RB Leipzig’s rise to the top of European football is stunning

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Here’s a pub quiz question which may well come up next summer. Which German team won the Bundesliga but were not formed until 2009? The answer could be RB Leipzig and it is fair to say that if you hadn’t heard of them before you most probably have now, because currently they are sitting in first place in the Bundesliga.

RB Leipzig have been in one word incredible. In a league that features one of the greatest clubs in the world in Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig are not only in first place but after 11 games are still undefeated. The current record reads won 8 and drawn 3. One of those wins include victory over the impressive Borussia Dortmund who have been excellent in the Champions League this season and currently lie in 3rd place a cool six points adrift of the leaders.

Even the mighty Bayern have had to yield to the club as they have seen a 3 point gap appear. So what gives, how come RB Leipzig have seemingly come from nowhere to be everywhere?

Last season the club known affectionately as Die Bullen- translated in English – the bulls were playing in Bundesliga 2. This is a league which they eventually won and thus promotion was guaranteed. But nobody expected this sort of start.

The club are led by coach Ralph Hasenhuttl who is from Austria and started his playing career as a forward at Grazer before moving to Austria Wien. He played for six seasons in Germany but never made it big and played out his twilight years at Bayern Munich II.

For Austria he was capped just 8 times and last played for his country in 1994. His management career started in 2007 with some minor clubs before he headed back to Germany and took charge of Inglostadt. He helped the team clinch promotion to the Bundesliga and the team have been solid since. In the summer his impressive work was rewarded to take newly promoted RB Leipzing further and he has impressed with a win rate of 66%.

There a lot of ingredients that have made Leipzig look so good. Hasenhuttl has deployed a mean defence, the team have conceded just 9 goals this season and he has taken the model he developed at Inglostadt to start from the back. One believes Hasenhuttl would be a popular figure in Serie A.

The team is led at the back by 31-year-old Marvin Compper a natural leader and the club can rely on Swedish sensation Emil Forsberg who already has five goals this season.

Hasenhuttl is also very animated on the touchline and is quite a character and it’s obvious to see that he is the man of the moment right now. There is a hunger and a desire to do well and it will be very interesting to see how far he can take his team after such an impressive start to the campaign.

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Tuchel finely blends experience and youth at Dortmund

Euro 2016

At present one of the most in-form teams in European football is Borussia Dortmund.

Since losing 1-0 to RB Leipzig on 10 September, Der Schwarzgleben has won four successive games, scoring twenty goals and conceding just two, in the process of doing so.

As well as being defensively solid, Dortmund has of late been a potent attacking force, with eleven different players scoring in their recent victories.

Dortmund on a fine run of form 

In stark evidence during each of those games has been that Dortmund’s team consists of a fine balance of experienced and youthful players, who Thomas Tuchel is blending into an excellent team.

The 43-year-old, who followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Jurgen Klopp by leaving Mainz 05 to become Dortmund’s manager, has built a squad which is rich in terms of both depth and quality, so as to well equip the club for meeting the demands of simultaneously playing in both domestic and European competition.

Whilst that represents a significant challenge, it is one which Tuchel’s side has embraced expertly. After beginning their current four – game winning run with a 6-0 away victory over Legia Warsaw in the Champions League, Dortmund beat Darmstadt by the same score line in their next Bundesliga game, with the starting XI fielded by Tuchel in both games being a well – balanced mix of seasoned professionals and talented youngsters.

That was similarly the case in Dortmund’s previous two games against VFL Wolfsburg and SC Freiburg, which they won 5-1 and 3-1 respectively, as Tuchel operates an intelligent squad rotation system, although there remains a reasonable continuity to his team selection.

Key personnel among Dortmund’s talented squad

The key characters forming the defensive base of Tuchel’s 4-2-3-1 formation are the Swiss goalkeeper Roman Burki, the full back duo of Lukasz Piszczek and captain Marcel Schmelzer, along with the centre back pairing of Marc Barta and Sokratis Papastathopolous.  The average age of the quintet is approximately 27 years and 5 months, although Tuchel has introduced two younger players into his defence recently.

