Bayern stars want a permanent contract for Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho has been showered with praise by his Bayern Munich team-mates after he netted a hat-trick on Saturday.

The Brazilian netted a treble during Bayern's 6-1 hammering of Warder Bremen which lifted the Bundesliga champions up to fourth in the league table.

His tally for the league season now stands on six goals after making a summer move to Germany following a disappointing 18-month spell in Spain with Barcelona.

He has begun to look more at home at the Allianz Arena with his form steadily improving as the season has progressed.

The 27-year-old has also scored one goal in the Champions League this season as Bayern Munich progressed comfortably to the round of 16 stage after an easy qualification period which saw them win all six games

Overall, it has been a difficult season for Bayern after they parted company with manager Niko Kovac following a 5-1 hammering against his former club Eintracht Frankfurt at the beginning of November.

However, signs are evident that their season is starting to progress under Hansi Flick with Coutinho coming to the fore.

Now, some of his team mates are clamouring for his signature on a permanent basis after being wowed by hit hat trick display on Saturday, which also included two assists.

David Alaba commented post-game: "If you watched the game today, we have to buy him, right?"

Star centre-forward Robert Lewandowski, the league's top scorer with 18 goals, added: "It was outstanding how he did that today.

"We need this kind of player. I'm really happy that he showed what he is able to do."

Bayern next play against Freiburg away in midweek before a home match against Wolfsburg next Saturday completes their 2019.

Alaba backs Flick to lead Bayern

Bayern Munich defender David Alaba says he and the rest of the squad would be happy if Hansi Flick was given the head coach role for the rest of the season.

The Bavarian giants have managed to overcome a slight blip in the Bundesliga by beating Tottenham in Champions League and securing a 6-1 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday.

There has been plenty of speculation as to who will replace Nico Kovac on a permanent basis, with interim boss Flick thought to be one of the contenders.

Flick has been told he will be given the role until at least Christmas but it’s not yet certain if he has done enough to land the job full time, with the likes Massimiliano Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino being linked with the role at the Allianz Arena.

Alaba says he is enjoying playing under Flick and the Austrian international claims he is not alone in the Bayern squad.

“We all feel really good. You can recognise his philosophies very well in our game,” Alaba said.

Meanwhile, Sporting director Hasan Salihamdzic has claimed that the first team squad will not have the last say on who will be the next manager at Bayern.

“Naturally we will look closely at how we work, at how the coach works, and how the players react,” Salihamdzi said.

“But of course we are going to decide that. Sure, the players wish that, but in the end, we don’t have the last word.”

Glasner confident of Wolfsburg turnaround

Wolfsburg head coach Oliver Glasner is confident his side can turn things around and climb back up the Bundesliga standings with a strong finish to 2019.

Die Wolfe enjoyed an excellent start to their Bundesliga campaign and were unbeaten after the first nine matches – winning four and drawing five to sit fourth in the table.

However, the wheels have fallen off since a goalless draw with Augsburg on October 27, with four defeats from five games seeing them plummet to ninth.

They did manage to beat Eintracht Frankfurt away from home on November 23 but then lost to Werder Bremen and Freiburg.

They could fall significantly lower with further poor results as there are many clubs packed together in the middle of the standings.

The Volkswagen Arena outfit have remained solid in the Europa League and qualified for the knockout stage of Europe's second-tier competition in second place from Group I.

Wolfsburg have three remaining fixtures before the Bundesliga begins its winter break, starting with Sunday's visit of table-topping Borussia Monchengladbach.

Games against Schalke and Bayern Munich will follow before the festive hiatus and Glasner seems optimistic they can go into the break with positive spirits.

"We really wanted to go into this last intensive period of the year with a win and the players achieved that very impressively out on the pitch," he said.

"I've got a good feeling as we head into the last week of the year, with three games still to play. I know we've got a lot of options in the squad who are in very good shape."

New Champions League format proposed

The European Clubs' Association has tabled a proposal to overhaul the Champions League format that would see the group stage transformed into a 32-team division.

The Daily Mail has reported that the European Clubs' Association has suggested a dramatic shake-up of football's premier European club competition.

