Lionel Messi has been tipped to leave Barcelona for either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

But Haaland could reportedly unlock Messi's future.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND TO CITY MEANS BARCA STAY FOR MESSI?

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could hold the key to Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Barca, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

City have been tipped to sign Messi, but should they step up their pursuit of Haaland, the Premier League leaders could reportedly drop their interest in the Barca captain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says new Barca president Joan Laporta is preparing a contract renewal for Messi, who is set to become a free agent at season's end.

- Bayern Munich are eyeing a move for Tottenham star Son Heung-min, claims Football Insider. Son has reportedly been offered a bumper new contract by Spurs, but the former Bayer Leverkusen forward is wanted in Munich.

- Sporting CP's Joao Palhinha, Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria and Sander Berge of Sheffield United are on the list of midfielders to replace City veteran Fernandinho, reports A Bola.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Juventus and Barca are interested in Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli. The Italy defender is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly seeking a €6million-a-year contract.

Napoli are eyeing Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi and sporting director Igli Tare, claims Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli. Gennaro Gattuso has been tipped to leave Napoli at the end of the season, with ex-Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri, Luciano Spalletti and Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric among the possible replacements. But Lazio duo Inzaghi and Tare are being monitored to replace Gattuso and Cristiano Giuntoli in Naples.

United are interested in Lille defender Sven Botman, according to Fabrizio Romano. Sevilla star Jules Kounde has been on United's radar but the club's asking price of €80m (£68m) is too steep.

- Romano also says there is no agreement with United and Paul Pogba over a new contract. Pogba has been linked with former club Juve, Madrid and PSG.

Harry Maguire bailed out what looked set to be a costly John Stones error as the Manchester United defender scored England's late winner in a 2-1 victory over Poland on Wednesday.

Gareth Southgate's men, who had begun a new World Cup qualifying campaign with wins over San Marino and Albania, just about did enough against a Poland side without the injured Robert Lewandowski.

The Three Lions were good value for their lead amid a commanding first-half display, Harry Kane becoming England's all-time leading penalty scorer on 10 as he converted after fine play by Raheem Sterling.

Stones gifted Poland a chance that Jakub Moder capitalised on in the 58th minute, though he played an important role as Maguire's goal maintain England's unblemished start in Group I.

 

England played the ball around with swagger during the early exchanges and almost opened the scoring in the eighth minute, only for Phil Foden to head Ben Chilwell's cross over after Mason Mount carved the Poland defence open.

Nevertheless, England did not have to wait much longer to take the lead, Kane confidently dispatching a penalty having seen the lively Sterling clumsily tripped by Michal Helik.

Kane was then denied a second just past the half-hour mark, latching on to Foden's clever first-time offload and forcing Wojciech Szczesny into an applaudable save down to his right from 20 yards.

But England were pegged back before the hour, Stones – who had put England in trouble a few minutes earlier only to be bailed out by Nick Pope – was robbed just outside his own penalty and Moder applied an emphatic finish after being fed by substitute Arkadiusz Milik.

England's response was meek, the home side's urgency showing little sign of improvement as the seconds ticked away – Foden's weak right-footed shot in the 69th minute causing Szczesny no bother.

There was to be a final hurrah for the hosts, however, as Stones made up for his earlier blunder by heading a corner delivery back into the danger zone and Maguire smashed past the helpless Szczesny to seal the points.

Manchester City will turn to Harry Kane if they cannot land Erling Haaland.

It is widely expected City will go hard to sign the Norway striker, who is being pursued by numerous big clubs.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea are all interested in the Borussia Dortmund man.

 

TOP STORY - KANE IN CITY'S SIGHTS

The Times reports that if City fail to win the race for Haaland's signature they will consider making an offer for Tottenham talisman Kane.

Kane is seven years older than Haaland but has a proven Premier League goal scoring record.

City have already confirmed Sergio Aguero's exit at the end of the season and are in the market to bolster their forward ranks.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail is reporting that City's main priorities in the transfer market are to sign Haaland and Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish, as they turn to a younger generation of talent. The duo are expected to cost £200 million.

- Football Insider has reported Lionel Messi has requested FC Barcelona sign countryman Aguero as part of his own negotiations to stay with the Catalans. Mundo Deportivo claims Aguero is not a priority signing for Barca, with Memphis Depay, Romelu Lukaku and Haaland top of the list.

