Niklas Sule ready to leave Bayern Munich as a free agent

Bayern Munich defender Niklas Sule is expected to leave the club as a free agent when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Sule only has a few months left on his current deal and the towering centre-back’s future at the Allianz Arena has been growing increasingly uncertain in recent weeks.

In Germany, Bild report that Sule has informed Bayern that he wishes to leave. That means he will not sign a new contract and is set to be available on a free transfer come summer.

The 26-year-old initially arrived at Bayern from Hoffenheim in the summer of 2017, with the Bundesliga giants having pre-agreed a double transfer swoop for he and teammate Sebastian Rudy several months earlier.

Sule was just 21 at the time but had already played over 100 senior games for Hoffenheim since making his senior breakthrough there at the age of 18.

He has since gone on to play almost 160 times for Bayern, but missed most of the 2019/20 campaign because of an ACL injury and has only really reclaimed his regular place this season after further minor injury problems made 2020/21 somewhat stop-start.

An ambitious Newcastle are among the Premier League clubs believed to be eyeing Sule and the interest could be reciprocal. Chelsea, who could lose Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen as free agents in the summer, are also thought to be monitoring the situation.

Barcelona have been forced to largely focus their recruitment strategy on free agents because of their ongoing financial difficulties and are thought to another club interested in Sule, having also been heavily linked with the aforementioned Christensen already.

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Chelsea’s best & worst performing players of the month – January 2022

Chelsea have endured a bit of a topsy-turvy month.

While they’ve tickled Tottenham’s tummies in the bazillion games they played against each other in January – well, three, but it felt a lot more frequent than that – draws with Liverpool and Brighton and defeat at Manchester City effectively ended their Premier League title charge.

That being said, the Blues still won four of their seven games this month – three victories coming against Spurs – and are alive and kicking in the domestic competitions thanks to some stellar individual performances.

We’ve collated all the Chelsea player ratings from this month to give you the lowdown on their best and worst performing players. Let’s have a gander, shall we?

Hakim ZiyechHakim Ziyech

Ziyech was excellent in Chelsea’s last game of January / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

Player: Hakim Ziyech
Game: Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham (23rd January, 2022)
Rating: 9

What we said: “Bright start. Dazzling footwork before testing Lloris. WHAT. A. GOAL. Masterful strike into the top corner, and zinged Lloris’ fingertips again moments later. His best game in a Chelsea shirt.”

Romelu LukakuRomelu Lukaku

Lukaku was in the headlines for the wrong reasons / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

Player: Kai Havertz
Game: Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool (2nd January, 2022)
Rating: 3

What we said: “Romelu Lukaku had more influence on the game watching on from the stands.”

Player: Romelu Lukaku
Game: Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea (15th January, 2022)
Rating: 3

What we said: “Repeatedly cut an isolated figure as City’s dominance grew.”

Mateo KovacicMateo Kovacic

Kovacic is Chelsea’s joint POTM / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Player: Hakim Ziyech
Average rating: 6.8
Best performance: Chelsea vs Tottenham – 9

Player: Mateo Kovacic
Average rating: 6.8
Best performance: Chelsea vs Liverpool & Chelsea vs Chesterfield – 8

We have a tie! Ziyech and Kovacic both averaged 6.8 in the six games they played, outscoring the likes of Malang Sarr (6.6), Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante (both 6.5).

Ziyech is starting to come to life as a Chelsea player, putting in excellent performances against Spurs – included a rocket of a strike from distance – while two eights and two sevens in Kovacic’s ratings helped him to a consistent average.

For more from Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!

Arsenal’s best & worst performing players of the month – January 2022

Played: 5.

Won: 0.

Drawn: 2.

Lost: 3.

Goals scored: 1.

It’s fair to say that Arsenal endured a rather awful January.

On top of not winning a single game, they were also knocked out of both domestic cups – one by a Championship club – and generally just didn’t look remotely capable of scoring a goal.

As you can guess there were quite a few players who under-performed in January, but surprisingly a few actually held their own too.

Don’t believe us? Well, that’s why we decided to collate all of our Arsenal player ratings for the month and pick out the best performing player of January…and the worst too because, you know, they didn’t win a single game.

Bernardo Silva, Thomas ParteyBernardo Silva, Thomas Partey

Partey in the wars / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Player: Thomas Partey
Game: Arsenal 1-2 Man City (1st January, 2022)
Rating: 9

What we said: “A real force in defence but looked like a man possessed going forward. A statement showing.”