Under the new proposed schedule, each club would play 10 matches against 10 different opponents with the top-eight sides qualifying for the round of 16.

The remaining 16 teams would then take part in a two-legged play-off to join them in the knockout phase.

Home-and-away matches would be scrapped in the initial group stage - and, according to the report, fixtures would be determined on the 32 qualifiers being divided into four pots based on their co-efficient.

It is claimed that the top eight will also be guaranteed automatic qualification for the following season's Champions League.

UEFA will take the final decision on any proposed new format.

Such a plan may spark fear among some that it could lead to the creation of a European Super League with the 32 clubs eventually split into two divisions and 16 home-and-away games.

The European Clubs' Association consists of 232 teams and was founded in 2008.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Everton, Leicester and Newcastle are among its members. Juventus' Andrea Agnelli is the organisation's chairman.

Coman set for long spell on the sidelines

Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman is likely to be out of contention for a long time after sustaining a serious knee injury.

Coman has been a regular for Bayern this season but they are unlikely to see him in action again until after the winter break.

The France international's game time has been limited since making the switch from Juventus but he has forced his way into the frame this term.

The 23-year-old has struggled with injuries throughout his career and did suggest he could call it a day if another serious injury came his way.

Bayern are yet to put a timescale on his recovery but the initial prognosis doesn't look to be positive for the winger.

His latest injury, revealed as "a capsule tear in the left knee", came during Wednesday's 3-1 Champions League victory over Tottenham.

A statement from Bayern Munich said: "The diagnosis from club doctor Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt late on Wednesday night revealed a capsule tear in the left knee.

"Coman also pulled his biceps tendon and jarred the knee joint. The knee will be immobilised for a while with a splint."

His strike opened the scoring at the Allianz Arena 14 minutes into the clash but he was limping off just over 10 minutes later.

Coman was allowed to walk off the pitch and down the tunnel, despite clearly being in pain, and some have suggested that could have caused further injury.

The Bavarian outfit, who sit seventh in the Bundesliga, still have to play Werder Bremen, Freiburg and Wolfsburg before the winter break.

Bayern ease past Spurs to claim sixth straight Champions League win

Bayern Munich proved too strong for a much-changed Tottenham at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday evening as the recorded a 3-1 victory in their final Champions League group stage match.

With both teams already into the knockout stages, and the Germans confirmed as Group B winners, Mourinho gave some fresh faces a chance to impress, but they mainly floundered in the Allianz Arena.

Kingsley Coman, Thomas Muller and Philippe Coutinho did the damage on a night where Hans-Dieter Flick's side could have matched the seven goals they got in October's reverse fixture had they been more clinical.

One potential star to emerge was Ryan Sessegnon, scoring his first goal for the club on his maiden start and Mourinho, who tried to sign him three times as Manchester United boss, will surely see him as a big part of the future.

The others did nothing to suggest the Portuguese is going to deviate away from his big guns as they prepare for a pivotal period in the Premier League, where their chances of qualifying for this competition next term could be defined.

Of course, they could still win it this season, but Monday's last-16 draw where they could be paired with Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Valencia or RB Leipzig might have to be kind.

Mourinho had made it clear before the game that he was going to take a look at those who had not had the chance in his short reign and Sessegnon, Kyle Walker-Peters, Giovani Lo Celso and Juan Foyth were all given a first start.

Bayern in contrast went strong, with the exception of Robert Lewandowski, so it was no surprise that they started well and took a 14th-minute lead.

Walker-Peters was dragged inside to deal with Gnabry, allowing Coman to take up space at the back post and when the ball fell to the winger, he coolly slotted home.

Tottenham, to their credit, responded swiftly and it was just six minutes until Sessegnon enjoyed his memorable moment.

Spurs worked their way inside and Lo Celso's through ball was deflected into the path of the teenager at the far post and after composing himself, he lashed a fierce effort past Manuel Neuer.

Mourinho's side were enjoying a good spell and they had a brilliant chance to take the lead, but it fell to the wrong man.

Moussa Sissoko had looked like a new goalscoring midfielder under Mourinho, with two goals in the last three games, but he reverted to type dreadfully after being sent through on goal, drastically overhitting a cross.

