Kovac dismisses Bayern link with Pavard

Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac has dismissed speculation Benjamin Pavard has agreed a deal to join the club from Stuttgart.

Reports have claimed Bayern are keen to sign the France defender, a World Cup winner this year, as soon as the January transfer window.

Pavard, who is contracted to Stuttgart to 2021, is sidelined with a torn hamstring sustained against Borussia Monchengladbach earlier this month.

The 22-year-old previously suggested he could leave the Bundesliga at the end of the season.

However, Kovac has denied claims Bayern will be Pavard’s next destination, saying a defender is not on their shortlist during the winter transfer window.

“He is a very, very good player. He has his qualities,” Kovac told a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League game at Ajax. 

“However, we currently have three central defenders, we do not need a fourth, fifth or sixth. I do not think there will be any change in winter.”

While the rumour mill is linking Pavard with a Bayern switch, speculation continues to surround the future of the club’s star striker Robert Lewandowski.

The Poland international has frequently been linked with Real Madrid but Kovac believes the 30-year-old will stay with the Bundesliga champions.

“Lewy is a kind of life insurance for us,” Kovac added.

“You can see that he absolutely identifies himself and does not want to leave and that he gets the status of the whole club. He is currently feeling that, that’s why he plays so well.”

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has indicated Ajax’s highly rated midfielder Frenkie de Jong is on Bayern’s radar.

And winger Serge Gnabry would welcome De Jong and fellow Netherlands international Matthijs de Ligt to the Allianz Arena.

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“They are already very developed for their age, especially the two – Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt,” Gnabry told reporters.

“Of course, it would be nice if they would come to Bayern, but that is something for Hasan Salihamidzic to work on.”

Bayern Munich have already qualified from Champions League Group E and will secure top spot should they avoid defeat in Amsterdam on Wednesday.


‘I’m really at home here’ – Sane open to new Man City deal

Leroy Sane says he feels “really at home” at Manchester City and remains optimistic about signing a new deal at the Etihad Stadium.

Sane has two-and-a-half years left on his current contract signed when he joined from Bundesliga side Schalke for £37million in the summer of 2016.

The Germany international has been in talks over a new deal for several months but has yet to reach an agreement with the Premier League champions.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said last week that he was optimistic the 22-year-old would stay at the Etihad Stadium for “many years” to come.

He has now been given further encouragement by Sane himself, who has revealed how happy he is with life in Manchester.

“From the beginning, when I arrived here, I have been really happy. I enjoy playing with the coach and the players,” he said.

“They are all amazing but most importantly they are all amazing people and good characters.

“I have felt really at home here since day one and of course [signing an extension] is possible.”

Sane began the season out of the side, starting just two of Man City’s seven games in all competitions, following a difficult summer that saw the winger left out of Germany’s World Cup squad.

Leroy Sane Manchester City 2018-19

However, the 22-year-old has been a regular in recent weeks, scoring five goals in his last seven Premier League appearances as well as scoring twice for Germany on international duty.

Sane says squad rotation is something he is happy to accept at City given the level of talent at Guardiola’s disposal.

“Even if I am not playing for a certain time, I am still happy to be here and to play for this club, to work with these players and the coach,” he added.

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“He is doing it good. Every one of us knows that we have to rotate sometimes because in every single position we have more than one or two good players.

“Obviously there is a time when you do not start from the beginning. You have to accept it. I think it is also good to put more pressure on everyone.”

Sane could be involved when City look to bounce back from defeat to Chelsea last time out when they host Hoffenheim in the Champions League on Wednesday.


Yaya Toure leaves Olympiacos after just three months

Olympiacos have announced that Yaya Toure’s contract has been terminated with immediate affect after just five appearances in his second spell with the Greek giants.

The 35-year-old returned to the Karaiskakis Stadium in September after being released by Manchester City following eight years at the Etihad Stadium.

But manager Pedro Martins used the Ivorian sparingly, giving him just five run-outs in as many months at the Athens club.

And after being left out of Martins’ last five match day squads, Toure has parted ways with Olympiacos with less than half of the campaign gone.

“Yaya is and remains an important member of the Olympiacos family, who has marked a central part of the history of the club,” a statement from the Super League club said.

“Olympiacos would like to thank him for everything he has offered to the Club.

“Yaya will remain deeply devoted to the club and wishes to Olympiacos lots of success.

