Gareth Southgate does not expect any transfer involving Harry Kane to progress during Euro 2020.

England captain Kane was named in Southgate's provisional 33-man Three Lions squad on Tuesday.

The Tottenham striker is expected to be the subject of intense speculation this close-season after widespread reports revealed his desire to leave the club.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea are among the clubs said to be interested in Kane, who finished 2020-21 as the Premier League's top goalscorer.

Kane earned his third Golden Boot, becoming only the third player – after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer – to achieve such a feat.

The 27-year-old, the leading marksman at the 2018 World Cup, had 23 goals and 14 assists, making him only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts in both categories (also Andy Cole in 1993-94).

Clubs keen to sign Kane may have to wait until after the European Championship finals, though, according to Southgate.

"I don't ever need to have a conversation with Harry about focus or professioanlism," Southgate said.

"He's got one goal with us and that's to win a European Championship. That's his goal at this time.

"What's going on at his club is between him and Spurs. He's made statements, but in many ways that's out of the way now. It's very unlikely that we have transfers while we're away.

"It's different in September, often on that [transfer] deadline.

"I'm realistic about those things, we're not going to stop phones ringing, we can't control conversations in private. But most moves are done after tournaments or in the week before.

"I would expect anything across the board with our players to be after the tournament."

Kane's 37 goal involvements were his most across a league season in his career, his 14 assists doubling a previous high of seven in 2016-17.

That improvement has come as a result of Kane dropping into a deeper role, a position Southgate has always believed him capable of playing.

"Harry has always had that capability as a player, always been able to play at nine or 10," the manager said.

"It's clearly more pronounced this year in terms of the numbers, with certain games like at Southampton where he created four for Son [Heung-min]. There are clear patterns that have created goals for them.

"He's always done that for us. For a centre-forward with such an outstanding goalscoring record, he's got a fantastic range of passing as well."

Is the Gianluigi Donnarumma-Milan relationship coming to an end?

Donnarumma made his debut as a 16-year-old for Milan in 2015, however, the Italy international is reportedly close to making the move to Serie A rivals Juventus.

Step forward Mike Maignan…

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA OUT, MAIGNAN IN?

Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan is poised to undergo a medical with Milan as Gianluigi Donnarumma edges closer to a blockbuster Juventus switch, according to widespread reports.

Donnarumma is set to become a free agent and the Milan star is yet to re-sign with the Rossoneri, who qualified for the Champions League.

Gianluca Di Marzio reports Milan are no longer waiting on Donnarumma as they step up their pursuit of Maignan, who will arrive in Italy on Tuesday after helping Lille to Ligue 1 glory.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano says Massimiliano Allegri's priority is to take charge of Real Madrid, despite interest from former club Juve and Napoli in Serie A. Allegri is the favourite to replace Zinedine Zidane should he leave the Spanish capital. Despite securing a top-four finish, Andrea Pirlo is being tipped to leave Juve.

- There is set to be a coaching merry-go-round in Serie A this off-season. The front page of Tuesday's Corriere dello Sport says Porto boss Sergio Conceicao is favourite to succeed Gennaro Gattuso at Napoli, with the latter tipped to replace Simone Inzaghi at Lazio. Ex-Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca is the new first choice to join Fiorentina.

Inter must sell one star – Lautaro Martinez or Alessandro Bastoni – due to their financial situation, according to Corriere dello Sport. Martinez has been linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Bastoni has attracted interest from Liverpool and Manchester City. There is also speculation regarding the future of coach Antonio Conte and star Romelu Lukaku, who is reportedly wanted by Chelsea, Barca and Madrid.

- The Telegraph claims Manchester United are prioritising the signing of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, who has long been tipped to join the Red Devils. Dortmund team-mate Erling Haaland is also wanted at Old Trafford, while Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a sensational return.

Tottenham are interested in re-hiring Mauricio Pochettino, reports the Independent. Pochettino is in charge of Paris Saint-Germain after replacing Thomas Tuchel in January but he was unable to oversee a successful title defence this season.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona are targeting Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum on a free transfer, says Sky Sports.

The Premier League race is run. A season that has seemingly been a never-ending story finally concluded on Sunday with the focus centred on the top four.

