The countdown is on for the most anticipated UEFA Champions League match so far this season. But while the world prepares to watch, the rumor mill grinds along.
Jose Mourinho's comments about Wednesday's showdown between Real Madrid and Manchester United lead this Monday edition of the B/R World Football Gossip Roundup. Inside, we also have updates on Robert Lewandowski's rumored move with Bayern Munich, Christian Eriksen's contract situation, Andre Santos' trip to Brazil and more.
Keep reading for all the details.
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has called his team's Champions League match with Manchester United this week "a match the world is waiting for" (MUTV via ManUtd.com).
United will play at Real's Estadio Bernabeu on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie. The return leg is scheduled for Old Trafford three weeks later.
Mourinho led Chelsea to back-to-back Premier League titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and has lost only twice in 14 meetings with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Mourinho and Ferguson now maintain a friendship off the pitch.
“It’s such a big match,” Mourinho said. “Everybody wants to play. Nobody will be tired."
He continued: “It’s a match the world is waiting for. They are not waiting for other matches in the Champions League. So I hope we can give the world of football what they’re waiting for.”
Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has denied Lothar Matthaus' claim that the club has already reached an agreement with Polish forward Robert Lewandowski (via ESPN FC).
Lewandowski, 24, currently plays for Borussia Dortmund. His contract is set to expire in 2014.
Matthaus, a former Bayern player who was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1991 while with Inter Milan, on Saturday told Sky that Lewandowski and Bayern had already "reached an agreement" (h/t Goal.com)
"Lewandowski's contract runs out in 2014 and Dortmund will only get a fee in 2013 - surely a high fee. I heard it was something between €25m-€30m [£21-25m], otherwise he will go to Bayern for free next year," Matthaus said.
But Hoeness denied the speculation, saying: “If Lothar confirms this, then soon he will be the general manager at Bayern.”
Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen is not ready to sign a new contract with Ajax, according to the club's technical director Marc Overmars (via ESPN FC).
Eriksen, 20, turned professional with Ajax in 2010 after joining the club as a youth player in 2008. He has represented Denmark 31 times at the senior level.
Eriksen's current contract expires in 2014. Said Overmars:
“Christian has informed us that he doesn’t want to sign a new contract right now. I think he and his agent want to see what opportunities present themselves this summer.”
Eriksen has been linked with Liverpool among others.
Brazilian full-back Andre Santos has confirmed he is joining Gremio from Arsenal (via Sky Sports).
According to reports, Santos arrived in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on Sunday.
"I've come to Gremio to be a champion," he is quoted as saying. "I am very excited about this project."
Santos, 29, has been linked with a loan move to the Brazilian club. He joined Arsenal from Fenerbahce for £6.2 million in 2011 (via BBC Sport) and has made only 13 league starts since then.
Lazio and Sevilla will compete to sign Republic of Ireland international forward Shane Long from West Bromwich Albion this summer, according to the Daily Mirror.
Long, 26, joined West Brom from Reading in 2011 for a reported £6.5 million. The Mirror reports that he has scored 16 goals in 58 appearances for West Brom.
Lazio currently sit third in Italy's Serie A. Sevilla are 11th in Spain's Primera Division.
Long's contract is set to expire following the 2013-14 season. According to The Mirror, Long has also attracted interest from Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Liverpool.