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Bundesliga

Bayern Announce Coman Signing

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Bayern Munich have announced that they have signed Kingsley Coman from Juventus in a permanent deal worth €35million.
The France international forward has signed a contract until June 2020 after Bayern agreed to pay the €21m fee required to buy him outright.
“Kingsley Coman is an important building block for the future of our team, so we decided to take up the option,” the chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said via the club’s official website.
“Kingsley is a player with great potential. We’re convinced that he will help us in the coming years.”
Coman joined Bayern on a two-year loan deal in 2015, with the Bundesliga champions possessing the option to finalise a permanent deal at any time before April 30.
The total cost of the transfer includes the two instalments of €7m Bayern paid to Juve during the loan.
There had been reports in France that the 20-year-old was having second thoughts about the prospect of committing his long-term future to the Allianz Arena.
Premier League clubs including Chelsea and Manchester City, managed by former Bayern boos Pep Guardiola, had been linked with a possible bid.
He has made 23 appearances in all competitions this season, scoring twice.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Bundesliga

Alonso Hails Boniface, Other Players for Leverkusen’s Bundesliga Triumph

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Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso hailed their Bundesliga triumph as “something extraordinary” after they secured their first title in the club’s 120-year history on Sunday evening.

Bayer Leverkusen had a 13-point lead heading into the match against Werder Bremen, knowing a victory would secure the Bundesliga even with five matches remaining. The hosts made easy work of Bremen as they won 5-0 thanks to a penalty from Victor Boniface, a wonderful strike from Granit Xhaka and a Florian Wirtz hat trick.

The triumph marked the end of Bayern Munich’s run of 11 straight titles, and a breakthrough for Leverkusen after they came so close in both 2000 and 2002.

“This is a very special moment for the club,” Alonso said post-match. “After 120 years, to win the Bundesliga for the first time is something extraordinary. The players performed, they were a top team together. I am so proud of all of them. For me, it’s an honour to work here.

“Finally, we can say Bayer Leverkusen is a German champion. It’s a huge honour for all of us. It was earned by the team, by the club, by the fans. Everyone, all departments, was working and fighting for this title, so we are a result of that hard work over many years. This is a moment to enjoy and a huge success for this club. The first title is always special for everyone. So to be part of this history feels incredible.”

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When asked when he thought the title was within reach, he pinpointed their win over Bayern Munich on Feb. 10, which gave Bayer a five-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga. By the time Matchday 29 ticked around, Bayer Leverkusen were 16 points ahead of Bayern.

“That game against Bayern at home,” Alonso said. “It could have turned out that they would have been ahead of us. We didn’t talk about winning the title in the locker room that day but we all knew.

“We were all thinking about it. With the consistency, the quality of our game over the season, we earned this title. It’s not easy and we were living it every day, which made us believe. It’s an incredible team; all the players, even the young guys, worked so hard. Everyone was always preparing hard. We might need a little more time to reflect on what we accomplished but right now, we want to enjoy this.”

As Leverkusen closed in on history, fans invaded the pitch twice in the final 10 minutes. The first mini-invasion came after Wirtz’s second, and Leverkusen’s fourth, in the 83rd minute. Alonso and the players beckoned the supporters back. When Wirtz scored his third and their fifth in the 89th minute, the invasion was larger. The referee waited for the 90th minute and with fans still on the pitch, blew for full time.

“The fans were top,” Alonso said. “They lined the whole way to the stadium. We could see that they wanted this and we talked about it in the locker room, that we wanted to transform their energy onto the field. And again the players delivered and for me that’s special.”

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Alonso said he did not feel the external expectation and pressure of having a role in ending Bayern’s dominance of German football.

“The weight of history was not heavy inside me,” Alonso told ESPN’s Archie Rhind-Tutt.

“I was hearing that but I said, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ It was about bringing the right players; the staff were really supportive. We had a good team to play a good season but we have overcome expectations with the way we have played and deserved the results. It’s difficult to put into words but happy to be part of it.”

