Manchester City target Harry Kane has been included in Tottenham's squad for the upcoming Europa Conference League qualifying double header against Pacos de Ferreira.

Kane, who only returned to training at Spurs last Friday, was not included in Nuno Espirito Santo's matchday squad for Sunday's Premier League opener against the champions.

However, the absence of Kane – who has been the subject of intense speculation over a move to City – was not felt as Son Heung-min's 55th-minute goal earned a 1-0 win to get Nuno's tenure off to a strong start.

While speculation continues of City lodging another bid for Kane, having reportedly had an offer in the region of £100million turned down in June, the England captain could well make his return to action on Thursday.

Spurs travel to Portugal to face Primeira Liga side Pacos de Ferreira this week, before hosting the second leg on August 26th, and Kane has been named in Nuno's 25-man selection.

Though Kane does make the cut, Spurs' record signing Tanguy Ndombele has not been picked, while Serge Aurier, who is expected to leave this month, has also been left out.

Nuno insisted after Spurs' victory on Sunday that he was planning on having Kane in his squad this season, though the former Wolves boss conceded Tottenham had to be ready to go into the market should that change before or on August 31.

Spurs have signed defender Cristian Romero and goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini, both on loan from Atalanta, with Bryan Gil having joined in a part-exchange deal for Erik Lamela with Sevilla.

Tottenham are not expecting Harry Kane to leave the club before the end of the transfer window, though Nuno Espirito Santo insists Spurs must be prepared for all outcomes.

Kane was not included in Spurs' squad for their Premier League opener against champions Manchester City, with Son Heung-min scoring the winning goal on Sunday.

It is City who wish to sign the England captain – Pep Guardiola eager to bolster his attack by acquiring an out-and-out centre-forward.

Reports last week suggested City would be willing to bid as high as £150million for Kane, who has three years left on his Tottenham contract and has indicated he would like to leave the club.

Nuno stated Kane was not involved due to only returning to training late last week, though the 28-year-old's omission will hardly help ease the speculation.

While Spurs' boss claimed he is planning to have Kane on board for the season, Nuno acknowledged Tottenham must be ready to reinvest in their squad should their talisman be sold.

"The decision [to leave out Harry] was made on Saturday, the day we prepared for the match," Nuno explained to reporters. "We have to make decisions, it's our job.

"Harry is [training] with us, he worked on Sunday morning and he's getting ready to help the team. We don't expect [something to happen before the transfer deadline but] we have to be ready to act if necessary because until the 31st anything can happen in football.

"We have our squad, we have our Spurs players.

"We have to commit them but we have to know that 31st of August is sometimes not in your hands. All the managers in the Premier League have the same feeling that I have – trying to finish the window and settle down."

Spurs have been linked with a move for Lautaro Martinez, with a fee in the region of £65m (€76.5m) having reportedly been agreed with Inter, though that move is one which would almost certainly depend on Kane leaving.

Without Kane, Spurs impressed in the 1-0 victory over City – their first competitive match under former Wolves boss Nuno.

They registered only 34.4 per cent possession, but had only one less effort on target (three, compared to City's four) and kept the champions at arm's length after a blistering start from Guardiola's team.

Son's strike 10 minutes into the second half settled the contest – the South Korea star has now scored seven times against City in all competitions for Spurs, with only Jamie Vardy (nine) having done so on more occasions.

With or without Kane, Nuno wants to foster a fierce team bond. It is perhaps for this reason that Tanguy Ndombele – Spurs' record signing – and Serge Aurier were also left out.

"That was the idea – going beyond your limits," Nuno said.

"The boys went beyond with their fight and discipline. The way they committed themselves was very good. That's what we have to do every day of our lives.

"I'm very happy with all the team. We're trying to create a unit, everybody has to be engaged, everybody has to be committed.

"Of course, when the players play, they got the recognition of everybody but there’s lots more [happening] behind the scenes. Their commitment.

"We're in a process and we have to keep working hard."

The defeat means City have lost their last three competitive games 1-0, the first time they have lost three successive matches without scoring since 2007, while Guardiola has suffered more away defeats at Spurs (five) than against any other team.

Is Kylian Mbappe's future nearing a resolution?

Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season and the Paris Saint-Germain forward is no closer to extending his contract in the
French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly poised to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID NEARING MBAPPE DEAL?

Real Madrid are closing in on Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Monday's Marca.

Mbappe is in the final year of his PSG contract and he has reportedly made it clear he has no intention of re-signing in Paris.

Long touted to join Madrid, the LaLiga giants' pursuit of Mbappe is set to enter a decisive phase this week.

The Transfer Window podcast, however, claims Liverpool will attempt to sign Mbappe on a free transfer at the end of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona are monitoring Arsenal pair Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as they look to rebuild following Lionel Messi's departure to PSG.

- Inter are eyeing Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne but want a discount on the Italy star, claims Sky Sport Italia. Napoli value Insigne at around €25-30million with one year remaining on his contract. Lazio's Joaquin Correa, Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata and Fiorentina sensation Dusan Vlahovic have also been linked to Inter.

- Sport Italia says Tottenham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, who has been linked with West Ham. Spurs are also keen on Fiorentina star Vlahovic, according to Sport Italia.

- According to Cadena SER, Antoine Griezmann is open to returning to Atletico Madrid this off-season. Griezmann swapped Atletico for Barca in 2019.

Luka Jovic has decided he wants to join Inter on loan, per Nerazzurri Siamo Noi. The Madrid outcast has also been linked with Eintracht Frankfurt, Sampdoria and Genoa.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are tracking Metz's 18-year-old midfielder Pape Matar Sarr, claims the Daily Mail.

Pep Guardiola praised Jack Grealish for an "incredible debut" but the Manchester City boss admitted his side lacked a clinical edge in the 1-0 loss away to Tottenham.

Son Heung-min scored the only goal of the game in the second half as Spurs, minus star striker Harry Kane, defeated the reigning Premier League champions.

Grealish played the entire game for City, the £100million signing completing 89.6 per cent of his passes and creating two chances. He also had three shots in total, with one of those ending up on target.

Guardiola was pleased with what he saw from the new recruit who was fouled five times - the most for a City player in a league game since Raheem Sterling in September 2018.

"He is so dangerous close to the box, when we have the ball, he always has an extra pass," Guardiola told a post-match news conference when asked about Grealish's display.

"He had an incredible debut and will be so important for us. I congratulate him for having the personality to try and try until the end."

City had 18 attempts but were unable to find a way through, their lack of goals likely to heighten talk around a renewed push to sign Kane from their opponents before the transfer deadline.

Guardiola was pleased with the majority of what he saw, particularly as some of his players had only just resumed training with the rest of the squad following international commitments.

"We started really well, the only problem is we concede some transitions – we are not good in these, we are not good enough – we conceded a few loose, simple, simple balls, that's why it was more difficult," he told Sky Sports.

"In general, you see the stats, the intention to create chances. Unfortunately, we were not clinical enough up front and we lost the game."

Guardiola has now lost more away games against Spurs in all competitions than against any other opponent on the road. This was also his first defeat in an opening game to a new league campaign since arriving in England, albeit he was not overly concerned at the early setback.

The former Barcelona boss added: "I'm not complaining. We arrived here and made a good, good game. The stats are exceptional, they always are.

"In previous years, except the first season when I arrived here and we lost deservedly at White Hart Lane, I have had the feeling we've been good, just not able to get results.

"We create far more, but we're in that period of the season where, two days ago, it was our first day together. The players need time to come back, and mentally we know here is always a tough game.

"At the same time, our intentions and approach was really good for all the game.

"It's still the beginning of the season, it's tough to win games."

Son Heung-min believes Tottenham beat "the best team in the world" in their 1-0 victory over Manchester City on Sunday.

Spurs' off-season was dominated by speculation surrounding star striker Harry Kane, who was absent for the win after only recently returning to training.

Kane is a target for City, with trophies at the top of the England captain's agenda, and Spurs arguably did not miss him against the champions.

Much like under Jose Mourinho last season, Tottenham set up to hit City on the break and that tactic eventually bore fruit early in the second half, Son curling a left-footed effort into the bottom-left corner at the end of a rapid break.

