Kovac focused on one game at a time amid Bayern double talk

Niko Kovac has refused to discuss the possibility of Bayern Munich achieving the domestic double in Germany this season.

The 47-year-old Croatian recovered from a slow start in his debut season at the Allianz Arena to guide the Bavarians a point clear of rivals Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga as they look to defend their title this term.

Bayern have also reached the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal, where they will travel to face Werder Bremen on Wednesday.

However, with a Bundesliga home clash against seventh-placed Bremen up first on Saturday, Kovac just wants to focus on one game and one competition at a time.

When asked about a possible double this term, Kovac told the club's website: 'We need to focus on the first game, we have to win that first.

'We're up against an opponent in really good form. They're still unbeaten this year and have scored in every game.'

On his own side, he added: 'Things are going well of late. We've played really well, scored a lot of goals and conceded very few. The team feels assured now.'

Demirbay in demand amid £22m clause

Hoffenheim midfielder Kerem Demirbay reportedly has a release clause of £22million and Arsenal are tipped to trigger it this summer.

Gunners boss Unai Emery is on the lookout for new midfielders when the transfer window opens as he has a gaping hole to fill when Aaron Ramsey departs for Juventus.

And Demirbay could be one player he turns to amid claims the 25-year-old has a release clause of £22million, while it's believed he would be keen on testing himself in the Premier League.

Demirbay has weighed in with four goals and eight assists in all competitions for Hoffenheim so far this season and his stature is growing around Europe with several top clubs keeping an eye on him.

Arsenal appear to be leading the chase to sign him but other English clubs, and some from Italy and Spain, are also interested.

Nigerian striker linked with Bundesliga move

Eintracht Frankfurt have been watching Spezia striker David Okereke but could face competition from Southampton if they decide to move.

Reports in Italy claim Eagles boss Adi Hutter has checked out the 21-year-old Nigerian, who has scored nine Serie B goals and assisted 10 others this season.

Newspaper Il Secolo XIX claims scouts went to watch Okereke in Spezia's 3-2 home win over Ascoli last week and he scored as his team came back from two goals down.

Eintracht Frankfurt were represented at the match while the report claims Bulgarian outfit CSKA Sofia are interested in the player, who is valued at 6million euros.

Bayern planning Schalke keeper raid

Bayern Munich are reported to be lining up a move for Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel as Manuel Neuer's long-term replacement.

It is well known that Bayern are looking to inject their squad with fresh talent this summer and they have already agreed deals for Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard from Atletico Madrid and Stuttgart respectively.

More signings are on the way and reports are rife suggesting Schalke's 22-year-old keeper Nubel is also a target for Bayern boss Niko Kovac.

Whether Bayern are able to wrap up a deal this summer remains to be seen as he is under contract until 2020, with Schalke keen to keep hold after he broke into the first team this season, making 17 appearances.

However, Bayern are hopeful of getting their man and believe Schalke will eventually back down and cash in.

Frankfurt wrap up Jovic deal

Eintracht Frankfurt have wrapped up a permanent deal for Luka Jovic after he impressed during a loan deal from Benfica.

The 21-year-old has spent the last two seasons with Frankfurt, scoring 34 goals during that time, so it is no surprise the Bundesliga club have exercised their option to keep hold.

Jovic has penned a four-year contract but there is a chance he will not be there for long as Frankfurt look to make a quick profit.

It has been suggested that both Barcelona and Real Madrid are willing to pay £60million to secure a deal, and Frankfurt will not stand in the Serbian's way.

'The development of Luka with us is very pleasing,' Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic told the club's official website.

'For us there was no question that we wanted to tie him firmly to the club. 'He is a player with extraordinary skills. It is important to us that we have bound him to us.'

Tuchel eager to link up with old favourite

Paris Saint-Germain will push hard to land Julian Weigl from Borussia Dortmund this summer as they look to overhaul their midfield.

PSG manager Thomas Tuchel is in need of some fresh options in the middle of the park heading into the summer with Adrien Rabiot among the players set to move on, and Weigl is said to be a top target.

Tuchel knows the 23-year-old well following their time together at Dortmund before the German left to take charge at PSG and a reunion could be on the cards, if reports are to be believed.

Manchester City have longed been linked with a move for Weigl, who they see as the perfect long-term replacement for the ageing Fernandinho, so PSG would face strong competition.

Weigl has been struggling for game time with BVB in recent weeks, with reports claiming he could now be available for a cut-price fee of £22million.