- Gianluigi Donnarumma has been linked with a host of big clubs and Sky Sport Italia are reporting that contract talks with AC Milan are at a standstill. Milan are allegedly offering €7million per-year deal but the goalkeeper wants more.

- Voetbalkrant are reporting Southampton are interested in Anderlecht's teenage defender Marco Kana.

- Ex-Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin coach Lucien Favre is interested in becoming Celtic's new coach, according to the Daily Mail.

- Fichajes reports Leeds United's Rodrigo is unhappy in England and wants to return to Spain, with Real Betis and Sevilla in the mix.

England boss Gareth Southgate expects Poland to be highly motivated for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier at Wembley in the absence of captain and leading goalscorer Robert Lewandowski.

The Bayern Munich striker sustained a knee injury in Sunday's 3-0 win over Andorra - a game in which he scored twice - and it was confirmed by his club on Tuesday that he will miss the next month.

Lewandowski has scored 66 goals in 118 appearances for Poland, including nine goals in his last nine starts in all competitions.

But Southgate rejected the notion that England will be boosted by the prolific striker's absence for the clash between Group I's top two seeds.

"From our perspective, you're going to have players who are hungry to fill that opportunity," Southgate said at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"They're a good side with some good players. They will all fight for the cause and they're a good football team. They've got high motivation. 

"We've got to keep improving. We've shown a good level and we've got to keep stepping up.

"I understand the question, but I think Poland have excellent players. We would be naive to think they are less of a threat. 

"If we think of taking our foot off the gas, we'll get hurt. Of course, the public want to see the star names, but a team isn't about one player."

England will be looking to make it three wins from three in their March fixtures after following up a 5-0 win over San Marino with a 2-0 victory in Albania on Sunday.

Mason Mount was among the scorers in Tirana and has enjoyed an impressive campaign at club level with Chelsea.

He has played the most minutes of any Chelsea player (2,231) this term, while his 69 chances created is 41 more than anyone else. 

The 168 passes Mount has played into the opposition box is also by far the most among Chelsea players, form that he has carried over onto the international stage.

There had been doubts over the midfielder's fitness after he sat out part of training on Tuesday, but Southgate expects to have one of his key men available for the visit of Poland.

"He didn't warm up with the team but he did the rest of the session with his team-mates," Southgate said. "He should be fine. They are all available as far as we are aware.

"We've managed the team through the matches and the training sessions. We've been very cautious. We've got to balance that freshness. 

"We were very happy with the performance the other day. Around Europe, most countries have taken a similar slant."

Poland may be without their leading marksman for the game, but England have a fit and firing Harry Kane to lead their line.

The Tottenham striker's club future has been the subject of much speculation during the international break, but Southgate reiterated his captain will not be distracted by the rumours.

"He's so focused. I had a chat with him and he's very positive about the club," Southgate said. 

"He was talking about being a few points off the Champions League, into the EFL Cup final. I've got no worries about Harry Kane. He's a fantastic professional.

"Harry is highly motivated. All players want to win. He's got an opportunity with his club to do that."

Kane has scored on six days of the week for England but has never managed to do so on a Wednesday, failing in three different games on that day so far. 

Only Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney have scored on all seven of the days of the week for the Three Lions.

Harry Kane set his sights on Poland after scoring one goal and creating another for Mason Mount in England's 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Albania.

Kane had gone six games without finding the back of the net for his country before opening the scoring with a first-half header at the Air Albania Stadium in Tirana on Sunday.

The Three Lions captain turned provider after the break, picking out Mount with a measured pass which the Chelsea midfielder controlled in an instant before dinking over goalkeeper Etrit Berisha and into the back of the net.

Kane and Phil Foden also struck the woodwork in a dominant display from Gareth Southgate's side, who have started their bid to qualify for next year's tournament in Qatar with straightforward victories over San Marino and now Albania.

A much bigger test is expected when England face Poland in Group I on Wednesday, but captain Kane says they will go into that showdown with great confidence.

The Tottenham striker told ITV Sport: "I thought it was a really good performance, maybe a bit slow at the start but we changed our formation and I think that helped.

"Sometimes you go through spells when things don't go your way, that is part of being a striker. You just have to stay focused and it was great to get three points.

