RUMOURS: Guardiola in talks with Gundogan

Having turned down a contract renewal with Borussia Dortmund, the Germany international looks set for a summer switch to the Premier League

Soon-to-be Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has met with the agent of Ilkay Gundogan, according to a report in Bild.

The outgoing Bayern Munich coach travelled to Amsterdam on Monday to discuss transfer business with City director Txiki Begiristain, with rumours suggesting the pair were discussing moves for Ajax’s Riechedly Bazoer and PSV’s Jetro Willems.

The latest report, however, claims the pair were holding talks with Gundogan’s agent over a summer move to the Etihad.

The news adds momentum to rumours that Man City are in pole position to sign the midfielder, who turned down a renewal with Borussia Dortmund.

Arsenal, Juventus and Barcelona are also credited with an interest in the Germany international.


Robben urges Gotze to remain patient at Bayern

The Netherlands international says he understands his team-mate’s current frustrations and is confident he will be able to prove his worth on the pitch in due course

Arjen Robben has urged Bayern Munich team-mate Mario Gotze to remain patient as the Germany international struggles for game time.

Gotze recently resumed regular training after a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to an adductor injury, but is yet to make his long-awaited comeback.

The 23-year-old has not featured for Bayern since the 5-1 win over his former club Borussia Dortmund on October 4, but Robben has told his fellow attacker not to lose his composure over his situation.

“Mario has to be patient and take his time,” Robben told reporters.

“He knows that he is a great player and he will soon be showing it again on the pitch.

“But his situation is obviously not easy for him.”

Robben also had his say on Pep Guardiola’s imminent departure and stressed Bayern aim to give their coach a fitting farewell.

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“It’s an enormous pleasure to be working with Guardiola,” he added.

“The team has gone through an incredible development over the past three seasons.

“I really hope that we can say farewell to Pep by winning a few titles.”

Allegri: I'll be at Juventus next season

Despite rumours that he could be Real Madrid or Chelsea-bound, the coach says he is not thinking of leaving the Bianconeri as they fight for another Scudetto

Massimiliano Allegri has vowed to stay at Juventus for at least another year despite reports linking him with a move away from Turin.

The former AC Milan boss has been linked with Chelsea and Real Madrid, though he last week denied having contact with any other club.

Speaking after he was awarded the Panchina d’Oro for being voted Serie A’s best coach for 2014-15, he told Sky Sport Italia: “Next year, I will still be the coach of Juventus because I have another year on my contract. There’s never been anything [with other clubs].

“I’m fine here and there are no problems. Now we’re thinking of a fifth Scudetto in a row and the Coppa Italia. We work to improve every year.”

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Allegri picked up the prize, which is voted for by coaching staff from within Italy’s top flight, after guiding Juve to the domestic double and the Champions League final last season.

But the 48-year-old denied that winning Europe’s top prize has become an “obsession” for the Old Lady as they prepare for next week’s last-16 second leg with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

“Bayern are one of the favourites for the Champions League. I don’t count the fact that they haven’t won their last couple of matches,” he said.

“The Champions League is a dream, but not an obsession.”

Juve came from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 first-leg draw against the German champions.

Scudetto is on its way, but Juve must improve to have a hope against Bayern

With 10 games to go Allegri’s charges are edging ever-closer to another Serie A title, but on Sunday’s evidence the Bundesliga powerhouses will not be losing sleep


The mark of a great champion, football tradition tells us, is the ability to win ugly. That last adjective would possibly be too harsh on consummate professionals like Juventus, especially after Mario Lemina sprinkled his magic at the end of what had been a fairly uninspiring game. 

But if the Italian champions’ performance was not hideous to the eye, it was certainly workmanlike against an opponent that never looked like taking anything out of the game. The efficiency and work-rate showed by Massimiliano Allegri’s troops was enough to get past Atalanta, and it may well be enough to deliver a fifth consecutive Scudetto come May.

It will not, however, be enough to secure Juventus’ own mission impossible later this month, beating Bayern Munich in their own back-yard to assure the Champions League dream continues.

There were plenty of positives for Allegri to take from Sunday’s win, the 17th Juventus have picked up out of their last 18 (unbeaten) Serie A outings. The defence was once more formidable, with Gianluigi Buffon barely tested on his way to a ninth straight clean sheet.