It proved costly as Bayern ended the half strongly and regained a deserved lead.

Gnabry, who had earlier hit the post with Thiago inexplicably missing the rebound, sent in a cross which made its way to Alphonso Davies, whose shot again hit the woodwork and this time Muller converted.

The frame of the goal was rattled for a third time moments later when Coutinho's curling effort crashed into the underside of the crossbar, with only millimetres of the ball staying in front of the line.

That provided a platform for a possible goal glut in the second half as the Germans will have eyed a repeat of that 7-2 hammering in north London two months ago.

Coutinho was on a one-man mission to get on the scoresheet and following two attempts early on after the restart, he finally did it in the 64th minute.

He was given far too much room on the edge of the area and had no problem picking out the bottom corner with a curling finish.

More goals did not follow, though, despite chances for Gnabry and Coutinho as Spurs left with their pride intact and Mourinho armed with knowledge.

Bayern and Man City chasing Rangers youngster

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is braced for offers for starlet Kai Kennedy, with reports suggesting that Manchester City and Bayern Munich are keeping tabs on the player.

The 17-year-old has yet to make his first-team debut for the Gers, but it only looks to be a matter of time before he does - if the club can keep hold of him that is.

Boss Steven Gerrard is known to be a huge admirer of the youngster, who has been invited to train with the rest of the first-team squad with a view to helping him progress.

The winger has impressed in the Gers' youth setup and made a big impact in the Alkass Cup clash when the Light Blue youngsters saw off arch-rivals Celtic.

Watching scouts were impressed and it could only be a matter of time before the bids come in.

Gerrard, who has described Kennedy as a "fantastic player" will be keen to keep hold, but that could be easier said than done with some European giants sniffing around.

As well as Manchester City, German giants Bayern Munich are also said to be keeping tabs on his situation with a view to making a move at some point.

Rangers are now doing all they can to secure his future at Ibrox and have been locked in negotiations with his representatives with a view to getting him tied down to a new deal.

Kennedy is under contract under 2021, but Rangers fear if they cannot get him tied down to fresh terms, they could lose him on the cheap.

Witsel out of action until 2020

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel will be sidelined for the rest of December after a heavy fall at home, coach Lucien Favre has confirmed.

Belgium international Witsel has been a key figure for Dortmund this season, missing just one of the 14 Bundesliga matches to date, but an incident at home means he will not be available for selection for the rest of December.

After impressing in the 5-0 home victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday, the 30-year-old returned to his home only to suffer a heavy fall later on, which resulted in him spending both Saturday and Sunday in hospital to deal with the injuries.

Favre revealed he was told about the matter on Sunday morning and although Witsel returned to his house on Monday, he will not be seen in action until 2020 as he recovers from the fall.

"Witsel sadly will be out for the rest of this year," he said at news conference ahead of Tuesday's Champions League match against Slavia Prague. "But there is one positive thing: He's already back home.

"We can't change it now. It's a shame for him, a shame for us. He's one of the most important players for us."

Witsel, who is expected to be part of Belgium's Euro 2020 squad, will miss BVB's remaining four games in December, starting with a Champions League clash at home to Slavia Prague on Tuesday before three important Bundesliga encounters against Mainz, RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim.

Dortmund, who are chasing a first league title since the 2011/12 campaign when Jurgen Klopp was in charge, are sitting third in the standings after Saturday’s impressive victory, five points behind leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

Nagelsmann: Barcelona are a beautiful club

RB Leipzig's highly sought-after head coach Julian Nagelsmann has revealed that he would love to one day take over at Barcelona.

The 32-year-old has been earmarked for the past few years as one of the most exciting coaches in Europe after enjoying a great introduction to management.

He took the reins at Hoffenheim in February 2016 aged 28 and subsequently became the youngest ever manager in the Bundesliga.

During his spell at the PreZero Arena, he guided them from relegation trouble in his first season to safety by one point.

Then, in the 2016-17 season, he guided Hoffenheim to fourth place and a spot in the Champions League for the first time in the club's history.

