BERLIN (Reuters) – Storm clouds are gathering in Munich after Bayern’s shock Champions League quarter-final exit to Villarreal and the team know they must rebound quickly with a win on Sunday at Arminia Bielefeld to take them one step closer to the Bundesliga title.
The Bavarians are nine points clear with only five matches remaining in their quest for a 10th straight league crown but do not want any more slip-ups.
Julian Nagelsmann’s team have struggled for form in recent weeks and issues off the field continue to be a distraction.
A substitution mix-up almost cost them their 4-1 win over Freiburg two weeks ago, while the future of top striker Robert Lewandowski remains up in the air.
Contract talks on a possible extension past 2023 have not yielded results and there have been reports Lewandowski, who has scored 32 goals in his 29 league games this season, may move at the end of this season.
Club CEO Oliver Kahn said the Pole still had a year on his contract and that talks had begun.
“Once there is something to announce we will do so,” he said on Tuesday.
However, Kahn failed to ease fans’ concerns that another Bayern stalwart would not be leaving after defender Niklas Suele agreed to join Borussia Dortmund next season.
Fellow defender David Alaba left last season on a free transfer to join Real Madrid.
Extensions for veteran pair Manuel Neuer and Thomas Mueller, as well as Serge Gnabry, have also still to be finalised, with sports director Hasan Salihamidzic in the spotlight over the club’s transfer and contract decisions in recent seasons.
“There is the impression created that there are contract talks constantly ongoing and that these are debated in public,” former Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
“That is not good. That is not helpful at this stage of the season,” he told Bild newspaper, urging club officials to focus each solely on their area of responsibility.”
Dortmund, second on 60 points, will look to keep the heat on Bayern, and make sure of a top four finish and a spot in the Champions League next season, by beating VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Peter Rutherford)