Harry Kane will start England's final Group D match against the Czech Republic despite two scoreless outings at Euro 2020, with Gareth Southgate describing the Tottenham striker as "our most important player".

Kane topped the goalscoring and assist charts in the Premier League this season but has been unable to replicate that level of influence in the tournament so far.

England followed up a 1-0 win over 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia in their opening match with a dour 0-0 draw against neighbours Scotland.

Kane is yet to have a shot on target and his 19 touches versus Scotland were his fewest in any England game in which he has played 45 minutes or more.

Southgate substituted Kane in both matches but the Three Lions boss will keep faith with the Russia 2018 Golden Boot winner at Wembley on Tuesday.

"You can assume that, absolutely – I don't mind giving you that one," he said with a grin when asked by ITV whether his captain would remain part of the first XI.

Southgate went on to explain the rationale of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford being used as the attacking focal point instead of Kane for the closing stages of both matches.

 

"In one of the games we were already ahead, we needed energy to press and keep the lead. We didn't need an additional goal," he said.

"Harry, during the World Cup, we ended up with him playing a lot of football and we felt the need to manage that load a little bit this time and we have got good options on the bench to bring people into the game.

"But he's our most important player, there's no doubt about that. You've only got to look at his goalscoring record for us to see his importance to the team.

"He's fundamental, not only with the goals he scores but the build-up play and everything else he brings.

"I know there'll be a lot of questions being asked about him at the moment but he's been through that 100 times before.

"I've answered that in this role several times in the past and he's come up with the goals that have won us the next games. I expect that to be the same moving forward."

Kane's struggles are part of a wider picture of England failing to create high-quality chances across the board.

His three shots have a combined expected goals (xG) value of 1.01, the highest xG figure in Southgate's squad ahead of Mason Mount (four shots, 0.66 xG) and Croatia matchwinner Raheem Sterling (three shots, xG 0.62).

Centre-back John Stones is next up on an xG of 0.35, having headed his sole attempt of the tournament against the post from a Mount corner early on against Scotland.

"He works so hard for the team. People might not recognise what he does off the ball and the pressing that he does," said England and Atletico Madrid right-back Kieran Trippier, a former team-mate of Kane's at Spurs.

"I believe in Harry and I know he'll score goals. Harry's chances will come and, for sure, he'll score goals.

"He's had an unbelievable season with Spurs, he is fit, he's working hard every single day in training. It's just about trying to get the chances to him.

"We all know we need to create as much as we can in the game. For sure, Harry will score goals."

Real Madrid are among the most active clubs in the transfer market. 

Carlo Ancelotti could look to his former side for help as he starts his second spell in charge.

So, are an Everton double act on the move to LaLiga? 
 

TOP STORY – ANCELOTTI EYES EVERTON PAIR

Ancelotti has his eye on a pair of players from the club he left as he assembles his team in his return to Real Madrid.

The veteran manager would like to bring Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin to the Bernabeu, according to the Sun. 

The report says he believes £50million would be enough to convince the Toffees to part with the England international. 

Ancelotti is also contemplating a reunion with a man he brought to Goodison Park, with Sport reporting James Rodriguez is a possibility to return to Real Madrid.   

Sevilla's Jules Kounde is also on Ancelotti's list, Marca reports, though the quoted €80m (£69m) asking price will be a concern. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to bid more than £75m to bring Jadon Sancho back to England after Borussia Dortmund rejected an initial £67m offer, the Mail reports.

- United also face competition from Paris Saint-Germain for Atletico Madrid's English full-back Kieran Trippier, says France Football. 

- Manchester City will offer about £100m to lure Harry Kane from Tottenham, the Star reports.

- Barcelona would like to add Andre Silva to their strike force with a €35m offer to Eintracht Frankfurt, ESPN reported. Manchester City and Atletico also are interested in the Portugal international. 

- in the meantime, Miralem Pjanic is set to leave Barca for a return to Serie A, with Juventus the expected landing spot, Corriere dello Sport claims. 

Luke Shaw has declared Harry Kane "the best striker in the world" and says his team-mate's goalless start to Euro 2020 is no concern to England.

Kane fired a blank in England's 1-0 win over Croatia in last week's Group D opener and was again off the pace as the Three Lions were held 0-0 by Scotland on Friday.

