Tottenham have urged "everyone" to focus on finishing the 2020-21 season as well as possible amid reports Harry Kane has informed the club he wishes to leave.

Kane is a product of Spurs' academy and has developed into one of the world's best strikers, but over the past two years the club have seemingly struggled to match his ambitions.

The England captain has regularly been linked with moves away from Tottenham over the years, though those reports have rarely appeared to carry much substance – until now.

Sky Sports News claimed on Monday that Kane has told the club he wants to leave at the end of the season, with trophies on his agenda.

Spurs have not won silverware since the 2007-08 EFL Cup, with Kane a part of the sides that lost the finals of the 2018-19 Champions League and this season's EFL Cup.

He reiterated his need to challenge for major trophies after that EFL Cup defeat to Manchester City last month when he was named Premier League Player of the Year at the London Football Awards.

He said: "Individual awards are great, they are fantastic achievements. Probably when I look back at the end of my career, I will go over and take in a little bit more.

"The goal right now as a player is to win team trophies. As much as this is great, I want to be winning the biggest prizes that there is to offer as a team, and we are not quite doing that.

"It is bittersweet. I would rather be winning team trophies than this one. It is what it is. I am proud to win it. It means it has been a good season on the pitch, so I have just got to try to continue what I am doing."

Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are all thought to be keen on Kane given their respective desires for reinforcements at the top end of the pitch.

Spurs responded to the rumours with a statement that will likely do little to ease the worries of supporters dreading Kane's exit.

The widely reported statement read: "Our focus is on finishing the season as strongly as possible. That's what everyone should be focused on."

Kane has been in excellent form again this season, his 35 goal involvements (22 goals, 13 assists) in the Premier League being the third-most among Europe's top five leagues – only Robert Lewandowski (47 – 40 goals, seven assists) and Lionel Messi (39 – 30 goals, nine assists) boast a better record in 2020-21.

His overall Premier League tally stands at 165, meaning he has a very real chance of breaking Alan Shearer's all-time record of 260, an achievement that would clearly be aided by him staying in England should he leave Spurs.

Kane's 22 goals this season have him level with Mohamed Salah in the race for the Golden Boot, though he has played two matches fewer than the Egypt forward, who has also netted six penalties to his rival's four.

Should he beat Salah and the rest, Kane would become only the third player after Shearer and Thierry Henry to win the Golden Boot three times, having also claimed it in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Despite Kane's brilliance, Spurs look unlikely to secure a return to the Champions League for 2021-22, as they head into their final two matches of the season five points adrift of Chelsea in fourth.

Ferran Torres is reaping the benefits of relocating a positive outlook at Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola stating the Spain forward was "upset with the world, with many situations".

Torres netted a fine hat-trick, which began with a spectacular improvised volley, when the Premier League champions won 4-3 at Newcastle United last Friday.

Those goals moved Torres onto 19 for club and country this season, although his form tailed off considerably during the middle of the campaign – a situation that was compromised by a bout of coronavirus.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's match at Brighton and Hove Albion, Guardiola reiterated the value he places upon players remaining upbeat when form and selection are not going their way, suggesting Torres has fallen short in this regard at times since joining from Valencia for £21.2million last August.

"The players, like teams, are not a stable situation. There is up and down with all players," Guardiola said.

"Ferran was in an incredible mood when he arrived, [then] in one period sad, upset with the world, with many situations and that's why he didn't play good. When he changed his mind and he was open and he started to smile again, always he played good.

"And the football depends on the mood, the confidence of the players. We try to help them but it depends on them. You can complain or you can move forward all the time. And the guys who move forward and they are positive, always football rewards you.

"When you start to complain all the time, then the train comes over you and other guys will take your position.

"Football doesn’t wait. If you're not in the right moment, there will be another guy who will take your position. When you are positive, the guys are always playing good."

Torres has scored 13 times for City in all competitions this season, putting him level with Gabriel Jesus. Only Ilkay Gundogan (16), Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling (all 14) have scored more.

The 21-year-old's minutes-per-goal rate of 159.85 is comfortably the best in Guardiola's squad, with no other player who has scored five or more times below 200 minutes.

Nevertheless, his season can be split into three fairly clear sections.

From the start of the campaign up to and including a goalscoring contribution to a home win over Newcastle on Boxing Day, Torres scored seven times for his club and also hit a hat-trick in Spain's 6-0 Nations League thrashing of Germany.