"We need to keep working hard but we are in a good place. Poland will be the toughest game in the group but we are ready for that. If we can win that, that puts us in a great position."

England talisman Kane has now had a direct hand in 18 goals in his last 13 games at international level, scoring 11 and providing seven assists.

The 27-year-old's header ensured he has scored in each of his last seven away qualifying matches, the longest ever run by an England player.

Harry Kane scored his first international goal in 16 months as England cruised to a 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Albania in Tirana.

Kane had not found the back of the net for his country since November 2019, but the captain opened the scoring with a first-half header at the Air Albania Stadium on Sunday.

The striker then set up Mason Mount to double England's lead in the second half as the Group I leaders made it two wins out of two following their 5-0 hammering of San Marino on Thursday.

Kane and Phil Foden struck the woodwork in a dominant display from Gareth Southgate's side, with Nick Pope becoming the first goalkeeper not to concede a goal in his first six England games as second-placed Albania failed to register a shot on target.

Harry Kane must leave Tottenham if he harbours ambitions of winning trophies, according to Jermain Defoe.

Kane is contracted to Spurs until June 2024, but the England captain revealed he will make a decision on his future after Euro 2020.

Defoe believes the prolific 27-year-old striker will have to turn his back on his boyhood club if he is hungry for medals.

The Rangers and ex-Tottenham striker told Darren Bent’s Boot Room on talkSPORT: "If you'd have asked me this question a few years ago, I'd have said he should have stayed there, what he's done at the football club – he's a legend.

"Since I've come away from that and gone to Rangers, I've seen that mentality and played for another big club, the importance of playing for that club and winning every game, that mentality, the standards and demands.

"You have to win and bring silverware, otherwise it's not good enough. When you actually achieve that and the feeling you get from that, wow man. I wish I had that earlier on in my career.

"If Harry Kane wants that and wants to win trophies then it looks like he has to go.

"I don't think it will be easy for him to leave and he might be looking at it and want to finish off being the highest goalscorer in the club's history and see where that takes him.

"He can hopefully win a few trophies, but if he's really craving medals then he really has to go."

Kane has been directly involved in 30 goals in the Premier League this season (17 goals, 13 assists). The England captain is the first player to reach that total in the 2020-21 competition, while it is the first time he has achieved the feat since 2017-18 (30 goals, two assists).

Tottenham and England star Harry Kane said he will decide his future after the upcoming European Championships.

Kane has been linked with Premier League rivals Manchester United and Manchester City, as well as LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

The 27-year-old striker, who emerged from Tottenham's youth team in 2009, is contracted to Spurs until 2024.

But Kane is shutting out speculation over his future as he prepares for Tottenham's EFL Cup final against City next month and England's bid to claim their first piece of international silverware since 1966 at the rescheduled Euro 2020.

"I think that's a hard question to answer right now," Kane told the Telegraph when asked about the noise surrounding his future at Tottenham.

"It's important that all my focus is on the two England games coming up now and the rest of the season with Spurs and then the Euros.

"To be thinking about speculation or rumours would be damaging in terms of my own performance.

"I always like to be focused on one goal and one job and that's to finish strong with Spurs, win these qualifiers with England and hopefully go on and have a great Euros.

"Look, I try to stay out of that speculation as much as possible.

"I'm fully focussed on doing the job on the pitch from now until the end of the summer, and then we'll see where we go from there."

Jose Mourinho's Tottenham are sixth in the Premier League, three points outside of the Champions League qualification places ahead of the April 25 EFL Cup decider against City.

England have been drawn in Group D for Euro 2020, which gets underway in June, alongside Croatia, Scotland and Czech Republic.

Kane has scored 17 Premier League goals this season, while he has netted 27 across all competitions for Tottenham in 2020-21.

Harry Kane will not be allowed to pick and choose when he plays for England, Gareth Southgate has said.

Southgate became embroiled in something of a verbal tussle with Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho earlier this season over the England manager's use of talisman Kane.

The Three Lions captain started twice in the Nations League in November, playing the entire game in a 2-0 loss to Belgium before going off in the 76th minute during a 4-0 rout of Iceland.

Kane is on 32 international goals, 21 shy of Wayne Rooney's all-time record of 53 strikes for the Three Lions.