Dardai confirms he will step down as Hertha coach this summer

Pal Dardai has confirmed that he will depart his role as Hertha Berlin coach at the end of this current Bundesliga season.

The 43-year-old has been in charge at the Olympiastadion since quitting his managerial role with home nation Hungary in November 2015.

Dardai, who spent 14 years with Hertha as a player between 1997 and 2011, has endured a difficult run of late as the side have managed just two wins in their last 11 Bundesliga games to drop out of contention for the European qualification places ahead of next season.

Hertha have currently lost five consecutive games and are 11th in the table which has prompted the decision for Dardai to step down in the summer.

He said: 'I am thankful for the chance I got here and I am proud of what we have achieved in this time together.

'But sometimes there comes a time for a change. I have always stressed that I only care about what is best for Hertha because Hertha is and will remain my home.'

'We jointly reached the conclusion that a new stimulus in the summer is the right step for the team,' Hertha general manager Michael Preetz added in a club statement.

Bayern target linked with England move

Bayern Munich face a battle to land Lille star Nicolas Pepe as reports claim Chelsea have joined the race for his signature.

Bayern are splashing the cash as they look to refresh their squad with new talent and Pepe is known to be high on their wanted list during the close season.

However, they will face strong competition as Chelsea are said to be in the hunt for Pepe, who they see as the perfect replacement for Eden Hazard, should the Belgium ace move on.

The 23-year-old Ivory Coast international winger will be in demand this summer after Lille president Gerard Lopez said it is certain that Pepe will have to be sold this summer.

"It is certain, he will leave," Lopez said.

"He has moved into a price range that we can not afford anymore. There is a career choice to make for him, I think he will have the choice."

Whether Bayern win the race remains to be seen, but Pepe is clearly a target.

Leipzig line up move for Spurs strike starlet

RB Leipzig are reported to be weighing up a move to lure teenage striker Troy Parrott away from Tottenham.

There is a growing trend of English clubs losing some of their top, young talent to clubs on the continent, with Germany and the Bundesliga appearing to be the preferred destination.

Parrott has been a revelation for the Spurs under-23s this season and scored another two goals on Monday night as they ran out 2-1 winners over Swansea in the Premier League 2.

That took his tally to 16 in 23 matches this season and Leipzig scouts are reported to have been checking out the 17-year-old for some time.

The young Irishman has yet to break into the Spurs first-team squad, but he has been training with them, and the club have high hopes for his future.

However they could run the risk of losing another starlet, with Die Bullen set to test their resolve during the close season.

Fellow Spurs starlet Keanan Bennetts joined Borussia Mochengladbach last summer, and if reports are to be believed, Parrott could join him in Germany.

Bayern face anxious wait as star suffers injury scare

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac faces an anxious wait to see if Manuel Neuer faces any time on the sidelines after suffering a recurrence of a calf injury.

The 4-1 victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf moved Bayern back to the top of the Bundesliga table by one point over Borussia Dortmund but it came at a cost as goalkeeper Neuer had to be replaced by Sven Ulreich early in the second half.

Kingsley Coman scored twice and there were also goals for Serge Gnabry and Leon Goretzka.

Fortuna's consolation came from a late Dodi Lukebakio penalty.

In his post-match press conference, Kovac admitted Neuer faced tests on the injury before a diagnosis could be made.

Then in quotes reported on the Bayern Munich website, Kovac said: "It's the same calf that he had problems with last time. We'll examine it tomorrow and hope of course that it's nothing serious."

On the win over Fortuna, Kovac added: "I believe that we have approached this game very seriously and have also taken a deserved victory. The team has done very well, so we are now again leaders in the table - we do not want to give that away."

Rangnick says Leipzig could have won by even more

Ralf Rangnick felt the scoreline could have been even more flattering as his RB Leipzig side eased past Wolfsburg 2-0 on Saturday.

First-half strikes from Kevin Kampl and Timo Werner were enough to hand Leipzig a fourth-straight league win and they have now moved a step closer to guaranteeing Champions League football for next season, as they are seven points clear of fifth-place Borussia Monchengladbach.

Die Bullen have not tasted defeat in the Bundesliga since losing 1-0 at home to Borussia Dortmund in their first match after the winter break and Rangnick was delighted by their latest display, although he felt the win could have been even more emphatic if it wasn’t for Wolfsburg goalkeeper Pavao Pervan.

