Christopher Nkunku

Koln v. Leipzig recap and video highlights
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Leipzig doubles up Koln behind Werner’s 25th

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Timo Werner hit 25 goals for the first time in his Bundesliga career and Christopher Nkunku continued his fine season as RB Leipzig overcame hosts Koln 4-2 in a Monday thriller.

Leipzig moves third with the win, moving onto 58, after Patrik Schick scored his ninth goal in 18 league matches to open the contest. Dani Olmo also scored for the victorious visitors.

[ Bundesliga: Fixtures, box scores ]

Jhon Cordoba and Anthony Modeste scored for Koln, whose top six hopes take a big hit. The Billy Goats remain 11th and are now closer to the drop zone than sixth.

Only Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich has scored more league goals (29) than Werner.

[ MORE: Sancho honors George Floyd after scoring ]

A great early save from Timo Horn on Timo Werner preceded Koln’s opener.

Elvis Rexhbecaj timed his run well and knifed to the near post, where he shot through the legs of Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

The ball hit the post and skittered into the box and Gulacsi could only get a piece of Cordoba’s left-footed attempt.

Leipzig leveled when Upamecano dribbled up the heart of the pitch before finding Man City loanee Angelino on the left for a perfect cross and Schick header. Angelino had an exceptional day on the left flank.

Leipzig took its lead in the 38th minute with a deft finish from Nkunku, who took Konrad Laimer’s perfect feed and popped it over a charging Horn for 2-1.

Werner finished off a lightning counter as Gulacsi collected a free kick and hit a perfect punt to the league’s second-leading scorer.

That was far from the end of the fun.

Modeste hit an absolute hammer to make it 3-2, but Leipzig restored the two-goal advantage when Olmo hit a seeing-eye shot through the traffic to cap three goals in seven minutes between the two sides.

French striker Modeste won a penalty that was denied by VAR with under 20 minutes to play, he then missed wide after beating the keeping one 1v1 break with four minutes to play.

Americans Abroad: American midfielder Tyler Adams continued his streak of playing in every Leipzig match since the break when he came off the bench just before the hour mark.

Adams hit 94 percent of his 18 passes, drawing three fouls, making an interception, and winning three of four duels.

Bundesliga return: 10 Premier League transfer targets to watch

Bundesliga return
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At least two of the most talked-about transfer targets in the world will be taking the pitch this weekend when the Bundesliga kickstarts its title race.

Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz have been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, and pretty much every other big club in the world.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

We’ll still tell you a bit about them — the talent is massive — but they are far from the end of the list.

Here are 10 players to watch, their stats this season, and when they’ll be playing this weekend. We’ll add some more names, too.

We’ll also leave several Americans off the list, as Weston McKennie (Schalke), Giovanni Reyna (BVB), and Tyler Adams (Leipzig) are all desired inside and outside of Germany.

They get plenty of coverage in this space, as does Canadian export and thrill-a-minute wide man Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich. Plus, only McKennie may move soon.

10. Denis Zakaria, Borussia Monchengladbach — A tidy passer with offensive skill, Zakaria is a monster in the middle of the park. The 23-year-old is averaging 2.1 tackles and 1.6 interceptions this season. Twenty-eight times capped by Switzerland, Zakaria has been connected to Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United.

9. Amine Harit, Schalke — Harit started life at Schalke red hot after signing from Nantes in 2017, but dipped last season. He’s got a career-best seven goals this season and has matched a high with seven assists. The Morocco signed a new deal in December but has been linked with Barcelona for some time.

8. Christopher Nkunku, RB Leipzig — Only Jadon Sancho and Thomas Muller have more assists than Nkunku’s 12, which come with a league-best 2.8 key passes per game. Was linked to Arsenal in January.

7. Milot Rashica, Werder Bremen — The 23-year-old’s seven-goal, four-assist season has him on the radar of Liverpool and Southampton.

6. Marcus Thuram, Borussia Monchengladbach — The son of World Cup, EURO, and UEFA Cup winner Lilian, Marcus is a wildly-productive and electric forward who’s pitched in 10 goals and nine assists this season. Newcastle and Liverpool are whispered as possible new homes.

5. Achraf Hakimi, Borussia Dortmund (on loan from Real Madrid) — Where hasn’t Hakimi been linked? Hakimi can play right and left back as well as further up the pitch, and has seven goals and 10 assists this season. Arsenal and Chelsea are said to be PL clubs looking into his services.

4. Dayot Upamecano, RB Leipzig — Just 21 and beginning to discover his powers, the monstrous center back is averaging 2.1 tackles, 1.7 interceptions, and 3.3 clearances per Bundesliga outing this season. If you’re a top club in the PL, you’ve been linked with him.

3. Timo Werner, RB Leipzig — He seemingly wants to go to Liverpool, but there’s no shortage of suitors across the board. Only Robert Lewandowski (25) has scored more goals in league play than Werner’s 21, who’s 24.

2. Kai Havertz, Bayer Leverkusen — He hasn’t hit the heights of his 17-goal season in 2018-19, but the soon-to-be 21-year-old is a playmaker of the highest order in the No. 10 role.

1. Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund — Unlike many English talents hyped up before their time, Sancho has delivered again and again. The 20-year-old Man City academy product is said to be Manchester United’s top target.

I mean, bags of technique on this cat, who has 26 goals and 33 assists in league play the past two seasons despite being a teenager until late March.

Bayern Munich, Leipzig wasteful in scoreless draw

Bayern Munich v. RB Leipzig recap and video highlights
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Chances were wasted at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig staged a 0-0 draw on Sunday, as the table-leading hosts maintained their one-point lead on the second-place visitors.