He signed a new long-term deal and took Hoffenheim one better in 2017-18 as they finished third.

Last season was more challenging for Die Kraichgauer as they ended the season in ninth, though that did not stop Champions League outfit Leipzig from poaching him to be their new manager.

The former Augsburg player has guided Leipzig to second in the table, one point adrift of Borussia Monchengladbach, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund's shaky form making this one of the most open Bundesliga seasons in recent memory.

Their 3-1 win against old club Hoffenheim on Saturday means Die Roten Bullen have now won five matches in a row.

Nagelsmann's achievements at a young age have seen him linked with multiple jobs, including Barcelona.

And, he admits it would be a tempting prospect one day, but insists his current focus is on the Saxony-based club.

"I've said many times: Barcelona is a beautiful city, a beautiful club," he told ZDF. "But they are not the only club that is attractive."

Flick: Bayern must improve in the final third

Bayern Munich interim head coach Hansi Flick has implored his players to improve their conversion rate in front of goal after a 2-1 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach.

The reigning Bundesliga champions find themselves seven points off frontrunners Gladbach in the race for the title, after another disappointing league result.

Ivan Perisic had managed to give Bayern the lead in Saturday's encounter and the Bavarian giants did have chances to extend their lead in the game.

However, they failed to put Gladbach away and Ramy Bensebaini's brace meant the hosts came away with another valuable three points.

Flick, who is hoping to secure the head coach role on a permanent basis, has revealed his frustrations and was disappointed with his side's lack of cutting edge in front of goal.

"It is important that we play football well, on the one hand," Flick said. "We did that in the first half and created a lot of chances.

"Of course it is annoying that we do not make the most of the possibilities, so we leave Gladbach in the game. This is a situation we would normally have had to close earlier. Just as it was against Leverkusen last week. The team has the quality to score goals.

"Unfortunately, we do not do it at the moment. In the end, it's just that the football is settled with goals."

Bayern will next turn their attentions back to Champions League football on Wednesday when they play hosts to Jose Mourinho's Tottenham at the Allianz Arena.

Barcelona's Coutinho tipped to join Bayern on loan

Philippe Coutinho could still depart Barcelona in the current transfer window, with Bayern Munich reportedly exploring a loan deal, with an option to making the signing permanent.

The Brazil international has flattered to deceive since his £142million switch from Liverpool to the Nou Camp in January 2018.

The Catalan giants wanted to offload the 27-year-old, who was originally signed to replace Andreas Iniesta, this summer either by loan or permanent transfer.

And, while their reported €35m loan valuation of Coutinho put off Tottenham on transfer deadline day, it seems they may have finally found a surprise taker in Bayern Munich.

According to RAC1, the Bundesliga giants have leapt to the front of the queue to sign Coutinho, with the player expected to sign on an initial one-year loan. Bayern are also likely to take on the player's £240,000 a week salary demands.

Discussing his future just last month, Coutinho said: "I have a contract with Barcelona, it was always my will to succeed in this club, but now I am totally concentrated here (with Brazil) and about the future (with Barca) we do not know what will happen.

"Many things that come out in the media are simply not true but as for my future we do not know what is going to happen, that is the truth.

"It's clear that the arrival of big names is always good for a squad that wants to win."

Both PSG and Inter Milan had also been mentioned as suitors for Coutinho this summer, but it seems neither side are willing to either make the move or finance such a deal – handing Bayern a seemingly free run at landing the Brazilian playmaker.

Liverpool had also been mentioned as candidates to re-sign Coutinho, but it seemed Jurgen Klopp had other ideas.

Bayern targeting Bale, Perisic and Mandzukic

Bayern Munich are reportedly preparing a number of transfer offers, with Gareth Bale, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic said to be on their wish list.

Bayern have been criticised for their lack of transfer activity in this window, but that could be about to change as rumours suggest that three deals are in the pipeline and could be pushed through sooner rather than later.

Perisic seems to be most imminent, with the Inter Milan forward sent to sign on loan with a view to a permanent deal.

Some reports have even claimed it will be done by Wednesday when he will begin training with the rest of the Bayern squad.

