Guardiola hints at Bayern move for Castro

The Bavarians’ head coach has admitted that he is a admirer of the versatile midfielder, but Bayer Leverkusen are hopeful of holding on to him

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has admitted that he is a keen admirer of Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Gonzalo Castro amid reports that the Bundesliga champions are interested in signing the 27-year-old.

Castro’s contract with Leverkusen is due to expire in the summer of 2016 and Bayern are believed to be keeping a close eye on the Germany international’s situation at the BayArena.

“I am not thinking about next season yet and about which players will be here then. We have not spoken about it for now,” Guardiola was quoted as saying by Bild.

“But Castro is obviously a great player. He has been doing very well in a number of positions.”

Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller, meanwhile, has made it clear that they are ready to open talks with Castro over a prolonged stay, although he has admitted they could struggle to hold on to the midfielder.

“We will sit down in the next few weeks to discuss his future,” Voller told TZ.

“We always seem to lose our best players, but that’s simply the way it is. Big transfer fees allow us to sign new players.”

Castro, who came through the club’s youth academy, has made over 350 appearances in all competitions for Bayer Leverkusen since breaking into the first team in 2004-05.

Guardiola does not care about money, say Bayern

The Allianz Arena side do not hold any fears that the Spanish coach will move on in order to earn a bigger paycheck at another club

Bayern Munich board member Jan-Christian Dreesen believes money will not play a role in Pep Guardiola’s decision over a contract renewal with the Bundesliga champions.

The former Barcelona coach’s existing contract with Bayern runs until June 2016 and he has been linked with a move elsewhere once his current deal expires.

Bayern are in no rush to open talks over a new deal, though, with chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge revealing earlier this year that no negotiations have been scheduled until the end of the season, and Dreesen does not fear Guardiola will open talks with another club that could potentially offer bigger wages in the meantime.

“Pep is not the type of coach who is trying to make as much money as possible,” Dreesen told Sport Bild.

“He could already have made much more money elsewhere when he joined Bayern.”

Guardiola guided Bayern to the domestic double in his first season in charge, while they still have a shot at winning the treble this term.

The Allianz Arena side sit atop of the Bundesliga table, meet Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB Pokal quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Bayer Leverkusen-Bayern Munich Preview: Injuries no excuse for Muller

The Bavarians are without Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben on Wednesday but another of their forwards says they have more than enough strength in depth

Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller says his side cannot use injuries as an excuse ahead of Wednesday’s DFB-Pokal quarter-final against Bayer Leverkusen.

Pep Guardiola’s side were 1-0 victors over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday but approach their midweek cup clash with something of a depleted squad.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Franck Ribery (both ankle) will miss the trip to the BayArena, while Arjen Robben (stomach) and David Alaba (knee) are also absent.

Holger Badstuber could feature, but even the versatile defender’s potential return does little to mask the scale of the problems Guardiola will need to deal with in his bid to keep Bayern’s treble hopes alive.

Having been on the defensive for large spells at Signal Iduna Park, Muller also stated Bayern could not afford to sit back on Wednesday.

“We have to make the best of [the injury crisis] as a team and salvage the situation, we’ll still have a super team out on the field,” he explained.

“Leverkusen are in good shape and it certainly won’t hurt on Wednesday if we show the same utter determination to win as we did in Dortmund.

“It’s a knockout match and there’s such a lot at stake so we won’t throw caution to the wind, we’ll defend well as a team. But parking the bus on the edge of our own penalty area isn’t our new tactical plan.”

Leverkusen head into the game in buoyant mood on the back of a six-match winning streak in domestic competitions.

Saturday’s 4-0 Bundesliga win over Hamburg will instil further confidence in ending Bayern’s 15-match winning run in the Pokal that stretches back to the final of 2012.

While coach Roger Schmidt acknowledged that Guardiola’s side will be affected by the injury concerns, he preferred to focus on his side’s development.

“Their playing structure has changed somewhat but much more important is our state and that is very good,” he said.

“This is a good basis, as we have shown in both directions a cohesive team performance. We have to use our offensive options very well and also defend well, defend bravely.

“[We have developed], especially when it comes to deciding games. We will give everything again.”

Bayern only have 16 fit players, says Guardiola

The Spanish coach is low on options ahead of the match versus Bayer Leverkusen, while he also had words of encouragement for Mario Gotze

Pep Guardiola has revealed that Bayern Munich only have 16 players available for Wednesday’s DFB Pokal clash with Bayer Leverkusen as they are being plagued by injuries.

The Allianz Arena side were already without Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, David Alaba, Javi Martinez and Tom Starke, but Bastian Schweinsteiger has now been ruled out of Wednesday’s encounter at the BayArena, too.

“Schweinsteiger will not be match fit in time,” Guardiola said at a press conference.

“We only have 16 players available for Wednesday’s game. But this is part of the game. It’s my job to find a solution.

“Holger Badstuber is doubtful. I think he can train normally again and we will then have to wait and see how his body reacts.

“We are not looking for excuses, though. It will be a huge challenge for Bayern.”

The Bayern coach then went on to praise Mario Gotze, who was benched against Borussia Dortmund at the weekend, and Jerome Boateng.

“I know that it was a sad moment for Gotze that he did not start against Dortmund. He is a great guy, though. Football is his life. He is one of the best players I have ever worked with and I am sorry that he could not play. But that was my decision.

“Boateng is incredibly important to us. I think he is one of the three best centre-backs in the world at the moment.”

Thiago is a genius, says Rummenigge

The gifted midfielder impressed the Bayern boss with a fine outing against Dortmund at the weekend as he is slowly approaching peak fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has voiced his admiration for Thiago Alcantara and feels the Spanish midfielder showed glimpses of genius during his cameo in the 1-0 Bundesliga win over Borussia Dortmund at the weekend.

The 23-year-old joined Bayern from Barcelona in the summer of 2013, but a series of injuries has so far prevented him from living up to the high expectations.

A knee injury kept Thiago out of action in the first half of the 2014-15 campaign, yet he recently returned to training and made his long-awaited comeback against BVB on Saturday.

The Spain international replaced Philipp Lahm in midfield with 20 minutes on the clock and Rummenigge was thoroughly impressed with the playmaker’s performance.

“The way Thiago treats the ball, there is a certain genius about it,” the Bayern supremo was quoted as saying by Bild.

Thiago will be looking to get more game time in Wednesday’s DFB-Pokal quarter-final versus Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena.

The midfielder has a contract with Bayern until June 2017.