Harry Kane has won the Premier League Golden Boot award for the third time in his career after edging out Mohamed Salah.

The Tottenham forward netted in the dramatic 4-2 win over Leicester City on Sunday, while Salah did not find the scoresheet as Liverpool defeated Crystal Palace 2-0.

That meant Kane emerged triumphant from a season-long battle, both players having gone into the final weekend locked on 22 goals.

Kane, who finishes the season with 23 goals from 35 games, also won the Golden boot in 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns.

Salah had won the award in 2017-18 and shared it the following season with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane.

But he falls just short of another triumph after netting 22 times from 36 top-flight matches this season.

Jamie Vardy was last season's winner but it was Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes who finished third with 18 goals.

Another Tottenham star, Son Heung-min, shares fourth place with Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford on 17.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (16), Vardy (15), Ollie Watkins (14), Ilkay Gundogan and Alexandre Lacazette (both 13) round out the top 10.

Kane's accomplishment comes amid huge speculation over his future after he reportedly asked to leave Spurs at the end of the season.

The England captain is now one away from the record of four Golden Boots held by Arsenal great Thierry Henry, with Alan Shearer the only other player to have won it three times in the Premier League era.

Kane also had 14 assists in a fine individual season, giving him 37 total goal involvements, his best-ever return.

Leicester City missed out on Champions League qualification as a Kasper Schmeichel own goal and a late double from Gareth Bale condemned the Foxes to a 4-2 defeat by Tottenham on the final day of the season. 

Chelsea's 2-1 loss to Aston Villa meant Brendan Rodgers' side would have sealed a top-four finish with victory over Spurs and they started well, Jamie Vardy putting them ahead from the penalty spot. 

Harry Kane – in what could prove to be his final game for the club amid rumours he wants to leave – pulled Spurs level before the interval, though, with a goal that secured this season's Golden Boot ahead of Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. 

Another Vardy spot-kick restored Leicester's lead early in the second half, but there was late heartache for the hosts when Schmeichel – one of the heroes of last weekend's FA Cup final win over Chelsea – punched into his own net from a corner 14 miniutes from full-time.

Bale's late brace then ensured Brendan Rodgers' side finished the campaign a point adrift of Thomas Tuchel's fourth-placed side.

 

There is no title race to be run or relegation battle to be won, but the Premier League always seems to deliver on its final day.

Indeed, the Opta data bears it out.

In 23 of the 28 Premier League campaigns prior to 2020-21, the average number of goals per game was higher on the final matchday than across the rest of the season.

Indeed, the highest-scoring date in the history of the competition (May 8, 1993) was part of the final matchweek of the Premier League's debut campaign.

There were 47 goals from just nine matches, with 53 across the 11 total games that weekend – or a staggering 4.8 per game.

Once the prizes are largely secured, the pressure's off, the sun's out (sometimes...) and the holidays – or major tournament flights – are booked, the goals tend to flow.

So, with scope for another final-day epic in 2020-21, as Leicester City host Tottenham and Everton go to Manchester City, we look back on the four highest-scoring last hurrahs – unfortunately discounting 1992-93, when not all top-flight teams played at the same time on the same date.
 

May 21, 2017: Spurs hit seven to complete stunning week (37 goals)

Had Tottenham played out a goalless draw at Hull City, in a match with nothing on the line, the final day of the 2016-17 season would have been only marginally above the campaign's average of 2.8 goals per game.

As it was, a 7-1 Spurs win made this the highest-scoring last day in the competition's history.

That result is unsurprisingly the biggest ever away win on a final day – although City's 5-0 demolition of Watford on the same afternoon ranks second – and Tottenham's most convincing victory on the road in the Premier League.

Remarkably, that club record had stood for only three days, with Mauricio Pochettino's men 6-1 winners at Leicester earlier in the same week.

Harry Kane scored four against the Foxes and three at Hull, becoming the first player since Wayne Rooney in 2011 to bag hat-tricks in consecutive Premier League games as he clinched the Golden Boot.

The England captain has seven final-day goals in the competition, including another two the following year in a 5-4 win... against Leicester – Sunday's opponents.

May 19, 2013: Fergie farewell finishes with five apiece (36 goals)

Tottenham's nine-goal thriller against Leicester in 2018 is merely joint-second among final-day fixtures for the most goals in a game. The top spot belongs to a ludicrous 2013 draw.

West Brom 5-5 Manchester United is the highest-scoring draw in Premier League history, the sole such example of two sides evenly sharing 10 goals.

And it was a fitting end to an Alex Ferguson tenure at United that was rarely dull, with his side – champions for the 13th time in his premiership – leading 3-0 and then 5-2.

Future Red Devil Romelu Lukaku hit a hat-trick, though, and West Brom incredibly claimed a point.