"I am completely satisfied with how our team presented themselves today," Rangnick told the Leipzig website.

"Wolfsburg can thank their goalkeeper in the second half, that the victory is not even higher. We created great opportunities and did not let up until the end.

Rangnick has also delivered a positive injury update on Tyler Adams and Yussuf Poulsen, who are both expected to return to training next week and could feature in Leipzig’s clash with Gladbach on Saturday.

"It’s great to see what shape our guys are having right now," the 60-year-old added.

"I hope that next week Tyler Adams and Yussuf Poulsen get back into training, then we are even more spoiled for choice.

"A very good situation for me as a coach!"

Weigl breathing easier after Mainz win

Julian Weigl cut a relieved figure after Borussia Dortmund beat Mainz 2-1 to go back to the summit of the Bundesliga standings.

Dortmund, who were thrashed 5-0 by rivals Bayern Munich a week earlier, won the contest thanks to a first-half double from Jadon Sancho.

Robin Quaison pulled one back for Mainz seven minutes from time, but the hosts held on for the win, which takes them ahead of Bayern, who travel to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday.

"We were so relieved when the final whistle finally blew," said Weigl.

"The second half didn’t pan out how we imagined it would. We played well in the first half, we could well have even scored another goal.

"We were able to do exactly that which we’d hoped we would, which was to keep Mainz at bay from our goal as they have a lot of quality going forward.

"They came out in the second half and put us under a lot more pressure. They took a lot more risks and pressed us higher up the pitch.

"At the end of the day, we have [goalkeeper] Roman [Burki] to thank for the three points – he had a fantastic game.

"Despite everything, we should take the positives from today: we wanted to pick up the three points, and that’s what we did. The pressure’s off our shoulders for the time being."

De Ligt set for Bayern or Barcelona

Matthijs de Ligt will be leaving Ajax this summer, with Bayern Munich or Barcelona his destination, according to his manager Erik ten Hag.

De Ligt joined the Ajax youth academy when he was nine years old from a local club in Abcoude near Amsterdam and made his first-team debut in 2016.

The defender has enjoyed 107 outings for the Johan Cruyff Arena side, netting 10 goals while he has been capped 15 times by the Netherlands.

His displays for the Eredivisie giants have caught the eye of some of Europe's big-hitters and, according to his manager, the youngster will be off at the end of the campaign to one of two big clubs.

"There's zero chance Matthijs de Ligt is staying at Ajax," he told Suddeutschen Zeitung.

"There are so many clubs interested in him. He will leave us this summer, but I don't know whether he'll join Bayern or Barcelona."

Niko Kovac hails 'top' Bayern performance

Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac was full of praise for his charges after their 5-0 demolition of title rivals Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena on Saturday.

The Bavarians went into the match at the Allianz Arena trailing Dortmund by two points in the Bundesliga standings, but they outclassed their rivals from start to finish with Robert Lewandowski grabbing a brace and Mats Hummels, Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry also getting on the scoresheet.

Indeed, Bayern were 4-0 up by the half-time break and Kovac felt the margin of the victory was an accurate reflection of how well they played.

"I think we turned in a top performance, a great performance over 90 minutes," Kovac told reporters.

"The first half in particular was sensationally good in every respect. The way we played was very impressive.

"I'm glad, and I'd like to congratulate my team on it. The margin of victory was completely deserved."

However, Kovac has dismissed any suggestion that Bayern have now wrapped up what would be a seventh-successive Bundesliga title, insisting they still have some tough fixtures to come between now and the end of the season.

"We still have six matches to go, and you have seen how fast it can change in the league,' the 47-year-old added. 'Very, very difficult matches are awaiting both Dortmund and us, so we won't say everything's decided."

Bayern boss hits back at critics as Mourinho rumours swirl

Niko Kovac has hit back at the critics and does not believe he will lose his job with Bayern Munich, even if they fail to win the Bundesliga this season.

The Croatian has been under pressure all season as Bayern have struggled to defend their title, while a quarter-final Champions League exit at the hands of Liverpool has not helped matters.

Kovac has also been criticised by some for adopting a conservative approach, something he denies and says the statistics back him up.

The Bayern mentor said: "If you compare today's stats (69 goals), to the same stage last season (66), then I can't share that view.

"To say we have no gameplan is simply not true. Uli Hoeness said he would be okay with missing out on the league.