It marked only the third time in Premier League history that the reigning champions have lost on matchday one of their title defence, while Pep Guardiola suffered a first opening-day defeat since losing to Numancia with Barcelona in 2008-09.

And the gravity of Spurs' win was not lost on match-winner Son.

"Obviously we want to start well, first game of the season, first game with the fans, finally," he told Sky Sports.

"It was just an incredible performance. Everyone worked so hard to get this three points and obviously Man City is currently the best team in the world, so this means a lot for us and for the start of the season."

Attention soon turned to the absent Kane, who was the subject of chants from Spurs fans asking if he was watching.

But much like he did to make space when fronted by Nathan Ake for his goal, Son skilfully sidestepped the issue when asked about his usual partner in attack.

"We are all professional, we wanted to just focused on game, it doesn't matter who's involved," Son added.

"Everyone was really focused for this game. Obviously, Harry is so important for us, but let's see. Let's let H prepare well for the season."

Nuno Espirito Santo was taking charge of Spurs for the first time in a competitive match and made it three wins against Guardiola in the Premier League, level with Jurgen Klopp, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mourinho for the most.

Yet, despite that accomplishment, Kane was also a key subject in his post-match interview, with Nuno accepting Spurs are lucky to have a striker of his quality.

"Look, Harry Kane is one of the best players in the world, honestly," Nuno said. "We are very lucky to have him.

"He has to get ready and help the team. We still have to go to Portugal then we think about [whether he plays against next weekend] Wolves."

Following the Super League debacle earlier this year, it doesn't take much for owners and chairmen at Europe's major football clubs to give off the air of scheming supervillains.

Still, Spurs chief Daniel Levy chuckling away to himself before kick-off amid no other visible amusement in the directors box felt a little on the nose.

Perhaps he was pondering a best-case scenario in the current context of his own club, visitors Manchester City and Sunday afternoon's absent superstar.

On their three previous visits to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the reigning Premier League champions had been beaten without scoring a goal. In each of those games, City's expected goals (xG) figure, as per Opta, was superior to their hosts, including a comedic 0.3-2.9 when Jose Mourinho's Spurs won 2-0 in February 2020.

It was the same story here as Tottenham won 1-0 with their first shot on target from Son Heung-min, although few could begrudge Nuno Espirito Santo this stirring start in his new job.

As they did for much of last season, City lined up without a specialist centre-forward in their XI. Fernandinho and Joao Cancelo spurned glorious openings within the opening five minutes as the fledgling link-up between Raheem Sterling and £100million man Jack Grealish on the left laid the foundations for early domination by Pep Guardiola's side.

Riyad Mahrez shanked off target from 10 yards in the 35th minute but, by that stage, Spurs had a foothold in the contest. Indeed, had it not been from some unusual hesitation from Son on the break, they might have led.

Harry Kane, Son's usual partner in crime, would have prayed on those opportunities but was out of Nuno's matchday 18 on account of lacking fitness, City's widely reported interest or most likely some combination of those factors.

Ferran Torres, leading the City attack, managed nine first-half touches and only two of those were on the fringe of the Spurs box. When the early momentum that saw the away team hog 79 per cent of possession in the first 15 minutes waned, they lacked a presence and a focal point to help them wrest it back.

Half-time did not settle Guardiola's men and they resumed in ragged fashion, increasingly ill-suited to a game being played in transition.

Steve Bergwijn sprung in behind Fernandinho, who looked every one of his 36 years here, and fed Son. If City seldom score in this fixture, the Korean star always does. He whipped in a left-footed shot that beat an unsighted Ederson for his seventh goal against these opponents.

Mahrez and Cancelo each delivered dangerous crosses to nobody in particular but City were dealing in what Guardiola referred to as "incredible almost chances" after their Champions League final loss to Chelsea. At least until Torres added another howler to their north London catalogue after a well-worked 70th-minute free-kick.

Often free-scoring during Guardiola's trophy-laden tenure, this was a third 1-0 loss for City after their reverse to Chelsea in Porto and last week's Community Shield defeat to Leicester City.

The most damning aspect was how inevitable this meek surrender felt after Son scored, on a weekend when Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool all won comprehensively. That trio of title contenders will have enjoyed what they saw, although an eye-catching substitute cameo from a half-fit Kevin De Bruyne means it is not a time to draw too many conclusions beyond a gaping hole at centre-forward.