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Bundesliga

Zidane Close to Bayern Job

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Zidane In The Picture As New Man United Owner Schemes For Ten Hag Sack -

Bayern Munich have reached out to Zinedine Zidane to gauge his interest in taking charge of the team next season, according to reports in Spain.

Thomas Tuchel will leave his post this summer after overseeing a downturn in form which saw Bayer Leverkusen roar to the Bundesliga title, with Bayern officials searching for a replacement for several weeks.

Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso was the top target before he publicly confirmed his desire to stay with his current side, forcing Bayern to look elsewhere.

According to MARCA, contact has been made with Zidane, who has been out of work since leaving Real Madrid  back in 2021. The Frenchman is known to be keen to return to work and was rumoured to be waiting for the France national team job, only for Didier Deschamps to extend his deal with Les Bleus until 2026.

Whether Zidane would be interested in managing Bayern is unclear, but the legendary midfielder has previously confessed that he does not want to work in a country where he cannot fluently speak the language.

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Jose Mourinho is named as a potential candidate for Bayern, as are Julian Nagelsmann and Hansi Flick, both of whom have already enjoyed spells in Bavaria.

BILD recently reported that Nagelsmann, who was sacked in favour of Tuchel in March 2023, is now the top target for the job.

Nagelsmann is currently in charge of the German national team but will see his contract expire after this summer’s European Championships. An extension has not been ruled out publicly.

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Bundesliga

Nigeria’s Boniface is German champion with unbeaten Leverkusen

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Bayer Leverkusen’s record-breaking run to their first Bundesliga title was no fluke, with a 16-month plan coming to fruition.

The team made sure of their first trophy in 31 years with five matches left in the season, snapping Bayern Munich’s 11-year stranglehold on the Bundesliga.

Sunday’s 5-0 home victory over Werder Bremen further stretched Leverkusen’s Bundesliga record unbeaten run to 29 games – 25 wins and four draws to chalk up 79 points.

Coach Xabi Alonso took over a struggling Leverkusen side in October 2022 with the team second-bottom after eight Bundesliga games, having their worst start to a season since 1979.

After a few months it became clear the Spaniard had successfully injected a winning mentality, with his team racing up the table to finish in sixth place.

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But it was during that rise in form in late 2022 when Alonso and the club set the foundations for this season’s success.

With all eyes on the World Cup in Qatar, club bosses in Leverkusen sat down with Alonso to map out their transfer plans and put them into action early.

By July 2023 Leverkusen had assembled their full squad and went into pre-season training with no late additions in August or September, as is regularly the case with most teams.

These transfers included experienced Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka, who added steel in midfield, Germany international Jonas Hofmann, Alejandro Grimaldo, who provided nine goals and 11 assists as an attacking left-back having joined on a free transfer, and 23-year-old Nigeria striker Victor Boniface.

Leverkusen took the season by storm from the start, racking up 11 wins in their first 12 league matches with Boniface seemingly scoring at will with 10 goals and seven assists until his injury in January while on international duty.

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WINNING FORM

Pundits who had predicted an instant dip in form due to Boniface’s absence were proven wrong, with Leverkusen winning all but one league match in his absence to gradually pull away from Bayern.

With the Bavarians’ erratic domestic form leading to their decision to part ways with coach Thomas Tuchel at the end of the season, Leverkusen kept on winning with Germany international Florian Wirtz in scintillating form that earned him a widely expected starting spot on the national team for Euro 2024.

Robert Andrich was equally important in their solid midfield and the 29-year-old’s performance this season saw him earn his first international caps for Germany.

Long derided as ‘Neverkusen’ for their failure to win major titles despite coming close in the Bundesliga and also reaching the 2002 Champions League final, Leverkusen this season were anything but floundering in key moments.

Their comeback ability under Alonso has been impressive and never as evident as in March when they twice came from two goals down in their two legs against Qarabag to qualify 5-4 on aggregate in the Europa League round of 16.

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They also staged another comeback on March 30 to beat Hoffenheim in the league and underscore their status as champions-in-waiting.

Leverkusen are, however, far from done this season, having reached the German Cup final and taken a 2-0 first-leg lead in their Europa League quarter-final against West Ham United.

-Reuters

 

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