For City, he averaged 0.56 goals per 90 minutes and boasted a shot conversion rate of 20 per cent, out-performing an expected goals (xG) figure of 5.75 and vindicating Guardiola's decision to frequently deploy a natural winger at the centre of his attack.

"We used him in that position because for quite a long period of the season Gabriel and Sergio [Aguero] were injured," he said.

"We have players that can play in different positions and Ferran is one of them."

Then, COVID-19 struck and Torres became a more marginal figure, featuring 10 times between the turn of the year and the March international break and netting a solitary goal against League Two Cheltenham in the FA Cup.

That paltry return came from 15 shots over this period, amounting to a conversion rate of 6.67 per cent and an xG under-performance (2.24).

It means the stint of low mood that Guardiola mentioned is not too hard to pick out, although back-to-back goals in Spain's World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Kosovo appear to sparkTorres once more.

In six appearances and five starts for City since, he has five goals at a rate of one every 83.2 minutes, far exceeding his 1.77 xG.

Torres' conversion rate during this most recent spell is up at 41.67 per cent and the poaching instincts that were to the fore in his second and third goals against Newcastle are borne out in the fact he has scored three of his past four "big chances", according to Opta.

His opener does not fall into that category, but such an ingenious move coming off is perhaps indicative of a player back in form and giving his manager a useful problem ahead of this month's Champions League final.

"The goal was so nice, difficult execution. An absolutely talented action," Guardiola added.

"In training sessions he always has the ability in front of goal. He is a good finisher. He has pace, quality and good decision-making."

As City continue to be linked with mega-money moves for a new striker and Aguero prepares to leave the Etihad Stadium after a record-breaking decade, maybe they have a very useful solution in-house.

Europe's top five leagues all conclude this week and there are still plenty of matters to be resolved – not least who will be crowned champions in Spain and France.

Every division has something riding on the final days of the season, whether it be top spot, European qualification, or relegation.

Ahead of what is set to be a dramatic conclusion to the Premier League, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Bundesliga campaigns, we look at the state of play in each league.

 

PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester City wrapped up the Premier League title with three games to spare, making them the first team in the competition's history to win the title despite being as low as eighth on Christmas Day.

All three relegation places were also decided with three games remaining – a Premier League record – with Fulham joining Sheffield United and West Brom in dropping down a division.

That leaves just the European spots to fight for, and it is shaping up to be an entertaining end to the English top-flight season in that regard. Manchester United are guaranteed a top-four finish, but five other teams – Leicester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham – are in the mix for the two other Champions League berths with two rounds of games to go.

There is also the small matter of the Europa League places for the teams finishing in fifth and sixth, as well as a spot in the inaugural Europa Conference League, which goes to the team in seventh, meaning everyone from 10th-placed Leeds United to Leicester in third have something to play for. That includes Arsenal, who have not missed out on European football of some sort in 25 years.

LALIGA 

The Spanish title race appeared to take a dramatic twist on Sunday as Real Madrid leapfrogged Atletico Madrid at the summit for around 20 minutes. However, Atleti scored two late goals to beat Osasuna, meaning they are two points ahead of their city rivals heading into the final round of games.

Atleti, who have led the way at the top for 29 matchdays, now need to match Madrid's result against Villarreal when they travel to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid on the final day of the season. It is worth noting that Los Blancos have the superior head-to-head record, so a draw would not be enough for Atleti if Madrid win.

Barcelona are officially out of the title race, meanwhile, but they are assured of a top-four finish along with Sevilla. Real Sociedad and Real Betis occupy the Europa League spots, while Villarreal are in a Europa Conference League berth, though just one point separates the three teams so that could all yet change.

To complicate matters, Villarreal could still qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League final against Manchester United.

At the bottom end of the division, Eibar are already relegated and they will be joined by two of Valladolid, Elche or Huesca. Valladolid must beat Atletico in their final game to have a chance of staying up, while the onus is on Elche to better Huesca's result as they are level on points but have an inferior head-to-head record.

LIGUE 1

The Ligue 1 title battle is also going right down to the wire in a three-way dogfight. After a thrilling race that has lasted the course of the season, underdogs Lille lead heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain by one point with one matchday left.

Monaco have won seven of their previous eight games and are three points off leaders Lille, though they require both Les Dogues and PSG to slip up on the final day, as well as beating Lens. Should it come down to goal difference, PSG hold a big lead over their two title rivals.

Incredibly, PSG are still not yet technically assured of a Champions League place as Lyon in fourth are only three points worse off, although it would take a defeat for the reigning champions and victory for Lyon, plus a goal swing of 16, for them to miss out.

