Lewandowski was never Real Madrid’s first choice, claims Bayern striker’s former agent

Robert Lewandowski was “never the first choice” for Real Madrid, the Bayern Munich striker’s former agent has claimed.

The Poland international has long been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu, with his prolific form marking him out as one of the most fearsome forwards in Europe.

A ‘Galactico’ transfer policy in Madrid has often seen Lewandowski’s name mentioned with a possible big-money move, but Bayern have understandably been reluctant to part with such a prized asset.

It was suggested that 2018 could be the year in which a deal was done, with the 30-year-old having turned to so-called ‘super agent’ Pini Zahavi back in February to manage his career.

Cesary Kucharski was the man whose services were parted with, but he claims a switch to Spain was never on the cards, telling Sport1: “For Real Madrid, Robert was never the first choice.”

Lewandowski has expressed his disappointment at not being granted a move away from Bayern, with over 150 goals in four seasons considered to have been enough at the Allianz Arena.

Kucharski claims the Pole’s “attitude to money became a problem” towards the end of his association with a proven performer, with his focus being shifted away from football.

He is, however, adamant that strike action would never have been taken in an effort to force a transfer, adding: “A strike would do nothing but damage his image in Germany.”

Kucharski also believes that Lewandowski, who has a contract in Bavaria until 2021, will find it impossible to force the hand of the board at Bayern and get them to agree to a sale.

“Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness have a lot of experience, they were footballers themselves and can therefore understand the perspective and responsibility of the footballer,” he said.

“They understand that footballers are different from those who have to make decisions.

“Robert is a professional and likes to play at Bayern.”

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Rangers vs Rapid Vienna: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview

Rangers have given themselves a Europa League platform from which to build after they twice came from behind to draw with Villarreal 2-2 in Spain a fortnight ago.

Steven Gerrard’s side have defied expectations by reaching the Europa League group stage and now they are seeking to make their most of their time back in the relative big time.

On Thursday, they face a Rapid Vienna side in something of a state of crisis, having changed their coach following a stunning 2-0 loss at home to St Polten on Saturday that has left them in the bottom half of the Austrian Bundesliga.

The Gers have everything to play for.

Game Rangers vs Rapid Vienna
Date Thursday, October 4
Time 2:00pm BST / 15:00pm EST
Stream (US only) fubo TV (7-day free trial)

TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch

In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).

New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.

US TV channel Online stream
n/a fubo TV (7-day free trial)

In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on BT Sport 2 and streamed on BT Sport Live.

UK TV channel Online stream
BT Sport 2 BT Sport Live

Squads & Team News

Position Rangers squad
Goalkeepers McGregor, Foderingham, Alnwick
Defenders Tavernier, Goldson, Hodson, Flanagan, Ross McCrorie, Katic, Bradley, Wallace
Midfielders Dorrans, Jack, Ejaria, Halliday, Coulibaly, Kent, Arfield, Kelly, Rossiter 
Forwards Grezda, Murphy, Sadiq, Morelos, Candeias, Rudden, Middleton, Lafferty

Manager Gerrard will once again have to do without long-term injury victims Lee Wallace and Jamie Murphy because of injury problems, though otherwise he boasts a full-strength squad.

Nikola Katic and Ryan Kent may return to the fold after missing out on a starting place in Livingston at the weekend.

Alfredo Morelos was banned for the match against Villarreal and will return to lead the line.

Possible Starting XI: McGregor; Tavernier, Katic, Goldson, Barisic; Arfield, Ejaria, Coulibaly; Candeias, Morelos, Kent

Position Rapid Vienna squad
Goalkeepers Strebinger, Knoflach, Haas, Gartler
Defenders Muldur, Barac, Bolingoli, Sonnleitner, Dibon, Potzmann, Hofmann, Thurnwald, Auer
Midfielders Schobesberger, Schwabm Berisha, Murg, Martic, Malicsek, Szanto, Knasmullner, Arase, Ljubicic
Forwards Pavlovic, Kostic, Alar, Guillemenot, Ivan

New Rapid Vienna boss Didi Kuhbauer comes into a club missing several potential starters because of injury issues.

Defenders Manuel Turnwalf and Maximilian Hofmann are both on the sidelines, while from the midfield Tamas Szanto, Philipp Schobesberger and Ivan Mocinic are missing.

Possible Starting XI: Strebinger; Muldur, Sonnleitner, Barac, Potzmann; Ljubicic, Schwab; Murg, Knasmullner, Ivan; Alar

Betting & Match Odds

Salzburg are priced at 21/20 to win, according to bet 365, while a draw is available at 13/5. A win for Napoli is priced at 14/5.

Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.

Match Preview

Alfredo Morelos Rangers

Rangers’ 2-2 draw against Villarreal has heightened hopes at Ibrox that they can be a force in Europa League Group G. On paper, that was the toughest of their matches, and while they did come under significant pressure, they did not steal a point from the Spaniards.

But while Gerrard has rightly receivec plaudits for what he has achieved in Europe, his start in management has been far from flawless, as a 1-0 loss at Livingston last weekend showed. The Gers are only sixth in the Scottish Premiership, having won only three of their first seven matches of the season.

Nevertheless, he will adopt an attacking approach for this match.

“I’m not going to accept my team sitting back and waiting for a moment to join in the game,” he said.

“We have to be on it from the first whistle to the last. We’re at our best when we’re positive and when we believe in ourselves.

“The challenge for us was: ‘Can we get out of the group?’ For us, at home, it’s vital that we try to win this game.