City's area of need is obvious after an afternoon of sweet success to savour for Spurs. Whether he enters negotiations or opts to divert all calls from Manchester, Levy can certainly afford to cackle his way through next week.

Son Heung-min delivered the goods for Tottenham in the absence of Harry Kane as he sealed a 1-0 win over Premier League champions Manchester City in Nuno Espirito Santo's first match at the helm.

Kane, who has been strongly linked with a move to City, was reportedly deemed not sharp enough after only recently returning to training, but Spurs adapted well to the situation after a shaky start against a visiting side who handed a debut to British record signing Jack Grealish.

Spurs' reliance on counter-attacking football may have initially frustrated sections of the crowd at Tottenham Hotspur stadium, but it looked like the most realistic way of hurting City in the first half.

And that tactic bore fruit in the 55th minute, with Son rounding off a flowing move with a fine finish that even Kane would have been proud of, denying City the chance to set a new record of 11 successive opening-day wins in the Premier League.

Spurs looked to be in for a long day after a difficult opening that Pep Guardiola's men dominated, with Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez both having presentable chances fall to them, but they weathered the early storm.

The hosts were set up to threaten on the counter and several times they looked bright bursting forward, though uncharacteristically meek play from Son twice saw encouraging moves peter out.

The South Korean looked a little more like his usual self just before the interval, though, seeing a curling effort deflected agonisingly wide by Cancelo after a rapid break.

Spurs began the second period much sharper than the first. Within five minutes of the restart, Ruben Dias had to be alert to prevent Son from having a tap-in and then Lucas Moura shot wide from 20 yards.

Son soon found his range, however, tucking a lovely effort inside the left-hand post from just outside the box after Nathan Ake failed to engage him at the end of a blistering break, setting up a fourth straight win for Spurs over City on home soil.

Spurs were pressed into defensive action in the latter stages, with Hugo Lloris becoming increasingly busy, but they held on to secure only their fifth win in 13 league games without Kane since the start of 2019-20.

What does it mean? Wasteful City need options in attack

While the £100million signing of Grealish will surely be worthy, it looks as though City are going to need more if they are to take themselves to the next level, with their inability to find the net despite their expected goals being almost double that of Spurs (1.0 v 1.8).

While Ferran Torres has occasionally done a job leading the line for City, he is not a central striker and Gabriel Jesus does not seem to have convinced Guardiola in that position either, otherwise he would surely have started.

Kane is the obvious option – perhaps after seeing this match play out, Guardiola will have renewed desire to get him in as soon as possible.

Son shines without Kane

In the past few years, a lot of the praise that has come Son's way has often related to his relationship with Kane, rather than the merits of his own quality. Although he seemed strangely subdued early on, he soon got himself on the front foot and proved a real nuisance to City, his five shots more than anyone else on the pitch, and one of those was the excellent goal.

Mendy makes a meal of defensive work

While there were a few situations early on where Benjamin Mendy's ability in attack looked useful, defensively he appeared a weak link throughout. He gifted possession back to Spurs in dangerous positions a couple of times, and was nowhere to be seen for Son's goal on the break.

What's next?

Spurs go to Pacos Ferreira for the first leg of their Conference League qualifier on Thursday before Nuno reunites with Wolves at Molineux next Sunday. City host promoted Norwich City in six days' time.

Harry Kane has not been named in the Tottenham squad to face Manchester City in their Premier League opener.

England captain Kane has been extensively linked with a mega-money switch to Premier League champions City during the close season, a saga that has hung over Sunday's encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

New Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo refused to rule Kane out of the contest despite him only returning to first-team training on Friday, even though the 28-year-old's match fitness was an obvious concern.

After helping England to the final of Euro 2020, Kane was reported to have failed to show up for Tottenham training when scheduled, in what was viewed as an attempt to force through a move to City.

However, he denied refusing to train and said he returned to the club "as planned" last Saturday, before completing a five-day quarantine at The Lodge – the accommodation adjacent to Tottenham's Enfield training base.