Monaco's opponents Lens, incidentally, also have plenty to play for at the weekend as they are sixth – enough for Europa Conference League qualification – but can still be caught by Rennes in seventh, while they could yet overtake Marseille in fifth if results go their way.

At the opposite end of the table, there may only be one spot left to be settled in the bottom three – Dijon and Nimes are both already down – but six teams are still very much in danger of the drop. Nantes occupy the relegation play-off spot, with Lorient, Brest and Strasbourg just a point better off, and Bordeaux and Reims only two points clear.

SERIE A

With Inter being crowned Scudetto winners for the first time in 11 years at the start of the month, the biggest storyline in Serie A regards Juventus' top-four fate. The dethroned champions, who had finished top nine years running before this season, are currently down in fifth.

Juve are one point behind Napoli and Milan in the two spots directly above them, while Atalanta are three points better off in second and have the better head-to-head record against the Bianconeri.

Andrea Pirlo's side are therefore in need of favours on the final day in what is poised to be a nail-biting finale in terms of those Champions League places. Lazio will finish sixth, so they are assured of Europa League football next term, while Roma hold a two-point advantage over Sassuolo in the Europa Conference League position.

Parma and Crotone are both down already and one of Benevento or Torino will join them, the latter currently three points outside of the relegation zone and with a game in hand to play on Benevento.

BUNDESLIGA

RB Leipzig provided Bayern Munich with some stern competition for a while, but the Bavarian giants' quality eventually told and they are Bundesliga champions for a ninth year running.

It's not only the title race that's done and dusted in Germany, in fact, as RB Leipzig are certain of second place, and both Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg will join them in the Champions League next season.

Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, will finish in fifth and sixth respectively regardless of events later this week.

However, Union Berlin have work to do if they are to finish seventh for a place in the Europa Conference League play-offs as Borussia Monchengladbach are a point further back, while Stuttgart and Freiburg are two behind with a game to go.

Seven-time German champions Schalke will be competing in the second tier of German football next season, but Cologne and Werder Bremen are hanging on in there, sitting two and one point behind Arminia Bielefeld respectively in 15th place.

Kevin De Bruyne will travel with Manchester City for their game at Brighton and Hove Albion, as Pep Guardiola insisted focus is not a problem for his team with the Champions League final looming.

De Bruyne has not featured since his starring role in City's 4-1 aggregate Champions League semi-final triumph over Paris Saint-Germain due to a muscular complaint.

But the Belgium playmaker is set to return to action for the recently crowned Premier League champions when they face Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Tuesday.

City round off their domestic campaign at home to Everton on Sunday, before attention turns to the Champions League final against Chelsea in Porto.

“Yeah, he’s been training for the last two days, he feels good,” Guardiola told a pre-match news conference of De Bruyne.

"Kevin is important like everyone is important. When we are able to stick together and push each other, it is possible to win.

"Everyone knows it but everyone is at the same level, we will see his level and see if he is fit to play the next games."

Guardiola handed a belated City debut to 35-year-old goalkeeper Scott Carson in last Friday's 4-3 victory over Newcastle United, where his side twice came from behind and Ferran Torres' hat-trick secured an English league record 12th consecutive away win, although Ederson will return for the season conclusion.

A two-time winner in the Champions League going back to his time with Barcelona, Guardiola insisted focus would not be a problem for his side over the coming week.

"We will have six days to focus on the final after the Everton game. Now it is the Brighton game," he said.

"If you are working to prepare for Brighton, you are working the best way as possible to prepare for the final.

"I'm pretty sure we cannot prepare the final of the Champions League if we are not ready for Brighton or Everton. We did not speak one second about Chelsea.

"Tomorrow we'll play to win again and this is the best way to arrive to the final. In the six days, we'll be more focused on Chelsea."

Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to Arsenal last week and Liverpool's dramatic win over West Brom on Sunday means the Blues' top-four qualification hopes are in the balance.

Thomas Tuchel's side face the prospect of high-pressure encounters against Leicester City, their weekend conquerors in the FA Cup final, and Aston Villa.

"I don't know," Guardiola replied when asked whether the contrasting workload for his team would be an advantage or a disadvantage.  

"I won't be in the locker room for Chelsea. I'm only concerned about what we have to do in these two games.

"In these 10 or 12 days we will prepare these two games and the final as best as possible. I don't know if that is better or not."

Where will Pau Torres play next season?

The Villarreal defender is reportedly wanted by Premier League giants Manchester United, who are set to face the LaLiga outfit in the Europa League final.