They are Felix Passlack, an 18 – year old full back, and the German internationalist centre back Matthias Ginter.  The 22-year-old is currently deputising for the injured Barta, who was formerly of Barcelona and one of Dortmund’s eight summer signings, whilst a quintet of player departed including IIkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels and Henrikh Mkhitaryan .

Ahead of Dortmund’s back four, Tuchel has experimented with very youthful defensive midfield combinations.  Whilst Portugal’s Euro 2016 winning 22-year-old Raphael Guerriero and Christian Pulisic, who is an 18 year-old American, played against both Darmstadt and VFL Wolfsburg, Tuchel replaced them Dortmund’s 3-1 win over Freiburg with the Mario Gotze and Emre Mor, who scored on his debut.

Despite only being 18, Mor has already been capped six times at senior international level by Turkey, after spending his youth career in Denmark with Bronshoj Boldklub, Lyngby BK and FC Nordsjaellend, from whom he joined Dortmund.

In each of their three successive Bundesliga victories, the holding midfield partnership has formed a formidable defensive shield, whilst elegantly supporting the team’s attack, spearheaded by the lone striker of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, although the 27-year-old, who has been Dortmund’s top goal scorer for the last two seasons, was rested for the 6-0 win against Darmstadt, as Tuchel handed a starting role to Adrian Ramos.

The quality of service which both Aubameyang and Ramos have been the recipients of has been excellent, with the chief providers being Dortmund’s two wide midfielders and their central playmaker.

Whilst Ousmane Dembele and Julian Weigl, aged 19 and 22, respectively are rapidly establishing themselves as not only key members of Dortmund’s team but also two of the finest wingers in Europe, between them in Dortmund’s 4-2-3-1 the 29-year-old Uruguayan Gonzalo Castro plays with craft and guile, just as he has consistently done since joining the club from Bayer Leverkusen.

Also available to Tuchel to play in Castro’s creative midfield role are Mario Gotze, Shinji Kagawa and Sebastien Rode, which demonstrates that Dortmund’s squad is blessed with a vast array of talented attacking players.

Prosperous ahead for Dortmund

Each of those possesses the ability to play an important role for Dortmund this season, which has commenced extremely positively for Der BVB, as their manager Tuchel eloquently engineers a side which is characterised by a fine blend of experience and youthfulness.

At present the efficient fusion of those attributes permeates Dortmund’s play, which exhibits great dynamism and vibrancy, as they aspire to challenge Bayern Munich’s dominance of the Bundesliga and run a successful Champions League campaign.

On the basis of current form, great potential exists for Tuchel’s side to realise both of those ambitions.

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Five surprising goalscorers to start the new season across Europe

Uc Sampdoria vs Atalanta Bergamasca Calci

Alexandre Lacazette, Edinson Cavani, Robert Lewandowski, Diego Costa, Antoine Griezmann, and Carlos Bacca scoring a combined 29 goals so far in the 2016-2017 season shouldn’t come as a surprise.

But in the first month of the season, five players have been on fire in a surprising manner, hitting the net more than expected. Let’s see who they are!

Franck Kessie (Atalanta) – 4 goals

Serie A fans were pretty excited about the arrival of Franck Kessie in the Italian top flight. After just four games, the 19-year-old Ivory Coast midfielder has already proven his (super) talent. Kessie scored two goals in his Serie A debut for Atalanta and has already hit the net four times this season (and once in the Coppa Italia). Perfect start, definitely for a new kid on the block who mainly plays as a defensive midfielder.