Former striker Mandzukic, currently with Juventus could also return as a new back-up striker is needed, while Bale could also sign if the latest reports are to be believed.

The winger remains at the Bernabeu for now after a move to China fell through, and it could stay that way unless a club like Bayern make a move.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane says both he and James Rodriguez, who was on loan at Real last season, remain in his squad, but that will change should Bayern make a move.

Zorc issues hands-off warning over Sancho

Borussia Dortmund director of sport Michael Zorc says that English starlet Jadon Sancho is a part of the club's long-term future despite the teenager reportedly being courted by Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

United, Liverpool and Chelsea have all been strongly linked to Sancho in recent weeks but Zorc says there is “no scenario” where the Englishman leaves Borussia Dortmund in the January transfer window.

There has been growing speculation the 19-year-old is no longer happy at the Bundesliga club after being scapegoated in Dortmund’s 4-0 defeat to champions Bayern Munich last month, when he was hauled off after 40 minutes.

United have long been associated with a move for the ex-Manchester City starlet, while Chelsea are also increasingly confident of securing the right winger’s signature now their transfer ban has been cut short.

Liverpool have also been linked with a move for Sancho, with The Athletic reporting they are one of four clubs in contention to sign him as he looks to leave Germany.

And Viasport analyst Jan Aage Fjortoft claimed earlier this week that a source told him that Liverpool are the favourites to land the Dortmund star.

But Zorc says Sancho remains very much a key part of Dortmund’s future plans.

“We’re continuing to plan with him,” he told reporters. “He’s a fundamental player for us and I do not see any scenario where he leaves us.

“We have already had some situations with him to talk about and there have been a lot of interviews in the last few weeks.

“We are in a good way; when he came off the bench in Barcelona and also in Berlin he gave us a top performance.”

And Sancho did so again on Saturday when he scored twice as Dortmund thrashed Fortuna Dusseldorf, becoming only the fourth teenager to score 20 Bundesliga goals.

He had actually had a goal ruled out by VAR before slotting in his opener after a one-two with Marco Reus.

And he smashed in another from Achraf Hakimi’s cutback. Reus also scored twice for Dortmund, with Thorgan Hazard netting their other.

Gladbach not getting carried away despite Bayern win

Borussia Monchengladbach defender Matthias Ginter says the team is not getting distracted by talk of lifting the Bundesliga title after their 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich.

Marco Rose's side came from behind to win thanks to Ramy Bensebaini's brace, which he completed from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

Gladbach remain top of the table, a point clear of second-placed RB Leipzig with Bayern seven points off the pace in seventh.

"We couldn't complain that we were down after the first half," Ginter told WDR Radio after the encounter.

"After (the equaliser) it was better. When we equalised it was an open game and it was emotional and with those fans, we believed we could win.

"We are happy that we have won but on the other hand there are other teams that have also done well.

"A championship race is a marathon and not a sprint."

Interim Bayern boss Hans-Dieter Flick felt his side dominated the majority of the game but Gladbach's 60th-minute equaliser - which cancelled Ivan Perisic's second-half opener - dented his side's confidence.

"Some of the self-belief is missing," he said at the post-match press conference.

"We shouldn't have waited and allowed the result to happen over time. That does not help our game.

"We were the better team for 60 minutes and then Gladbach showed why they are top after the equaliser and we stopped playing football.

"Due to the missed chances you leave Gladbach in the game. The team has the quality to score goals, they just didn't do it.

"We dominated completely in the first half and really got a lot of opportunities that were played out. Unfortunately that wasn't enough for us today."

Friday's European results round-up

Romelu Lukaku and Serie A leading Inter Milan were held to a goalless draw by Chris Smalling's Roma on Friday, allowing Juventus a chance to retake top spot this weekend.

The build-up to the San Siro showdown was overshadowed by a controversial front page on Italian daily Corriere dello Sport on Thursday.

The newspaper was accused of fuelling racism after running the headline 'Black Friday' alongside pictures of Inter's Lukaku and Roma's Smalling.

The cover attracted widespread criticism, with on-loan Roma defender Smalling describing it as "wrong and highly insensitive" while his former Manchester United team-mate Lukaku called it the "dumbest of headlines".

