With a tenth straight Bundesliga title secured, Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann wants to settle the future of star striker Robert Lewandowski so he can plan for next season.
As the title celebrations raged last Saturday after a home win over Dortmund that meant Bayern cannot be caught, Lewandowski was reluctant to discuss his plans.
The Pole’s contract expires in 2023, but while Bayern bosses insists he will stay next season, persistent rumours link the 33-year-old to Barcelona.
Lewandowski’s agent Pini Zahavi met Bayern’s senior bosses in a Munich restaurant on Thursday, but no progress was made towards signing a contract extension.
“Basically, it’s always good to have planning security – in all areas of life, including the strikers,” Nagelsmann said Friday. “That’s why I would also like us to reach an agreement.”
Nagelsmann is irritated by the constant speculation, adding: “I must have said 50 times that I would like him to stay.”
Lewandowski, twice voted FIFA’s best male player, has won every title possible with Bayern, who he joined on a free transfer from Dortmund in 2014.
He is set to be crowned Bundesliga top scorer for the fifth straight season and can add to his tally of 33 goals in Saturday’s away match at Mainz.
If he starts, Lewandowski will be without his forward partner Thomas Mueller, who misses the trip to Mainz with illness, Nagelsmann said.
In the fight for Champions League places, Freiburg can sneak back into the top four with a win at Hoffenheim on Saturday before RB Leipzig, who currently sit fourth, face Moenchengladbach away on Monday.
Leipzig have extra time to recover, four days after their 1-0 home win over Rangers in the first leg of the semi-final leaves them on the brink of the Europa League final. The second leg is at Ibrox next Thursday.
Meanwhile at the foot of the table, legendary Bundesliga coach Felix Magath has compared keeping Hertha Berlin up to winning a “gold” medal.
With three matches left, Magath has managed to haul Hertha out of the relegation places up to 15th with a four-point buffer over 16th.
Hertha can take another step towards survival with a win at second-from-bottom Bielefeld on Saturday.
Consecutive victories over Augsburg and Stuttgart have left Hertha on the brink of securing a tenth straight season in Germany’s top flight, but Magath insists the fight is not over.
“By no means do we already have ‘gold’,” said Magath, but the 68-year-old who coached both Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg to Bundesliga titles said Hertha could “now go for silver” with a third consecutive victory.
One to watch: Erling Haaland
The 21-year-old star striker drew a blank in last Saturday’s top-of-the-table defeat at Bayern and has been carrying a persistent ankle knock which restricted him to two goals in his last seven games.
Borussia Dortmund coach Marco Rose says the injury which plagued Haaland in recent weeks has now healed. “We have it well under control.”
Dortmund are home to Bochum on Saturday and this could be one of Haaland’s last home appearances in the famous yellow shirt amid speculation he will join Manchester City next season.
2,000 – rounds of matches the Bundesliga will celebrate this weekend. Of that figure, Bayern Munich have been top on 829 matchdays.
17,969 – games played in Germany’s top flight since the Bundesliga started in August 1963.
310 – Bundesliga goals scored by Lewandowki in 381 games for both Bayern and former club Dortmund.
Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)
Union Berlin v Greuther Fuerth (1830)
Borussia Dortmund v VfL Bochum, VfB Stuttgart v VfL Wolfsburg, Mainz v Bayern Munich, Augsburg v Cologne, Arminia Bielefeld v Hertha Berlin (1330), Hoffenheim v Freiburg (1630)
Bayer Leverkusen v Eintracht Frankfurt, Bor. Moenchengladbach v RB Leipzig (1830)