Joel Pohjanpalo (Bayer Leverkusen) – 4 goals

It’s been a crazy season for 22-year-old Joel Pohjanpalo. The Finland international rejoined Leverkusen this summer after a loan spell at Dusseldorf. He’s received just 30 minutes in two Bundesliga appearances, but scored four goals in games against Borussia Monchengladbach and Hamburg. Pohjanpalo hit a hattrick for Leverkusen against Hamburg, including two goals in extra time to secure a 3-1 win.

Etienne Capoue (Watford) – 4 goals

In 2013 Etienne Capoue joined Tottenham from Toulouse for €11 million. However, the central midfielder was unable to live up to the high expectations at White Heart Lane. Last season, the 28-year-old scored zero goals in 33 appearances for Watford but during the new campaign Capoue has already hit the net four times. Among those are goals against Chelsea and Manchester United.

Fabinho (Monaco) – 3 goals

Monaco have launched a serious challenge at Paris Saint-Germain this Ligue 1 season. They have assembled a talented team, among them Fabinho, for who Monaco paid just €6 million to Rio Ave in 2015. The defensive midfielder has scored three goals in four league games this season, including two against Lille and PSG. The Brazilian 22-year-old also hit the net twice in the Champions League qualifiers against Villarreal.

Leroy Fer (Swansea) – 3 goals

Swansea needed just 11 appearances from Leroy Fer last season in order to decide to make his loan spell for QPR permanent last summer. The Dutch midfielder has a history for scoring a couple of goals every season, but nobody expected the 26-year-old to score three goals in his first five appearances this season. Including one on the road against Leicester and one at home in an encounter with Chelsea.

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Burke shines on debut as Leipzig beat Dortmund

Euro 2016

Aside from Paul Pogba joining Manchester United from Juventus for an all-time record high transfer fee of €105m, there were many more sensational player transfers in European football this summer.

Burke’s impressive development with Forest

One of those involved Oliver Burke moving from Nottingham Forest to RB Leipzig for £13m.  In doing so, the 19-year-old Scotsman became his country’s most expensive ever player, a title previously held by the £12m trio of Steven Fletcher, Ross McCormack and Matt Ritchie.

In addition to RB Leipzig a host of other top European clubs, including Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United and Tottenham were monitoring Burke’s wonderful development at Nottingham Forest, who’s Youth Academy he joined as an 8-year-old in 2005.

Subsequently over the course of the next nine years, Burke’s progression into a technically right winger steadily evolved and began to accelerate as he made his professional debut for Nottingham Forest as a substitute during a 3-1 League Cup 3rd round defeat away to Tottenham in September 2014.

Later that season Burke spent one month on loan at Bradford City, which represented another valuable aspect of his football education.

That continued during Forest’s 2015-2016 campaign, when Burke scored two goals in 21 appearances and produced a series of fine performances, for which he was rewarded in February by being given a new four-and-a-half year contract.

Bright start for Burke at Leipzig

Nevertheless after just seven months of that contract, after starting the current season in scintillating form, whereby in five Championship appearances he scored four goals, Burke was sold to RB Leipzig for £4.5m more than the £8.5m that Liverpool paid for Stan Collymore in 1995, with that being the highest transfer fee previously received by Forest.

Given his participation in the recent first round of 2018 World Cup qualifiers, as he made his competitive debut for Scotland as Gordon Strachan’s side beat Malta 5-1, Burke has not had a lot of time to acclimatise to life in Leipzig.

Nevertheless he appears to be adjusting to that extremely well, as indicated by the manner in which Burke shone during his debut, as after appearing as a second half substitute he played an influential role in Leipzig’s 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund.

By finding Naby Keita with a precise cross, which the Guinean internationalist emphatically finished to score Leipzig’s winning goal, Burke immediately endeared himself to the supporters of his new club.

As well as providing a goal – scoring assist, Burke also created another wonderful opportunity for Timo Werner, as the three times capped Scottish internationalist provided several illustrations of his creative craft and flair to help Leipzig climb to fifth in the Bundesliga table after two games.

Whilst Burke prospered on his maiden Leipzig appearance, Mario Gotze endured a frustrating second Dortmund debut, after he resigned for the club for €26m from Bayern Munich.