Although Kane's against Hull in 2017 was the most recent example of a final-day treble, Lukaku had company in 2013 as Kevin Nolan also scored three in a 4-2 West Ham win over Reading.

Meanwhile, this was the 11th of 13 occasions on which a player has scored a hat-trick in a draw in the Premier League. The 10th had also come courtesy of a West Brom player on a final day, as Somen Tchoyi stunned Newcastle United in 2011.

May 12, 2019: City take title again but avoid frantic finish (36 goals)

Already champions this term, City know a thing or two about last-day title triumphs and the Premier League will do well to ever see a victory as dramatic as that of 2011-12.

However, one scenario that might come close would see the team starting the day in second go away with the silverware. For all the customary entertainment on the season's closing weekend, that has never happened in the Premier League.

In fact, there have only been eight examples of a team falling into the relegation zone right at the last – and none since 2011 – and a single occurrence of the team in fifth breaching the top four. That was Arsenal leapfrogging Tottenham in 2006, although Leicester will hope to join them on Sunday.

Therefore it should have come as little surprise in 2019 that City protected their narrow advantage over Liverpool at the top, even though the leaders briefly trailed at Brighton and Hove Albion.

A 4-1 comeback win sealed Pep Guardiola's second success and he boasts a 100 per cent record on the final day.

The only other manager never to have dropped a point on the last matchweek while overseeing four or more such games is Chris Coleman, all from his time as Fulham boss.

May 11, 2008: City smashed and Reading rout unrewarded (34 goals)

Crucially, Guardiola has never had to face Middlesbrough on the final day as City manager. Boro have a bizarre hold over the Etihad Stadium outfit at this time of year.

In 2004-05, as David James appeared in attack, Robbie Fowler's failure to score from the spot in stoppage time took Boro into Europe at City's expense. Three years later, it was even worse.

Although City still qualified for the UEFA Cup through the UEFA Fair Play ranking, their season ended with a humiliating 8-1 defeat at the Riverside – at the time the biggest loss on a final day and still City's heaviest in the Premier League, all while rivals United won the title.

Yet the real drama was at the foot of the table, as Fulham's triumph meant Reading and Birmingham City were relegated, at least, much like Buzz Lightyear, falling with style thanks to respective 4-0 and 4-1 victories over Derby County and Blackburn Rovers.

Five other teams have won on the day they have been relegated from the Premier League, but never two in the same season, let alone the same day, and never as emphatically as Reading.

The Royals were at least by then used to scoring four times and going away disappointed. This was the third occasion on which they had done so in 2007-08 and, remarkably, they had lost the prior two matches – 7-4 at Portsmouth and 6-4 at Tottenham.

Pep Guardiola would love to bring a free-scoring striker to Manchester City, amid speculation surrounding Harry Kane, with Sergio Aguero saying goodbye to the club.

Aguero will leave City after next week's Champions League final against Chelsea in Porto.

The Argentine, who joined the club in 2011 and has gone on to become the Premier League's leading foreign goalscorer, as well as City's record scorer, has won five top-flight titles in Manchester.

Injuries have marred his final season, with the 32-year-old – who has reportedly agreed to join Barcelona – featuring for just 682 minutes across 18 appearances (eight starts) in all competitions.

Aguero faces a late fitness test to see if he will be able to play against Everton on Sunday, in City's final league game of the season, which will take place in front of 10,000 fans at the Etihad Stadium.

In Aguero's absence this term, and with understudy Gabriel Jesus not quite hitting the heights initially expected of him, Guardiola has often utilised a false nine system, with Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Ferran Torres and Kevin De Bruyne called upon to fill in up top.

It has served City well, Guardiola's team reclaiming the league title, winning their fourth straight EFL Cup and reaching their first Champions League final.

However, links to a new striker have not gone away, with Borussia Dortmund's in-demand forward Erling Haaland a mooted target, though Kane's recent comments about the possibility of leaving Tottenham will not have gone unnoticed. 

Kane added further fuel to the fire when, in an interview with Gary Neville on The Overlap, he declared his admiration for De Bruyne, labelling the Belgian playmaker a "striker's dream".

Pressed on possibly targetting a striker of Kane's ilk, Guardiola told a news conference: "I would love to have a guy who scores 50 goals.

"I would love it – but at the same I don't like just to have all the pressure on one player. Even at Barcelona Lionel Messi scored more than 50 goals every season, but in that team for example, in our first season Samuel Eto'o scored a lot.

"To win titles, especially the Premier League, the statistics speak for themselves, you need at least three guys [scoring] more than 10, 12, 15 goals to be competitors. But when you have a guy who scores 25 or 30, it helps a lot.

"We will try due to the way we play to have everybody involved in scoring goals – the more players we have with this quality the better we will be."

HOW HAVE CITY'S GOALS COME IN 2020-21?

With Aguero only managing four goals in all competitions – and just two from open play – the onus has been on other players to step up.

