Philippe Coutinho

Barcelona
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Barcelona prepared to meet $124M release clause for Martinez

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Lautaro Martinez’s incredible season is paying off big time for Inter Milan.’

The Serie A side reportedly resisted big money overtures from Barcelona this summer, pointing to his approximate $124 million release clause.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Now Barca is said to be prepared to meet that clause in order to land Martinez.

Football-Espana says that a cash-plus-player deal is the other option. Barca would be willing to send Arturo Vidal or Ivan Rakitic, while Antonio Conte would prefer Nelson Semedo or Arthur.

Signing the 22-year-old Argentine could help sate the concern of countryman Lionel Messi, who’s watched Barca fail to provide him adequate reinforcements as Real Madrid stockpiled young talent. Messi was reportedly disappointed that the Blaugranas failed to pony up for Neymar this summer.

Martinez has 16 goals and four assists in 31 matches this season, including a goal against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

He’s Inter’s second-leading scorer behind Romelu Lukaku, and the Serie A side has nine points insulation on the UCL chasing pack with a match-in-hand.

Barca is going to have get rid of some players to pay big for Martinez, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele challenging the club on different levels. And who knows who else may want to leave Barcelona given its messy season (maybe really messy is a better choice)?

Bundesliga wrap: Bayern puts up six; Dortmund, Gladbach keep pace

Bundesliga
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Bayern Munich continues to fire at will in its bid to win yet another Bundesliga title.

The Bavarians stayed on course for its seventh-straight league title with a six-star stomping of Hoffenheim.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach kept up with the leaders, while RB Leipzig and/or Bayer Leverkusen will fall off the pace on Sunday.

Hoffenheim 0-6 Bayern Munich

This was a blowout of the highest order.

Bayern outshot Hoffenheim 25-4, completing 88 percent of its passes and 65 percent of its dribbles.

Philippe Coutinho scored twice, while Joshua Kimmich had a goal and an assist. Thomas Muller had two assists, while Serge Gnabry, Joshua Zirkzee, and Leon Goretzk rounded out the scoring to move Bayern to 52 points (standings below).

Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Freiburg

Jadon Sancho‘s 15th-minute goal was all BVB needed at the Westfalenstadion. He now has 14 goals and 15 assists in league play, as BVB sits four points back of Bayern.

USMNT phenom Giovanni Reyna played another nine minutes in the win, completing 87 percent of his passing including one key pass and an one long ball. He won 2 of 4 ground duels and completed 2 of 3 dribbles.

Augsburg 2-3 Borussia Monchengladbach

Lars Stindl had a goal and an assist including what would stand as the match-winner in an entertaining match.

All five goals came between the 49th and 83rd minutes, with Gladbach leading 2-0 and 3-1 en route to the win.

The visitors are six points back of Bayern with a match-in-hand.

Elsewhere
Fortuna Dusseldorf 3-3 Hertha Berlin — Friday
Koln 3-0 Schalke
Mainz 2-0 Paderborn
Union Berlin v. Wolfsburg — 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday
RB Leipzig v. Bayer Leverkusen — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Werder Bremen v. Eintracht Frankfurt — postponed

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 24 16 4 4 71 26 45 8-2-2 8-2-2 52
 RB Leipzig 23 14 6 3 61 25 36 7-3-1 7-3-2 48
 Borussia Dortmund 24 14 6 4 66 32 34 9-3-0 5-3-4 48
 Mönchengladbach 23 14 4 5 46 27 19 8-2-1 6-2-4 46
 Bayer Leverkusen 23 13 4 6 40 29 11 6-4-2 7-0-4 43
 FC Schalke 04 24 9 9 6 32 35 -3 5-5-2 4-4-4 36
 VfL Wolfsburg 23 9 7 7 32 28 4 4-5-3 5-2-4 34
 1899 Hoffenheim 24 10 4 10 34 42 -8 5-1-7 5-3-3 34
 SC Freiburg 24 9 6 9 31 34 -3 5-2-4 4-4-5 33
 1. FC Köln 23 9 2 12 36 42 -6 6-1-5 3-1-7 29
 1. FC Union Berlin 23 9 2 12 29 36 -7 6-0-5 3-2-7 29
 Eintracht Frankfurt 23 8 4 11 38 37 1 6-3-3 2-1-8 28
 FC Augsburg 24 7 6 11 36 50 -14 5-3-4 2-3-7 27
 Hertha BSC Berlin 24 7 6 11 30 46 -16 3-2-7 4-4-4 27
 FSV Mainz 05 24 8 1 15 33 52 -19 4-1-7 4-0-8 25
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 24 5 6 13 26 49 -23 3-3-6 2-3-7 21
 Werder Bremen 23 4 5 14 25 53 -28 1-2-8 3-3-6 17
 SC Paderborn 24 4 4 16 29 52 -23 2-1-9 2-3-7 16

Bayern’s Lewandowski out for a month with leg injury

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Robert Lewandowski will miss the next month, including Bayern Munich’s UEFA Champions League second leg against Chelsea, after suffering a leg injury during Tuesday’s 3-0 thrashing of the Premier League side.

[ MORE: Jurgen Klinsmann’s parting shots cause anger at Hertha Berlin ]

Bayern announced on Wednesday that Lewandowski fractured his tibia near his left knee joint. With the recovery time currently expected to be four weeks, the injury isn’t thought to be serious.