Despite dominating possession, Thomas Tuchel’s side, which in addition to Gotze featured fellow summer signings Marc Bartra, Ousmane Dembele, Raphael Guerreiro, Sebastien Rode, Andre Schurrle, were unable to score against a disciplined and well organised Leipzig team.

Hamburg await Leipzig

They have now collected four points from their first two Bundesliga games and will aspire to continue their unbeaten start to the season next weekend when Ralph Hasenhuttl newly promoted side travel away from home to play Hamburger SV, with Die Rothosen not having enjoyed such a good start to the season.

Specifically after drawing their opening game at home to FC Inglostadt, Hamburg were comprehensively beaten 3-1 by Bayer Leverkusen, whose victory was inspired by the Finnish striker Joel Pohjanpalo.

Pohjanpalo inspires Leverkusen

In the last 11 minutes of the game the 21-year old – who joined Bayer Leverkusen in August 2013 only to immediately join VFR Aalen temporarily before spending the last two seasons on loan with Fortuna Dusselfdorf – scored the second hat-trick of the Bundesliga season, following Robert Lewandowski’s treble for Bayern Munich during their 6-0 opening day win over Werder Bremen.

Bayern and Hertha Berlin early Bundesliga leaders

The Polish striker scored once again as Bayern beat Schalke 2-0 at Veltins Arena, to stay top of the table with a 100% record alongside Hertha Berlin.  The capital club beat FC Inglostadt 2-0 courtesy of goals scored by Vedad Ibisevic and Julien Schieber.

Whilst Bayern and Hertha Berlin are the only two Bundesliga clubs to have won their first two games of the season, three other teams remain unbeaten having won one and drawn their other, game.  They are VFL Wolfsburg, 1 FC Koln and RB Leipzig, whose victory over Dortmund is potentially the most surprising result of the 2016-2017 Bundesliga campaign so far.

Prospect of an exciting season ahead for Burke 

Equally as outstanding as that victory, was the debut performance of Leipzig’s Oliver Burke, who is set to play a prominent role for the Saxony based club during their first season in the Bundesliga, which has commenced tremendously well.

Ultimately in order to become a first team regular with Leipzig, it will be necessary for Burke to keep producing the fine form which characterised his effective cameo appearance against Dortmund.

Nevertheless Burke is undoubtedly capable of doing that, particularly since he is growing increasingly accustomed at combining his searing pace and great technical skills, which will make him a great asset for Leipzig during this and potentially future seasons.

Borussia Monchengladbach to begin Bundesliga season full of confidence

Euro 2016

The first round of Bundesliga fixtures for the 2016-2017 season are to be played over the course of this weekend, when two of Germany’s four Champions League representatives will play another.

Those are Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen with the pair set to meet at the former’s Stadion im Borussia-Park.

Whilst at the end of the 2014-15 Bundesliga campaign, Monchengladbach were third and Leverkusen fourth, there was a reversal of those positions last season. Specifically Leverkusen finished five points ahead of Monchengladbach and in doing so secured automatic qualification to the group stages of this season’s Champions League, along with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Schubert’s side overwhelm BSC Young Boys

Also joining the trio in the group stage of European football’s elite club competition are Monchengladbach, after Andre Schubert’s side successfully progressed from their qualifying play-off encounter against BSC Young Boys by comprehensively defeating the Swiss side 9-2 on aggregate.

In both legs of the tie Monchengladbach produced extremely assured and competent performances to completely outplay their Swiss opponents, whilst in doing so they built up a great deal of confidence ahead of the Bundesliga season.

Whilst Monchengladbach displayed control and discipline to beat BSC Young Boys 3-1 in Bern, during the return game Schubert’s team played a wonderfully expansive attacking game, which resulted in them securing a thoroughly impressive 6-1 victory.