But Napoli are also eyeing the Spain international.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED FACE FIGHT FOR VILLARREAL DEFENDER

Manchester United could face a battle from Napoli to sign Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

United are looking to bolster their defence amid links to Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, as well as Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

Torres has emerged as a serious option, though Napoli are also reportedly interested, with star Kalidou Koulibaly's future uncertain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Lautaro Martinez and Inter have opened dialogue over a contract renewal, says the front page of Monday's Gazzetta dello Sport. Martinez has previously been tipped to join Barcelona, while Madrid have reportedly emerged as suitors.

- L'Equipe claims Lyon captain Memphis Depay will complete his move to Barca in June. It comes as Barca look to seal other free-transfer details for Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum. Barca have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and City's soon-to-be free agent Sergio Aguero.

Roma have no interest in signing Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The Italy great will leave Turin at the end of the season, but it will not be for the Italian capital, reports Calciomercato.

- According to Calciomercato, Mauro Icardi has been tipped to swap Paris Saint-Germain for Juventus. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala linked with Juve exits, former Inter captain Icardi could return to Italy.

Atalanta are set to trigger their option to sign Cristian Romero from Juve, claims Fabrizio Romano. The defender has been scouted by United.

Erling Haaland will remain a Borussia Dortmund player next season, the German club's sporting director Michael Zorc has claimed.

The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Champions League finalists Manchester City have been strongly linked with a move for the 20-year-old Norwegian striker.

Haaland joined Dortmund from Salzburg midway through the 2019-20 season and has scored a flood of goals for the Bundesliga side.

His double helped Dortmund beat RB Leipzig 4-1 in the DFB-Pokal final in Berlin on Thursday, and BVB chief Zorc has stressed he will be going nowhere in the near future.

Haaland is reported to have a clause allowing him to leave for a set price in the region of €75million at the end of next season, while his contract runs until 2024.

"We are still planning with him. He will play for us next season," Zorc told Sky Sport in Germany before Saturday's Bundesliga match at Mainz.

Haaland was not among the goals in a 3-1 Dortmund win, but did tee up Julian Brandt for BVB's final goal.

The uncertain future of Kylian Mbappe means Paris Saint-Germain's off-season plans remain unclear.

The big-spending French powerhouse could enter the market to make a splash if the superstar 22-year-old forward exits.

PSG are currently in a Ligue 1 title fight and fell in the Champions League semi-finals.

 

TOP STORY - PSG TO TURN TO BAYERN'S LEWANDOWSKI

L'Equipe claims that PSG have put Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski firmly on their radar, should Kylian Mbappe leave.

Mbappe has been heavily linked with Real Madrid along with Liverpool and Manchester United.

L'Equipe reports that PSG will want to be proactive and land a major signing if Mbappe exits and the Bundesliga top scorer is top of their list, even if Bayern are determined to keep him.

Lewandowski is contracted with Bayern until 2023 although there have been some rumblings about entertaining a move elsewhere.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal are reporting that Zinedine Zidane has informed his Real Madrid players that he will leave at the end of this season. The Sunday Mirror claims the club are already considering Everton's Carlo Ancelotti and ex-Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri as his replacement.

- Arsenal have joined Manchester City in the race to sign departing Southampton defender Ryan Bertrand reports the Mail on Sunday.

- West Ham are reportedly front of the queue to sign West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone according to Football Insider.

- Bayern Munich are targeting Inter defender Achraf Hakimi according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Marca claims Real Madrid are interested in Rennes teenage midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City's wild 4-3 win over Newcastle United is a "good lesson" ahead of the Champions League final against Chelsea.

City returned to the pitch for the first time since clinching the Premier League title this week and Guardiola's side survived a seven-goal shoot-out on Friday.

Powered by a Ferran Torres hat-trick, City erased two deficits to set an English record with their 12th consecutive away win – one more milestone after securing their third league title in four years on Tuesday. 

Following one or two days of "distractions" and just one training session, manager Guardiola said he was not expecting perfection against Newcastle as he made five changes to his XI, including giving 35-year-old goalkeeper Scott Carson his club debut. 

Carson made his first Premier League appearance since May 2011 for West Brom, a gap of nine years and 357 days. It is the sixth longest gap between appearances in Premier League history, and the longest ever for a goalkeeper.

With the ultimate prize looming in the Champions League final against Chelsea on May 29, Guardiola expects his team to learn from their close call in Newcastle.