The pair both started Friday's encounter, where Lukaku came close to netting early on with a shot that Roma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante parried away.

Neither side could find the breakthrough though as Inter saw their five-match winning streak in Serie A come to an end. They are now two points clear of reigning champions Juve, while Roma climbed up to fourth.

In LaLiga, Villarreal held Atletico Madrid to a goalless draw at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

Joao Felix had the best of Atletico's chances as they recorded their eighth draw of the league season, with only 16 matches gone.

Diego Simeone's side are now five points behind joint leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid, with both yet to play this weekend.

In the Bundesliga, Eintracht Frankfurt came from two goals behind to force a 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin.

Goals from Dodi Lukebakio and Marko Grujic had seemingly put Hertha on course for their first win since October 4.

Frankfurt fought back, however, with Martin Hinteregger's strike reducing the deficit before Sebastian Rode struck the equaliser in the 86th minute.

In Ligue 1, Lyon stormed to a 4-0 win over Nimes, who had to play for more than 50 minutes with nine men.

Theo Valls was sent off in the fifth minute to leave Nimes struggling, and matters got worse for the home side when Memphis Depay converted from the spot in the 16th minute.

Nimes managed to contain Lyon for the rest of the first half, but Gaetan Paquiez was sent off in the 40th minute and the visitors took full advantage after the break with further goals from Depay, Houssem Aouar and Joachim Andersen.

In Friday's other Ligue 1 match, a Victor Osimhen goal gave Lille all three points in a 1-0 win over Brest.

Reus confident of Dortmund title tilt

Dortmund skipper Marco Reus is backing his side to bounce back from a poor run of form as they look to put themselves in a position "to attack in the second half of the season".

Lucien Favre's side are currently fifth in the table, five points adrift of Borussia Monchengladbach who are top on 28 points.

Dortmund started the season in fine fettle after convincing 5-1 and 3-1 wins against Augsburg and Koln respectively.

However, in their third match this season, they were stunned by newly-promoted Union Berlin 1-0 and since then their form has been patchy.

Before their 2-1 win away at Hertha Berlin on Saturday, Dortmund had won just two of their last eight games and Favre was starting to come under pressure.

There have been issues at the Westfalenstadion this season, with Jadon Sancho being at the forefront of those.

The England international was dropped from the squad after returning late from international duty in October.

However, Reus has enjoyed a good season with Dortmund, having scored seven in 18 games across all competitions.

Last season, they missed out on the title by two points after leading for most of the campaign, with April's 5-0 hammering away at Bayern Munich proving a fatal blow.

And, the 30-year-old Germany international believes they still have a great chance of going one better this season, despite their pitfalls.

"We're always judged on the performances which we've delivered in the past and we haven't been able to live up to those in recent weeks, but hopefully that's in the past," he told the official Bundesliga website.

"I think we have another four Bundesliga games and one Champions League game [before the winter break] where we can put ourselves in a good position from which we can attack in the second half of the season."

Bayern-linked Allegri in no rush to return to management

Massimiliano Allegri has responded to reports linking him with the Bayern Munich job, saying he will only consider offers at the end of the current campaign.

The Italian enjoyed five years with Serie A giants Juventus but parted company with the Old Lady over the summer, as Maurizio Sarri made his way to the Turin outfit.

Allegri has been linked with the job at Bayern, who are considering their options following the sacking of Nico Kovac.

Any hopes of potentially landing Allegri in the coming weeks have now been dashed, with the 52-year-old adamant he won't consider his next move until the end of the season.

"In June. I don't know if you can call it a sabbatical or not," Allegri told ESPN FC when asked if he is hungry to get back into management. "Giovanni [Branchini, Allegri's agent] and I immediately came to that decision. As soon as the relationship with Juventus came to an end the decision was to take a year out."

He added: "Next year will be an important year. Important for the choice I end up making and the need to be prepared for it. After a year out and five years at Juventus, I don't want to go back into the game and do badly. That would do my head in."

Bayern, who currently have Hansi Flick in charge at the Allianz Arena, are also thought to be considering a potential move for Mauricio Pochettino following his departure from Tottenham last month.

