild: “I’m not satisfied. Of course I would like to play more. This is why I want to join a club where I could get more playing time.
“Milan is an interesting option,” added the Portugal international.
“If the opportunity arises and the clubs can agree, I would like to see them. I am now on tour with Bayern but after that we will get together in Munich and hopefully find a solution.
“I’m young, I want and I have to play a lot. I think the chance to do so is greater in Milan than in Munich.”
Sanches made a name for himself during the 2015-16 season as he helped Portugal to the Euro 2016 championship, playing in the final before his replacement Eder scored the winner to beat France in extra time.