The Tottenham man managed just 19 touches before being substituted in the 74th minute – the fewest he has ever had in an England game when playing more than 45 minutes.

The last time he had fewer touches for Spurs while playing for more than 45 minutes was against Manchester City in April 2018 (17 touches in 90 minutes).

 

But despite Kane failing to register a shot on target in two successive games for club or country for the first time since November, Shaw insists the England skipper's pedigree cannot be questioned.

"There's no concern at all. Personally, I think he's the best striker in the world," Shaw said of the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner and three-time Premier League top scorer.

"He is a very important part of the team, in fact the most important part. I think whether he has not been at his best or not he is a massive part and a crucial player for us.

"We need him whether his performances are as people expected or not, but this happens in tournament football.

"You can score a goal at any moment and he is such a crucial player – not just on the pitch but off the pitch. He has got all of our backing and I'm not worried at all."

England were frustrated by spirited rivals Scotland on Friday in the first goalless match between the sides at Wembley in 33 meetings.

Gareth Southgate's men could have confirmed a place in the knockout stages with victory, but they now have work to do in their final group match against the Czech Republic.

The Three Lions are behind the Czechs on goal difference ahead of Tuesday's match, meaning a win is required if they are to finish top.

Following criticism on the back of the toothless display against Scotland, Shaw has put the stalemate into perspective with England as good as assured of a last-16 spot.

"There is no denying that there is a lot of disappointment," he said.

"We would have liked to win the game but you have to look at it in the way of another point in the right direction.

"If it was the other way round, we drew with Croatia and won today, it would have been four points still so we have to keep positive.

"I think there should always be expectation, the team we have, the talent is very strong. 

"Of course we can take the expectation but maybe this result brought us back down to earth to make us realise it is not going to be easy."

 

England, who have never made it beyond the semi-finals of the European Championships, are on course to meet either Portugal, France, Germany or Hungary in the next round.

Taking positives from a 14th clean sheet in 18 matches for England in all competitions, Shaw added: "Our aim is to be here for seven games. 

"We will sit down and watch the game back and analyse what we want to do better because there are things we could have done better as a team.

"Maybe in this game we weren't at our best and that shows, but it is another clean sheet. 

"We still have another big game on Tuesday and we have to forget about this one and be ready."

Harry Kane reportedly informed Tottenham of his desire to leave the club in the final week of the 2020-21 season.

The England international has since been linked with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Tottenham are desperate to retain their talisman, let alone allow him to join a rival English club.

 

TOP STORY – KANE OPEN TO CONTINENTAL SWITCH

Harry Kane is willing to move abroad for his next challenge as Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain circle for his signature, according to 90min.

The report claims Kane is unimpressed with Tottenham's search for a new manager to replace Jose Mourinho and the England international has been linked to Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

PSG, who are in the market for a striker having been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland amid doubts over the future of Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe, are led by Kane's ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

 

ROUND-UP

PSG have renewed their efforts to sign United star French midfielder Paul Pogba, reports to Le Parisien. Juventus and Madrid have also been linked.

United, PSG and Sevilla are keen to sign superstar defender Sergio Ramos after he left Real Madrid, claims 90min.

- Diario AS says Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Alexander Isak is attracting interest from Chelsea, joining Arsenal in the race to sign him.

Liverpool are interested in Sassuolo's Italy international winger Domenico Berardi, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Corriere dello Sport reports Miralem Pjanic could be headed back to Juventus from Barcelona on a two-year loan, part financed by the Catalans. Inter and Chelsea have also been linked.

It was an underwhelming day for England as they could not seal their place in the next round of Euro 2020, though Sweden moved a step closer to at least ensuring they do not go home early.

Nevertheless, Friday was not a day of great entertainment in the European Championship, with no team managing more than one goal among the three matches.

Only one of the three goals on the day was not a penalty, as Ivan Perisic made history when sealing a point for Croatia.

While the matches may not have set pulses racing, there was still plenty to talk about.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at some of the best facts from across the day's games.

England 0-0 Scotland: Kane tame as Three Lions rendered toothless in rare draw

England failed to make sure of their qualification for the knockout phase as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Scotland, only the fourth goalless game in 115 official fixtures between the old rivals.

It was the first 0-0 draw between them since 1987, and the only one in 33 clashes at Wembley.