The standout in this regard has been Ilkay Gundogan, who has transformed himself into a superb attacking midfielder this term, scoring a team-high 17 times across all competitions, with the German averaging a goal every 194 minutes.

De Bruyne has tallied the most attempts (104), scoring nine goals and teeing up a further 17, while Riyad Mahrez is tied on 14 goals with Raheem Sterling.

Foden has netted 15 goals, all of which have come from open play. Torres and Jesus have both contributed 13, with John Stones and Bernardo Silva (both five) also chipping in with their fair share.

THE FINAL FAREWELL

It will no doubt be an emotional day for Aguero on Sunday, though he can take solace in the fact that there will be supporters on hand to wish him well.

"My message to the fans is: 'Thank you,'" Aguero wrote in a statement on the club's offciial website. "Thank you to the City fans for always supporting me.

"When you feel the love from your fans, everything is a lot easier. It's the same for anyone in any line of work – when someone believes in you, you do better. I owe a lot to the people at this club because I have the City fans to thank for everything.

"We have won a lot of games. I leave here feeling very satisfied with what I have achieved here. In the last games, I will do my best so that I can leave on a high.

"I want all the fans who saw me play in the stadium to remember me for what they saw me do on the pitch. I always say that you enjoy yourself on the pitch because of the support of the fans."

There might be few dry eyes in the house when Sergio Aguero bids farewell to the Manchester City faithful on Sunday, but it could be carnage if the Premier League champions replace him with Harry Kane.

Aguero, the leading overseas goalscorer in Premier League history and City's all-time record scorer, is set to play for the final time in England's top flight when Pep Guardiola's side host Everton before lifting the trophy for the fifth time in the Argentina international's 10 years at the club.

However, as is often the case in football and almost always true of the game's superstar forwards, plenty of attention has already turned towards the next move.

After 258 goals in City colours, Aguero has reportedly agreed a two-year deal at Barcelona, raising the tantalising prospect of a link-up with his great friend Lionel Messi.

Even though fitness problems have dogged his final year in Manchester, the 32-year-old will leave a considerable void, meaning Kane's apparent desire to leave Tottenham comes at an intriguing time.

"I think it will be hard to ignore the importance of all of these goals," former City defender Nedum Onuoha told Stats Perform when pondering life after Aguero.

"For Pep, it's about the collective, and if you can find somebody who fits into the collective and also has that desire for goals, then it's carnage.

"If City get Kane, if Kane's healthy for the whole time he's at City, with his footballing IQ, it could be absolutely outrageous. And I hope something like that does happen, it'll be a joy to watch.

"But then, in the same breath, in Pep we trust. He's found a way to get the team to play well to the point where we can see Raheem Sterling and Aguero sitting on the bench. That's over 300 goals for the football club."

Guardiola guiding an often striker-less team to the title means this season is arguably the fullest realisation of his tactical vision and also something unimaginable when Aguero fired 23 goals in his maiden Premier League campaign to win City a first league championship for 44 years in 2011-12.

Goal number 23 of that haul remains the moment that will define him, one that will be replayed countless times this weekend alone and still gives Guardiola – who was Barcelona head coach at the time – "goosebumps".

For Onuoha, a boyhood City fan who lined up for QPR on May 13, 2012, the memories of his former employers scoring twice in injury time for a 3-2 win to snatch glory away from Manchester United are not as warm and fuzzy.

Briefly, before learning Bolton Wanderers had failed to get the win they required at Stoke City, he thought Aguero's strike for the ages had condemned him to relegation.

"I was the last QPR player to touch it before they went on to score," Onuoha recalled. "So I thought I'd been relegated by my old team in my home town. It was an absolute disaster.

"There was an incredible, huge sinking feeling within me as he scored the goal and I didn't watch him celebrate or anything like that. But I remember looking at our bench and I saw them celebrating. From there it was a huge sense of relief. I looked at the QPR fans and knew we were safe.

"It took me two, three days to figure out who scored the goal. I didn't watch any TV or anything for days after, because the stress of it was just too much. So even though it was a very, very iconic moment, I would say myself and a few others, we didn't necessarily catch the best of it because we were very much living it.

"Even now, instead of feeling the emotion that people associate with that moment, I feel the exact opposite emotion because I remember thinking to myself, 'this is the lowest point in my career', but thankfully it never happened."

The most impressive element of Aguero's Premier League career is how it has consistently lived up to that finest hour through sheer weight of numbers.

Of players to have scored 20 or more goals, none can better Aguero's rate of one every 109 minutes in the history of the competition. That figure only climbs slightly to 128 minutes per goal against the so-called big six, with 44 in 75 appearances across those fixtures.

He has more hat-tricks than any other Premier League player (12) and only Alan Shearer (seven) has hit 20 goals in a campaign more frequently than Aguero, who accounts for six of the 10 20-goal seasons produced by City players in the division.