Not only will the Bundesliga’s leading scorer this season (25 goals, four more than second-place Timo Werner) out for leg no. 2 against Chelsea, but he could also miss as many as five league games as Bayern try to win their eighth straight domestic title. With 11 games left to play in Germany, Bayern hold a one-point lead on second-place RB Leipzig. Lewandowski is expected to return before the UCL quarterfinals during the first week of April.

[ MORE: Man City makes statement, comes back in Madrid ]

Lewandowski has 40 goals in 36 games (all competitions) to his name this season and has shown little or no sign of slowing down at the age of 31. Serge Gnabry, who has 10 league goals, is the only other player to have reached double digits for Bayern this season. Next closest to Gnabry is Philippe Coutinho, with six.

Report: Barca to sell Coutinho with five Premier League clubs on alert

Coutinho
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Barcelona wants to give Quique Setien a huge war chest to rebuild the Blaugranas, and that means a yard sale.

A price tag of around $100 million is being put on Philippe Coutinho, as The Express says Bayern Munich will pass on their $132 option to buy him after this season’s loan.

Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea are being linked with the 27-year-old, according to The Express.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Which of those make sense?

Coutinho turns 28 this summer, and several of the sides mentioned angle for youth when they splash the big cash.

Liverpool sold Coutinho for $192 million in 2018 and would still count $92 million in profit if they met Barca’s asking price, but my goodness even that is a big expense.

He knows Jurgen Klopp‘s system, and has made more than 200 appearances for the Anfield set (54 goals, 45 assists). The Express report says Klopp would rather capture Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz which, of course, is true of every team with a lot of money.

Coutinho has seven goals and eight assists in 27 matches for Bayern after collecting 21 and 11 in two seasons with Barcelona.

Will he be able to reclaim the form that saw him dazzle the Premier League in producing 13 goals and seven assists during his last Premier League season?

Yeah, we think so. We argued at the time that Liverpool should sell to Barca due to his exaggerated status at Anfield not matching his impact on matches. He was very good, but not irreplaceable.

But is it worth the price?

Bundesliga wrap: Leipzig, BVB, Bayern all win in routs

Borussia Dortmund
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Bundesliga has a new leader, at least for a day.

[ MORE: Bundesliga schedule  ]

RB Leipzig cruised to a win on the road and will now wait to see how Borussia Monchengladbach responds to bombing out of Europe.

Bayern and Borussia Dortmund also ran up the score lines on a busy day in Germany.

Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-3 RB Leipzig

Nordi Mukiele scored twice as Julian Nagelsmann’s men moved top of the table for at least a day. Patrik Schick also scored for Leipzig.

USMNT backstop Zack Steffen was under fire all day, making four saves, two high claims, and a clearance, but was at fault for one of the goals.

And ICYMI: Leipzig’s American midfielder, Tyler Adams, should return by the end of the month.

Bayern Munich 6-1 Werder Bremen

Milot Rashica supplied a surprise lead for the visitors, but it was all Bayern from the 24th minute onward. Philippe Coutinho scored the first goal of his hat trick in the 45th and Robert Lewandowski started his brace in stoppage time. Thomas Muller added a 75th minute goal as Bayern rose fourth, six points of Leipzig.

Mainz 0-4 Borussia Dortmund

Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho both had a goal and an assist for BVB, who pulls into third on the table. Nico Schultz and Thorgan Hazard also scored in the 0-save clean sheet for Roman Burki.

Hertha Berlin 1-0 Freiburg

Czech midfielder Vladimir Darida scored in the 53rd minute to help Jurgen Klinsmann to his first win as Hertha manager. Hertha is now three points clear of the relegation playoff spot, and the win comes over a Freiburg side flirting with the European places.

Elsewhere
Hoffenheim 2-4 Augsburg — Friday
Paderborn 1-1 Union Berlin — Rare point for the hosts
Koln 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen — Visitors finish with 9 men
Wolfsburg v. Borussia Monchengladbach — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Schalke v. Eintracht Frankfurt — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 RB Leipzig 15 10 3 2 42 16 26 4-2-1 6-1-1 33
 Mönchengladbach 14 10 1 3 30 16 14 6-1-1 4-0-2 31
 Borussia Dortmund 15 8 5 2 37 19 18 5-2-0 3-3-2 29
 Bayern Munich 15 8 3 4 41 21 20 5-1-2 3-2-2 27
 FC Schalke 04 14 7 4 3 25 18 7 3-3-1 4-1-2 25
 SC Freiburg 15 7 4 4 24 18 6 4-2-1 3-2-3 25
 Bayer Leverkusen 15 7 4 4 22 20 2 3-4-1 4-0-3 25
 1899 Hoffenheim 15 6 3 6 21 27 -6 3-1-4 3-2-2 21
 VfL Wolfsburg 14 5 5 4 15 14 1 2-3-2 3-2-2 20
 1. FC Union Berlin 15 6 2 7 19 20 -1 5-0-3 1-2-4 20
 FC Augsburg 15 5 5 5 24 28 -4 3-2-2 2-3-3 20
 Eintracht Frankfurt 14 5 3 6 24 22 2 4-3-1 1-0-5 18
 Hertha BSC Berlin 15 4 3 8 21 29 -8 3-0-4 1-3-4 15
 FSV Mainz 05 15 5 0 10 20 38 -18 3-0-4 2-0-6 15
 Werder Bremen 15 3 5 7 23 35 -12 1-2-4 2-3-3 14
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 15 3 3 9 16 32 -16 2-1-4 1-2-5 12
 1. FC Köln 15 3 2 10 14 30 -16 2-1-4 1-1-6 11
 SC Paderborn 15 2 3 10 18 33 -15 1-1-6 1-2-4 9