From the outset of that, Monchengladbach showed great desire and enthusiasm to substantiate their advantage from the first leg, which they were rewarded for, as both their experienced Brazilian striker Raffael and Thorgan Hazard scored hat-trick.

Despite being highly convincing, the margin of Monchengladbach’s victory could have been wider had it not been for some inspired interventions by BSC Young boys goalkeeper Yvon Mvongo.

Monchengladbach talented players in fine early season form

In stark contrast to that, Mvongo’s Monchengladbach’s counterpart Yann Sommer was rarely tested in either game, whilst neither were the defensive trio of Andreas Christensen, Nico Elvedi and Tony Jantschke, who combined to form a strong unit in front of the Swiss international goalkeeper.

Nevertheless Monchengladbach’s concession of a goal in both legs of their tie against BSC Young Boys was attributable to moments of complacency in defence, which Schubert will strongly encourage his players to eradicate from future performances, so that they do not risk undoing the fine attacking work which they undertake.

Chief architects of that work are captain Lars Stindl, along with the wide pair of Fabian Johnson and Ibrahima Traore. Each of those three players are capable of both scoring goals and providing quality service Raffael and Hazard, who invariably spearhead Monchengladbach’s attack, although Andre Hahn is another excellent striking option available to Schubert.

Confidence high among Monchengladbach squad

As such at present the 45-year-old manager is working with an extremely talented group of players, who are full of confidence, after earning their place in the group stage of this season’s Champions League.

Prior to the commencement of that on either 13 or 14 September, Monchengladbach will play two Bundesliga games, with the first of those being against Bayer Leverkusen, which is set to be an extremely keenly contested affair.

Is Mario Gotze leaving Bayern Munich this summer?

Mario Gotze Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti was coy when asked about the availability of midfielder Mario Gotze this summer, suggesting that the two had spoken a number of weeks ago, but not divulging any information that suggests Gotze wants to stay, or that Bayern want to keep him.

The German international was disgruntled in 2015/16 due to a lack of playing time under former manager Pep Guardiola, but with Bayern having bolstered their attack with Renato Sanches, who plays in Gotze’s position, and coupled with his deal running out in 2017 is likely to factor in the promising playmaker leaving the Allianz-Arena.

Gotze made just 11 starts in the German Bundesliga last season, playing second-fiddle to the likes of Thomas Muller and Thiago Alcantara in the advanced midfield role. The 24-year-old had been linked with a move to Liverpool to play under his former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp, but the two don’t look likely to renew acquaintances.

A move to Dortmund could happen, however, with the German giants desperately keen to replace the creativity lost in the summer. And quotes made by Bayern manager Carlo Ancelotti suggests the club are happy to let him go. “(While) he’s a Bayern player, I have to consider him a Bayern player. I will treat him as a Bayern player. I spoke with him one month ago, but this is private conversation. I’m not going to tell you what I said to him,” he said.

Bayern Munich spent around €37M to sign Gotze from Borussia Dortmund in 2013, and the diminutive midfielder has gone on to make 114 starts in all competitions. He’s averaged 57 minutes of playing time on average per game, struggling with injuries and inconsistent form after joining up with Pep Guardiola.

Mario Gotze is in the last year of his deal at Bayern, and the Bundesliga giants would want to recoup the money spent on his services given the midfielder is still only 24. However, there hasn’t been significant interest in his services this summer, but that could change in the coming week.

Great things were expected of the former Dortmund star prior to his high-profile move to Bayern, and his reputation is still high among his peers and managers which suggests offers will come his way too. Gotze’s value will be a lot lower given he’ll be out of contract in the summer, but Bayern aren’t expected to offer a new deal, meaning they have their hands tied over his interest.

Where will Mario Gotze move to this summer?

Bayern Munich host Benfica in the Champions League in tricky encounter

German league leaders Bayern Munich will play host to Portuguese league leaders Benfica on Tuesday in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

On paper, the Bundesliga champions will be favorites but assuming Bayern will go through from this tie should not be taken for granted. Italian champions Juventus exposed Bayern’s clumsy and susceptible defensive line and Juve striker Alvaro Morata was able to run circle around the Bavarian defenders in Munich.