At 27, Kane has Rooney's record well in his sights, but asked if he will let his skipper choose when he plays over the course of the three World Cup qualifiers coming up for England, Southgate laid down the law.

"If I allowed Harry to make that decision, he'd play every minute!" said Southgate, who will celebrate his 50th match in charge of England when his team host minnows San Marino on Thursday.

"So that won't be happening. It's brilliant we've got a captain who wants to play every minute of every game.

"We've got to be mindful he had extra-time last Thursday and another high-intensity game on Sunday. We've got that situation with a lot of the players really.

"We've got to make sure we manage the fixtures correctly, we've got to manage training this week as well.

"And of course we've got to be just as fresh for the games with Albania and Poland as we do tomorrow night so that's not an unusual challenge for us and our coaching team, and for our medical team and physical performance team.

"But we always communicate well with the players and I think we're in a good place going into the game tomorrow."

Kane has scored 20 goals in 19 appearances in qualifiers for major tournaments, with only Rooney (30) netting more in these games in England's history. 

Southgate, meanwhile, will be the seventh manager to reach the 50th game milestone for the Three Lions.

He has won 29 of his 49 games so far (D10 L10), and a win would see him equal Ron Greenwood and Roy Hodgson's 30 wins in their first 50, but three behind the record of 33 set by Alf Ramsey and Walter Winterbottom.

While Kane will no doubt be a key figure for England this month, two players who may not be involved are Marcus Rashford and Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka.

Rashford is at St George's Park but is struggling with an injury, while Saka is yet to join up with the squad.

"They're both doubtful," Southgate confirmed. "Marcus is more doubtful than Bukayo at the moment but we're going to assess them.

"Marcus has been very keen to be with us. He wasn't with us so much in the autumn so he's been keen to be part of the group.

"Bukayo has been getting assessed at the club but he'll be with us in the next couple of days."

Could Harry Kane end up at Real Madrid?

Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is one of Europe's most sought-after and expensive players, while Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe also commands a hefty fee.

With that in mind, Tottenham's Kane has reportedly emerged as a transfer target in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID ADD KANE TO LIST

Real Madrid are interested in signing Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to SER Deportivo.

Madrid have been heavily linked with in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe.

But Madrid's hierarchy reportedly feel a deal to prise Kane from Tottenham may be easier.

 

ROUND-UP

- Wednesday's Marca and Diario AS newspapers are dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo. Marca claims Ronaldo would exit Juventus to return to Madrid, who he left in 2018. Diario AS says Juve are ready to listen to offers for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner. Ronaldo has also been linked with former club Manchester United.

- Sport reports Manchester City defender Eric Garcia will join Barcelona on a five-year deal. It will be the first major signing under new president Joan Laporta as the LaLiga giants also eye Haaland and look to re-sign superstar captain Lionel Messi, who has been tipped to join either PSG or City on a free transfer at season's end.

- TV3 claims Ronald Koeman will continue as Barca head coach in 2021-22 following talks with Laporta. RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann and club great Xavi had been linked.

Inter are ready to reignite their interest in Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul, claims Calciomercato. The Serie A leaders have previously been linked with the Argentina midfielder. Antonio Conte's Inter are also tracking Madrid outcast Isco, according to Sport.

- L'Equipe claims United are considering a move for Tottenham captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris amid doubts over David de Gea. Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma has also emerged as a possible target.

Bayern Munich are in talks to sign Madrid attacker Lucas Vazquez on a free transfer, according to AS.

Liverpool, Juventus and Roma are among clubs interested in Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez, says AS. The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of 2021-22.

Tottenham bounced back from a dreadful week to keep their hopes of a top-four Premier League finish alive. 

A north London derby defeat to Arsenal was followed by a shocking Europa League exit at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb, but Jose Mourinho's men comfortably swatted aside Aston Villa 2-0 to move to within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea.

The Gunners, meanwhile, produced a stirring comeback to seal a 3-3 draw against West Ham, David Moyes' side giving them more than a little assistance. 

There were also wins for Brighton and Hove Albion and Leeds United over Newcastle United and Fulham respectively. 

Using Opta data, we look at some of the more quirky facts from the weekend's top-flight action.

 

Spurs bounce back from European nightmare

Jose Mourinho demanded a positive response from his side after their dismal Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday and they duly delivered. 

