1. Lewandowki flirts the All-White way.
Bayern Munich’s most important inner sanctum figures will not have been thrilled by media reports of Real Madrid making overtures to star striker, Robert Lewandowski.
Leading news magazine, Der Spiegel, claims Real have offered the Polish marksman a Vegas-style remuneration package (a basic salary of 25 million euros per annum over six seasons plus hefty bonuses). Agent, Cezary Kucharski, has confirmed that talks have taken place.
Lewandowski, the top scorer in the Bundesliga this term, still has three years left on his current deal at the Allianz-Arena, but the only conclusion to be drawn is that he feels he has run his Bayern race.
Doing his best to put out the fire, Bayern chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, retorted in an interview with Kicker magazine, that he had no intention of letting the front-man go: “What I know for sure is that Robert Lewandowski will be playing for us next season. You can count on it.”
We could be in for a summer trial of strength.
2. ‘Rolls Reus’. Back to the garage.
If an award was to be handed out for German football’s unluckiest player, Marco Reus would come first, second and third in the polling.
Plagued by a cut-glass physique for much of his career, the Dortmund flying machine had to sit out the last World Cup after damaging ankle ligaments on the eve of the tournament and now has suffered an identical last-gasp breakdown, deprived of Euro 2016 spot by a malfunctional groin.
Individually and collectively, a hammer blow.
“At the moment he can only run in straight lines,” explained Bundestrainer, Joachim Löw.
“The prognosis wasn’t good and on medical grounds I had to omit him.”
Besides Reus, three other players had the misfortune not to make the final squad cut: Hoffenheim right-back, Sebastian Rudy and Leverkusen wingers, Karim Bellarabi and Julian Brandt.
Despite a thoroughly underwhelming injury-hit season at Manchester United, skipper and midfield hub Bastian Schweinsteiger, was deemed fit for the French expedition, as was key central defender, Mats Hummels, who had been struggling of late with a calf problem.
3. Red card for the racists
Anti-immigration party, “Alternative für Deutschland‘ (AfD) scored one of the clumsiest own-goals of the season at the weekend when organisation deputy chairman, Alexander Gauland, thought it a good idea to cast racial aspersions on Bayern Munich and Nationalmannschaft centre-back, Jerome Boateng, the Berlin-born son of a German mother and Ghanaian father.
“People find him good as a footballer, Gauland told the Sunday edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine. “But they wouldn’t want him for a neighbour.”
Gauland picked the wrong guy to attack. Boateng is an immensely popular model pro, world-class player and all-round good egg, teetotal, practising Christian and supporter of a charity for under-privileged kids.
“It’s not good for Jerome to be levered into discussion against his will,” hit out Germany team manager, Oliver Bierhoff. “It’s also terrible that his family have been brought into it. It isn’t the first time we’ve had such remarks. They require no comment; such people discredit themselves on their own. ”
4. Schṻrrle suits Tuchel
Although far from convincing for Wolfsburg this season, Team Deutschland attacker, Andre Schürrle still has many friends in high places and if the chroniclers at Sports Bild are correct, is one of Borussia Dortmund’s top summer transfer targets.
Westfalenstadion coach,Thomas Tuchel used to work with the young Andre at Mainz and apparently has makeover plans for his protege, keen to use him as a number ten rather than his usual role out wide.
Meanwhile, in a nod to his many admirers in the Premier League, Dortmund attacking midfielder, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has turned down the Ruhr club’s offer of a contract extension.
The Armenian ace, in blistering form this term, only has 12 months left on his current deal and now the Borussia management face a deadly conundrum. Cash in immediately. Or retain for another season and watch him depart for zero return.
5. Stating the obvious (part 1): Bundesliga trumps second tier
Since the reintroduction in 2009 of a promotion/relegation play-off pitting the 16th team in the Bundesliga against the second division bronze medalists, only twice in eight years has the lower league outfit prevailed and last week the scales once again tipped in favour of the top-flight, with Eintracht Frankfurt completing a 2-1 aggregate victory over Nürnberg.
Some, including Frankfurt coach, Niko Kovac, believe the winner-take-all showdown is too brutal and nervy, arguing that a straight three up, three down would be better. However don’t expect any changes to the format any time soon. Suspense sells. And in the last three years, the play-offs have proved nail-biters, Eintracht pushed all the way by plucky Nürnberg and Hamburg twice needing a large slice of luck to edge out Greuther Fṻrth and Karlsruhe in 2014 and 2015 respectively.