American midfielder Tyler Adams went 90 minutes for Leipzig, making two interceptions and three tackles. He completed just 53 percent of his passes, also blocking a shot and registering a key pass (Stats).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Bayern was the better team in the first 45 minutes, and Leipzig would’ve been content to get to the team room with zeroes on the scoreboard.

The second half changed that, with Leipzig missing two gilt-edged chances. The most surprising was when a lively Christopher Nkunku cut a pass across the 18 to a wide-open Timo Werner.

The Bundesliga’s second-leading scorer thumped it wide.

Hungarian international Péter Gulácsi was also influential in the second half, making an incredible save off a 1-2 between Leon Goretzka and Robert Lewandowski.

He was credited with two saves on the day.

Bayern will feel it should’ve claimed all the points on the day, though RBL center back Dayot Upamecano joined Gulacsi in making life difficult for the serial champions.

Elsewhere, Koln’s visit to Borussia Monchengladbach was postponed, leaving ‘Gladbach three points behind Leipzig and four back of Bayern.

Bayern doesn’t play fellow title chasers Borussia Dortmund or Gladbach until April.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 21 13 4 4 58 23 35 7-2-2 6-2-2 43
 RB Leipzig 21 12 6 3 53 25 28 6-3-1 6-3-2 42
 Borussia Dortmund 21 11 6 4 59 32 27 7-3-0 4-3-4 39
 Mönchengladbach 20 12 3 5 38 23 15 8-1-1 4-2-4 39
 Bayer Leverkusen 21 11 4 6 35 27 8 5-4-2 6-0-4 37
 FC Schalke 04 21 9 8 4 32 27 5 5-5-1 4-3-3 35
 1899 Hoffenheim 21 10 3 8 31 32 -1 5-1-5 5-2-3 33
 SC Freiburg 21 9 5 7 30 30 0 5-2-3 4-3-4 32
 Eintracht Frankfurt 21 8 4 9 37 31 6 6-3-2 2-1-7 28
 VfL Wolfsburg 21 7 7 7 25 26 -1 3-5-3 4-2-4 28
 1. FC Union Berlin 21 8 2 11 25 32 -7 6-0-4 2-2-7 26
 FC Augsburg 21 7 5 9 33 44 -11 5-2-3 2-3-6 26
 1. FC Köln 20 7 2 11 27 38 -11 5-1-4 2-1-7 23
 Hertha BSC Berlin 21 6 5 10 25 37 -12 3-2-6 3-3-4 23
 FSV Mainz 05 21 7 0 14 31 48 -17 3-0-7 4-0-7 21
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 21 4 5 12 20 42 -22 3-2-5 1-3-7 17
 Werder Bremen 21 4 5 12 25 48 -23 1-2-7 3-3-5 17
 SC Paderborn 21 4 4 13 26 45 -19 2-1-8 2-3-5 16

PSG benches Rabiot for refusing another contract offer

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Paris Saint-Germain has had its fair share of troubles with midfielder Adrian Rabiot, and those appear to have reached a climax on Monday.

PSG sporting director Antero Henrique told Yahoo Sports France that Rabiot has been “infinitely benched” unless he signs a contract extension by the end of the season. Rabiot’s contract expires this coming summer, and he reportedly has turned down multiple contract offers from PSG.

“The player informed me that he will not be signing a new contract and that he wants to leave the club as a free agent at the end of the season [also the end of his contract],” Henrique said. “For the player, the consequences are clear — he is indefinitely benched.”

Rabiot has been the subject of several off-field stories in the past year or two, including his refusal to accept a France national team call-up this summer for the 2018 World Cup, not accepting a reserve roster role.In addition, Rabiot’s mother Veronique – who also serves as his agent – has been a thorn in PSG’s side for years. Veronique was highly critical of PSG’s use of her then-19-year-old son in 2014, saying, “He needs to play regularly in high-level matches. Since February he has only started five times in the league and once in the Champions League.  He cannot afford to spend a season on the bench. At his age, if you do not progress, you regress. His goal is to join the France team at Euro 2016. Staying at PSG seems very difficult.”

Even as far back as 2013, Veronique was public about her pursuit of playing time for her son, forcing the club to loan him out to fellow French side Toulouse. “If the supporters were parents, they would understand,” she told the media.

Now, Veronique finally appears to be seeing Adrien’s way out of Parc des Princes, and it has caught Henrique off guard. “A few months ago, there were positive exchanges with his representative [Veronique] with a view to him staying with the club and signing a new deal,” Henrique said. “We also accepted all of his conditions regarding things related to what happens on the pitch. We discussed these specifics to ensure that he would stay with us for many years. Unfortunately, since then, negotiations have completely stopped.”

One week ago, ESPN reported that PSG manager Thomas Tuchel had already informed Rabiot he would not be in the club’s plans moving forward this season unless he signed a new contract, and that the club was to make one final push for his signature. That same article reports that PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi “maintains good relations” with Rabiot, that he “remains convinced of his value,” and was set to take over negotiations. With the new reports on Monday, it seems even Al-Khelaifi was unable to convince Rabiot to stay.

At PSG, Rabiot has relatively little competition for playing time in midfield, with only Marco Verratti plus youngsters Christopher Nkunku and Antoine Bernede who play his position. 21-year-old Nkunku has been the biggest benefactor of Rabiot’s absence, seeing 13 Ligue 1 appearances this season including five starts. PSG has also been heavily linked to Ajax youngster Frenkie de Jong, partly due to Rabiot’s phasing out.

Rabiot has earned 14 Ligue 1 appearances this season, including 12 starts and nine full-90 performances, but he was a late substitute in each of PSG’s last two Champions League matches.