Similarly, England had only ever slumped to one other goalless draw at the new Wembley, that stalemate as far back as October 2010 when Fabio Capello's side were held by Montenegro.

Accentuating England's toothlessness was the fact Harry Kane managed only 19 touches of the ball, the fewest he has ever managed for the Three Lions in a game in which he has featured for more than 45 minutes.

The last time he had fewer touches for Spurs while playing for more than 45 minutes was against Manchester city in April 2018 (17 touches in 90 minutes).

Nevertheless, England can seal qualification with a point on Tuesday against the Czech Republic, and they can at least take solace in that this was their 14th clean sheet from their previous 18 matches, evidence that at least one area of the team is functioning properly.

 

Croatia 1-1 Czech Republic: Schick nets again as Perisic makes history with equaliser

Patrik Schick's bid for the Golden Boot received another boost as he scored a controversial penalty to open the scoring against Croatia, the Bayer Leverkusen striker subsequently becoming the first Czech Republic player to net three or more goals at a major tournament since Milan Baros (five) in Euro 2004.

Schick is also the first player to score each of his team's first three goals of a European Championship tournament since Mario Gomez for Germany in 2012.

But his spot-kick was cancelled out in the second half by Ivan Perisic, who made history in doing so.

The Inter winger became the first Croatian to score at four major international tournaments (2014 and 2018 World Cups, Euro 2016 and Euro 2020).

His powerful strike was his eighth in such tournaments, a figure that only Antoine Griezmann (10), Cristiano Ronaldo (10) and Romelu Lukaku (nine) can better among European players in the past four international events.

He is now just one behind Davor Suker's all-time record of nine goals across World Cups and the European Championship for Croatia.

Could he level the record in Croatia's pivotal final group game against Scotland?

 

Sweden 1-0 Slovakia: Isak a ray of sunshine in turgid encounter

St Petersburg was not treated to a classic as Sweden narrowly beat Slovakia at the Krestovsky Stadium, but Janne Andersson's men gave themselves a massive boost with respect to potentially reaching the knockout phase.

Emil Forsberg's second-half penalty ultimately proved decisive and ended a run of 365 minutes without a Sweden goal in European Championship tournaments, their most recent goal coming in their Euro 2016 opener.

That was their 23rd second-half goal in the history of the Euros, which equates to 88 percent of their total, the highest percentage of any side with at least three goals in the competition.

Once Sweden went ahead there looked to be little danger of a turnaround, as Slovakia – who had previously looked happy to settle for a point – failed to get a single shot on target, making them only the second team to fail in that regard after Turkey against Italy.

While it was by no means an exhilarating watch, Alexander Isak at least did his best to provide some entertainment.

The Real Sociedad forward completed six dribbles over the course of the match, the most by any player in a single Euro 2020 game and a figure unmatched by a Sweden player since 1992.

 

Gareth Southgate defended England's approach in their 0-0 draw with Scotland at Euro 2020, insisting he had to "manage" their overall position in the tournament.

The England manager conceded his team performed considerably below par as they only mustered a solitary shot on target against their neighbours at Wembley.

John Stones headed an early Mason Mount corner against the post but, from that point, Scotland fashioned the better chances as Jordan Pickford superbly kept out Stephen O'Donnell's volley and Reece James cleared Lyndon Dykes' second-half attempt off the line.

It means Tuesday's game between England and Czech Republic will settle who finishes top of Group D as they sit on four points apiece and Southgate felt remaining in charge of their own destiny was something worth preserving.

"I would say we had a fourth attacking player in Mount throughout the whole game," he said at a post-match news conference, after Jack Grealish replaced Phil Foden in a like-for-like swap that did not alter England's rigid 4-2-3-1 shape.

"In those moments, if we had to chase to win with no consequence for conceding then you might approach it differently, or if we were behind in the game and we were chasing.

"It was a bit frantic, it wasn't a game where there was a huge amount of control. You've got to make sure, sitting on three points as we did, that we manage the tournament as well as the game

"It's easy to gamble towards the end and lose shape and then end up losing the game in the last five minutes.

"I understand we're at Wembley, it's a game against Scotland where everyone wants us to win, we wanted to win.

"But it is in the context of a tournament and the qualification is the most important thing."

For the second successive match, Southgate substituted his captain Harry Kane.