Guardiola said during his post-match news conference after City recorded their 23rd consecutive unbeaten away game in all competitions (W21 D2) – the longest ever undefeated away run by a side in the top four tiers of English football, overtaking Notts County's run of 22 in 2012.

"The way they fought and the way they run and the way they come back after 1-0, after 3-2, and being there and making a step forward – they know it. It's not necessary to tell them.

"They know if you want to win or compete against Chelsea in the final, of course you have to earn it.

"It's better to happen today. Then maybe, maybe it's not going to happen in the final."

Ferran Torres – who arrived from Valencia at the start of the season – became the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick for a team managed by Guardiola (21 years and 75 days), overtaking Gabriel Jesus who was 21 years and 218 days against Shakhtar Donetsk in November 2018.

"I'm delighted for the three goals," Guardiola said. "He has incredible numbers for a first season in England, he has incredible numbers. He didn't play for a period of two months, he didn't play much and he came as a winger who can play on both sides.

"He can make incredible runs in behind but maybe we have to start to think about if he can play as a striker because every time he plays in that position he has a sense for goal, a real sense for goal.

"Today he produced an incredible first goal with the header, but the last two... I think the last one is an example of that intuition. It's intuitive, to know exactly where the ball comes and being there to score a goal.

"He was fantastic all season and an incredible signing for us. He's a young player and can play in three positions up front. Not just in one, he can play in three. But playing in the more central position the guy has an incredible sense of goal."

Pep Guardiola hailed Ferran Torres' goalscoring instinct after the youngster plundered his first Manchester City hat-trick in the champions' 4-3 win at Newcastle United.

Torres, who joined from LaLiga side Valencia ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, put City 2-1 up with a sumptuous flicked finish after Joao Cancelo cancelled out Emil Krafth's opener.

A penalty from Joelinton and a Joe Willock goal – scored after the on-loan Arsenal man's spot-kick had been saved – put the Magpies ahead, but Torres scored twice in two minutes to seal an English record 12th straight away win for City.

Torres' Friday evening treble took him to 13 goals for the campaign, with team-mate Phil Foden (14 goals) the only player aged 21 or under to have scored more for a Premier League club across all competitions this term.

The St James' Park hat-trick hero also became the youngest ever player to score a treble for a team managed by Guardiola, at 21 years and 75 days.

Guardiola was full of praise for the Spain international, who he believes has all the attributes to be a successful central striker.

"It's his first season in England and his numbers are exceptional," the City boss told Sky Sports. "He came as a winger, but he has had to think about being a striker. When Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were out, he was there.

"He didn't have minutes, but when he played he had a sense of goal. I'm really pleased.

"He can be [a number nine]. We will use him, we used him and he was brilliant. His rhythm, especially defensively, has improved a lot.

"The movement he makes as a striker. The [third] goal hits the bar and he knew where it would go. Strikers know intuitively where it will arrive. He has this talent, the first goal is fantastic."

Asked if the emergence of Torres as a central striking option could mean City do not dip into the transfer market to replace the departing Aguero, Guardiola said: "I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe we buy a striker, maybe not.

"We have a guy, he's young. A good transfer. I can use him on the left, right, or as a striker.

"The season is too long, we can't play with just 11 players. The best striker we can buy can't play all the minutes."

Ferran Torres scored his first Manchester City hat-trick as the champions set a new English league record of 12 consecutive away wins with a pulsating 4-3 victory over Newcastle United on Friday.

City – playing their first match since a third Premier League title in four seasons was confirmed on Tuesday – fell behind midway through the first half when Emil Krafth headed past Scott Carson, who was making his first top-flight appearance since May 2011.

Pep Guardiola's side powered back through quickfire goals from Joao Cancelo and Torres, although Joelinton restored parity before the interval from the spot.

Newcastle went ahead again when Joe Willock slotted home after his own penalty was saved by Carson, but Torres scored twice in two minutes to seal a wild win for the champions.

Despite early pressure from City it was the hosts who opened the scoring after 25 minutes, Krafth heading his first Premier League goal from Jonjo Shelvey's corner.

Shelvey then crashed a free-kick against the crossbar before two goals in 185 seconds resulted in City taking the lead.

They pulled level in the 39th minute when Cancelo's strike from just inside the penalty area was deflected past Martin Dubravka by Jacob Murphy. Torres then added a second with a superb backheeled flick that looped over Dubravka from Ilkay Gundogan's free-kick.

The Magpies pulled level in first-half stoppage time, though, Joelinton slamming home from the penalty spot after he had been brought down inside the area by Nathan Ake.