Not only were Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli predictably flawless against the admittedly toothless Atalanta attack, but the latter also found himself in the right place at the right time to smash home Mario Mandzukic’s header. Mario Stoppiello could do nothing, while the host’s set-piece defence was so glaringly absent it would not look out of place on a wild west WANTED poster. 

Further forward Paulo Dybala was his usual irrepressible self, twisting his rivals one way and the other as he probed constantly on goal. And youngster Lemina delighted the visiting fans with a fantastic individual effort, finally sealing the three points on the off-chance that Atalanta on one occasion might threaten ‘Gigi’ between the posts.

The warning signs, nevertheless, are there. It took Barzagli’s first strike in 91 Serie A clashes and almost four years to break the deficit, and Juve showed little sign of adding to their advantage until their knight in shining armour and bleached highlights came to save the day. Those offensive shortcomings will be forgiven against Atalanta, but not against the likes of Bayern in the Allianz Arena. 

It is in the midfield where the Old Lady’s fragility shows. While tidy enough, Sami Khedira and Roberto Pereyra failed to feed the likes of Dybala and Paul Pogba the type of quality possession they need to punch holes in the final third.

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And while their defensive deficiencies were barely exposed against the wretched hosts, performances such as the first half against Bayern – who, lest we forget, only let Juve back into their Champions League tie thanks to a criminal and most un-Pep-like drop in intensity – and the Coppa Italia semi-final debacle against Inter show that behind the formidable statistics there are plenty of holes in the Bianconeri hull. 

A win next weekend at home to Sassuolo coupled with Napoli dropping points to Palermo in the Sicilian capital would all but crown Allegri’s men as Serie A champions once again. The real test, though, looms in Bavaria.

Another 1-0 win on the road will take Juventus into the last-eight: and on the evidence given in Bergamo, unless the team can move up the gears in time Guardiola’s perfectionists will prove a bridge too far.

Kimmich would benefit from Olympics more than Euro 2016 – Sammer

The youngster could play in either of the major tournaments after a fine season with the Bundesliga giants, but the club director believes his place is with the kids

Matthias Sammer believes Bayern Munich youngster Joshua Kimmich would be better served by representing Germany at the Olympic Games, rather than the European Championship.

The 21-year-old came under the spotlight after receiving an animated talking to from outgoing Bayern coach Pep Guardiola in the centre circle following Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Borussia Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park.

However, after the match the Spaniard was full of praise for Kimmich, who he has used in a defensive role despite his initial emergence in midfield.

The youngster’s impressive displays have led to him being tipped for a spot in the Germany squad for Euro 2016, but Bayern sporting director Sammer believes he would benefit from going to the Games in Rio instead.

“He will either play in the European Championship or the Olympics. I know that he has been planned for the latter by [Germany Under-21s coach] Horst Hrubesch,” Sammer continued. “If there should be more, Joachim Low will tell us in a quiet moment.

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“Playing in the Olympics [would be better] as you’ve already had a long break. He would have enough preparation time and then plays a tournament. He would be full of juice when he gets back.

“Joshua was born in 1995, which must not be forgotten. It shows there is a good mix in German football.

“Good players must have character. Joshua is a good boy. I have the greatest respect for his development.”

Following Saturday’s draw, Bayern hold a five-point lead over Dortmund at the Bundesliga summit with nine games remaining.

Sammer was more concerned about the 2-1 loss at home to Mainz on Wednesday, but feels the side can march to the title if they learn their lessons from that match.

“I do not know if I’m exaggerating when I say that the BVB will win nine games, but seven or eight they will – I am convinced of that. Therefore, it is clear what we must do,” he said.

“We have a good starting position, we know that. We are also confident enough, but we were reckless in midweek.

“We got a point and kept our advantage, but we should learn from the Mainz game. Although it sometimes looks easy, it is incredibly difficult for Bayern Munich to win game after game.

“It is important to take the right lessons from the game during the week. If we do this, we have a great chance of becoming champions. If we do not, and we allow ourselves such a game even once or twice, it will be difficult.

“One thing I have noticed: if you criticise us and when the mood is against us, we are always good. So, carry on.”