Robert Lewandowski could decide he wants one final challenge in the Premier League. ESPN’s Insider Notebook has the latest.
Lewandowski a target for Man City, Chelsea
Lewandowski, 33, has a contract at Bayern until 2023 and sources told ESPN that interested clubs would need to offer £60 million to start negotiations over a possible move.
One of the all-time Bundesliga greats, Lewandowski has 36 league goals in 31 matches this season and is closing in on Gerd Muller’s record of 40 in a season, set in the 1971-72 campaign. The Poland international is also on 272 Bundesliga goals across his career in Germany, for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern, and would have Muller’s record of 365 on his radar if he did stay.
Lewandowski has hinted previously that he would retire from football after his Bayern Munich career was over, but interest from the Premier League could tempt him into a final challenge elsewhere.
Chelsea and City are both in the market for a striker this summer, sources told ESPN, with Thomas Tuchel eager to improve his attacking options following a difficult debut season for Timo Werner. Pep Guardiola is looking to replace the outgoing Sergio Aguero at Manchester City, at times playing without a recognised No. 9 in attack this season as his side look set to clinch the league title.
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Guardiola managed Lewandowski during his three-year tenure at Bayern from 2013-16 while former BVB coach Tuchel knows all about the striker, who has won the Bundesliga six times at Bayern and twice at Dortmund.
Outgoing City striker Aguero is also on Chelsea’s radar, while Guardiola is also interested in Tottenham’s Harry Kane, sources added, in a clear sign the Champions League finalists are looking to further bolster their attacking options this summer.
There is also interest from Paris Saint-Germain in Lewandowski, sources said, but any move would depend on Kylian Mbappe‘s future, with the France international still in contract negotiations with the Ligue 1 side. — Stephan Uersfeld
Oblak keen on Premier League as representatives drum up interest
Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak is keen on a move to the Premier League in the summer with the Slovenia international’s representatives looking to drum up interest from the league’s “Big Six,” sources told ESPN.
The 28-year-old, who has two years left on his contract, has a release clause of €120m and although Atletico Madrid have been adamant they would want the full amount, financial pressures may force the club to consider any serious bid. Atletico made a narrow loss of €1.78m in 2019-20 but saw their expected income hit by around €100m, with a much larger drop expected for 2020-21.
Manchester United are among the clubs who have been made aware Oblak would welcome approaches from England at the end of the season.
If Oblak does leave, it raises the possibility of David De Gea returning to former club Atleti as his replacement. De Gea has slipped behind Dean Henderson in the pecking order at Old Trafford and sources told ESPN he will seek talks with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and football director John Murtough at the end of the season before deciding on his future. De Gea has two years left on his £375,000-a-week contract at United and although he is unlikely to accept being back-up to Henderson during the prime of his career, he will find it hard to secure the same wages elsewhere while football struggles with the financial hit caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
While United have been linked with Oblak in the past, where he would fit in at the other big Premier League clubs is unclear. Brazilian internationals Ederson and Alisson remain undisputed No. 1s at Manchester City and Liverpool respectively, while Edouard Mendy has impressed at Chelsea this season, and both Arsenal and Tottenham would find it difficult to sanction big-money moves for the keeper. — Rob Dawson
Julian Nagelsmann says he’s focused on finishing strong at RB Leipzig after reaching an agreement with Bayern.
Nagelsman eyes Barca assistant at Bayern
RB Leipzig coach Nagelsmann was confirmed as Bayern’s new boss earlier this month after Hansi Flick announced he would be leaving his position at the end of the season.
Nagelsmann, 33, wants to have his backroom team in place to take with him to Bayern as soon as possible and has set his sights on Schreuder, who joined Barca as Ronald Koeman’s No.2 last summer.
Schreuder previously worked with Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim, where he was his assistant before joining Erik ten Hag’s coaching setup at Ajax in 2018.
Schreuder returned to Germany in 2019, taking on the top job at Hoffenheim before he was sacked last June. Two months later, he was taken to Barca by Koeman, who he met while on holiday in Ibiza.
Sources close to the players at Barcelona speak glowingly of the impact Schreuder has had at Camp Nou, especially with the group of players who speak Dutch and English. He’s maintained a close relationship with Frenkie de Jong since they worked together at Ajax. — Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens
Mina Rzouki debates whether Gianluigi Donnarumma might make the swap from AC Milan to Juventus.
