Bundesliga

Werder Bremen avoids relegation
Photo by Pool/Ronald Wittek/Pool via Getty Images

Sargent, Werder Bremen avoid Bundesliga relegation (video)

Leave a comment

Werder Bremen is staying the Bundesliga on away goals after a 2-2 draw at Heidenheim in the second leg of the promotion/relegation playoff preserved their place in Germany’s top flight.

Bremen’s American forward Josh Sargent had a front-row seat for the decisive goal, getting the last touch before Norman Theuerkauf put it in his own goal in the third minute.

Heidenheim thickened the drama late when Tim Kleindienst put home the rebound of a shot smashed off the crossbar in the 85th, but a grinder’s effort from veteran Fin Bartels to set up Ludwig Augustinsson in stoppage time put the tie to bed. Heidenheim added a penalty at the death as Kleindienst finished his brace.

[ MORE: Marsch named Coach of the Year ]

Bremen avoids its first relegation in nearly 40 years. Heidenheim finished third in 2.Bundesliga while Bremen was third-bottom of Bundesliga.

Sargent, 20, worked his way into becoming a Bremen regular this season, featuring in its last 17 league matches and both playoff matches. He started Monday, one of 15 starts between the Bundesliga and playoffs. He finished the season with four goals and four assists.

His stats over 88 minutes were good. Sargent had two shots on target, one blocked, completed two of four dribbles, and influenced the own goal (SofaScore). One of his shots saved could’ve easily been a goal but it did not cost Bremen. The industrious Sargent was involved in 24 duels and drew two fouls.

Manager Florian Kohfeldt asked Sargent to run his shorts off and press hard at forward and Bremen was not good at getting service to anyone this season. Sargent will have hardened his game this season and can now claim to be a part of one of the greatest escapes in Bundesliga history.

An editorial note of pure opinion: Keep an eye on Heidenheim’s Niklas Dorsch, a Bayern Munich academy product who drove Heidenheim with influential performances all season. Unsure there’s another year in the second tier for him.

Transfer news: Saint-Maximin in demand, Norwich back to German giants

Saint-Maximin to PSG
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Sunday morning papers are helping the transfer rumor mill buzz after a weekend of matches in Europe.

[ MORE: Pulisic reacts to Hazard comparisons ]

Newcastle is mentioned as a home for several players but the biggest Magpies name is one linked with a departure to big, big clubs.

Saint-Maximin to PSG, PL big boys

Newcastle supporters, avert your eyes and trust Steve Bruce (What a sentence and maybe a mantra).

Magpies talisman Allan Saint-Maximin has caught the eye of everyone on Tyneside and most of the Premier League but is being linked with a big money move back home.

Steve Bruce is flat-out denying there’s any chance of selling the Frenchman, 23, who is being linked with Paris Saint-Germain and “all of England’s current top six sides.”

“ASM” has four goals and seven assists in 25 appearances entering Sunday morning’s match versus West Ham and is one of just three players to average more than four dribbles per game, his 4.7 sandwiched between Adama Traore (5) and Wilfried Zaha (4.5).

It’s not just about the numbers with Saint-Maximin, though, whose magnetic dribbling and personality keep both a defense off-balance and a team hopeful and happy. Newcastle is 1W-3D-7L in the Premier League when Saint-Maximin plays, 10-6-5 when he’s out there.

Any sale, especially with Newcastle’s takeover looming, would have to be well over the approximately $20 million paid by the Magpies last summer.

Schick to Newcastle (amongst others)

The same report lays out a more realistic shopping list for the Magpies than many of the rumors since reports emerged of a big money takeover at St. James’ Park.

Newcastle is being linked with Roma’s Patrik Schick, Nice’s Arnaud Lusamba, Benfica’s Florentino Luis, Penarol’s Facundo Pellistri, and Norwich City’s Ben Godfrey.

Let’s focus on Schick and Lusamba.