In Kane's absence, Steve Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min will form a three-man forward line, supported by Dele Alli. New signings Bryan Gil, Cristian Romero and Pierluigi Gollini are all on the bench, with Oliver Skipp starting alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in midfield following an impressive season on loan at Norwich City.

City's British record signing Jack Grealish starts in north London alongside Raheem Sterling, although their England team-mates Kyle Walker and John Stones are on the bench alongside Kevin De Bruyne.

Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus, each of whom have been linked with moves away from the Etihad Stadium to help fund any move for Kane, are also among Pep Guardiola's substitutes as the ex-Barcelona boss begins his bid for a fourth Premier League title in the past five seasons.

Manchester City's interest in signing Tottenham forward Harry Kane is well known.

The two sides will meet on Sunday in the Premier League with the situation adding spice.

Spurs have held out on City's interest although the matter will develop as the conclusion of the transfer window approaches.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS HOLDING FIRM ON KANE

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is refusing to budge as Manchester City attempt to sign Harry Kane, reports The Telegraph.

Levy will come face to face with City officials in Sunday's Premier League meeting between the two sides.

The report claims the Spurs chairman is unwavering in his plan to retain his best player despite Kane expressing his desire to leave.

ROUND-UP

- Despite that, Tottenham continue to be linked with big-money moves, hinting they are expecting funds in their pockets soon, with Villarreal's Pau Torres firmly in their sights for £55m (€65m) according to The Mirror.

- Tammy Abraham's proposed switch from Chelsea to Roma is imminent according to The Athletic. The fee is reportedly worth €40m (£34m) with a buy-back clause after his second season.

- Calciomercato claims that Bayern Munich are willing to accept Hector Bellerin as part of a straight swap with Arsenal for Corentin Tolisso .

- Despite heavy speculation, Liverpool are yet to formally lodge a bid for Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez claims AS.

- Former Atletico Madrid and Chelsea striker Diego Costa is set to complete his move to join Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro until December next year reports Fabrizio Romano.

Manchester City manager Josep Guardiola has brushed off debate around the club's spending insisting it is relative to ambition.

City landed Jack Grealish for £100 million from Aston Villa in the off-season and have been heavily linked with a big-money move for Tottenham's Harry Kane.

In 2020, City purchased Ferran Torres from Valencia for £20m, Nathan Ake from Bournemouth for £40m and Ruben Dias from Benfica for £62m, with their total off-season transfer expenditure reaching almost £144m.

Guardiola pointed to the fact the club sold players to the region of £97m last off-season, while they have again made money selling peripheral players such as Ivan Ilic, Jack Harrison and Lukas Nmecha.

"I said last year that we couldn’t spend £100m," Guardiola told The Guardian.

"We have bought Jack Grealish because we sell for £60m, so in the end we have spent £40m. Otherwise, we cannot do it."

City's spending comes amid Paris Saint-Germain's off-season flurry of transfer activity which has seen the French powerhouse land Lionel Messi, Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Chelsea have also this week completed a bumper deal for Romelu Lukaku for £97.5m from Internazionale, having previously shown strong interest in a lucrative move for Borussia Dortmund Erling Haaland.

"Each club has its own reality, its own history," Guardiola said. "And every owner of every club decides how he wants to live.

"Our owners do not want to benefit, they want to reinvest in the team. There is Chelsea with [Roman] Abramovich and our club with Sheikh Mansour.

"They want to be in this world, they want to be buying into football. What is the problem?"

Guardiola also eluded to the potential signing of Kane when he said: "I don’t know if we will sign a striker; that depends."

Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has backed Harry Kane's professionalism amid intense speculation linking the forward with a move to Sunday's Premier League opponents Manchester City.

City manager Josep Guardiola has declared his desire to sign Kane, who had requested Spurs allow him to leave late last season.

The situation has dragged on with no clarity ahead of Sunday's meeting between the two sides to open their Premier League campaigns.

Kane only returned to Tottenham training late this week after a delayed break following Euro 2020 following by a period in isolation.

"Harry is a professional and he is here with a smile," Lloris told The Guardian. "There is a situation in the air, we can not hide that, but it belongs to him and the club.

"I’m just focused on the team, and if the manager needs him he will be professional."

Lloris reiterated the message that the group was focused on one direction, with Kane's situation not affecting their preparations for the new season.