Willock put Steve Bruce's side ahead in the 62nd minute, grateful for a tap-in on the rebound after Carson blocked his tame penalty, which was awarded after Kyle Walker tripped the on-loan Arsenal man.

Torres drew City level again two minutes later, diverting home Gabriel Jesus' low cross from six yards.

He then became the third youngest player, at 21 years and 75 days, to score a Premier League hat-trick for City when he expertly volleyed into the roof of the net after Cancelo's long-range strike crashed back off the post.

Aymeric Laporte is set to represent Spain at Euro 2020 after switching his allegiance from France.

Manchester City centre-back Laporte has represented Les Bleus 51 times in total across the under-17 and under-21 age groups.

However, the 26-year-old was never handed his senior debut, despite being called up three times by Didier Deschamps.

Laporte came through the youth ranks at Athletic Bilbao and made 222 appearances for the Basque club until joining City in January 2018.

He was granted Spanish citizenship earlier this week and FIFA has confirmed he can play for Spain with "immediate effect".

A report by Marca earlier this week claimed Spain boss Luis Enrique lobbied the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to look into the possibility of Laporte changing allegiance, so it feels safe to assume he will be a key part of the former Barcelona head coach's plans for Euro 2020.

But how does Laporte compare to Spain's other options at centre-back?

Regular game time

Despite scoring the winner in last month's EFL Cup final against Tottenham and collecting a third Premier League title in four seasons at City, it has been a mixed campaign for Laporte on a personal level.

He went into 2020-21 as Pep Guardiola's go-to centre-back but the arrival of Ruben Dias and John Stones' resurgence means he is no longer first choice at the Etihad Stadium.

Nevertheless, the packed schedule undertaken across all competitions by the Champions League finalists means he has still played 27 games, starting 24 and completing 2,250 minutes.

Of centre-backs used by Luis Enrique this season, that places Laporte third behind Villarreal's Pau Torres (41 games, 3,675 minutes) and Athletic's Inigo Martinez (32 games, 2,914).

Sergio Ramos, who is now widely expected to have a new centre-back partner for La Roja, has been restricted to 21 games and 1,790 minutes by injuries this season, while Diego Llorente (14 games, 1,160) was compromised by a serious groin injury after joining Leeds United.

One would-be international colleague Laporte knows very well is club team-mate Eric Garcia. The 20-year-old is set to leave City after declining to sign a new contract last term.

While running down the clock to his anticipated move to Barcelona, Garcia has become a marginal figure in Manchester, despite Guardiola continuing to profess his admiration of his talents.

His 10 appearances and eight starts amount to 693 minutes, not significantly more than 514 minutes across seven caps for Spain this season.

Indeed, Luis Enrique started Garcia in all three of the March internationals, suggesting his lack of club action is not overly hindering his case.

Keeping it tight in Manchester

City's defensive improvements have been central to their success this season and, although no longer an automatic selection, Laporte has more than played his part.

The 14 goals conceded with him on the field are just four more than Guardiola's side have let in amid Garcia's sporadic outings. Only Torres (13) has amassed more than his 12 clean sheets.

Laporte ranks well across all of the key defensive metrics this season, with 18 tackles placing him level with Ramos and Torres.

Martinez has made 24, while Marcelo Bielsa's famously intense style of play might be largely responsible for Llorente going into 31 tackles during his relatively smaller workload.

Laporte's duel success rate of 63.7 per cent is the best of the bunch, with Martinez contesting and winning the most overall (263 and 149), while Torres is out in front in terms of recoveries (232).

In the air and on the ground

Standing at 6ft 3ins, Laporte will provide the kind of imposing presence Spain have perhaps lacked.

He has contested 100 and won 69 aerials, similar numbers to the 103 and 62 returned by Torres, who is of similar stature. Martinez's 136 contested and 82 won again show the Athletic man getting through plenty of work.

Perhaps Laporte's most celebrated quality is his capacity to start moves from the back via his superb left foot.

Centre-backs completing a high proportion of their passes is not unusual, given the generally simple nature of them, but Laporte generally plays in a notably progressive manner.

He has made 244 passes into the final third this season, more than any of the Spain centre-backs mentioned (Torres 240, Martinez 235), a trait that is sure to be welcomed by the attacking talents in Luis Enrique's squad.

Time is running out to secure precious fantasy football points as the Premier League season nears an end.

Manchester City have the title in the bag, but it may still be all to play for in fantasy leagues heading into the penultimate weekend of the campaign.