Like in the opening 1-0 win over Croatia, the Tottenham striker failed to produce a shot on target and was a peripheral figure for the most part – restricted to 19 touches overall.

"I think the whole team, we've got to look at the whole performance and our use of the ball and review where we can be better," Southgate replied when asked specifically about the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner.

"That's right across the board, it's not just about one person. Scotland marked him extremely well, with the back five there isn't a lot of space and anything that was played up they were aggressive and defended well.

"We couldn't find the answers. We've got to go away, review the game and find those answers for the Czech Republic."

The precise nature of those answers is likely to be poured over extensively in the interim coverage and Southgate was keen to spare his players – who were audibly booed off by their home supporters – from undue criticism.

"We know we didn't hit the level we wanted to or need to. We have to accept anything that comes our way," he added.

"I totally understand that as the manager and totally understand anything that comes my way. What we need to make sure we do is get behind the players.

"There are a lot of young players that need the support of everybody. Most of them haven't been involved in a game like that before. They are unique occasions. They'll learn a lot, they'll bounce back from it. They need everybody behind them."

Harry Kane shrugged off his substitution after an anonymous outing in England's underwhelming 0-0 Euro 2020 draw with Scotland on Friday.

England were frustrated by Scotland, with Steve Clarke's men arguably creating more clear-cut chances as they kept their hopes of progression alive.

Kane was particularly disappointing for the Three Lions, as he managed just 19 touches before being substituted for Marcus Rashford in the 74th minute.

That was the fewest touches he has ever had during an England game in which he has played more than 45 minutes, while he failed to get a shot on target for a second successive match.

 

He has not gone two consecutive games across all competitions without a single accurate shot since last November, but Kane showed little acknowledgement of his below-par showing.

When asked for his opinion on being withdrawn, Kane told ITV: "It's part of the game.

"The manager will make decisions that he thinks are best for the team. If he feels that was the right decision, then sometimes you just have to take it.

"It is what it is. We've got another game in a few days – let's recover well and get ready for that."

Pressed on if he felt there was anything in particular lacking from his own game, Kane added: "It was a tough game – Scotland defended really well, made good blocks at the right times.

"We know no game is going to be easy. It's a European Championship and Scotland are playing for their lives."

 

England defender Tyrone Mings was also asked about the significance of Kane's substitution, and he was eager to absolve the Tottenham star of any blame.

"I don't think that's a reflection of his performance or him," Mings said. "We as a team have a responsibility to attack together and defend together.

"We all have to take joint-responsibility when things don't go quite right."

 

England are left on four points from their two games and sit second in Group D, behind Czech Republic on goal difference.

The Three Lions face the Czechs on Tuesday at Wembley and, although they will definitely go through with a draw, only a victory will secure top spot.

Scotland need to beat Croatia to stand any chance of reaching the last 16 themselves.

 

Tottenham will begin their 2021-22 Premier League campaign at home to champions Manchester City – a fixture that will only heighten intrigue around the future of star striker Harry Kane.

England captain Kane is reportedly set on leaving Spurs, with City touted as the most likely destination for the 27-year-old as Pep Guardiola seeks a replacement for Sergio Aguero.

City's visit to north London kicks off an interesting initial run for still-managerless Tottenham, who are next at home to Watford in between trips to Wolves and Crystal Palace, with derby clashes against Chelsea and Arsenal also coming before the end of September.

Liverpool are at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on December 18, preceding a run of festive fixtures against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Watford.

Spurs' home north London derby is on January 15, a week before they face Thomas Tuchel's European champions at Stamford Bridge.

Leicester City at home and Liverpool away look like tough propositions during the run-in before Spurs wrap up by hosting Burnley and travelling to Norwich City.

Tottenham's 2021-22 Premier League fixtures in full:

14/08/2021 - Manchester City (h)
21/08/2021 - Wolves (a)
28/08/2021 - Watford (h)
11/09/2021 - Crystal Palace (a)
18/09/2021 - Chelsea (h)
25/09/2021 - Arsenal (a)
02/10/2021 - Aston Villa (h)
16/10/2021 - Newcastle United (a)
23/10/2021 - West Ham (a)
30/10/2021 - Manchester United (h)
06/11/2021 - Everton (a)
20/11/2021 - Leeds United (h)
27/11/2021 - Burnley (a)
01/12/2021 - Brentford (h)
04/12/2021 - Norwich City (h)
11/12/2021 - Brighton and Hove Albion (a)
14/12/2021 - Leicester City (a)
18/12/2021 - Liverpool (h)
26/12/2021 - Crystal Palace (h)
28/12/2021 - Southampton (a)
01/01/2022 - Watford (a)
15/01/2022 - Arsenal (h)
22/01/2022 - Chelsea (a)
09/02/2022 - Southampton (h)
12/02/2022 - Wolves (h)
19/02/2022 - Manchester City (a)
26/02/2022 - Leeds United (a)
05/03/2022 - Everton (h)
12/03/2022 - Manchester United (a)
19/03/2022 - West Ham (h)
02/04/2022 - Newcastle United (h)
09/04/2022 - Aston Villa (a)
16/04/2022 - Brighton and Hove Albion (h)
23/04/2022 - Brentford (a)
30/04/2022 - Leicester City (h)
07/05/2022 - Liverpool (a)
15/05/2022 - Burnley (h)
22/05/2022 - Norwich City (a)

Is another move on the cards for Keylor Navas?

Navas felt he had little choice but to leave when Real Madrid signed Thibaut Courtois in 2019.

He is facing a similar situation at Paris Saint-Germain, who are trying to lure Gianluigi Donnarumma to the French capital.

 

TOP STORY – TRIO EYEING NAVAS

Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas is attracting interest from Manchester United, Juventus and Milan, according to Marca.

Navas' future is in doubt, with PSG reportedly poised to sign Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma on a free transfer.

This comes despite Costa Rica international Navas extending his PSG contract until 2024 in April.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Real Madrid are prepared to offer star captain Sergio Ramos a new contract. Ramos is set to become a free agent and the Spaniard is said to have been unhappy with the club's offering of a short-term deal on a reduced salary. The 35-year-old has been linked with former club Sevilla, United and PSG among others.

- Juventus have started preliminary talks to sign Bayern Munich's Corentin Tolisso, says Sky Sport Italia. Juve are also interested in Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

- The Telegraph reports Manchester City are now open to giving Raheem Sterling a new deal. Sterling has been linked with Arsenal and Madrid.

- Atalanta are dreaming of signing Juve defender Merih Demiral, reports Calciomercato. Lille's Sven Botman and Torino defender Lyanco are also targets amid centre-back Cristian Romero's links with United.

- Fabrizio Romano says there have been no talks between Arsenal and United regarding Donny van de Beek. The Netherlands international struggled for game time in his first season at Old Trafford.

- According to the Daily Star, United could tempt Tottenham into selling Harry Kane by offering Anthony Martial, who has also reportedly been offered to Madrid. Kane is believed to be keen on an exit amid links with City, Chelsea, Madrid, Barcelona and PSG.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy did nothing to temper speculation about Harry Kane's future, detailing Spurs' difficult financial position while insisting they remain focused on winning. 

Kane has been linked with a move away from Tottenham amid reported interest from Premier League champions Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Levy spoke to Tottenham's official website after appointing former Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici as managing director, warning the London outfit will do what is right for the club.

"I am never going to talk about any specific player in public," Levy said as Tottenham remain without a full-time head coach following Jose Mourinho's sacking in April.

"All I will say is his frustrations in not winning are shared by me and all the fans and players. We all want to win."

At the same time, Levy said the club have significant financial issues to address and must be "realistic" about their situation considering the impact of lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Levy claimed Spurs – who finished seventh in 2020-21 – have been hit harder than any other Premier League club due to debt service on their new stadium, which remains without a revenue-generating corporate name. 

"Our duty is to protect the club even though we want to win," Levy said. "We will spend but we are a self-sustaining club, we have to be sensible.

"Sometimes the fans think we should be spending but there have been circumstances when the coach hasn't wanted to spend on a player. We will make investments in the squad."

Whatever their revenue situation, Spurs seem destined for meaningful change over the off-season after finishing outside of the Premier League's top four and crashing out of the Europa League with a stunning last-16 collapse to Dinamo Zagreb. 

"We need to turn it around but we need to make sure this club is in a sound financial position in the years ahead," Levy said.

"We need success on the pitch now, my view is we have unfinished business."

The Jadon Sancho saga continues.

A move to Manchester United has long been mooted for England international Sancho.