No player from outside Europe has more than his five top-flight titles in England but, even as a weekend victory lap looms in front of City's first home crowd of the season, another record is within reach.

Aguero's 182 Premier League goals make him the league's second highest one-club scorer, one shy of the 183 Wayne Rooney managed at Manchester United. It will not have escaped his attention.

"This is a guy that's obsessed with scoring goals," Onuoha explained. "Joleon Lescott told me if Sergio would see if the big players scored in games before him, it would doubly motivate him to go out and score in the next game.

"That desire to score goals is something that only exists in the people who do score the most, when you looking at Kane, looking at [Mohamed] Salah and so on, you know they all have that thing within them where like goals are everything to them.

"I spoke with Sergio just this week and asked him how many goals have you scored [for City] so far? And he said 258. I said, do you remember them? He said every single one. Every single goal."

After Everton there is the final frontier, the one major honour Aguero or City have not won during his prolific decade.

Even though he is highly unlikely to start next weekend's Champions League final against Chelsea, what price a decisive contribution from the bench at Estadio do Dragao? An injury-time winner that even Onuoha could fully enjoy this time around.

"The best-case scenario for me is Aguero starts the game and he scores five goals like a did against Newcastle a few years ago and City absolutely batter Chelsea in the final," he replied.

"I'm not for 90 minutes of stress. I'd rather he just went out as a dominant force. But yes, second best-case scenario, I'll take what you said."

 

***Nedum Onuoha's 'Kickback with Nedum' podcast is available via Apple, Spotify, Google and all other major podcast platforms***

Harry Kane's reported desire to leave Tottenham has created a race for his signature.

A lack of silverware is believed to be behind Kane's alleged urge to move on, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea the leading suitors.

In the post-COVID world where club finances have been hit hard, some clubs are getting creative.

 

TOP STORY - CHELSEA'S PLAYER-PLUS-CASH SWAP DEAL

Chelsea are launching a player-plus-cash swap deal to land Kane from Tottenham involving goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and forward Tammy Abraham, claims ESPN.

Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris is expected to leave the club, hence the lure of Kepa who has been back-up to Edouard Mendy, while Abraham, who is not a regular starter for the Blues, could help to fill the void left by Kane.

Kane is contracted with Tottenham for another three seasons and Spurs are believed to want a transfer fee of £150 million, so the addition of players would drop that figure down to an affordable level.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian reports that Sergio Aguero has agreed to a two-year deal with Barcelona, with his departure from Manchester City this off-season already confirmed.

- Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac will leave the Gunners, with Schalke 04 and Lazio circling for the Bosnian's signature, reports Football London.

- Fernandinho was set to exit Manchester City, but The Times claims he will renew with the club on a one-year deal.

- The manager merry-go-round is in full swing, with The Mirror claiming that Wolves are looking at ex-Roma boss Paulo Fonseca, while The Sun reports that Tottenham will try to convince Brendan Rodgers to join the club if Leicester City fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel suggested there could be something of a frenzy among the world's best football managers for Harry Kane in the coming months, adamant every coach will want the England star.

Media reports this week claimed Kane has informed Tottenham of his desire to leave the club, and Spurs' response did little to reassure supporters as they urged "everyone" to focus on the end of the season.

The stories have not gone away since, with Kane acknowledging on Thursday in an interview with former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville that he feels he is at a "crossroads" in his career.

Kane spoke of his yearning to challenge for trophies and reach the level of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, before stoking links with Manchester City when naming Kevin De Bruyne as the player who would help him score even more.

While Kane also insisted he would never say he wants to leave Spurs, the rumours combined with the decision to grant a major interview suggest he may well be angling for a move.

Although the rivalry between the two clubs could be a hindrance, Chelsea have also been tentatively linked with the Tottenham star, and Thomas Tuchel was asked about any interest on Friday.

The German was unequivocal in his admiration for Kane.

When asked if Chelsea were interested in Kane, a chuckling Tuchel said: "Good one!

"If you find any coach around the world who would not like to have Harry Kane in his team, call me again.

"I'd like to speak with the guy and hear about his ideas of scoring and attacking. Of course, everybody loves Kane.

"But let's be very, very clear, he's a player for Tottenham on a long-term contract, and we will not get involved in any press conference with any disrespectful comments about that."

One reason behind links between Kane and Chelsea is the fact the Blues' top-scorer in the Premier League this term is Jorginho with seven, all of which have been penalties.

Tuchel accepts that is not an ideal scenario.

"Is that what we want, Jorginho our top scorer? No. Not because we don't like Jorgi – he deserves all the fame and all the praise – but, of course, we don't want him to be our top scorer.

"But turn it around: if we let Timo take all the penalties, he could have seven more. Mason [Mount] scored from a penalty already and Jorgi has also missed. Timo missed [too].