Patrick Schick Leipzig Bundesliga
DORTMUND, GERMANY – DECEMBER 17: Patrik Schick (Photo by Jörg Schüler/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Schick was once among the most sought-after names in the game. The 24-year-old Czech striker has nine goals in 22 caps for his country.

Three seasons removed from his breakout season at Sampdoria, Schick has profound his footing on loan to RB Leipzig from Roma. The center forward has 10 goals in 22 matches despite Timo Werner carrying the water in fine fashion for Julian Nagelsmann’s Leipzig.

Like Saint-Maximin last season, Lusamba has been in- and out-of-favor with Nice boss Patrick Vieira. But it’s worth noting that the manager has tried to find a place on the pitch for the 23-year-old center midfielder, deploying him at center forward and right mid at times.

Lusamba averaged 1.2 key passes and 1.3 dribbles per Ligue 1 appearances this season.

Godfrey to Borussia Dortmund

Speaking of Godfrey, could he be going from the bottom of the Premier League table to the upper reaches of Germany? For close to $30 million, to boot?

Two of the Bundesliga’s top clubs continue to monitor top young Premier League talent including the aforementioned Godfrey, with Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig eyeing the 22-year-old.

A center back in Norwich’s maligned and injury-battered defense, England youth international Godfrey has played the seventh-most minutes for Daniel Farke’s Canaries.

Relegation victims have often yielded incredible value for bigger clubs, two great cases in point being ex-Hull City man Andrew Robertson and former Aston Villa force Idrissa Gana Gueye. We don’t need to tell you where they wound up.

Sane seals move from Man City to Bayern Munich

Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich
Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images
Leave a comment

We already knew Manchester City’s going to look different next year with David Silva amongst those set to leave the Etihad Stadium, but we now have confirmation that a younger playmaker is following through on rumors he was headed out the door.

Bayern Munich announced the purchase of Leroy Sane on Saturday, one of the top architects of City’s incredible 2017-18 season going home the Bundesliga. Reports speculate that Bayern will pay around $56 million for Sane.

“Leroy has been part of one of the most special periods in this club’s history and he leaves with the best wishes of everyone here at Manchester City,” said Pep Guardiola.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The rumors of Sane to Bayern extend well over a year, and the German champions are happy to get their man after reports the player turned down a City contract offer as recently as mid-June. There was an apology from the German powers to Man City after photos of the player taking a medical in Bayern kit were put online.

Make no mistake: Bayern badly wanted Sane.

“His speed, his technical quality and his scoring threat make him an absolute top player,” said future Bayern chairman Oliver Kahn. “He also fits very well into our team as a person and as a character.”

The winger turned 24 in January and has double-digit goals and assists in each of his last two full Premier League campaigns. He followed up 10 goals and 15 assists in 2017-18 with 10 and 11 last season.

Bayern has wanted Sane for some time, but the union might’ve become even more appealing to the playmaker when the German giants appointed Hansi Flick as manager.

From FCBayern.com:

“FC Bayern is a great club with big goals and these goals suit me as well. I’m looking forward to the new challenge and can’t wait to train with the team. I know Hansi Flick from the U21 national team, we had a very good relationship there. I want to win as many trophies as possible with FC Bayern, and the Champions League is the top priority.”

The Bavarians already have Champions League-winning quality and the idea of Serge Gnabry on one wing and Sane on the other is exciting.

As for City, it will be interesting to see what they do this summer presuming at least one year of ther two-year European ban is upheld.

The club will still be playing for the Premier League, FA Cup, and League Cup. They could also still be playing for the Community Shield and European Super Cup should they win the FA Cup and Champions League

So it’s not like they won’t need depth but do they rate some of their younger players and we don’t know who might ask to leave given the prospect of no UCL. We know Phil Foden is ready to take the next step, but who else will be coming through the door? Will in-prime players arrive to play for Pep without the prospect of the UCL for at least year? Or will it be older guys looking for a PL crown?

‘On his way’ or ‘unfounded?’ Thiago to Liverpool reports duel

Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thiago Alcantara is telling teammates he’s on his way to Liverpool.