Goals in either half from Carlos Vinicius and Harry Kane sealed a fourth win in five Premier League games for Spurs, while they became the third side to win six consecutive top-flight away games against Villa, after Manchester United (2003-2007) and Liverpool (2011-2019). 

Vinicius has now scored nine goals in his nine starts for the club across all competitions, the Brazilian needing just 12 shots to do so.

That kind of accuracy is familiar to Kane, who has been directly involved in 30 goals in the Premier League this season (17 goals, 13 assists). The England captain is the first player to reach that total in the 2020-21 competition, while it is the first time he has achieved this since 2017-18 (30 goals, two assists).

Villa might point to the absence of the talismanic Jack Grealish as a contributing factor to their poor display. The Villains have a 17 per cent win ratio in the Premier League games without the England international, which rises to 50 per cent when he is in the side.

Hammers give Arsenal a helping hand

West Ham players scored five goals in their clash against Arsenal at the London Stadium, yet David Moyes' side had to make do with a 3-3 draw. 

The Hammers took a 3-0 lead against Mikel Arteta's men, but ended up with just a point after Tomas Soucek and Craig Dawson put into their own nets before Alexandre Lacazette's late leveller. 

It meant Moyes' outfit became the first team to score two own goals in a Premier League game since Swansea (also against Arsenal) in January 2017, while Soucek became the first player to score at both ends of the pitch in the same home top-flight game for West Ham since Frank Lampard against Leicester City in November 1998.

The collapse meant West Ham failed to win after being three goals ahead in a Premier League game for the first time since September 1998 when they lost 4-3 to Wimbledon. 

Following their 3-3 draw with Tottenham earlier in the season, the result meant the Hammers have been involved in two of the Premier League's three three-goal comebacks this season – the most instances in a single campaign since 2010-11 (also three). 

There is nothing boring about them these days. 

Leeds return to Yorkshire with capital gains

Leeds' trips to London have largely been fruitless affairs in recent years, but they returned to winning ways in the capital with a slender triumph over Fulham. 

Patrick Bamford and Raphinha were on target as Marcelo Bielsa's side sealed a first win there in 17 games across all competitions, with their previous success coming in the shape of a 3-1 win against QPR in 2017. 

Bamford brushed off his disappointment at not being included in Gareth Southgate's England squad to become the first Leeds player to score in four straight league appearances against a single club since Luciano Becchio against Middlesbrough between 2010 and 2012. 

Joachim Andersen had given the Cottagers hope of securing at least a point when he joined Bjarne Goldbaek and Claus Jensen as the only Danish players to score for the club in the Premier League. 

Raphinha brought home the bacon for Leeds, though, scoring his sixth goal since his first top-flight start in November – only Bamford has scored more (seven) in that period.

Magpies' rotten run against Brighton continues

Brighton could scarcely have handpicked more accommodating opponents than Steve Bruce's sorry Newcastle.

The Seagulls' comfortable victory was their second at the Amex Stadium in 2021 – double what they achieved at home in 2020. 

Leandro Trossard, Danny Welbeck and Neal Maupay were on target for the hosts, with the former pair's strikes both coming from outside the penalty area – the first time Brighton have scored two such goals since a clash with QPR in April 2017.

They have now played more Premier League games against Newcastle (eight) without losing than against any other side in the competition, Graham Potter's side winning four and drawing four. 

The Magpies have scored just one goal in those games, with only Sheffield United having faced a side more often while netting just once in the competition, the Blades hitting the back of the net on a solitary occasion in 10 games against Manchester City.

Harry Kane acknowledged Tottenham's Europa League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb was "embarrassing" but the striker was delighted with their response at Aston Villa.

After losing a north London derby to Arsenal last weekend, Spurs crashed out of Europe in midweek, going down 3-0 in Croatia after winning the first leg 2-0.

They became the first English team since Manchester City in 2016-17, against Monaco, to be eliminated after claiming a two-goal lead from the first leg.

Jose Mourinho and his Tottenham players were critical of their own performance in the aftermath but victory at Villa got them back on track.

Kane played a part in the opener for strike partner Carlos Vinicius, netting his first Premier League goal, before a penalty – won and converted by the England captain – took the Spurs talisman to 30 goal involvements in the competition this season.