330829-bayern-munich700

Another concern for Bayern is the fact Arjen Robben will most likely miss the first game in Munich. While Bayern can compensate for his absence, particularly with the return of Frenchman Franck Ribéry and the presence of young compatriot Kingsley Coman, the team’s manager Pep Guardiola would most likely prefer to have Robben with his added experience and his uncanny ability to get foul calls.

In addition, it would be wrong to focus on Bayern without mentioning a few pillars of the squad, including the club’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski, midfield terrier Arturo Vidal and German star Thomas Müller. Austrian defender David Alaba, who can also operate in midfield, is another name to keep an eye on.

rsz_arturo-vidal-arsenal-will-see-the-real-bayern-munich

 

The big names and the great exposure given to Bayern Munich should not take away any credit from current Primeira Liga leaders Benfica and their pool of talented players. In attack, Portuguese top league scorer Jonas Gonçalves Oliveira  is having the best season of his career and the veteran is supported by Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou. Between them, the attacking tandem has managed to score an impressive 47 league goals this season!

Another player to keep an eye on is midfielder Nicolás Gaitán who has scored 4 goals and provided 3 assists in 7 Champions League starts this season.

This should be an interesting battle between two teams on top of their respective league, yet the history, the players at Guardiola’s disposal and Bayern’s experience tip the balance in the Bavarian team’s favor. However, nothing can be taken for granted! Tune in on Tuesday, April 5th, 2015 to find out what the final score will be and remember you can follow the result of the game live by clicking here.

Hertha BSC’s impressive campaign refreshing in a predictable German Bundesliga season

hertha berlin supporters

Hertha BSC recently enjoyed a 1-0 win away to Koln to go four points clear of fourth place in the German Bundesliga, and manager Pal Dardai celebrated a big win in their quest for an automatic Champions League spot. The Berlin outfit have already surpassed last season’s points tally by four, and they still have 11 games to play in the division.

Dardai has been heavily praised for his hard work in bolstering the side’s defence and grinding out results with the limited resources given. The club hardly spent in the summer, but instead it has been existing players hitting new levels that have made the difference. Salomon Kalou is one of them. He’s scored 11 goals in 20 league starts, and has been key in Hertha’s rise to prominence.

Striker Vedad Ibisevic has scored seven times in 15 starts this season, bagging the winner against Koln, and the two players have contributed for almost 60% of their goals in the league this campaign. The club’s success has been built on strong foundations with Hertha having the joint-third best defence in the league, but they have managed to fashion out results too.

Only Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have won more league games than Die Alte Dame this season, and Friday’s victory against Koln sealed their 10th clean sheet of the campaign – the second-highest return. Such a solid defensive record can stifle their attacking instincts, but Drdai’s philosophy is clearly paying dividends overall.

This time last season, Hertha were 17th in the table and on course for relegation. They finished just one place above the relegation playoffs in 2014/15, but haven’t been looking over their shoulders this campaign. Suffering only one defeat on home soil, while boasting the third best away form in the division, Hertha have been refreshing in 2015/16.

The Bundesliga title race has gone as expected with Bayern Munich leading the way and Borussia Dortmund standing along in second place. Few predicted Hertha Berlin would be third in the league as March approaches, but they won’t be resting on their laurels given how much can still change in the league in the coming months.

They recently overcome a five-game winless run – albeit having lost just once in this time – and aren’t conceding many goals for their troubles either. Die Alte Dame regularly posted low points tallies in the Bundesliga, and have been relegated twice in the last six years, but they are now dreaming of Champions League football as things stand. Where will Hertha BSC finish this season?

