This should have been a season for Inter fans to enjoy, on the back of a title triumph and with European football returning to some semblance of normality.

Instead, they have lost coach Antonio Conte, top scorer Romelu Lukaku and standout wing-back Achraf Hakimi. Talk of a Tottenham move for Lautaro Martinez – seemingly linked to Harry Kane's future – has not been ruled out entirely.

It leaves the reigning Serie A champions picking up the pieces, with the club's dire financial situation dampening hopes of a successful title defence.

Although there have also been new arrivals, Simone Inzaghi and a 35-year-old Edin Dzeko clearly are not in the same class as Conte and Lukaku.

Inter will be slightly different this season and it is highly likely they will be slightly worse for it.

Downgrade to Dzeko

In Lukaku, Inter have sold a player in his prime coming off his best campaign to date. In Dzeko, the Nerazzurri have brought in a veteran whose Serie A career just plunged to new depths.

Lukaku netted 24 times en route to Inter's Scudetto, while Dzeko's final year with Roma brought only seven league goals.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina international did play a mere 1,825 minutes, but it was his poor form while on the pitch that saw him limited to 20 starts despite featuring in 31 matchday squads.

Dzeko's shot conversion rate of 10 per cent was higher than in two of his seasons in the capital and only margainally lower than 2017-18's 10.5 per cent when he scored 16 times. The decreasing frequency of his attempts was an issue, managing just 3.5 shots per 90 minutes, a trough to contrast to the 2016-17 peak of 5.3.

Inter's new forward fell some way short of his expected goals (xG) total of 13.3 – a failing only partially explained by the expertise of opposition goalkeepers, who prevented 3.6 Dzeko goals according to expected goals on target (xGOT) data, which analyses the quality of the shot rather than the quality of the chance.

Lukaku, on the other hand, outstripped his xG figure of 23.8, even if his attempts were only worth 22.9 xGOT.

It is not only as a scorer that Dzeko slips below Lukaku's standards either. Chelsea's latest record buy was a creative force last term, providing 11 assists. Dzeko had three.

 

Indeed, Lukaku crafted a team-high 52 chances – or 9.4 per cent of Inter's 552 shots across the campaign – while Dzeko laid on 29 (5.3 per cent of Roma's attempts). Dzeko was more involved in build-up play than Lukaku, averaging 49.7 open play sequences per 90 to his predecessor's 44.4, but he could not match Lukaku in terms of passing accuracy (68.8 per cent), passing accuracy in the opposition half (64.8) or passing accuracy in the final third (58.5).

Unsurprisingly, the former Giallorossi favourite also cannot play at the same pace as Lukaku. Dzeko was involved in only six fast breaks to Lukaku's league-leading 17, although he did score twice from such situations. Roma were second in the league in this regard – behind Inter.

But even if the Nerazzurri do slow slightly with Dzeko in the side, his work in moving the ball up the field is still comparable to Lukaku's. He had more carries (7.9) and progressive carries (4.5) than Lukaku last term, while operating in the same ballpark for carry distance (92.6 metres), attempted dribbles (2.9) and completed dribbles (1.3) – all numbers per 90.

The percentage of his touches Dzeko took in the opposition box (17.3) tallied closely (18.3 per cent for Lukaku), too, with the previously prolific attacker's game peculiarly now suited to work away from goal.

An aerial force

As part of his link-up play, Dzeko offers a clear focal point. His 60.4 per cent success rate in aerial duels ranked fourth among Serie A forwards with 100 or more such tussles. Lukaku won only 42.9 per cent in a category led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic (65.7 per cent). Dzeko's 52 flick-ons also put him fourth.

But Dzeko's heading ability does also give Inter a greater threat inside the penalty area. The striker was joint-third for headed attempts (20, excluding blocks), with his 1.0 per 90 double Lukaku's 0.5. As with his feet, Dzeko was wasteful in this regard, scoring only one header while new Inter colleague Martinez nodded in four goals, but a greater sample size shows the danger he can pose. Since his 2015 Serie A debut, Dzeko leads the way for headed attempts (203, excluding blocks) and his 16 goals – making up 18.8 per cent of his total of 85 – are tied for third.

Dzeko therefore looks a good fit in an Inter side who last season topped the charts in succeeding with 24.6 per cent of their open play crosses, leading to a joint-high 92 headed shots and 14 headed goals.

Whether that crossing quality is still at the club is another matter.

Inter's wings clipped

Only nine defenders in Serie A last term attempted 100 crosses, but Hakimi, marauding up the right, was one of them. Within that select group, his crossing accuracy of 23.9 per cent ranked third – just ahead of Leonardo Spinazzola, another exciting wing-back and Dzeko's former Roma team-mate (23.5 per cent).

Hakimi's departure for Paris Saint-Germain robs Inter of that quality and the 36 chances he created. There is pressure on Denzel Dumfries, a €12.5million recruit, to fill that void. He created 41 chances in the Eredivisie last season, yet only five of his 50 crosses were successful.