Chelsea lost but still ended up securing Champions League qualification, Liverpool won to astonishingly end an eventful campaign in third and poor Leicester City missed out after a crazy game at home to Tottenham as Harry Kane clinched the Golden Boot.

West Ham finish above Spurs in sixth to make the Europa League, while Manchester United ruined Nuno Espirito Santo's last game in charge of Wolves. There was yet another goal for Joe Willock, while David McGoldrick made sure he will no doubt be the subject of a pub quiz question in years to come.

Manchester City had clinched the title long ago, but a home game with Everton offered a chance for their returning fans to say farewell to a club legend.


Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea: Tuchel slips up on the road as Blues lose

Thomas Tuchel's side held on to their top-four spot thanks to the result at the King Power Stadium, with the German coach able to celebrate despite suffering his first away defeat in the league since taking charge at Stamford Bridge.

Bertrand Traore scored the opener for Villa, in the process becoming the 25th different player to manage a Premier League goal against Chelsea having previously been at the Blues. Anwar El Ghazi doubled the lead with the 100th penalty scored in the competition this season, the first time a campaign has reached triple figures.

On the subject of penalties, Jorginho finished with the most goals for Chelsea in the league with seven – all from the spot. It is the lowest number for the club’s leading scorer in a top-flight season since 1974-75, when Ian Hutchinson also managed seven.

Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace: Mane helps Reds prosper at Anfield

Jurgen Klopp has now finished in the top four at the end of the five full seasons he has had in charge of the Reds, who handed their former boss Roy Hodgson a 2-0 defeat in his Palace swansong.

Sadio Mane got both goals, the second with the aid of a huge deflection. He has scored 10 or more in all seven of his Premier League campaigns, including his two with Southampton before moving to Anfield in June 2016.

Liverpool won their meetings with Palace by a combined 9-0 score; only against Ipswich in 2001-02 (11-0) have they enjoyed a bigger aggregate margin across two Premier League games in the same season. While he had no need to conjure up another last-gasp goal this time, Alisson Becker did manage to keep a clean sheet on his 100th league outing for Klopp's side.

Leicester City 2-4 Tottenham: Foxes run into trouble against Bale and Kane

Leicester spent 242 days in the Premier League's top four this term, only to end the final one sitting in fifth place. For a second successive year, a late loss of form has cost them a Champions League place.

A sixth defeat in 13 matches did not appear on the cards when they twice led against Spurs thanks to Jamie Vardy, who scored two penalties in a match for a third time this season. However, a Kasper Schmeichel own goal – his second in the top tier – levelled matters, with the visitors then moving clear in a frantic finish.

Gareth Bale scored twice late on in potentially his final game for Tottenham, but will Kane still be there when the transfer window shuts? The striker's 41st-minute effort lifted him to 23 for this term as he became only the third player to win the Golden Boot award as many as three times, following in the footsteps of Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer (also three).

Aguero at the double, Willock matches Shearer (yes, really)

In scoring twice after coming on as a substitute, Aguero ended his City career as he had started it – with a brace off the bench (he had done just the same on debut against Swansea City, way back in August 2011). His double takes his final tally to 184 Premier League goals, in the process surpassing Wayne Rooney (183) for the most by a player for a single club.

As for Manchester United, a 2-1 triumph at Wolves sees them become just the fourth side to remain unbeaten away across an entire top-tier season, a feat most recently achieved by Arsenal in 2003-04. The current-day Gunners beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0, though still finished eighth for a second year in a row.

At Fulham, Willock was on target once more in a 2-0 win for Newcastle United. It means the on-loan Arsenal midfielder becomes only the second Newcastle player to score in seven consecutive Premier League appearances, after hall-of-famer Shearer in 1996.

West Ham secured a top-six finish for only the second time in the Premier League era thanks to a 3-0 win over a Southampton team who do not prosper on their travels – they ended up losing 10 of their 11 away fixtures in 2021, during which they leaked 33 goals and scored just seven times.

There was a win for Leeds United at home to West Brom, taking them up to 59 points – the most by a promoted club since Ipswich Town (66) in 2000-01. Sheffield United finished bottom, but at least signed off on a winning note. Striker McGoldrick grabbed the only goal against Burnley to earn his own place in history: it was the 1,000th scored in the Premier League during the 2020-21 season.