With some teams still having three games to play in a hectic schedule, it will be vital to make the right picks and ensure points could potentially mean prizes.

Here are a few tips to help you out, powered by Opta, as always...

 

EDERSON

City travel to Newcastle United on Friday for their first match since being crowned champions.

They have won 11 consecutive Premier League away matches and a 12th victory at St. James' Park would see them break the all-time record in the top four tiers of English football.

City have kept 16 clean sheets on their travels in all competitions this season and are one away from equalling the record by a top-flight team in a season.

Newcastle have managed just 41 shots in seven Premier League games against Pep Guardiola's side, so another clean sheet could be on the cards for Ederson, who has more than any other goalkeeper in the division this season (18).

 

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was outstanding in the 4-2 victory at Manchester United on Thursday.

With England boss Gareth Southgate watching on, Alexander-Arnold caught the eye with an influential display as Jurgen Klopp's side claimed three precious points in the battle for a Champions League spot.

The Reds travel to relegated West Brom on Sunday knowing a win would leave them just a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea with two games to play.

Since he was omitted from the last England squad in March, Alexander-Arnold has created more chances than any other top-flight player with 21, making him a necessity for your XI.

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Everton full-back Lucas Digne has enjoyed another impressive season for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

The Toffees entertain bottom club Sheffield United at Goodison Park on Sunday as they hunt a place in Europe next season.

France international Digne can make an impact at both ends of the pitch, with his seven assists the joint-highest by a defender in the Premier League this season, along with Aaron Cresswell of West Ham.

Everton have kept four clean sheets in their previous six matches with Digne in the side too, so will be aiming to blunt the Blades on Merseyside.

 

MATHEUS PEREIRA

Brazilian forward Matheus Pereira has been a shining light in a poor season for West Brom.

The Baggies were unable to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, a defeat to Arsenal last weekend consigning Sam Allardyce to a first relegation from the Premier League.

Albion will be desperate to keep hold of Pereira, who has scored five goals in six matches ahead of the encounter with Liverpool.

He has been directly involved in 15 goals this season, with only Peter Odemwingie (22 in 2010-11) and Romelu Lukaku (21 in 2012-13) managing more involvements for the Baggies in a Premier League campaign.

 

SON HEUNG-MIN

Tottenham face Wolves at home on Sunday smarting from a 3-1 defeat at Leeds United last time out.

Son Heung-min scored Spurs' only goal at Elland Road, where the London club's slim hopes of securing a Champions League spot were all-but ended.

The South Korea forward has been directly involved in four goals in three games under caretaker boss Ryan Mason, scoring three and setting one up.

Son has found the back of the net in three consecutive Premier League games and will be a major threat to Wolves. He had managed just one goal in his previous seven outings in the competition during the final stages of Jose Mourinho's reign.

 

SERGIO AGUERO

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero issued an apology after his embarrassing Panenka penalty gave Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy the simplest of saves last weekend.

Aguero will be determined to make amends as he nears the end of his time with City and could take his frustration out on Newcastle.

The Argentina striker has scored 15 goals in 14 Premier League games against the Magpies, averaging one every 61 minutes, and it would be no surprise to see him add to that tally.

 

MICHAIL ANTONIO

West Ham head south to face Brighton and Hove Albion on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Everton that left their chances of qualifying for the Champions League hanging by a thread.

They will need to respond on the south coast against a Brighton side who are safe now.

Antonio has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 away Premier League starts, netting 11 times and providing three assists.

He can trouble the Seagulls and improve those numbers. Indeed, the forward has scored 24 times for the Hammers on the road in the competition, five more than any other player for the club.

The long-term futures of Jesse Lingard and Jadon Sancho are set to become clearer soon.

Lingard has impressed on loan from Manchester United at West Ham, reviving his career as David Moyes' side push to secure European football for next season.

England international Sancho, meanwhile, has dazzled since moving to Germany - but is he now ready to return home?

 

TOP STORY - LINGARD AND SANCHO TO SWAP PLACES

The Sun reports that Manchester United will offer Jesse Lingard to Borussia Dortmund as part of a swap deal for Jadon Sancho.

United chased Sancho last year but were unable to land the winger due to Dortmund's asking price.

It is understood the value held by the Bundesliga club is around £100million (€116m), so Lingard's inclusion may help drive that down and seal a deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Times claims that Manchester City have formalised the top four players on their off-season shopping list in forwards Erling Haaland, Harry Kane, Lautaro Martinez and Andre Silva.