"The priority is the team, the start of the season, and the rest we try to separate," 34-year-old Lloris said.

"The most important for me as the captain and a player is to see my teammates going in the same direction, together. But we are in a period that a lot of things can happen.

"It is also the message from the manager, he just wants players focused on training sessions and focused on the competition, and then we will see what will happen.

"As a player, a teammate, I have no words to say. It belongs to the club and Harry to find a solution."

Tammy Abraham appears close to leaving Stamford Bridge.

With Romelu Lukaku arriving at Chelsea from Serie A, Roma are calling for Abraham.

Or will he remain in the Premier League? 

 

TOP STORY – ROMA PUSHING FOR ABRAHAM

The dominoes appear to be falling into place for Tammy Abraham's move to Roma, and the Italian club are pushing for a decision from the player, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

With Edin Dzeko expected to complete his move to Inter in the coming days and Romelu Lukaku now officially a Chelsea player, Abraham could complete the triangle with a jump to Serie A. 

Multiple outlets have said the two clubs already have agreed a £34million (€40m) fee. 

Arsenal remain a possibility to land Abraham should the Roma move not work out. 

If that happens, Jose Mourinho's side have lined up Kelechi Iheanacho as their next option, according to Sky Sports. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Villarreal want €65m (£55m) for Spain international Pau Torres, and the Times says Tottenham are ready to pounce with Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool also interested. 

- Paris Saint-Germain could make a move for Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly to fill the hole left by Sergio Ramos' injury, says La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Serie A club will want €50m (£43m) for the veteran centre-back.

- Liverpool are interested in adding Adama Traore, but Wolves want £40m for the forward, according to 90min. 

- West Ham have long been the favourites to land Nikola Milenkovic from Fiorentina but Sky Sports says Tottenham have entered the frame for the Serbia defender. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was not in attendance for Arsenal's season-opening defeat at Brentford due to illness and The Times reports he could be on his way out at Emirates Stadium. 

- Manchester United are poised to loan out Amad Diallo, reports Romano, with Crystal Palace and Basel among those interested in the young Ivory Coast winger.

- Everton have approached United about another potential loan, for Andreas Pereira, though Romano says United prefer a permanent move. 

Pep Guardiola refused to be drawn on a potential move for Harry Kane ahead of Manchester City's Premier League opener at Tottenham on Sunday.

Guardiola last week confirmed City would be "very interested" in signing the "exceptional, extraordinary" Kane.

The England captain disputed suggestions he did not report for pre-season training last week, but has now reported for duty and Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo on Friday revealed he has had talks with the prolific striker.

Nuno stated that a decision had not yet been made over whether Kane will face City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Guardiola was not interested in discussing a move for Kane when he faced the media two days before the champions take on Spurs in the capital.

The City manager said: "I answered this last time. He's a player for Tottenham. I made an exception last time - usually I don't talk about transfers because it is not my business. That's all."

Guardiola also dismissed talk of going through a second successive season without a recognised number nine.

He said: "I would say we play with recognised strikers. Sergio [Aguero] was injured [last season] and played a few games. Always when Sergio was fit he was an important part of the team.

"He was incredibly recognised by me. He was a proper striker and Gabriel [Jesus] is a proper striker."

Guardiola added of Jesus: "Always his mind was in the right place. Gabriel is an incredible, important player for us, can play as a striker or wider. He had an incredibly key role in these many years of success in every season."

The Spaniard revealed Kevin De Bruyne has not returned to full training but is making progress in his recovery from an ankle injury.

Guardiola said: "He is getting better [De Bruyne]. Every day he is getting better. But we are still waiting. He can't do a full training session. Some with us, some alone. We will see in the next few days."

Jack Grealish is also building up his fitness after City's new British record £100million took a break following Euro 2020.

"Every player needs time to get his best," Guardiola said of Grealish. "Yesterday was the first day we were altogether, except Phil [Foden] because he is injured - but he was in the locker room with us.

City have lost their last three away games against Tottenham in all competitions, with Guardiola never having lost four away games in a row against a single club in his managerial career.

Champions City have won their first league match of the season in each of their past 10 top-flight campaigns.

