Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund coach Marco Rose says he will do everything to keep Jude Bellingham and Erling Braut Haaland at the Bundesliga club as the young stars attract the attention of Europe’s top clubs after forging an impressive partnership.
Dortmund, third in Germany’s top flight, host Union Berlin on Sunday looking to build on their four-match winning streak, including a 2-1 Champions League victory at Besiktas on Wednesday where Bellingham was man-of-the-match.
The England midfielder, who turned 18 in June, scored the opening goal with a superb finish, then waltzed through the defence to set up Haaland, 21, to claim his 21st Champions League goal in 17 games.
Haaland’s contract expires in 2024, a year before Bellingham, but both are targets for Europe’s top clubs, leaving Rose to face repeated questions about transfer speculation.
“The two boys (Haaland and Bellingham) are currently players with us… anything else is just rumours,” said Rose.
“I will do everything to ensure they stay,” added Rose, who mused over whether to “tie them down” to new contracts.
Haaland has scored 66 goals in 66 games for Dortmund, but a release clause in his contract becomes active next year, meaning he could leave for 75 million euros ($88 million).
Magazine Sport Bild claims Dortmund already have Chelsea striker Timo Werner top of their list as a replacement.
Wolfsburg will remain top if they make it five wins from five league games at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.
Fresh from their mid-week Champions League win at Barcelona, second-placed Bayern Munich are favourites at home to Bochum in their first meeting since 2009/10.
Bayern go into the clash buoyed by news that Germany midfielders Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich have extended their contracts.
Bochum coach Thomas Reis says the club has been “waiting 11 years for a game like this” but the visitors need to drastically improve on recent defeats to Hertha Berlin and Cologne to avoid a heavy defeat at the Allianz Arena.
Bottom side Greuther Fuerth would be happy to win ugly on Friday at Hertha Berlin, who they replaced at the foot of the table.
“We have conceded eight goals in our last two away games and we don’t have to win a beauty contest in our own half,” said Fuerth coach Stefan Leitl.
RB Leipzig need to stop the rot at Cologne on Saturday after their 6-3 Champions League mauling at Manchester City, four days after being thumped 4-1 at home by Bayern.
Leipzig are only out of the bottom three on goal difference after losing three of their opening four league games, putting pressure on head coach Jesse Marsch.
One to watch: Max Kruse
The 33-year-old striker has found a new lease of life at Union Berlin, where he has forged an effective partnership with Nigeria forward Taiwo Awoniyi, who scored in their first three league games.
The 24-year-old Awoniyi says he has learnt a lot from playing alongside Kruse, who last played for Germany six years ago.
Unlike Dortmund, Union are unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season with a win and three draws, but while Haaland and Bellingham attract the limelight, Kruse and Awoniyi could well serve up a surprise for the visitors.
53 – the appearances Bellingham has made for Dortmund, scoring six goals, despite only turning 18 in June.
30 – years since Bochum last won at Bayern Munich.
Two – of Awoniyi’s three goals for Union this season were created by final passes from Kruse.
Fixtures (all times 1330GMT unless stated)
Hertha Berlin v Greuther Fuerth (1830)
Bayern Munich v Bochum, Mainz 05 v Freiburg, Augsburg v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Arminia Bielefeld v Hoffenheim, Cologne v RB Leipzig (1630)
VfB Stuttgart v Bayer Leverkusen (1330), Borussia Dortmund v Union Berlin (1530), VfL Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt (1730)