Ryan Mason conceded it is "disappointing" Tottenham will only play in the new Europa Conference League next season. 

Spurs secured seventh place in the Premier League on Sunday with a 4-2 win over Leicester City, who agonisingly missed out on a top-four spot by one point. 

Jamie Vardy put the Foxes ahead from the penalty spot, but 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 with a goal that secured this season's Golden Boot ahead of Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. 

Another Vardy spot-kick restored Leicester's lead, but there was late heartache for the hosts as a Kasper Schmeichel own goal and two strikes from Gareth Bale sealed victory for Spurs. 

The result meant Tottenham finished a point ahead of north London rivals Arsenal and will compete in the inaugural Europa Conference League – a competition designed to give clubs from countries that struggle to secure spots in the Champions League and Europa League a taste of European competition. 

While interim manager Mason acknowledged it is important for Tottenham to have European football, he said the Europa Conference League is not where they want to be.

"First of all, we wanted to be in the Champions League," he told a media conference. 

"I've said all along, it's disappointing where we are at this moment. It's very disappointing for the football club. 

"It's important we're in Europe; not the European competition we'd want to be in. Wednesday night was a massive dent for us [a 2-1 home defeat to Aston Villa], I said that after the game.

"The most important thing to do today was to come and win at a very, very difficult place. And I thought we came here and not only won, I thought we deservedly won. 

"I felt like we were the better team. I felt like we were in control, and like I said, we had some real moments of quality.

"So, it was important we finished today with a win, for many different reasons. Yes, it's not the competition we want to be in next year, but it's a European competition, and we will respect it, that's for sure."

A 23rd goal of the season sealed a third Golden Boot for Kane, the England captain becoming only the third player to win the award as many as three times, after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer (three). 

With 14 assists to his name, Kane also recorded his best-ever Premier League season for goal involvements (37), overtaking his 36 from 2016-17 – and became just the second player to lead the way for both goals and assists in the competition, after Andy Cole in 1993-94.

Mason – who played with Kane at Spurs before moving to Hull City in 2016 – was pleased his former team-mate topped the scoring charts again and described him as the Premier League's best player. 

"Harry Kane deservedly won the Golden Boot today," he added. "Like I said, all along I think he's been the best player in the Premier League. Most goals and most assists, it says it all.

"I feel very honoured to have played with him and we had some amazing experiences together, coming through the ranks, and I've been very fortunate in these past five weeks to have coached him, to have managed him and he turned up again today.

"He scored important goals in important moments and showed moments of brilliance. So, from an individual point of view I'm very pleased Harry has got another Golden Boot to add to the collection."

Brendan Rodgers will "200 per cent" be in charge of Leicester City next season despite his side missing out on Champions League qualification with defeat to Tottenham.

The Foxes started the final round of Premier League games in fifth and would have finished above fourth-placed Chelsea – beaten 2-1 by Aston Villa on Sunday - had they defeated Spurs.

But Leicester failed to preserve a 2-1 lead given to them by a couple of Jamie Vardy penalties, either side of Harry Kane's strike, as they lost 4-2 at the King Power Stadium.

Kasper Schmeichel punched a corner into his own net and substitute Gareth Bale added a couple of late goals to earn Tottenham a comeback win that saw them finish seventh.

Rodgers, who guided Leicester to their first FA Cup triumph with victory over Chelsea in last week's final, has been linked with a move away ahead of next season.

However, the ex-Celtic boss intends to stay on at Leicester. Asked if he was willing to allay supporters' fears amid links with Tottenham, Rodgers told talkSPORT: "200 per cent I can... I love it here."

Rodgers added at his post-match news conference: "The fans need have no worries about myself, I love it here, even more so that we've just missed out. 

"That motivates me even more to be here to push the club even closer to that level. We'll plan and get ready."

Leicester lost just six of their first 25 Premier League games of 2020-21, compared to six losses in their last 13 to see out the campaign.

They ended more days (242) in the top four than any other Premier League side this term, yet they have to settle for a place in the Europa League again next season.

Rodgers replaced Claude Puel as Leicester boss in February 2019 with the club 11th in the league and has since guided them to successive fifth-placed finishes in his first two full seasons in charge. 

