MUNICH: Bayern Munich's German head coach Hans-Dieter Flick reacts during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart in Munich, southern Germany, on Saturday. – AFP

BERLIN: Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told German media yesterday he had made it "unmistakably clear" to Hansi Flick that the coach would not be freed from his contract to succeed Joachim Loew in charge of Germany. "This has nothing to do with probability, it's a fact," said Rummenigge in an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper, when asked whether Flick would stay beyond the end of the season.

Flick, 56, has been named among the favorites to take over from departing Germany boss Loew when the 61-year-old ends a 15-year spell in charge of the national team after this summer's European Championships. The Bayern coach was Loew's assistant coach when Germany won the World Cup in 2014, before serving as German FA (DFB) sporting director between 2014 and 2017.

Yet on yesterday, Rummenigge said that the DFB had assured him they would not make an offer to lure the Bayern coach back into the national team set-up. "DFB president Fritz Keller confirmed that to me again in a phone call," said the Bayern CEO, adding that he expected Flick to see out his contract, which runs until 2023.

"I told Hansi that we are very happy with him, and that we would be well advised to fulfill our contractual agreement. I made that unmistakably clear," said Rummenigge. Bayern are keen to hold onto Flick, who took over with the club in crisis in 2019 and led them to a league, cup and Champions League treble in his first season in charge.

Yet speculation over his future has been fuelled in recent weeks by tensions between Flick and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. Flick spoke publicly about the differences between the pair, before finally apologizing a few days ago for some harsh words spoken to his sporting director on the team bus, which had been leaked to the press.

Rummenigge sought to play down the spat on Sunday, likening it to recent tensions inside the British royal family over an interview with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle. "I call it family affairs, and we have to be careful not to be even worse than the royal family in England," joked the Bayern CEO. "Bayern is a big family, and things that happen inside the family should stay inside the family," he added.

Lewandowski stays patient

Meanwhile, Robert Lewandowski said he will "stay patient" in his bid to break Gerd Mueller's Bundesliga record of 40 goals in a single season after the Bayern Munich striker netted a hat-trick on Saturday. Lewandowski is on 35 league goals this season and closing on Mueller's record set in 1971/72 for Bayern, after scoring three times in 21 minutes during a 4-0 thrashing of Stuttgart in Munich.

"It's a big challenge to always be ready in the head and always be hungry for goals," said Lewandowski, who has netted 42 times in all competitions this term. All four goals came after Bayern left-back Alphonso Davies was shown a red card in only the 12th minute. Poland striker Lewandowski has eight Bundesliga games left to equal Mueller's record, which many thought would never be broken.

"I think from game to game, not about how many more goals I need. I don't want to think about it (the record) too much," added Lewandowski. He is set to be the Bundesliga's top-scorer this season for the fourth straight season and the sixth time in total. "The strain is high, playing every three days," he added. "Now comes the national team and then we are also in the Champions League. That is important. I have to stay patient." Holders Bayern will face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last eight in a repeat of last year's final. - AFP