"So, he could have had another 10 more goals and we have a very different discussion with the exact same performance.

"A lot of top scorers in Europe use penalties to improve their numbers to score. That's not with Timo. He is not that type of player.

"We try – in general we don't need to hide – we try to improve our statistics offensively. First of all, we do that with the guys who are here."

Ryan Mason understands why Harry Kane would want to play with Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne – hailing the Belgian as an "exceptional" talent.

Interim Tottenham boss Mason faced further questions on Friday about the future of striker Kane, who has dropped heavy hints he wants to leave Spurs at the end of the season.

Kane said in an interview with Gary Neville on The Overlap that De Bruyne's service to City's front players is "a striker's dream", and that has only fuelled speculation the England captain could be heading to the blue side of Manchester.

Mason, who counts Kane as a close friend, said he had not heard the interview.

"But I would love to play with Kevin De Bruyne as well," Mason said. "I think every footballer in the world, every footballer in the Premier League [would want to].

"He's an exceptional player and from what I know – I've spoke to him a few times – he's an exceptional person as well.

"If you ask any footballer in world football right now, if they'd like to play with Kevin De Bruyne, I think they'd say yes."

Kane could play for Tottenham for the last time on Sunday, when Mason's team visit Leicester City on the final day of the Premier League season.

Mason says that is where his focus must be, rather than on the future of Kane or any other member of his squad.

Kane also has a strong personal incentive to perform strongly, given he sits level with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah on 22 goals at the top of the league scoring charts.

"I've been out on the training pitch, preparing for a game that we need to win. Harry is going to be part of that," Mason said.

"I hope Harry scores a couple, I think his performances this season have warranted the Golden Boot.

"I think he's the best player in the Premier League. Hopefully from an individual point of view, he gets the Golden Boot as well and, in doing that, helps Tottenham get three points.

"That's the most important thing. I can't speak on transfer value. In football, things change so quickly. At the moment, Harry's a Tottenham player. He's going to be involved and hopefully he can win the Golden Boot."

Kane has scored seven goals across his career on the final matchday of Premier League seasons – only Andy Cole (nine), Les Ferdinand (nine) and Matt Le Tissier (eight) have scored more such goals in the competition.

He has also scored more Premier League goals against Leicester – a club he previously represented on loan – than he has past any other opponent, with his 14 goals in 11 games a striking record.

Seven of those goals have come in six games at the King Power Stadium, including a four-goal haul in May 2017. He followed that three days later with a hat-trick against Hull City in a breathtaking finish to a season that saw Kane score four Premier League hat-tricks.

Mason, who played with Kane at Tottenham, was forced to retire early from playing football due to a head injury, and the 29-year-old knows more than most the importance of snatching every great opportunity that arises in what can be a short career.

Kane's firm stance is that he wants to be in a team that wins trophies, and Tottenham have not unlocked the potential that looked to be there during much of Mauricio Pochettino's reign.

Post-career "regrets" are the sought-after striker's biggest fear, he told Neville.

"No player wants to end their career with regret, I don't think any human being likes having regrets," Mason said. "It's normal. If you speak to any player in the world, they'd probably say the same.

"My attention and every player's attention is on the weekend. At the moment, the only conversations I'm having are about the weekend, with not only Harry but also every other player in the squad."

Harry Kane says he would love to play with Kevin De Bruyne amid speculation linking the England captain to Manchester City.

Kane is reportedly keen to end a career-long association with Tottenham at the end of this season, with a desire to add silverware to his impressive individual numbers thought to be a prime motivation.

City are expected to be in the market for a centre-forward, with their all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero leaving at the end of his contract next month.

Pep Guardiola has previously expressed his admiration for Kane and, speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap, the 27-year-old said playing with Belgium star De Bruyne would be "a striker's dream"

Asked which player in the Premier League would help him score more goals, he replied: "De Bruyne, for sure.

"When I watch De Bruyne play, he's a special, special player and some of the balls I see him put in for City are just a striker's dream if I'm honest.

"He's outstanding, you've seen him, he's an outstanding player with the ball, off the ball, pressing, but his delivery is as good as I’ve ever seen to be honest."

Kane's former manager Mauricio Pochettino, now head coach at Paris Saint-Germain, has also been linked with an interest, but the striker told Neville he has eyes on Alan Shearer's all-time record Premier League goals mark of 260.

On 165, he is currently 95 behind and seventh overall.

"I guess, for me, I think injuries would be the biggest thing [to stop him getting the Premier League record]," Kane said.

"Of course, there's always the option of maybe moving abroad one day but I don't think that really interests me in the near future.

"I feel like I've got a good seven or eight years at the top. When you look at the [Lionel] Messis, your [Cristiano] Ronaldos, your [Zlatan] Ibrahimovics – they are all kind of getting better as they reach their early 30s. I'm still 27 so I've still got hopefully a long way to go. So, I mean, yeah [the record is] definitely there.