While United and Borussia Dortmund negotiate, could Sancho's future be set to become clearer?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED HAVE OFFER REBUFFED

Manchester United have had their first offer for Jadon Sancho rejected by Borussia Dortmund, according to the BBC.

United have long been interested in Sancho, with the Premier League giants unable to prise Sancho from Dortmund before the 2020-21 season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are back again for England international Sancho, though their initial £67million (€77.9m) bid will not suffice as Dortmund hold out for at least £77.5m (€90.1m).

 

ROUND-UP

- If United miss out on Sancho, Sport1 claims the Red Devils will turn to Kingsley Coman after registering their interest in the Bayern Munich winger.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona are interested in Roma and Italy midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini. The 24-year-old is out of contract in 2022 and Liverpool and Atletico Madrid are also eyeing the Italian.

United and Liverpool are set to go head-to-head for Argentina defender Cristian Romero, per Calciomercato. Romero has impressed during his loan spell with Atalanta from Juventus. Atalanta are expected to trigger a clause to sign the 23-year-old permanently as they then look to receive a big fee.

- Ronald Koeman is the key to Barca signing Memphis Depay, reports Mundo Deportivo. Depay is a free agent following the conclusion of his Lyon contract.

Barcelona have offered Antoine Griezmann to Juve, according to Calciomercato. With Cristiano Ronaldo's future in Turin uncertain, Juve could be tempted by Griezmann's availability. Juve have also been linked with Tottenham star Harry Kane, who is reportedly wanted by United, Manchester City, Chelsea, BarcaReal Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Jack Grealish is taking inspiration from international team-mate Harry Kane ahead of England's Euro 2020 campaign.

Aston Villa playmaker Grealish is preparing for his first major international tournament after being selected as part of Gareth Southgate's 26-man squad.

The 25-year-old is coming off the back of an impressive Premier League campaign for Villa and is in strong contention to start England's Group D opener with Croatia.

Kane seems certain to feature from the beginning in Sunday's clash at Wembley and Grealish, who captains his club side, is hoping to continue learning from the Three Lions skipper.

"I speak to Harry a lot," Grealish said at a news conference on Wednesday. "I speak to everyone in the changing room. 

"I think it's good when you do come away with England to get different opinions off people, see what certain people do, what certain people don't do.

"But when you come away here there's no better person to look at than Harry Kane, to see the way he looks after himself and stuff like that.

"I think the main thing is you come here and you see the likes of Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane, and what they do off the field.

"Obviously what they do on it we can all see that, but what they do on the training pitch and around the place and how they look after themselves, and you sit there and you think it's no wonder why they've had the careers that they have had.

"And that's I think one of the main things that has made me mature as a player, as a person and as a captain."

Kane topped the scoring charts in Euro 2020 qualifying with 12 goals and also finished as top scorer in the Premier League in 2020-21.

That made the Tottenham striker the third player after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer to win the Golden Boot three times or more.

He also set up 14 goals to become just the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists (also Andy Cole in 1993-94).

Kane was edged out by Manchester City pair Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias for the two main Premier League Player of the Year awards, and Grealish believes the Spurs man deserves more recognition for his incredible campaign.

"For me, he's at the very top of his game right now," Grealish added. "I think he's had one of the best Premier League seasons I've seen. 

"I don't know how he didn't get more awards than he did, with the most goals and the most assists."

Despite missing 12 matches, Grealish was by far and away the most fouled player in the English top flight last season with 110 fouls won.

His 2.68 dribbles completed per 90 minutes was bettered by just six players to have played at least 20 times, meanwhile, with his skills on the ball and ability to win free-kicks both likely to come in handy for England at the Euros.

"I got a few kicks last week in the two friendlies," Grealish said. "But like I said after those games, if I'm doing something to help the team, I'll do that.

"You look around our team here and you see the set-piece takers here that we've got - especially Trips [Kieran Trippier]. 

"Obviously it was unfortunate that Trent [Alexander-Arnold] went home - but there's still so many people that have just got unbelievable set-piece ability here.

"So if I'm getting fouled or whatever, I'll take the hits for the team. That doesn't really bother me."

Having been scrapped last year due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the Ballon d'Or returns in 2021.

With Euro 2020 and the Copa America rescheduled for this year, the stars of Europe and South America have the chance to use those tournaments as a springboard towards claiming the game's top individual prize.