Harry Kane is back in Tottenham training, but head coach Nuno Espirito Santo could not confirm he will face Manchester City this weekend and is taking the striker's future "day by day".

Kane has been pushing to leave Spurs and join City, their opening Premier League opponents, according to widespread reports.

The England captain returned late in pre-season following Euro 2020 and has had to quarantine, meaning his involvement in training was delayed.

Nuno had planned talks with Kane, which have now taken place, but the Tottenham boss was revealing little on Friday.

"Harry joined the group today," Nuno told a pre-match news conference. "He trained, we talked. Of course, it's a private conversation.

"Everything is okay. He's preparing himself, like Bryan [Gil], like [Cristian] Romero, players who joined us later. We have to be careful but everything's okay."

On his availability for Sunday, he added: "We still have the session tomorrow [Saturday] to decide.

"Romero, Bryan, Harry, players that do not have too many sessions with us, we have to think. We still have the day tomorrow to make decisions."

Nuno was then asked outright if he expected Kane to remain a Tottenham player beyond the end of the transfer window.

"He's here with us. He's a Tottenham player. He's here with us," he replied.

"We have to think about tomorrow, prepare the training session of tomorrow, and go day by day. All the players that have worked with us are our players."

Tanguy Ndombele is another player at Nuno's disposal, but he has merely been on the fringes of the squad in pre-season.

"There's always a reason in all the decisions we make. There's always a why," the coach explained when asked if Ndombele had a Spurs future. "We think, we talk and then we decide.

"We believe that Tanguy did not perform in the pre-season matches because we considered that he's not at the right moment for him to be with the group in terms of competition."

Tottenham have also been linked with incoming transfers, including Inter's Lautaro Martinez, and Nuno acknowledged they were working on incomings.

"The squad needs balance. We have a very talented squad, but it needs to be balanced," he said. "Everybody knows we are working very hard, but it's always hard to improve something that is good.

"We have to be really, really accurate on the players that we bring, because they have to bring things that we believe can make us better and strong. That is not easy, because we have quality players with us."

Here we go again. The Premier League race begins once more, despite some players barely having the chance to unpack their suitcases after short-lived pre-season breaks.

Last time out, Manchester City turned a potentially intriguing title battle into a procession. They had plenty of tests along the way, just mostly of the PCR variety as the teams pushed on amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Thankfully, fans will be in grounds to watch from the start this time around, while some familiar faces have returned. Romelu Lukaku is back. Patrick Vieira – a three-time Premier League winner in his playing days – and Rafa Benitez, a former red now aligned to the Blues, are on the touchline. Norwich City and Watford, meanwhile, have negotiated the Championship to secure a quick reunion.

Still, there is always a freshness to every campaign, aided by summer signings and, this time, the presence of a newcomer.

Brentford provide a new, exciting chapter to the Premier League story, though it is perhaps expecting too much to hope for riveting plot twists when it comes to the likely contenders to be crowned champions.

THE THOROUGHBREDS READY TO RUN AGAIN

When Manchester rivals City and United drew 0-0 in an instantly forgettable derby in December 2020, one that left those who had watched on wondering what else they should have done with their time instead, Pep Guardiola's side were sitting outside the top seven in the table. It was actually an upturn in their position – they had languished down in 11th during the previous month.

By the time they hosted their neighbours in the return fixture in March 2021, however, City had won 21 in a row in all competitions and held a double-digit lead at the head of the league. The stunning run did come to an end that day, but it was just a case of delaying the inevitable.

The rich have got richer in pursuit of a third title in four years, in terms of talent at least. Spending £100million to get Jack Grealish has add further creativity, as if they really needed it. The squad could still be bolstered by Harry Kane, too. If the Tottenham striker moves north, the deck will be stacked even more in City's favour.

Yet there are reasons for the others who finished in the top four to be optimistic. Chelsea denied Guardiola in the Champions League final, giving a silver-lined finish to the promising early form under Thomas Tuchel. They have strengthened in attack, Lukaku back at the Bridge to sort out some unfinished business. A glaring gap in the squad (sorry, Timo Werner) has been filled.

Adding goals will be a key factor for the Blues, as they managed only 38 in all competitions following the appointment of the German coach. To put that number into context, United and City managed 58 and 70 across the same period. Even Tottenham topped them with 49.