That ability to deliver from wide positions is merely one of Hakimi's array of attributes, too, with the €60m man carrying the ball 22.7 metres further per 90 than Dumfries while also contributing a goal or assist every 178.1 minutes, compared to the Netherlands international's 308.5 minutes.

 

Inter should at least have increased creativity from midfield, where free signing Hakan Calhanoglu offers an upgrade on the recuperating Christian Eriksen. Calhanoglu, playing for rivals Milan, had league highs in chances created (98) and chances created from set-pieces (50) in 2020-21. Milan led Serie A in goals from set-pieces (16, excluding penalties), but Inter ranked joint-fourth (16) and will surely now improve.

Trying to run it back

If mixed results are anticipated from direct replacements for Lukaku, Hakimi and Eriksen, those moves at least indicate some unlikely joined-up thinking in spite of the chaotic nature of this off-season. Inzaghi's appointment also suggests Inter plan to change little from last season, even with the numerous notable departures.

Like Conte and Inter, Inzaghi's Lazio consistently lined up with a 3-5-2 formation in 2020-21, with their approaches also not dissimilar.

Lazio's press was a little more aggressive, allowing 11.6 passes per defensive action to Inter's 12.8 and also engaging in more pressed sequences (543) despite having slightly more possession (52.9 per cent) than Inter (52.0 per cent). Lazio also scored eight goals from high turnovers.

However, between the replacement of a speedy Lukaku with a slower Dzeko and Inter's pre-existing preference for build-up attacks (119) over direct attacks (80), Inzaghi's playing style might have to be a little more patient this term, even if the new number nine's physical presence will give them an outlet.

These are minor tweaks, though, that should mean Inzaghi can adapt to Inter or Inter to Inzaghi.

Defending champions have rarely had it so tough when preparing for a new campaign, but Inter have done all they can to ensure a new-look side can continue to find success.

Two-way Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani produced another masterclass in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Ohtani hit his 40th home run of the MLB season and dominated across eight innings on the mound midweek.

The Japanese sensation allowed six hits, while striking out eight batters and walking none.

Ohtani became the first MLB player to register 40 homers in a season that he pitched at least 15 games. The previous record was Babe Ruth's 29 in 1919.

He also has 18 steals in 122 games for the Angels this season. According to Stats Perform, the only player in major history to reach 40 homers and 15 stolen bases in fewer team games was Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998 (117th game).

 

Dodgers roll on

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-0 for their sixth consecutive victory. Max Muncy had two home runs to fuel the Dodgers, who moved within three games of the National League (NL) West-leading San Francisco Giants. San Francisco lost 6-2 to the New York Mets. Mitch White became the first Dodgers reliever to go 7.1 scoreless innings pitched since Ed Roebuck in 1960.

The Atlanta Braves edged the Miami Marlins 11-9. Freddie Freeman hit for the cycle for the second time in his career. According to Stats Perform, Freeman is the first NL first baseman in history to hit for the cycle more than once.

 

Red Sox swept by Yankees

The Boston Red Sox left New York emptyhanded after being swept by American League (AL) East rivals the Yankees following a 5-2 victory. Nick Pivetta gave up four runs in the second inning.

 

Polanco does it again

Jorge Polanco delivered another walk-off win for the Minnesota Twins, this time an 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians after 11 innings. Polanco hit a game-ending based-loaded single. Each of the last three Minnesota victories have ended with a Polanco walk off. He is the first player with a walk-off RBI in three consecutive team wins since David Ortiz in the 2004 playoffs and first in the regular season since Tony Pena in 1982, per Stats Perform.

 

 

Wednesday's results 

Chicago Cubs 7-1 Cincinnati Reds
Minnesota Twins 8-7 Cleveland Indians
Colorado Rockies 7-5 San Diego Padres
New York Mets 6-2 San Francisco Giants
Washington Nationals 8-5 Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees 5-2 Boston Red Sox
Los Angeles Angels 3-1 Detroit Tigers
Atlanta Braves 11-9 Miami Marlins
Tampa Bay Rays 8-4 Baltimore Orioles
Milwaukee Brewers 6-4 St Louis Cardinals
Seattle Mariners 3-1 Texas Rangers
Kansas City Royals 3-2 Houston Astros
Chicago White Sox 3-2 Oakland Athletics
Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 Pittsburgh Pirates

 

Mets at Dodgers

The Dodgers (75-46) will put their winning streak on the line when they host the Mets (60-60) on Thursday. Max Scherzer toes the mound for the Dodgers, while the Mets will counter with Rich Hill.

Tom Brady is a seven-time Super Bowl champion who celebrated his 44th birthday earlier this month, but the evergreen Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar is not slowing down ahead of the NFL season.

Brady – who is the most successful player in NFL history – is gearing up for his 22nd season in the league after guiding the Buccaneers to glory last term.

The quarterback underwent a knee operation following Super Bowl LV, which he earned MVP honours and a contract extension.

Brady has already defied his age, but Father Time is not derailing the former New England Patriots QB.

"It's really fun for me. I love physically to train and put myself in a position to compete," Brady told reporters on Wednesday.