- Manchester United are preparing a bid for Atletico Madrid midfielder Marcos Llorente worth £68m (€79m), reports the Mirror.

- Off-contract Southampton full-back Ryan Bertrand is attracting interest from Leicester City, claims the Leicester Mercury.

- Per Marca, Barcelona have an agreement in place to sign Memphis Depay, who is soon to be out of contract at Lyon. The Dutch forward is set to be reunited with Ronald Koeman at Camp Nou.

Pep Guardiola asked "why should we stop" as his Manchester City side look to celebrate their latest title triumph by beating Newcastle United.

City were crowned Premier League champions for the fifth time – and the third under Guardiola – when Manchester United were defeated by Leicester City on Tuesday.

Guardiola's team lost 2-1 to Chelsea in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming Champions League final last time out, but are unbeaten in 22 away matches (W20 D2), the longest ever run by an English top-flight team, heading into Friday's match with Newcastle at St James' Park.

With three matches remaining of the Premier League season before City take on Chelsea in Porto, the final having been moved from Istanbul, Guardiola was perplexed as to why any team would want to stop dominating the silverware on offer.

"It's so addictive. Winning's so nice. You sleep better, you eat better, you laugh more, your relations with your family is better, everything is better, your friends," Guardiola told a news conference.

"It is addictive. Why should we stop when we can still do it? Why should we not try to win again? Why should we not improve our game plan when we can do it?

"In training I see things I still don't like and we have to improve for the final. That makes you do it. When you have the feeling that it's enough, that the pleasure to win the Premier League doesn't make you feel something special, or you have achieved something with them, that is the moment to say bye-bye.

"But seeing as I have this desire to win and the players of course love to play football, we're going to continue to try to do."

As well as three league titles, Guardiola has won an FA Cup, four EFL Cups and two Community Shields during his stint at City, albeit the Champions League has so far eluded him.

Asked to explain how he motivates his players, Guardiola simply pointed to the quality at his disposal.

"Without good players it is not possible. I said it many times," he said, before comparing the situation with the famous NBA teams that Phil Jackson oversaw.

"We won nine titles at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here, and it's easier to do it here than when you are in another club with less potential, that's for sure.

"I always say Phil Jackson won with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal. Without them it would have been difficult.

"Our tactics and ideas just work because of the quality of the players and the quality of the financial support and we have it."

City have won their last 11 away Premier League matches and a win in this match would see them break the all-time record in the top four tiers of English league football, currently held by Chelsea in 2008 and City themselves in 2017.

Pep Guardiola thanked Jurgen Klopp for his Premier League title text message after Manchester City succeeded Liverpool as champions, saying the Reds boss has pushed him to a new level.

Klopp described rival Guardiola as "the best manager in the world" in a news conference on Wednesday, the day after City secured a third title in four seasons.

The text from Klopp to Guardiola was not the only one sent from Merseyside, with Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti also sending his congratulations. 

"I received a lot. He and Carlo Ancelotti have done it," said Guardiola.

"I appreciate it a lot from both of them. I could not answer messages, not yet, but I will do it today."

Speaking on Thursday, Guardiola offered a salute to the Liverpool and Everton bosses, both of whom have won Champions League and domestic titles in storied careers.

The rise of Klopp has forced Guardiola to pull out all the stops to deliver success both at City and previously at Bayern Munich, when Klopp's Borussia Dortmund were such a force.

"It was an inspiration for me. He has made me through his teams at Dortmund and Liverpool a better manager," Guardiola said.

"I would say thank you so much, I appreciate it a lot from him and Carlo."

Guardiola and City may have wrapped up the club's fifth title in 10 years, but they can still secure a host of achievements before turning their focus to the May 29 Champions League final against Chelsea.

They head to Newcastle United on Friday evening in the Premier League, and a win at St James' Park would be a 12th successive away victory for City. That would break the all-time record for the top four tiers in English football. Chelsea achieved 11 in a row in 2008 and City did so in 2017 before repeating that on their current unbroken streak of away-day successes.

City are also one short of matching the record for clean sheets achieved away from home across all competitions by a top-flight team in a single season. They have racked up 16 shut-outs so far, one short of the record jointly held by Liverpool (1975-76), Chelsea (2003-04) and Manchester United (2008-09).

Their away form has been something remarkable, with City undefeated in their most recent 22 games on the road.

That is already the longest such run by an English top-flight team, but City would also surpass the record for the top four tiers of the English game should they avoid defeat on Tyneside.

Notts County also went 22 games unbeaten away from home between February and December 2012 while in League One.

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