"Massively [important]," Kane told Sky Sports of the win. "The past couple of games have not been good enough in all areas really, so we knew we had to bounce back.

"Just before the international break as well, we didn't want to go away with three losses or two losses and a draw.

"We knew we needed to win. The boys put in a great shift and we deserved it."

Mourinho called Tottenham's commitment into question after Thursday but they won 73 duels to Villa's 57 in a determined display back in league action.

Their performance was epitomised by Lucas Moura, who created four chances – including an assist – but also won six fouls.

The Brazilian was the only visiting player to contest more duels (21) than Kane (19).

Kane appeared to agree with Mourinho's assessment of the Dinamo match while highlighting the clear improvement on Sunday.

"The attitude [was an issue]. I think the last couple of games we dropped below our standards in that aspect," he said.

"Working hard together, all in the same direction, we lost a bit of that. It was nice to see that back today, everybody fighting, putting our bodies on the line.

"That's what we're going to need from now until the end of the season if we're going to give the top four a push.

"Whenever you go through a difficult couple of games like we have... a London derby and then obviously going out of the Europa League in that fashion, it was embarrassing for us as players.

"The only way we can give back to the fans, give back to the club is to get back out there on the pitch and show what we're made of. I think we've done that."

Harry Kane says there are "no words" that will make amends for Tottenham's dismal week. 

Spurs had the chance to move on from their north London derby defeat to Arsenal last weekend by securing a place in the last eight of the Europa League, having taken a 2-0 lead over Dinamo Zagreb into the second leg in Croatia on Thursday.

But an insipid performance saw Tottenham crash out of the competition as Mislav Orsic's hat-trick inspired a stunning 3-0 home win after extra time.

That led to captain Hugo Lloris labelling Spurs a "disgrace", while the World Cup-winning goalkeeper also hinted at deeper issues within the club.

Jose Mourinho's beleaguered men have the chance to return to winning ways on Sunday when they visit Aston Villa in the Premier League, but they will need to improve on a poor record on the road.

They have lost four of their last five top-flight games away from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - as many as they had in their previous 20. 

Kane - who has scored five goals in his last three Premier League appearances against Villa, netting braces in his last two matches – made no excuses for Tottenham's recent form and says the players need to do their talking at Villa Park. 

Posting on his social media channels, the England captain said: "Time to bounce back tomorrow after a very disappointing week. No words will atone for the last two games, we just have to show our response on the pitch!"

Tottenham are eighth in the Premier League, six points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, although the Blues have played a game more.

 

As the Premier League season heads towards the home straight, so too do your fantasy football leagues.

Hurt by captaining Raheem Sterling last week before he twice missed out for Manchester City? Or wondering how to replace the injured Son Heung-min?

Time is of the essence when making these big calls, especially when there are only four league fixtures this weekend.

Fortunately, you can consider our weekly Opta-powered picks, this time featuring two of Son's Tottenham team-mates.
 

EMILIANO MARTINEZ

If your confidence in Spurs is wavering, with Son out and a north London derby defeat fresh in the memory, you might prefer to hedge your bets.

Aston Villa, Tottenham's opponents, have the standout goalkeeper in action this week in the form of Martinez, who is a reliable source of frequent clean sheets. His 14 is a total only topped by Ederson (16) this season.

Among keepers to play 500 minutes in the Premier League this term, ex-Arsenal man Martinez has the best save percentage (77.6).

LEWIS DUNK

The big battle at the bottom sees Brighton and Hove Albion host Newcastle United on Saturday, in a match that is unlikely to provide a wealth of goals based on the form of both sides.

However, defender Dunk is perhaps as likely a scorer as any. He has four in the league this season, making this his best top-flight campaign for goals, while only Neal Maupay (seven) has more for Brighton in 2020-21.

Add in the potential boost of a clean sheet and Dunk could be a real difference-maker.

STUART DALLAS

The versatile Dallas is listed as a defender, allowing him to accrue additional points for attacking contributions despite spending large parts of his career in midfield.

Indeed, no defender in the division has netted more goals than the Northern Ireland international (five) this season.

Dallas, set to face struggling Fulham with Leeds United on Friday, also has two assists for seven total goal involvements.