“It’s an evenly matched group. There’s no standout team who are big favourites, but you’d maybe say Villarreal because they’re probably playing in the strongest league.

“The league’s always been the priority, but we’re Rangers and we want to win every game we play in. We’ve put an awful lot of effort and hard work in to getting to this stage.”

Meanwhile, the Gers’ opponents find themselves in a state of flux, having endured a wretched start to their own domestic season that has left them closer to the bottom of the table than the top.

A reaction to the 2-0 loss to St Polten was to replace manager Goran Djuricin with Dietmar Kuhbaur, with Gerrard saying: “The challenge has changed overnight.”

It is now the responsibility of his Rangers side to prove they are up to it

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Pogba makes France squad alongside recalled Sakho, Zouma, Digne and new boy Ndombele

France coach Didier Deschamps has recalled Mamadou Sakho, Kurt Zouma and Lucas Digne to the national squad, while there is also a place for the uncapped Tanguy Ndombele.

Crystal Palace defender Sakho could make his first appearance for Les Bleus since March 2016, while Zouma earned the last of his two caps in November 2015.

However, the duo are back involved with the World Cup winners ahead of the friendly against Iceland and the Nations League clash with Germany this month, replacing injured duo Samuel Umtiti and Adil Rami.

Digne comes in at left-back with Benjamin Mendy ruled out, while the absence of Corentin Tolisso has resulted in 21-year-old Lyon midfielder Ndombele receiving his first call-up.

“Tanguy is a player at a very good level, he knows how to do everything in midfielder. He has played regularly for a long time,” said Deschamps.

“It’s nice to have experienced players [like Sakho]. He has been with us before. It was important to see him again. Youth is not a handicap but it’s good to have a balance between youth and experience.”

Adrien Rabiot continues to be excluded after refusing a place on the stand-by list for the World Cup, and Deschamps feels it is too soon for the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder to return despite a strong start to the season.

“It’s way too early to recall Adrien Rabiot after the attitude he had towards the France shirt,” said Deschamps. “It doesn’t make sense to recall him, it’s still way too early.

“With respect to the team and what the shirt represents, this is not the time.”

France squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders: Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace), Kurt Zouma (Everton), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Lucas Digne (Everton)

Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Steven N’Zonzi (Roma), Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Florian Thauvin (Marseille).

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Maguire? Alderweireld? Capello reveals who Mourinho really wanted

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho wanted to sign Inter defender Milan Skriniar and Napoli centre-half Kalidou Koulibably in the summer transfer window, claims Fabio Capello.

The Red Devils were heavily linked with several defensive targets prior to the last deadline passing.

They were ultimately left frustrated in that search, with no additions made to an area of their side which has sprung an unfortunate leak in the 2018-19 campaign.

Leicester star Harry Maguire was considered to have been their first choice, having starred for England at World Cup 2018, while Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld has seen a switch to Old Trafford mooted for some time.

Both are understood to have been considered by Mourinho, but his sights were also trained on Serie A as he sought to address supposed weaknesses by landing proven performers.

Ex-England boss Capello told Sky Sport Italia: “I met Mourinho during a meeting between managers last summer.

“He wanted to sign two defenders, one was Milan Skriniar, the other one was Koulibaly.”

With no fresh faces brought in, Mourinho has had to make do with those already at his disposal.

Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof have all seen game time, but a settled centre-half pairing is yet to be found.

United even experimented with Scotland international midfielder Scott McTominay in a three-man defensive unit during a trip to West Ham, but found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline.

It now remains to be seen whether Mourinho will still be at the helm by the time the next window opens.

His future at Old Trafford continues to be called into question, with various figures connected with United having had their say on whether the Portuguese should stay or go.

Paul Scholes has suggested that the Red Devils are being “embarrassed” by their current boss, but Ryan Giggs thinks he should be given time and Paul Ince believes underperforming players should be shouldering more of the blame.

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Champions League Winner Odds: Manchester City still favourites after dramatic win at Hoffenheim

A late winner from David Silva gave Manchester City victory at Hoffenheim and kept them as outright favourites to win the Champions League.

bet365 make City 9/2 (4.50) to lift the trophy at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid next May despite only taking three points from their opening two matches.

Whilst a 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim would not have been a disaster as such for Pep Guardiola’s men, it would have left them in a precarious position and certainly behind Barcelona in the outright market.

Lionel Messi Barcelona

Lionel Messi inspired Barca to a 4-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur and the Catalans are 5/1 (6.0) to claim their sixth Champions League title and break the hold of El Clasico rivals Real Madrid.

Available at 6/1 (7.0) are Juventus, who have eased to six points despite only having Cristiano Ronaldo for 29 minutes due to his early red card against Valencia.

Next in the betting is Liverpool at 8/1 (9.0) and backers will be hoping they up their game after a toothless performance in a 1-0 loss at Napoli means they have work to do to ensure they even reach the knockouts.

Champions League outright 0410 graphic

A 1-1 draw at home to Ajax means Bayern Munich have slipped from 13/2 (7.50) down to 9/1 (10.0), whilst Paris Saint-Germain can also be backed at 9/1 (10.0) after their 6-1 mauling of Red Star Belgrade.

Current holders Real Madrid failed to score in the Champions League for the first time since April 2016 as they were stunned 1-0 by CSKA Moscow, prompting their odds to drop from 8/1 (9.0) to 10/1 (11.0).

Cross-city rivals Atletico are available at 12/1 (13.0) after taking maximum points from their opening two games, whilst Manchester United can be backed at a huge 40/1 (41.0) after an uninspiring stalemate with Valencia.

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