OLE JOCKEYS FOR SILVERWARE

United finished second but will hope Jadon Sancho can lift them even higher, albeit the arrival of Raphael Varane could be even more crucial, considering the Red Devils conceded 28 goals at home last season – their most in a single campaign since 1962-63. Tighten up and it could well be their year, but they do not want to continue the habit of giving opposing teams head-starts again in games.

Those two marquee signings, which came in the transfer window following unrest among the fanbase aimed at the club's ownership, have rightly raised expectations. Now, for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there is a need to secure something tangible, a piece of silverware to show he can clear the final hurdle.

The caretaker appointed to lift the gloom after Jose Mourinho is just three Premier League games short of a century in charge – if United triumph in all of them on the way to that Solskjaer milestone, the Norwegian will have the same winning percentage at the magical 100 mark as Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp.

As for Klopp and Liverpool, there is a degree of uncertainty. The outstanding winners in 2019-20 required a fast finish – the Reds' run of five consecutive league wins in May was more than they managed in 12 games in February, March and April combined – just to squeeze into the top four. They began to rebuild fortress Anfield, knocked down during a record-breaking losing run.

Injuries did decimate the squad during a tepid title defence, but Virgil van Dijk is now fit again and, just in case, Ibrahima Konate has come in to provide added depth at the heart of the defence. If Sadio Mane can rediscover his scoring form and ease the burden on Mohamed Salah, the ingredients are all there to mount a sustained challenge again.

THE FADING FORCES DESPERATE TO FIND FORM

In times of cutbacks, have the 'Big Six' been reduced to a 'Big Four'? Arsenal and Tottenham still retained enough pulling power to be included as part of the failed European Super League plan, but neither have ended up above Leicester City in the final league table in the past two years.

The Foxes came up short in their Champions League quest again, though the frustration at a second successive fifth-place finish was eased somewhat by lifting the FA Cup. The underappreciated Brendan Rodgers has never lacked belief, and Leicester have backed their boss in the transfer market with the signings of Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumare.

Spurs' transfer business is now being carried out by new managing director Fabio Paratici, while Nuno Espirito Santo was eventually selected to take over as head coach, despite at one stage appearing to be off the lengthy list of candidates. Both are carrying out their duties amid uncertainty over Kane, the competition's disgruntled Golden Boot winner determined to get a move.

Tottenham will be the Premier League's first participants in the Europa Conference League, which could either offer welcome relief from league issues or be a midweek nuisance. Come on, though, who doesn't want to go to Latvia in winter? Arsenal may well wish they had such concerns - they will not be playing in any European competition for the first time in 26 years.

Ben White has come in at great expense as the Gunners have put a focus on getting younger. Really, they just need to get better. To that extent, getting more out of Thomas Partey, not to mention Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who managed just the 10 league goals in 29 games, would help.

Mikel Arteta has much work to do to make sure the gap to the head of the field does not grow wider.

THE OUTSIDERS HOPING TO EMERGE

West Ham finished above the north London duo last time thanks in no small part to the impact made by Jesse Lingard during his loan spell.

The attacking midfielder scored nine goals and four assists in 16 games to propel himself back into England contention, even it remains to be seen if it was enough to rekindle his Manchester United career.

Without Lingard, David Moyes will have to conjure up more magic from within his squad as they also tackle the added workload of playing in the Europa League. Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola is unlikely to have the same kind of impact during his temporary stint from Paris Saint-Germain, leaving cravings for 'J-Lingz'.

Leeds United will hope to build on a positive first year back in the top flight, steered diligently by the boss on a bucket, Marcelo Bielsa, while Aston Villa have wisely elected not to replace the talismanic Grealish with just one player, instead bringing in several to try and fill the void.

There is still time for teams to strengthen, particularly as the leading clubs look to cut away some of the unnecessary fat in their bloated squad lists. Lingard demonstrated what a difference the right signing can make to a team.

However, another underdog story to match the wonderful tale of Claudio Ranieri's Leicester appears impossible. Instead, after two consecutive seasons with runaway champions, it would just be nice if the 2021-22 Premier League Stakes at least provided a little more drama by the time we enter into the closing stages.

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