The Bayern Munich man, 29, is confident of sealing a move to the Premier League champions, according to The Express. His contract runs through this summer.

Hansi Flick wants the center midfielder to stay at the Allianz Arena but contract talks between Bayern and Thiago had broken down and reports Friday linked him with Liverpool. He’d be expected to cost better than $40 million.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

There are stronger words this morning, with Bayern said to have “lost all hope” of keeping Thiago.

Yet the Liverpool Echo, an outlet with cozy connections to the Anfield set, says there’s nothing brewing and called the reports “unfounded.”

The 37-times capped Spaniard is set to start Saturday’s German Cup Final versus Bayer Leverkusen, and has won either La Liga (Barcelona) or the Bundesliga every year but one since the 2010-11 campaign.

Thiago would be a bit older than Liverpool’s usual buys but would present terrific experience, technique, and depth for a Reds midfield which will again contend for the Premier League and the Champions League in 2020-21.

But Bayern will certainly be looking to offset their summer shopping, which has started with Leroy Sane, by selling some older players. And Thiago is, right down to age, very close to like-for-like with Georginio Wijnaldum.

Rolfes, Bayer Leverkusen set to meet Bayern in German Cup Final

German Cup Final preview
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Simon Rolfes’ decorated playing career saw him earn 26 caps with Germany, play 288 times in the Bundesliga, and finish runner-up in both Germany top flight and the German Cup.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Now the sporting director at Bayer Leverkusen, the club he led to the 2009 German Cup Final, Rolfes will hope he’s put together a championship side when Kai Havertz, Leon Bailey, and Bayer meet Bayern Munich in Saturday’s final (2 p.m. ET).

ProSoccerTalk caught up with the former Bayer and Werder Bremen playmaker before the final.

PST: What would a first German Cup in 27 years mean for Leverkusen and also to you as a former player?

Simon Rolfes
Rolfes celebrates after scoring in the 2009 German Cup semi final v. FSV Mainz, on April 21, 2009 (JUERGEN SCHWARZ/DDP/AFP via Getty Images).

Simon Rolfes: It would mean a lot to us. People here in Leverkusen have been waiting for a trophy for a long time. I feel that the organization is ready for a title. We have been working a lot to improve and develop this outstanding club, and the tradition is there. Right now we have a team that has shown its skills on the highest level several times.

PST: What are your top memories of the 2009 German Cup run? Beating Bayern? Scoring in the semifinal? The atmosphere of the final against your former club?

SR: That semifinal against Bayern was very emotional. And then the final in the huge stadium with the crowds was very impressive. I really felt the intensity and the importance of that game. I said to myself that I want to get back to a final soon again. It took some time in the end, and I am in a different role, but here we are now, reaching out for that cup.

PST: That (2009) team was crazy and had some very young talent in Toni Kroos and Arturo Vidal. Are there similarities between that team and the one from today?

SR: I am not one who likes to make comparisons. Each team is unique and has its own personality. But as we did in 2009, we now have a brilliant and talented squad, capable of creating big moments at any time. We’ve showed that throughout the season.

PST: Do you think this Cup final experience can help the club in its pursuit of the Europa League next month?

SR: That’s really hard to predict. It might also depend on the outcome of this game. Anyway, though, all teams will need to adapt to totally new situations in these unprecedented times. We’ll have a full month between the German Cup and the Europa League.

You need to adjust plans for rest as well as for preparation due to earlier or later endings of your domestic season. Whoever hits the right planning will be in a good position to win that Europa League trophy next month.

PST: What’s next for Bayer? What should we be on the look out for?

SR: We don’t see this final berth as a historic moment, at least not in a way of it being a unique and one-off situation. We are ambitious and eager to create more of those title chances in the future. We will continue building up a highly talented and hungry squad for these kind of opportunities. And we are ready to be judged based on the outcome of the games.

How to watch Bayer Leverkusen v. Bayern Munich

What: German Cup Final – Bayer Leverkusen v. Bayern Munich
When: 2 p.m. ET Saturday
TV Channel: ESPN2
Stream: ESPN.com