Following club seasons either laden with trophies or padded with statistical achievements – or, in some cases, a bit of both – a few elite-level performances could make the difference in the race to win France Football's famous award.

Stats Perform has chosen a shortlist of 14 players who could make themselves Ballon d'Or favourites should they sparkle over the next month...

 

Karim Benzema

Remarkably, Karim Benzema failed to win a trophy with Real Madrid despite registering 30 goals and nine assists in 46 games in all competitions.

That form did bring his international exile to an end, though, and if he keeps it up for France over the coming month, a Ballon d'Or challenge is not out of the question.

Kevin De Bruyne

A second successive PFA Players' Player of the Year award for Kevin De Bruyne came after another standout season for Manchester City in which he won the Premier League and EFL Cup.

Had Pep Guardiola's men finally got their hands on the Champions League trophy, the Ballon d'Or might be De Bruyne's already. Leading Belgium to Euros glory would probably do the job.

Ruben Dias

The other prime candidate for City's player of the season, Ruben Dias was a colossal performer at the heart of their defence after joining from Benfica, winning the Premier League's Player of the Season award.

Defenders' difficulties winning big individual prizes are well documented, and the last to lift the Ballon d'Or – Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 – did so after leading Italy to the World Cup.

Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes was heartbroken to lose the Europa League final on penalties as his wait for a trophy with Manchester United goes on.

However, a combined 46 direct goal involvements – the most of any Premier League player – means individual glory could be on the cards should Fernandes and Portugal shine.

Phil Foden

The PFA Young Player of the Year winner, Phil Foden blossomed in 2020-21 from prodigious talent to integral player for both City and England.

His Ballon d'Or chances are probably slimmer than those of a couple of his City team-mates, but long-awaited success for the Three Lions could put him right in the mix.

Harry Kane

Another star performer in 2020-21 to end the season empty-handed, Harry Kane finished top for goals (23) and assists (14) in the Premier League despite Tottenham finishing seventh.

Winner of the Golden Boot at the last World Cup, Kane is England's undisputed star going into Euro 2020 and has every chance of topping the scoring charts again.

N'Golo Kante

Arguably the popular choice for the award, N'Golo Kante won the Champions League with Chelsea after being named man of the match in both legs of the semi-final and the final against City.

France are most observers' favourites to win the Euros and, if they do, Kante will surely be facing short odds to win the ultimate individual trophy – even if it's one in which he has little interest.

Robert Lewandowski

It's widely accepted that, had the award been handed out last year, it would have gone to Robert Lewandowksi, the man whose 55 goals in 47 games delivered Bayern the treble.

How do you follow that? Well, he scored 41 times in the Bundesliga alone in 2020-21, breaking Gerd Muller's 49-year-old single-season record. Winning the Euros with Poland might be a stretch, but finishing as top goalscorer is certainly achievable.

Romelu Lukaku

The best player in Serie A as Inter ended an 11-year wait to win the title, Romelu Lukaku enjoyed the best season of his career, with 41 direct goal involvements in 44 appearances.

With eight goals in his past nine games for Belgium, the 28-year-old could well be the man to fire Roberto Martinez's side to glory, which would make him very hard to overlook.

Kylian Mbappe

Paris Saint-Germain lost their Ligue 1 title to Lille and could not reach back-to-back Champions League finals, which seems incredible given Kylian Mbappe managed 42 goals and 11 assists in just 47 appearances.

Departing Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick this year said there was no question Mbappe would win the Ballon d'Or one day. The Euros could be his ticket to glory in 2021.

Lionel Messi

The winner of the previous award in 2019 – the sixth of his astonishing career – Lionel Messi amazingly plundered 28 goals and had nine assists for Barcelona from January 1 onwards.

It wasn't enough to win Barca the LaLiga title, but it does put him right in the mix. If he can finally win the Copa America with Argentina, Ballon d'Or number seven may well follow.

Neymar

Even Neymar would admit he has only an outside chance of winning this year's Ballon d'Or, his 17 goals and eight assists in 2020-21 a modest return for the world's most expensive footballer.

He typically produces in a Brazil shirt, though, and winning the Copa America would propel him right back into the mix for the individual prize he supposedly craves above all others.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus may have lost their grip on Serie A, but Cristiano Ronaldo still finished as top goalscorer (with 29), and they won the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia.