"I'm still way off but you know I like to think consistently I've scored 20-plus goals in my injury-free seasons in the Premier League. So if I can do that for the next four or five years then I'll be there."

Gianluigi Donnarumma's future is dominating headlines.

Milan want to re-sign the Italy international but time is running out.

A blockbuster move to LaLiga could be on the horizon…

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA TO SPAIN?

Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has been offered to Barcelona by his agent Mino Raiola, according to Diario AS.

Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season and the Italy international is yet to re-sign with Milan.

He has been linked with Serie A rivals Juventus, Barca, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Donnarumma's arrival could force Barca to sell star number one Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Kylian Mbappe's proposed transfer to Real Madrid does not hinge on head coach Zinedine Zidane, who could leave at the end of the season. Former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Madrid great Raul have emerged as the frontrunners should Zidane leave, but it will not impact Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe's future. Madrid have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

Sergio Aguero is set to accept a contract offer from Barca until June 2023, reports Fabrizio Romano. Aguero is poised to become a free agent once his deal with Manchester City expires. Lyon captain Memphis Depay is also on the verge of moving to Camp Nou on a free transfer.

- Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul, Atalanta's Josip Ilicic and Roma attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan are potential replacements for Milan's Hakan Calhanoglu, according to Tuttosport. Calhanoglu's contract is expiring at San Siro amid links with Juve, United and clubs in Qatar.

Monza are eyeing Juventus great Gianluigi Buffon, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Monza – owned by former Milan president Silvio Berlusconi – are currently in Serie B and missed out on promotion via the playoffs. Monza also boast Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Buffon has already revealed he will leave Juve at the end of the season.

It all comes down to this.

Whether you're flying high at the top of your local leagues, battling for the top 100 nationally or just desperate not to lose face with friends, matchday 38 of the Premier League is a decisive moment for fantasy football players the world over.

Amid last-minute transfers, wildcards and triple-captaincies, it can be difficult to find true value in selections that could give you the edge over your rivals.

That's where we come in.

Using Opta data, we have compiled a final selection of seven recommended players to draft in for this most dramatic of weekends...

 

MARTIN DUBRAVKA

If you were considering a Newcastle United goalkeeper but just didn't have the guts previously, now is the time to be bold.

Martin Dubravka kept his first clean sheet of the season last time out as the Magpies beat Sheffield United 1-0.

Next up, they face another relegated side in Fulham, who have scored a league-low nine goals at home in the whole of 2020-21 – and only one since February.

 

AARON CRESSWELL

West Ham's unlikely quest for Europe looks set to end in success, and Aaron Cresswell has played no small part.

The full-back has recorded eight assists this season, the most of any defender in the division. The last time a West Ham player assisted more was when Dimitri Payet set up 12 goals in 2015-16.

The Hammers conclude their campaign at home to Southampton, who haven't beaten David Moyes' side in their most recent six attempts.

STUART DALLAS

Only Patrick Bamford (16) has scored more league goals for Leeds United this season than Stuart Dallas (eight).

On Sunday, Marcelo Bielsa's men host West Brom, who have the leakiest defence in the whole of the division, conceding 73 times in 37 matches.

Leeds are also unbeaten in four against the Baggies, winning three of those games by 10-0 on aggregate, while they have not lost a league game at home to this weekend's visitors since January 2007.

JESSE LINGARD

Part of the reason Jesse Lingard found getting regular football tricky at Manchester United was the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, so it's fitting he should be chasing a record held by the Portugal star.

Last season, Fernandes set a Premier League best by registering 15 goal involvements (eight scored, seven assisted) despite not appearing in the competition until as late as February.

Lingard, who made his Hammers debut on February 3, has recorded nine goals and four assists for Moyes' men, a tally bettered only by Kelechi Iheanacho (12 goals, two assists) over the same time frame. Two more direct goal involvements against Southampton would see Lingard match Fernandes' exploits in 2020.

 

JOE WILLOCK

With his midweek winner for Newcastle against Sheffield United, Joe Willock became the youngest player to score in six consecutive Premier League appearances.

Remarkably, the Arsenal loanee – who is being tipped for a permanent move to the Magpies – has the best minutes-per-goal rate (127) of any Newcastle player in the league this season with at least three goals.

Should he net against Fulham, Willock will become only the second player for the club to score in seven Premier League games in a row, after Alan Shearer in 1996.

HARRY KANE

Whether he stays at Tottenham or not, Harry Kane will be eager to get on the scoresheet at Leicester and boost his chances of claiming the Golden Boot.

His record against the Foxes is promising. Kane has managed 14 goals in 11 Premier League meetings with the team now bossed by Brendan Rodgers, more than he has scored against any other opposition. Those goals have come at an average of one every 65 minutes.