Would Higuain switch to Bayern see Lewandowski’s place in doubt?

gonzalo higuain napoli

Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich this month after chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted the club were considering making an approach if he was available, and the news puts doubt on Robert Lewandowski’s future. Rumours have linked the 27-year-old with a move to Real Madrid and Higuain could well be his replacement.

The latter wouldn’t leave Napoli to be on the periphery with the German Bundesliga, but Lewandowski won’t settle for losing his place either, so it’s hard to see both players in the squad for next season. Carlo Ancelotti will be Bayern manager as of next season and he’s been to bring the South American hitman with him according to various reports.

Both strikers have been in fantastic form for their respective clubs this season, and could well form a potent partnership together. Bayern have an eye on the 2016/17 season following the announcement that manager Pep Guardiola won’t be in charge after this summer, and as a result the club hierarchy are looking to bolster the squad in every area.

Lewandowski has continued to be linked with a move away from the Allianz-Arena despite being on course for a trophy-laden campaign, with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool having been linked with signature, but the Polish international isn’t worrying about his place in the side should Higuain make the switch.

“I don’t know what Bayern’s plans for the future look like, but it would not be a problem for me if they signed another striker, regardless of whether that’s Higuain or someone else. I will still be playing if another striker arrives. I’m convinced of my own qualities. I am strong enough,” he said to Sport Bild.

With 15 goals in 14 league starts, Lewandowski has been in fantastic form for Bayern Munich. He’s on course for his most prolific campaign as things stand and has drawn the attention of Spanish giants Real Madrid as a result. Bayern’s honorary president Franz Beckenbauer admitted there had been contact, but no move will be made unless they have a top replacement.

And with Gonzalo Higuain having scored 20 goals in as many league games, there are fewer better strikers that would consider a move. Napoli are falling short in the Italian Serie A title race this season, and with the club’s striker having won just a Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana in the last four years, he might make the move to a side chasing greater success.

Lewandowski wouldn’t be happy with the competition, and a move to Real could interest him if the Spaniards made an official approach. So could Higuain’s move to Bayern see Lewandowski exit the Allianz-Arena?

Could Mario Gotze really be on his way out of Bayern Munich?

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Bayern Munich Mario Gotze has set a number of European clubs on red alert after admitting his future at the Allianz-Arena is open. The German international has been linked with a move to Liverpool to be reunited with his former Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp, and recently revealed how such talk could be a possibility in the future.

“I know Jurgen Klopp well. I’ve worked under him. He is a very good coach, definitely. It’s all open, how to proceed after the season. I have a contract until 2017, but of course, it is important how the new coach feels about me. I have not really given my future much thought recently because of my injury, but everything is open as things stand. It all depends on the plans of the club and the new coach,” said the World Cup winner.

Gotze was brought to Bayern by manager Pep Guardiola, who is leaving the club in the summer to pursue a job in the Premier League. Carlo Ancelotti will be coming in to replace Guardiola, but the midfielder’s comments suggests his future is up in the air. While having struggled with injuries, Ancelotti would certainly utilise a player of Gozte’s ability.

Reports from the Bayern Munich have long suggested the young playmaker has been unhappy at the Allianz-Arena. Mario Gotze was alleged to have fallen out with Guardiola before, and he might consider a change of scenery at the end of the current campaign rather than engage the club in contract talks.

The 23-year-old has made just four Bundesliga starts this season, scoring and created as many goals. He drifts past players with ease and has a brilliant range of passing, and has made more assists in four games than he made in the entirety of last season. Bayern look on course to at least win the league title this campaign, and is likely to hash out talks with the new manager and club in the summer.

Moving to Liverpool would be a big step down given Bayern’s dominance in their domestic league and Europe, but Klopp did turn Dortmund into European heavyweights and title-winners so Gotze may well take the gamble if he’s not given certain assurances at Bayern. Liverpool have been desperate for a player than can create a large number of goals per season, and Gotze is somebody who fits the bill perfectly for them.

Could Mario Gotze leave Bayern Munich for Liverpool?