And while the 48-year-old is disappointed to have missed out on the Champions League again, he is pleased with the progress made in his time at the helm.

"It's hugely disappointing for us to miss out," he told BBC Sport. "We fought so hard all season. You're judged after 38 games and unfortunately we couldn't quite make it.

"I have nothing but pride and admiration for the players. They've constantly had things go against them with injuries.

"When we started work together we were mid-table and just over two years later we're challenging the elite and won the FA Cup for the first time in our history.

"We're on the right path without the resources [of other teams]. I have nothing but pride. The ownership have given me amazing support. 

"The players have given me their heart and souls every day. I'm so disappointed for them we couldn't get over the line."

Leicester finished the campaign as the joint-third highest scorers in the league with 68 goals, but Rodgers is looking to add to his attacking options during the close-season.

"We would like to strengthen the top end of the field – we need more of a goal threat," he said at his post-match news conference.

"We also need a little more physicality in the team and need more players with a winning feeling to add to the ground of talented players we have."

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.

Manchester City are champions, Manchester United will come second, and Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham will be relegated. We know that.

And yet, there is so much to play for on the Premier League's final day.

Chelsea's win over Leicester City has put them in the driving seat to come third, while Liverpool's late-season resurgence means they are back in a Champions League spot, something that seemed implausible just weeks ago.

However, with Leicester behind only on goal difference and just a point separating third from fifth, it could all change depending on Sunday's results.

While they cannot now break into the top five, West Ham, Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal and Leeds United are also vying to finish as high as they can – and clinch a place in next season's Europa League or Europa Conference League.

With so much at stake, it's difficult to predict exactly how things will play out, but that's exactly what the AI team at Stats Perform has done.

 

HOW IT WORKS

The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model - with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

So, who will be celebrating on Sunday?

LIVERPOOL HOLD FIRM AS FOXES FALTER

Our model predicts the Premier League season will finish with a top four of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea side are given a strong chance – 55 per cent – of finishing in third place. They need to match the result of Liverpool and Leicester to be certain, and they face an Aston Villa side who are guaranteed to finish 11th.

Liverpool are also set to have a reason to celebrate at the end of a troubled season. The Reds are given a 48.6 per cent chance of finishing fourth, which they will almost certainly do if they defeat Crystal Palace at Anfield. They could still snatch third, of course, if Chelsea do not win, and are given a 40.3 per cent chance of doing that.

Leicester City are given just a 20.4 per cent chance of taking back a top-four spot and only a 4.7 per cent hope of coming third. In fact, our model gives them a 74.9 per cent chance of finishing in fifth place. Assuming there is no shock on Merseyside, Leicester must beat Tottenham handsomely to leapfrog Liverpool, as they trail by four goals in goal difference.

 

WILL SPURS OR ARSENAL FINISH HIGHER?

West Ham have an 88.1 per cent chance of sealing sixth place to sign off an impressive season. They need only avoid defeat at home to Southampton to make sure.

As for bragging rights in north London, things are a little tighter.

Tottenham, whose chances of pipping the Hammers to sixth are rated lower than one in 10, have a 36.4 per cent chance of finishing seventh. However, they face the tough task of going to Leicester and taking all three points to be certain.

Arsenal, who are on a four-game winning run, are given a 38.6 per cent chance of clambering above Spurs on the final day, with Mikel Arteta's men hosting Brighton and Hove Albion knowing a win could lift them up two places in the table, given Everton must go to Manchester City.

The Toffees and Leeds United are poised to round out the top 10.

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."

Gianni Infantino has denied FIFA colluded with clubs on the controversial Super League but stopped short of saying there had been no talks about the project.

The president of world football's governing body spoke out on Friday after the FIFA congress, describing the Super League attempted breakaway as "a rupture" in the game.

Asked whether FIFA had any involvement in the Super League planning or if it had offered support, Infantino gave a nine-minute response in which he said it was his job to always listen to anybody in the game considering a new format.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas recently accused Infantino of encouraging the Super League, but the FIFA chief rebutted that claim.

"Let me tell you that when we are analysing these questions, we should look at the facts and not rumours or corridor gossip, especially not coming from certain parts," Infantino said.