He has hit seven of those at the King Power Stadium, including four in one game in May 2017.

 

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE

Could Liverpool's top-four hopes be dashed by a former Reds player?

Christian Benteke has scored 10 league goals this term, his first double-figure return since he got 15 in 2016-17.

That season's haul included a double away to Liverpool in April and, throughout his career, Benteke has enjoyed facing his old employers: only Andy Cole (eight) has scored more Premier League goals as a visiting player at Anfield than Benteke (five in four games).

Manchester City great Francis Lee said a move for Harry Kane would be "very difficult" as he questioned whether the England captain would be a long-term option.

Kane has given his strongest indication yet that he wants to leave Tottenham at the end of the season, stating his desire to play for a trophy-winning side.

Premier League champions City would fit that bill, while Kane has also been linked with the likes of Chelsea and neighbours Manchester United.

Kane, who will turn 28 in July, is level with Mohamed Salah at the top of the Premier League scoring charts heading into the final weekend of the season.

That suggests he remains in the very top bracket of Europe's top strikers, but Lee needs convincing that Kane would be capable of being a force for City for longer than a handful of seasons.

"There's three or four players who would suit us down to the ground and another three or four others who could slot into the team and probably be a sensation as well," Lee told Stats Perform.

He pointed to reports linking 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish with City, before adding Kane's name to the list of possible candidates for a close-season move.

"It'd be very difficult for Harry Kane to move to Manchester City because it would be big money for ... not a short period but maybe two or three years, something like that," Lee said.

Lee, who starred as a City forward from 1967 to 1974 and had a spell as the club's chairman from 1994 to 1998, knows there are plenty of prolific strikers who could potentially step into the City squad and replace Sergio Aguero, the record scorer who will leave on a free transfer at the end of this campaign.

Whether they are the right age and have the right qualities is a question for City manager Pep Guardiola, with Lee suggesting Romelu Lukaku, the 28-year-old former Manchester United and Everton forward, now at Inter, may have what it takes.

"There's a lot of players, there's quite a few players who would fit the bill," Lee said.

"Lukaku would fit the bill. But he didn't fit the bill when he played in the Premier League before. With Pep, a lot of it is attitude. If your attitude is right, and your training is right, and your fitness is right, everything is going on within the Pep plan, you get there."

Since Kane became a Tottenham regular in the 2014-15 season, he has scored 162 goals in 230 Premier League games, with Aguero managing 130 in 187 appearances over the same period.

Kane has managed a marginally better conversion rate when presented with what Opta defines as 'big chances', scoring from 54.77 per cent of such openings, compared to 51.48 per cent by Argentine frontman Aguero.

Aguero's minutes-per-goal record is better though, with one every 105.78 minutes to Kane's one every 120.83 minutes.

But ostensibly, they are well matched, in both being highly prolific. Their total shot conversion rate over the last seven league seasons is almost identical, with Kane netting 18.39 per cent of his efforts on goal and Aguero sticking away 18.34 per cent of his attempts.

That suggests it would be a near like-for-like replacement operation if Kane – five years younger than Aguero – came in from Spurs.

Lee is certain that City must replace Aguero. Although they have had success without him in their starting XI lately, and when deploying a 'false nine' system, Lee, 77, has no doubt Guardiola has to bring in a recognised goal-getter.

Lee said: "I think with the retirement of Sergio, that we definitely need one big striker. I'm not talking in size, I'm talking in reputation and ability. But who could it be? Because if you can't play in this team, you can't play in any team."

Tottenham star Harry Kane wants talks with chairman Daniel Levy after admitting he is considering his future with the club.

Reports emerged in England this week that Kane was considering a move away from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after the club's deeply disappointing season.

Spurs are seventh in the Premier League after Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Aston Villa and could find themselves without European football next season should they lose to Leicester City on the final day.

Tottenham were Champions League finalists two years ago under Mauricio Pochettino but will spend another season out of the competition in 2021-22, while they again failed to win a trophy this term, losing the EFL Cup final to Manchester City in April.

Their poor performances have been in spite of Kane's best efforts. The England striker is joint-top of the league's golden boot standings with 22, level with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, and has provided a league-high 13 assists.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea have all been credited with an interest in Kane and the 27-year-old has now confirmed he is questioning whether Spurs can match his ambitions.

After agreeing he had reached a "crossroads" in his career, Kane told former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville on The Overlap: "I think there's definitely a conversation to be had with the club. I want to be playing in the biggest games, biggest moments.

"This season, I'm watching the Champions League, the English teams in there doing amazing and they're the games I want to be involved in.

"It's a moment in my career where I have to reflect and see where I'm at and have a good, honest conversation with the chairman. I hope we can have that conversation.

"I'm sure he'll want to set out the plan of where he sees it but, ultimately, it's going to be down to me, how I feel and what's going to be the best for me in my career.