JESSE LINGARD

Midfield loanee Lingard was kept on the sidelines last weekend as West Ham visited Manchester United, his parent club.

But this week has already improved for the Hammers star following his return to the England fold, earning a recall following four goals and an assist in six league appearances since his temporary move. He has been on target in his past two London Stadium outings.

Now Lingard has Arsenal in his sights, and he has a great record against the Gunners. Indeed, he has not scored more against any other team in English football, having managed four goals in seven starts in all competitions against the north London giants.

GARETH BALE

Still fancy Tottenham to beat Villa? Great, we have some options for you - starting with Bale.

The winger was quiet against Arsenal but has still been involved in six goals (four goals, two assists) in his past five Premier League games, having netted just once in his first seven on his return to the competition this season.

Bale's previous meeting with Villa, back in December 2012, saw him score his first career league hat-trick in a 4-0 Spurs win.

HARRY KANE

If not Bale, then why not Kane? Or pair the two, as they are each likely to be heavily involved if Tottenham turn in a much improved performance from the Arsenal match.

Kane has six goals in six Premier League games against Villa, including five in his past three.

His most recent two meetings with Villa have seen the England captain net braces - in March 2016 and August 2019.

ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE

While Bale and Kane cannot again perform as poorly as they did in the north London derby, Lacazette will hope to match the standard he set.

Handed the captaincy and the central striking role from the start as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was disciplined, the Arsenal number nine netted the winner and is now the club's leading marksman in the Premier League this season with 10.

West Ham should be especially wary of Lacazette, who has scored six goals in his past eight league London derbies. He has been on target in four of those encounters this term and Arsenal have won all of them.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane will start against Dinamo Zagreb, as Jose Mourinho will not take the risk of resting his star man with Son Heung-min ruled out.

Spurs lead the Europa League last-16 tie 2-0 after a double from Kane in the first leg.

The England captain suffered a knock to his knee in that match but was fit to play a part in the north London derby against Arsenal on Sunday.

Resting Kane was a prospect put to Mourinho at his pre-match news conference ahead of the Dinamo game, but it is not one the head coach is contemplating.

He already has a weakened forward line with Son injuring his hamstring in the 2-1 loss to Arsenal.

The problem to Son is not thought to be as bad as first feared, but the match in Zagreb will come too soon.

"If one of you ask me is he [Kane] going to play on Thursday or is he going to rest, I answer already that he's going to play," Mourinho said.

"The game is open, it's an important game for us so he plays on Thursday. I do not think it is such a good lead.

"If we lose 1-0, 2-1, 3-1 we would qualify, but if we qualify with a defeat in this game I will not be happy. 

"We don't go there to defend the lead. We go to try and win."

Mourinho is not keen on Kane playing three matches for England during the international break.

"I have no control," said Mourinho. "If I could choose I would love them all to go [on international duty]. It is a plus for us and pride for them.

"But we wouldn’t like them to play three matches. 

"But it's not in our hands. I cannot do Gareth’s [Southgate] work in the same way he doesn’t try to do mine. 

"He doesn’t give any public opinion about who to give more minutes to or who to rest, so I don’t feel confident about doing that.

"He does what he wants and what is best for the team."

Asked about whether Son would be fit to play for South Korea against Japan next week, Mourinho replied: "If a player is injured and cannot play, a friendly or official, it doesn't matter the match it is.

"So if we arrived next week and Sonny is injured and we can prove that to the South Korean Football Association, what's he going to do there? Nothing.

"So if a player cannot play for the club, he cannot play for the country. I do not know when he is back but definitely out [against Dinamo]."

Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso, meanwhile, is back in training and on the brink of a comeback after three months out injured.

Mourinho added: "Very talented player with very competitive qualities. 

"I don't think he has 90 minutes in his legs but he's looked very confident in these three training sessions with the team. 

"The team needs him and he is very competitive. I think even for some other players he will help some, he will scare others and I think we need that."

Spurs have progressed from each of their previous three knockout ties in the Europa League when they have won the first leg.

They have also won three of their past five away matches in the knockout stages of major European competitions (L2), having been winless in 11 such games prior to this run.

Son will be a miss as he has scored in each of his past three away starts in European competition, the first Spurs player to do so since Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.

Also on the sidelines is the suspended Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Joe Rodon, who is not in the Europa League squad.

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