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Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are among a quartet of clubs said to be chasing a deal for Thomas Muller, although Bayern Munich remain adamant that the long-serving attacker is not for sale despite a hugely disappointing 2016-17 campaign in which he netted just five times in 29 Bundesliga appearances.
Sport Bild list that aforementioned Premier League trio and reigning Serie A champions Juventus as chief suitors for Muller, with the player’s future in Bavaria having been called into question following the signing of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid on a two-year loan deal.
Such a report also contains quotes from Bayern chief-executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge acknowledging that the World Cup winner, formerly a prominent target for Manchester United, did not play particularly well last season but remains a pivotal figure at the club with whom he has spent his entire career to date.
“Thomas is still unsellable because he fits perfectly with FC Bayern,” he told Bild. “There is no discussion about this. But Thomas as well as we are in agreement with last season’s assessment: it was not a good one.
“But that is not a problem either. Thomas also knows that he has to bring a bit more.”
Muller, under contract until 2021, started Bayern’s 9-1 thumping of minnows Erlangen-Bruck last weekend and subsequently travelled with the rest of the squad to the Far East for International Champions Cup fixtures against Arsenal, AC Milan, Chelsea and Inter Milan.
Liverpool are due to travel to Munich later this month for the Audi Cup, with Bild reporting that Jurgen Klopp has emphasised internally that he would like the sign the 27-year-old.
James not a Muller replacement
Speaking on Tuesday at a press conference held before that opening clash with the Gunners in Shanghai, Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti insisted that the versatile James had not been signed as a replacement for Muller or indeed anyone else.
“Of course we didn’t buy James to replace Thomas Muller,” he said. “If you think this way you can think he will replace Thiago [Alcantara] because he can play in the centre. He can play on the right or the left and so he can replace [Arjen] Robben or [Franck] Ribery.
“Sometimes I put him as a midfielder so he can replace [Corentin] Tolisso and [Arturo] Vidal. We didn’t buy James to replace anyone. We bought James to add to the team.”
Chelsea are in the market for at least one new forward to replace Diego Costa after seeing Romelu Lukaku join Manchester United, with Borussia Dortmund unwilling to sell Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the likes of Alvaro Morata and Andrea Belotti both heavily linked with Milan.
Arsenal acquired Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon in a club-record £52m ($67.7m) deal last month, but could yet see Alexis Sanchez depart before the end of the window. Liverpool, meanwhile, have signed Mohamed Salah and Dominic Solanke to add further competition for places in an exciting and potent front three that is typically spearheaded by Roberto Firmino rather than central strikers Daniel Sturridge or Divock Origi.