"He's always rewarded me with contracts. He's been fair with me, never just held me to a contract, so we've always had a good relationship.

"I don't know how that conversation is going to go, to be honest. He might want to sell me! He might be thinking, 'If I get 100million for you, why not?'. I'm not going to be worth that for the next two, three years.

"I've been there 16 years of my life, so I hope we can have a good, honest conversation."

Kane has lost three finals with Spurs, who were Premier League runners-up in 2016-17, but he has yet to win a trophy with the club he joined back in 2004.

While he admits "it's hard to hear" suggestions Spurs too often lose their nerve in big games, Kane does not wish to look back on a career of near misses.

"We've been so close and things could've been a lot different, but I understand we haven't got over the line as a club," he said. "We haven't won things, we haven't been dominant when you could say we've had the best team we've had for a very long time.

"For sure, you hear those comments and they eat at you a little bit inside. They almost get you going a little bit, trying to prove people wrong, and that's been my whole career in all aspects, really, getting called a one-season wonder and all stuff like that.

"When you hear stuff about your club, it's never easy. I know what it's like working day in, day out with the players, working hard in training, in the gym to try and win trophies. It hasn't happened but it doesn't mean we're not working as hard as everyone else.

"There have been some amazing moments, some amazing years for the club, so there are some positives there, but my profession is about winning. I want to win.

"I don't want to come to the end of my career and have regrets. I want to be the best I can be. I'd never say I'd stay at Spurs for the rest of my career; I'd never say I'd leave Spurs.

"People might look at it and say, 'He's desperate for trophies'. I still feel I've got almost another career to play. I'm not rushing anything; I'm not desperate to do anything.

"I feel like I can be even better, produce better numbers than I'm producing at the moment. I'm not afraid to say I want to be the best, to try to get on the level [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi got to. That's my aim: winning trophies, scoring 50, 60, 70 goals season in, season out. That's the standard I want to set myself."

Harry Kane looks set to be the centre of rumours and speculation this off-season after reportedly informing Tottenham he wants to leave the club.

The England international forward, who has scored 22 league goals this season, is contracted for another three years at Tottenham.

However Kane has not hidden his desire to win silverware, which has gone unfulfilled at Spurs.

 

TOP STORY – SKY BLUE PREFERENCE FOR KANE

Harry Kane has nominated Manchester City as his preferred destination and believes he has a verbal agreement with Tottenham to allow him to leave, claims The Times.

It is understood that Kane was convinced to remain with Spurs last year but as part of that he struck an agreement with chairman Daniel Levy to allow him to depart upon interest from City.

Kane will make renewed efforts to convince Levy and the Tottenham hierarchy to sell him this off-season. Spurs lost 2-1 to Aston Villa on Wednesday, and they may well miss out on Europe altogether.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are willing to offer up Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard as part of a move for Kane , claims Football Insider.

- The Red Devils are also ready to make a move for Southampton forward Danny Ings as they look to strength their front line reports The Telegraph.

- Another United target, Jadon Sancho , is being pursued by Chelsea , who have launched an £80m bid for the Borussia Dortmund talent according to The Sun.

- The list of suitors for United goalkeeper Dean Henderson is long according to Sky Sports, with Tottenham, Chelsea, Dortmund and Milan among those interested.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that veteran Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud could be set to link up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Milan .

- Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu has attracted interest from Qatari club Al Duhail according to Sky Sport Italia.

Harry Kane's future was the topic on everyone's lips after Tottenham's loss to Aston Villa, although Ryan Mason was more concerned with a result that put a dent in Spurs' hopes of qualifying for Europe.

Star forward Kane has been linked with a move away and signed off this season at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with a 2-1 defeat, leaving Spurs vulnerable to dropping out of the Premier League's top seven with one game to go.

The 10,000 fans inside the ground will hope Kane's lap of the pitch after the full-time whistle did not constitute a final farewell, but for interim boss Mason it was not the time to comment on speculation.

"I don't think at the moment it's time to answer questions on Harry Kane," he told the BBC's Match of the Day.

"Right now we've just lost a game in the Premier League. I will speak about the game all day long but not about individuals."

Reflecting on a match in which Spurs led early on through Steven Bergwijn's stunning strike, Mason lamented errors and slack defending as Sergio Reguilon put through his own net and Ollie Watkins completed the turnaround before the break.

"We started the game brightly, unfortunate circumstances for their first goal and they didn't have to earn the second one either," he said.

"I didn't think there was much in the game, just those moments. When you make an unfortunate mistake as we did it gives them a good feeling. We tried to break them down but didn't take those crucial moments.

"It was just about trying to keep our discipline. We lost our shape at times. It was about trying to stay patient and calm. They had pace on the counter and were always a threat. It is a disappointing evening."

Spurs conclude their season at FA Cup winners Leicester City on Sunday.

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