Ante Covic named new Hertha Berlin manager

Hertha Berlin have announced reserve team coach Ante Covic will succeed Pal Dardai as their new boss for next season.

Covic has been Hertha reserve boss since 2013 after hanging up his boots as a player at the Olympiastadion for 11 years.

He will replace Dardai for the 2019-20 campaign and admits he will fulfill a dream taking charge of the first team.

Covic said in a statement: "As a Berlin native who played for Hertha Berlin and has spent years at this club as a coach, this is a childhood dream come true.

"I was able to experience the Hertha fans as a player and now I'm looking forward to feeling that again as a coach. My excitement for the new season couldn't be greater."

Sporting director Michael Preetz says it was important for the club to appoint someone who was steeped in Hertha's heritage to lead them forward.

He said: "We have again gone for one of our own as our coach. Ante embodies Hertha passion and we're sure he'll impart that on the team.

"We said from the start we wanted a coach with the Hertha DNA. Ante Covic understands this DNA better than any other candidate.

"He knows our young players, has shaped them, promoted them and prepared them for professional football. Now he'll establish these players in the Bundesliga."

Hummels plays down talk of Favre rift

Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels insists there is no rift between him and head coach Lucian Favre contrary to recent reports.

The Dortmund boss is under immense pressure after a poor run of results during November saw them slip away from the Bundesliga title picture.

Defeats to Bayern Munich and a draw with Paderborn saw them drop down the table, while they also lost 3-1 to Barcelona in the Champions League.

Favre’s men are now third in Group F and they will need Barcelona to stop Inter Milan if they are to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition.

Dortmund returned to winning ways at the weekend after they beat Hertha Berlin 2-1 but Hummels saw red in that match after receiving two yellow cards.

The relationship between Hummels and Favre has reportedly been ‘fractured’ since the 3-3 draw with Paderborn in November.

Hummels appeared to criticise the team’s tactics during the post-match interview but the former Bayern Munich ace has denied there are problems in the camp.

He told Sport Bild: “There are no differences with the coach, this is nonsense. We have a very good relationship and we talk a lot, we talk a lot.

“I like his ideas, I am very surprised if they interpret my words as criticising the coach. I do not think so at all. If we have to press and press, my opinion is that we are better in this system.

“I feel that the coach had the same impression against Paderborn. Otherwise, he would not have switched to it.”

Favre may lose his job if Dortmund do not improve their fortunes before the winter break. They face Fortuna Dusseldorf, Slavia Prague, Mainz, RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim before the end of December.

The 62-year-old, now in his second season as Dortmund coach, guided the German giants to second place last term.

Hummels: 'There are no differences with the coach'

Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels has rubbished reports claiming he and head coach Lucien Favre are at loggerheads over team tactics.

The Dortmund boss is under immense pressure after a poor run of results during November saw them slip away from the Bundesliga title picture.

Defeats to Bayern Munich and a draw with Paderborn saw them drop down the table, while they also lost 3-1 to Barcelona in the Champions League.

Favre's men are now third in Group F and they will need Barcelona to stop Inter Milan if they are to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition.

Dortmund returned to winning ways at the weekend after they beat Hertha Berlin 2-1 but Hummels saw red in that match after receiving two yellow cards.

The relationship between Hummels and Favre has reportedly been 'fractured' since the 3-3 draw with Paderborn in November.

Hummels appeared to criticise the team's tactics during the post-match interview but the former Bayern Munich ace has denied there are problems in the camp.

He told Sport Bild: "There are no differences with the coach, this is nonsense. We have a very good relationship and we talk a lot, we talk a lot.

"I like his ideas, I am very surprised if they interpret my words as criticising the coach. I do not think so at all. If we have to press and press, my opinion is that we are better in this system.

"I feel that the coach had the same impression against Paderborn. Otherwise, he would not have switched to it."

Favre may lose his job if Dortmund do not improve their fortunes before the winter break. They face Fortuna Dusseldorf, Slavia Prague, Mainz, RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim before the end of December.

The 62-year-old, now in his second season as Dortmund coach, guided the German giants to second place last term.