“Yaya is leaving as a friend and the doors at Olympiacos will always be open for him. Our paths will surely cross again.”

Neither Olympiacos or Toure confirmed the length of the deal upon the move being announced earlier this season.

During his one and only full campaign at Olympiacos, Toure played a key role as the club won the league and cup double in the 2005-06 campaign.

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He described his relationship with Olympiacos as “special” upon re-joining them but he will now be a free agent ahead of the January transfer window.

West Ham were thought to be leading the race to sign the three-time Premier League winner in the summer, after his agent confirmed he had passed a medical in London.

Manuel Pellegrini said that Toure had wanted to move to the London Stadium, just days before he completed his move back to Greece.


‘The door is totally closed’ – Lyon won’t sell Aouar in January and plan to keep Depay

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has rejected the notion that Houssem Aouar could leave the club, while also addressing transfer rumours surrounding Memphis Depay.

Aouar was heavily linked with Liverpool and Barcelona during the summer transfer window, but he instead opted to sign a new long-term contract with the French side.

His performances at the start of the season in Ligue 1 have attracted many more potential suitors since, including Arsenal and Chelsea, with Lyon going strong in Ligue 1 and in the Champions League.

Depay has also been impressive this term, contributing five goals and seven assists in 16 matches to continue his career revival after a disappointing stint at Manchester United.

However, Aulas has insisted that Lyon will not be selling either Aouar or Depay when the transfer window reopens in January.

Aulas told RMC Sport: “A departure for Houssem Aouar? The door is totally closed for our most successful hope, who has come from the academy. I think he is the future of Lyon.

“There will be very few departures this winter. We are not planning to let the world go this summer, we want to keep our players. The potential buyers will have to be convincing, they will have to have the right arguments and I do not see many of them at the moment.”

Aulas then went on to reveal his stance on Depay, who has been touted for a possible return to Old Trafford next year, as the Red Devils included a buy-back clause in his contract when he left the club in 2017.

“We will keep him as long as possible and today, even if he has offers that are very important, I think he has the secret hope to make Lyon grow and allow him to stay for a long time,” he added.

“There were some very concrete offers this summer and, although they may not have been exactly what he wanted, he always had offers.

“They could come at any time, but we will not just let him go.”

Nabil Fekir’s situation was also touched upon, with Aulas stating that he remains hopeful of tying the midfielder down to a contract extension at Lyon, after offering an insight into his failed Liverpool switch.

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Lyon travel to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night, knowing a win will secure their place in the Champions League knockout phase. 

They will then turn their attention back to Ligue 1 four days later, as they host Monaco at the Groupama Stadium.


Atlanta’s Eales: No formal offers for Premier League target Almiron

Miguel Almiron has been widely linked with a move to the Premier League in January, but Atlanta United president Darren Eales says the club has not yet received any offers for the Paraguayan star.

Almiron helped lead Atlanta United to an MLS Cup title on Saturday in a match that solidified his legacy with the club while also proving that he’s more than ready to make the jump to Europe.

The midfielder fired 12 goals and provided 14 more assists in 2018 while also setting up the second goal of Atlanta’s 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday.

Eales previously stated that the club was unwilling to sell Almiron for “chump change” amid links to Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle.

“Clearly there’s been a lot of interest, not only in the Premier League but from top clubs around Europe,” Eales said following the club’s MLS Cup parade, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

 “I’d expect that because he he’s had a wonderful season. The reality is, and forgive me for repeating myself, he’s got three more years under contract with Atlanta United.

“He’s one of our top players. We’re MLS Cup champions. We have an owner in Arthur Blank who wants to win. If the right offer comes in that’s right for Miggy, right for the club and right for the league then we will consider it.”

Atlanta has been widely linked with another South American playmaker in the wake of the Almiron reports, as River Plate’s Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez is expected to be signed as the Paraguayan’s replacement.

Martinez scored the third and final goal of River’s Copa Libertadores final win over Boca Juniors over the weekend.

Following the win, he said he will be moving to Atlanta following the Club World Cup, but Eales says nothing is official just yet.

“I saw that, people keep talking about this Pity Martinez, and he mentioned it himself,” Eales said.

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“We’ve certainly got some irons in the fire and we are always looking to improve the squad.

“When there’s something official we will announce it.”

Martinez would be unable to join the squad until the January window while the club would also need to move one of its Designated Players, Almiron, Josef Martinez or Ezequiel Barco, to make room for the Argentinian playmaker.