Ronaldo won his fourth of five Ballons d'Or after Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016, and there's little doubt he would be vying for a sixth if they defend that trophy.

Luis Suarez

Discarded by Barcelona for being past his usefulness, Luis Suarez responded with 21 goals in 32 games to propel Atletico Madrid to a first league title since 2013-14.

Should Uruguay upset the odds at the Copa America, you can bet Suarez will be in the running for the Ballon d'Or. Quite what Barca fans would make of that is hard to say.

Manchester City's ambitions are showing no end after missing out on the Champions League title.

City have been linked with star England pair Harry Kane and Jack Grealish to further bolster the Premier League champions.

But the price tags on the duo from Tottenham and Aston Villa may be their stumbling blocks.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SALE TO FUND KANE AND GREALISH MOVES

Manchester City will offload several fringe players to raise £70million in order to fund their moves for Tottenham star Harry Kane and Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, claims the Daily Mail.

With Sergio Aguero departed, City manager Pep Guardiola wants a frontline striker and those surplus to requirements will reportedly be let go.

First-team players Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez all have admirers and could move on.

But also fringe talent like Yangel Herrera, Ivan Ilic, Jack Harrison, Pedro Porro and Lukas Nmecha, who have had loan spells elsewhere, could be cashed in.

Bernardo Silva has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid in exchange for Saul Niguez, while Juventus are reportedly eyeing Gundogan.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are both keen on Inter's Achraf Hakimi and have lodged €60m (£52m) offers, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter's asking price may be higher, while Chelsea may utilise Emerson Palmieri or Andreas Christensen as part of a swap deal.

- Bild says Borussia Dortmund will sell Jadon Sancho to United if they receive a suitable offer by the end of July. Sancho has long been tipped to swap Dortmund for United.

- Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin is being linked with LaLiga champions Atletico and Real Betis by CBS Sport, while Sport have also claimed Juve are interested in the Spaniard, utilising Aaron Ramsey in a swap deal.

Liverpool are looking to replace Georginio Wijnaldum, lining up Roma skipper Lorenzo Pellegrini, according to Corriere dello Sport.

- The Sun claims West Ham are ready this month to step up their bid to sign Jesse Lingard permanently from Manchester United after his excellent loan spell.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Arsenal are set to finalise the details on a new contract for young talent Emile Smith Rowe.

Crystal Palace are closed to appointing former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as their new manager to replace Roy Hodgson, claims The Telegraph.

Chelsea won the Champions League last month but they are not sitting still.

Thomas Tuchel is determined to strengthen his attack as he seeks to dethrone Premier League champions Manchester City in 2021-22.

Erling Haaland is reportedly Chelsea's number one target.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA WANT HAALAND

Chelsea are "working intensely" on a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to the Telegraph.

Haaland has been linked with Real MadridManchester CityBarcelonaParis Saint-GermainManchester UnitedJuventusLiverpoolChelsea and Bayern Munich.

Tottenham's Harry Kane and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku have emerged as options for Chelsea, though the Champions League winners appear set on Haaland.

 

ROUND-UP

PSG are poised to sign Italy international goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma on a free transfer, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Out of contract at Milan, Donnarumma was also linked with Juve and Barca.

- The Times says United are moving closer to reaching an agreement with Dortmund for Jadon Sancho. The England international was heavily tipped to move to Old Trafford ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

City are chasing Spurs star Kane and Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, per ESPN. Pep Guardiola's side are willing to buy both if they are able to do so. Kane and Grealish have also been linked with Manchester neighbours United.

Atletico Madrid have offered Saul Niguez to City in exchange for Bernardo Silva, according to the Times. Unsettled at LaLiga champions Atletico, Saul has also reportedly caught the attention of United, Chelsea and Bayern.

- The Daily Mail claims Brighton and Hove Albion are looking to keep England international defender Ben White by demanding £50million amid interest from clubs such as United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Milan are eyeing Chelsea trio Olivier Giroud, Fikayo Tomori and Hakim Ziyech, claims the Gazzetta dello Sport. Ziyech has also been linked with Napoli.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are hopeful of re-signing Nicolo Barella and Atletico Madrid target Lautaro Martinez by the end of the off-season.

- Juventus are interested in Roma veteran Edin Dzeko and are ready to offer a two-year deal, reports Corriere dello Sport.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.