"But we are athletes, we fought and got back from 9 points behind. Nobody believed, but we came back."

Jose Mourinho has been heavily linked with the role, and much will depend on how Bayern finish the season with this weekend's Der Klassiker clash against Borussia Dortmund looking crucial.

Favre praises 'calm' Dortmund as they snatch vital late win

Lucien Favre praised his Borussia Dortmund side for remaining 'calm' as they secured a late 2-0 win against Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Dortmund looked like being frustrated in their quest for a vital win to take them back to the top of the Bundesliga as the game entered stoppage time locked at 0-0.

However, Paco Alcacer fired in a free-kick a minute into added time and then bagged his second three minutes later to seal the maximum points.

It moves Dortmund back ahead of Bayern Munich at the summit after the reigning champions were held to a draw against Freiburg and Favre said on the club's website: 'We've stayed calm because we know anything is possible until the whistle.

'We really wanted to score in the last 15 minutes, so we also increased the risk a bit.'

On the game, Favre added: 'Both teams defended well and had good phases in the game.

'We put on pressure, but Wolfsburg were also dangerous with long balls and counter-attacks, especially in the second half.'

Spurs set for Kruse battle - report

Tottenham face a scrap with Inter Milan for the signature of Werder Bremen striker Max Kruse this summer, claim reports in Germany.

Sky Germany claim Spurs and Inter are contenders for the signature of the 31-year-old, who looks destined to leave the Bundesliga this summer.

The Germany international will become a free agent at the end of the season if he fails to agree a new deal with Werder.

Spurs were linked with a 9 million pound move for the German striker back in 2015 but he reportedly rejected them to instead sign for Wolfsburg.

But his nine goals and seven assists have fired Werder into European contention this season and put him on the radar of Maurico Pochettino, who is on the lookout for a back-up striker again this summer.

Bayern land Hernandez in record deal from Atletico

Bayern Munich have signed Atletico Madrid full-back Lucas Hernandez for a club-record £68million.

The 23-year-old, who won the World Cup with France last summer, will join the German club on July 1 on a five-year deal running through to June 2022.

Hernandez broke through the youth ranks at Atletico in 2014 and went on to collect 67 appearances for the La Liga club, as well as 15 caps for his country.

'I am very happy that we have been able to sign one of the best defensive players in the world and world champion in Lucas Hernandez,' said Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

'Lucas will continue our tradition of outstanding French players and strengthen our team.'

Hernandez will undergo surgery on his right knee after revealing ligament damage during his medical with Bayern.

His £68m price tag overtook the £37m that Bayern spent for Corentin Tolisso from Lyon in 2017 and the potential £47m overall that they would pay if they exercise the option to buy James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.

'Today is a very important day in my football career,' said Hernandez.

'Bayern Munich is one of the best clubs in Europe and the world. I am proud to be able to fight for all titles for Bayern in the future.

'I would like to thank Atletico, the management, the coaches, my team-mates and the fans for a wonderful twelve years. Atletico will always be a part of me. Now I'm happy that I'm taking the next step at Bayern.'

Foxes set sights on Hertha's Lazaro

Hertha Berlin utility man Valentino Lazaro is reportedly being tracked by Premier League outfit Leicester city ahead of the potential move in the off-season.

The 23-year-old came through the ranks with Red Bull Salzburg before making the switch to Hertha in 2017.

He has been a regular for the Bundesliga outfit, starting 24 times in the league this season, and his performances have led to widespread interest.

Leicester are the latest to join the party, having sent scouts to watch him in action before the international break, but they are likely to face competition from Napoli and Everton.

Lazaro's ability to play in midfield and defence makes him a very attractive prospect and a fee in the region of £21million has been mentioned.

The Foxes could have a hole to fill in midfield next season as James Maddison continues to be linked away, while Youri Tielemans will return to Monaco when his loan deal comes to an end.

Bayern's Tolisso closing on first-team return

Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso says he is confident of making his long-awaited return from injury before the end of the current campaign.

The France international was hoping to have a big season with Bayern after helping France win the World Cup, only to suffer a big knee injury in the third game of the campaign against Bayer Leverkusen.

It has been a long way back but Tolisso is finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel and hopes to be back in action as the title race hots up.

"I don't want to go as quickly as possible because I want to be as fit as possible, but I'm sure that I'll play games for Bayern again this season," said the 24-year-old.

"I haven't looked at my recovery plan at all up to now because I would start to think about things too much."