The proposed new competition was announced and quashed in the space of around 48 hours in April, a breath-taking episode that saw players, coaches, supporter groups, national associations, politicians and even royalty express dismay at the closed-door concept.

Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham announced they would be taking part, as did Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid from LaLiga, and Serie A giants Juventus, Milan and Inter also signed up. The project, a major threat to the UEFA Champions League, collapsed dramatically, but there are some who expect it to be revived.

"I know many clubs," Infantino told reporters in a conference call. "I speak with clubs for many years, since my days at UEFA, and when speaking to European clubs the Super League topic always is a topic for discussion.

"Everyone in football knows that, so let's not play games here. Everyone in football knows for years clubs have been studying and preparing for this or similar projects.

"In the 16 years I was in UEFA we always managed that, and I can tell you there were projects that were far more advanced than the one we have seen recently.

"At FIFA it is also my responsibility and our responsibility to discuss with football stakeholders. Now to listen to some clubs and to speak with some clubs doesn't certainly mean in any way whatsoever that FIFA was behind, was colluding, was plotting or I don't know what words you used for any Super League project."

Infantino pointed to a FIFA statement issued in January that said a breakaway competition would not be recognised by the world body.

"In that moment, the rupture was of course becoming inevitable and the rupture is never good, it's not good for anyone," Infantino said on Friday. "No war is good – never. We are ready to defend football from projects we know are wrong."

He added: "I don't close the doors to any discussion with anyone – never – about new formats, new ideas, new competitions. I'm ready to listen to everyone.

"This is my job ... the way I live the presidency of FIFA.

"I'm aware some people prefer to spin these discussions in a different way and I can understand that attacking me or FIFA is a good way to divert the attention from real problems that have never been addressed in the last years."

Infantino did not specify his target for that remark, but said: "I hope that as of today we can move to the real issues that football is facing."

Gareth Bale has been given a rave review by Ryan Mason – but Tottenham's interim boss cannot say if the Wales winger will return to north London next season.

After losing his place at Real Madrid, Bale rejoined Tottenham last September on a season-long loan, but he is due to return to the Spanish capital once the Premier League campaign ends.

Asked whether Bale could stay with Spurs for 2021-22, Mason said: "I am not sure, I have not had those conversations.

"The club will have those conversations at the end of the season. After this game at the weekend he goes back to his parent club. He is a Real Madrid player.

"These conversations, these situations, I am not sure of. I just know hopefully he's going to help us at the weekend."

A report in Spanish newspaper AS on Friday claimed Bale is focused on spending next season with Madrid, before retiring afterwards when his lucrative contract expires.

There has been no indication from Bale that he intends to follow that path, and his playing prospects at Madrid could depend on who coaches the team next term, after the 31-year-old fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane.

Mason has had no doubts about Bale's recent commitment to Tottenham, and he frowned on any suggestions the Wales international might be holding something back for Euro 2020.

"I completely disagree with that personally. I can only speak of my experience in this last five weeks with Gareth. He's scored four goals for this football club in that time. He's been excellent," Mason said, speaking ahead of Tottenham's season finale at Leicester City on Sunday.

Bale has not completed a full 90-minute game in the Premier League since embarking on his second spell at the club, but in 19 appearances, of which just 10 have been starts, he has scored nine goals in the competition, with only Harry Kane and Son Heung-min ahead of him at Spurs.

He has significantly exceeded his expected goals (xG) total of 4.8, and Kane (22 goals from xG of 16.76) and Son (17 from xG of 8.86) have done likewise.

Looking at Bale, and his performance in the 2-0 win against Wolves, Mason said:  "Last weekend I think was the most minutes he's played in the Premier League all season, pushing close to 90 minutes.

"I think if you were to look at Gareth in that moment he looked fit, he looked strong, he was brave, he added a different dimension for us and he has severe quality as well.

"In terms of him thinking about this summer, I don't believe so because he was out there the other night playing through some pain, playing through a problem he had, for me, for himself and for the football club.

"In terms of Gareth's commitment and Gareth's quality, I think his commitment has been fully there in this moment that I've been here and in terms of his quality, his quality is never going to leave him. I think you see that every time he's on the football pitch."

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."

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