Donnarumma left in tears by Milan fans
Donnarumma’s contract expires at the end of the season and Juventus are among the favourites to sign the Italy international. In a further twist, the rivals face each other on Sunday in a match that has major ramifications in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Milan and Juve are level on points in third and fourth place respectively, with four games remaining. Milan fans fear the match is a conflict of interest for Donnarumma, as he could theoretically play a part in costing his future club a place in next season’s Champions League were he to join Juventus.
Sources told ESPN the 22-year was confronted by a delegation of supporters outside the club’s training ground last week, and they told him not to play in the match against Juve unless he planned to sign a new contract. Donnarumma played against Benevento later that same evening and kept a clean sheet as Milan earned a 2-0 win.
Milan director Paolo Maldini urged the fans to keep their cool as speculation over Donnarumma’s future intensifies. “It is important to firmly reiterate that no one outside of Milan can decide who plays and who renews,” Maldini told ANSA. “Certain choices are up to the coach for the pitch and the club for contractual matters.
“Every single negotiation for renewals is now frozen until the end of the season, to allow the team to focus solely on the league. In the meantime, we will continue to protect our players as we always have.
“The Milan fans, up to now exemplary in supporting the team, must understand that at this moment, the players need serenity and concentration to face the next matches that will be decisive.”
Donnarumma is considered one of the best young goalkeepers around having been in the first team since he was 16 and, at 22 years of age has already amassed over 200 Serie A appearances. — Andrew Cesare Richardson
ESPN FC’s Craig Burley was very disappointed by Real Madrid’s display vs. Chelsea.
Fan awaits reward for helping Marcelo, Real Madrid
The woman who stood in for Marcelo on election duty in Madrid this week — allowing the defender to join his Real teammates for their Champions League trip to Chelsea — has insisted that she wasn’t promised a reward for helping out the club.
Marcelo, who holds Spanish citizenship, had been selected at random to work on Madrid’s regional elections the day before Real’s semifinal defeat, arriving at his local polling station in the La Moraleja neighbourhood just after 8 a.m. CET on Tuesday.
“When I saw him I thought ‘this guy has to be in London to play against Chelsea!'” the woman, identified only as Cristina, told Cadena Ser radio. “In my house we’re big Madridistas. He thanked me again and again, the poor guy was so nervous. He shouldn’t have been there.”
Real Madrid‘s appeals for the left-back to be excused had been denied by election authorities and he was set to assist with vote gathering and counting until around 11 p.m. CET on Tuesday night, which prompted the club to consider chartering a private jet to fly him to London on the day of the game.
That proved to be unnecessary when Cristina — who had been called up as a substitute election worker in case of any absentees — volunteered to take Marcelo’s place, allowing him to race to Madrid’s Barajas Airport to catch the team’s scheduled flight.
“I don’t know [if he’ll give me a signed shirt],” Cristina said. “They’ve given me a call and said Marcelo will thank me in some way.”
In the end, Marcelo was an unused sub as Madrid suffered a 2-0 defeat on Wednesday night, losing 3-1 on aggregate as Thomas Tuchel’s men advanced to the Champions League final against Manchester City. — Alex Kirkland
Steve Nicol believes there is still work to be done at Arsenal despite their 2-0 win away vs. Newcastle.
Arsenal chief’s to-do list: Lacazette and Smith Rowe futures
Arsenal’s new director of football operations, Richard Garlick, will be able to work on key decisions including the futures of Alexandre Lacazette and Emile Smith Rowe as he prepares to start his job later this month.
Sources told ESPN that Garlick will take up his role with the Gunners on May 17, six days before the season ends and more than three weeks prior to the transfer window opening. Garlick was due to leave his post as the Premier League’s Director of Football at the end of the season, but departed with immediate effect last month amid the fallout from the failed Super League breakaway. Arsenal were one of the clubs involved in the project and with Garlick due to join the club, it was decided he should step down sooner than originally planned.
Garlick, a qualified solicitor specialising in sports law, will be involved in contract negotiations to arrange a new deal for rising star Smith Rowe, 20. Lacazette has a year remaining on his deal and head coach Mikel Arteta insisted a decision on his future will be made at the end of the campaign.
When his appointment was announced by Arsenal in January, the club stated Garlick would be responsible “football operations in the first team and academy, all player contract management and relationships with football’s governing bodies.” — James Olley