Granit XhakaGranit Xhaka

Xhaka put up a 0/10 / Chloe Knott – Danehouse/GettyImages

Player: Granit Xhaka
Game: Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal (13th January, 2022)
Rating: 0

What we said: “Booted Diogo Jota in the stomach as the last man and got his marching orders 24 minutes into the first half. Going to Anfield is tough enough with 11 players, and another moment of madness from the Switzerland international made it even harder. Terrible judgement.”

Kieran TierneyKieran Tierney

Arsenal’s POTM / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Player: Kieran Tierney.
Average rating: 6.2.
Best performance: Arsenal vs Man City – 8.

When you’re best performing player of the month averaged a 6.2 rating you know you’ve had a bad month.

Tierney had one standout performance – as most Arsenal players did – in the 2-1 defeat to Man City, but if we’re being honest, the full-back won this award because he’s the only Arsenal player who didn’t completely embarrass themselves in January.

Liverpool & Man City hold talks with PSV winger Cody Gakpo

Both Liverpool and Manchester City have reached out to the agent of PSV Eindhoven winger Cody Gakpo over a possible summer transfer.

The 22-year-old has been in sensational form for the Eredivisie title hopefuls, racking up six goals and ten assists in just 15 appearances this season, leading his team in both categories despite missing five games with an ankle injury.

Understandably, those numbers have caught the eye of some of Europe’s top sides. Bayern Munich were keen in the summer and Voetbal International have now revealed that both Liverpool and City are interested.

The two Premier League giants have spoken to Gakpo’s representatives about a possible transfer, with the Dutch international only interested in leaving PSV for an elite side like those two.

PSV are well aware of the interest and have already accepted that they are likely going to lose Gakpo sooner rather than later. They are trying to convince him to sign a new contract, but it’s suggested that that’s purely just to increase his value, rather than end talk of any move.

Gakpo is currently under contract until 2025 but is expected to sign on for an extra year, with PSV keen to demand a club-record fee to sell the winger. The benchmark is the departure of Hirving Lozano, who joined Napoli for around £36m back in 2019.

“It looks like I’m going to renew my contract,” Gakpo said recently. “The clubs that want something from me are also known to me, I’ve had conversations with my agent about that.

“Very interesting clubs have been in touch, but we have to look at what the first step is. At the moment, my focus is not on that.”

Newcastle make £10m loan offer for Jesse Lingard

Newcastle United have made a fresh move for Jesse Lingard and have offered Manchester United £10m to loan the England midfielder for the rest of the season, 90min understands.

Newcastle and Man Utd have been locked in talks for most of January and as yet the two clubs have not come to agreement, but the Magpies have now made an offer that they expect to be accepted.

And while it is only a loan, it could technically see Lingard bring down the curtain on his United career as his contract at Old Trafford expires in the summer.

A loan would see Newcastle take over Lingard’s contract. However, they would need to more than double his wages and make him the highest paid player at the club to get the deal done, as we revealed earlier this month.

Even if United accept Newcastle’s offer, the decision ultimately remains with Lingard and that is the real issue.

Lingard has already shunned interest from the likes of West Ham and Tottenham this month as he was looking to either earn a new deal at United or let his contract run out and see what the best option for him would be.

He will still be allowed to run down his deal, but Newcastle are hoping he will do so in the North East rather than North West.

Newcastle are ready to offer Lingard around £150,000-a-week for the rest of the season, plus a huge bonus if he keeps them up and there will be no commitment on his side to stay, although there will be a contract offer for him.

Should Newcastle fail to bring in Lingard, we understand that the Magpies have held talks in the last week about possible deals for Tottenham’s Dele Alli and Chelsea’s Ross Barkley.

Newcastle are still working on all aspects of their squad, and were bolstered by the win at Leeds over the weekend.

They remain in talks for Sevilla’s Diego Carlos – who is their number one target in central defence, and the player’s agents arrived in Spain over the weekend to try and get the deal over the line.

They are also looking at Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno, although that deal is reliant on the north London club finding a replacement, while a left-sided defensive option is something manager Eddie Howe really wants and they are looking at finalising a deal for Bayer Leverkusen’s Mitchel Bakker.

A transfer for Reims’ highly-rated young forward Hugo Ekitike has stalled in recent days, but we can confirm that they are in talks with Atalanta striker Duvan Zupata.

The 30-year-old is understood to be keen on the move, and Newcastle have proposed an £8m loan fee with an obligation to purchase for another £30m if they stay up. The Serie A outfit are considering the transfer and sources have told us a deal is ‘likely’.