"I love the mental aspect of the sport. I have a lot of fun doing it. It's a lot of joy in my life.

"You can do anything with people you want to be with. You're with your kids, you're with your family, it doesn't matter if you're at the park, the house, the movies, you'll have a great time."

Brady – in his first season with the Buccaneers after 20 successful years at the Patriots – claimed his seventh Lombardi Trophy as Tampa Bay became the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl at their home stadium, ending the Kansas City Chiefs' hopes of retaining the title in a 31-9 rout.

He threw for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, his passer rating of 102.2 his highest since his MVP season of 2017 (102.8).

Only Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes had more completions of 20 yards or more than Brady's 63 as he experienced a revival as a downfield passer in Tampa.

In the playoffs, he helped the Bucs come through a gauntlet, winning three games on the road to get to the Super Bowl.

By defeating Mahomes and the Chiefs, the Bucs became the first team to win three games against former Super Bowl MVPs in the same postseason having also seen off Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints and Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

"We've got to keep earning it," Brady said. "I don't think there's any aspect of me that thinks what I've done last year means anything. I've got to go do it this year."

The Buccaneers will open their title defence against the Dallas Cowboys on September 9.

Kevin Durant and Draymond Green blamed Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and the franchise's management for mishandling the pair's infamous on-court spat, which led to the former leaving the team.

Durant and Green were involved in a heated verbal exchange against the Los Angeles Clippers in November 2018, with the argument reportedly continuing in the locker room post-game.

Green was suspended for one game by the Warriors as a result.

Durant eventually departed the Warriors via free agency at the end of the season, joining the Brooklyn Nets.

Warriors team-mates from 2016 to 2019 – winning two NBA championships, Durant and Green spoke about the incident.

"It wasn't the argument," Durant said on Bleacher Report show 'Chips' when asked how much the argument contributed in his decision to leave Golden State.

"It was the way that everybody -- Steve Kerr -- acted like it didn't happen. [General manager] Bob Myers tried to just discipline you [Green] and think that would put the mask over everything."

Green recalled: "'Y'all are about to f*** this up. I said, 'The only person that can make this right is me and K [Durant]. And there is nothing that y'all can do, and y'all are going to f*** this up.' And in my opinion, they f***** it up."

"I think so too," responded Durant, who averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists with the Warriors in 2018-19 before suffering an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Durant added: "I remember watching 'The Last Dance,' and when Scottie [Pippen] didn't go into the game, the whole team in the locker room said, 'Scottie, that was f***** up that you did that.'

"We needed that. We just needed to throw all of that s*** on the table and say, 'Yo Dray, K, that was f***** up that we even had to go through that.'

"Let's just wipe our hands with that and go finish the task. ... I didn't think we did that. We just tried to dance around it. I just didn't like, just the vibe between all of that, it just made s*** weird to me."

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he does not want the 2021 season to be a "farewell tour" amid uncertainty over his future.

Rodgers will play for the Packers this upcoming NFL campaign after the veteran star and franchise came to an agreement to ensure the 37-year-old remained in Green Bay for another season, having initially pushed to leave.

The reigning MVP and Super Bowl champion had considered retirement during his stand-off with the Packers before the two parties found common ground, though there is not much certainty beyond this season.

"I don't want a farewell tour," Rodgers said on Wednesday. "I don't know what's going to happen after the season, but I'm going to enjoy it with the right perspective, for sure, and not look at it as I'm getting through this. I'm going to enjoy the hell out of all of it."

Rodgers amassed 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent for the Packers – who lost to eventual Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

 

In total, Rodgers completed 372 of 526 attempts for 4,299 yards as the Packers topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record to clinch home-field advantage and the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Rodgers is level with Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown with three MVP honours – only Peyton Manning (five) has more in NFL history.

On thinking 2020 might have been his final year in Green Bay, where he has spent his entire career, Rodgers added: "The reason I approached it like that is I just knew when the [Love] pick was made that the clock had started, for sure. And I thought unless there was something in the season that really made me feel like I'm going to be here past 2021 that maybe this would be my last year.

"I didn't want to be going into a year with some sort of ... as a lame duck, like I said. I didn't think that was fair to what I accomplished and what I mean to this team, and nothing really changed in that regard. I went into the offseason, that [it] could have been it."

"I'm glad that I enjoyed every moment, I'm glad that I led exactly the way I wanted to lead and looked for those conversations with certain guys that needed a pick-me-up at different times. I took the headphones off and enjoyed the surroundings and the road trips and the time with the guys. Yeah, it's a good template, for sure."

Antoine Griezmann is "happy and proud" after reaching 100 appearances for Barcelona and the French star is targeting history with the LaLiga giants.

Griezmann brought up his century of games in Sunday's 4-2 rout of Real Sociedad and almost marked the occasion with his 36th goal for Barca, only to be denied by the crossbar.

With big shoes to fill after the departure of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, Barca head coach Ronald Koeman will be hoping the forward can team up with recruit Memphis Depay to fire Barca back to the top of LaLiga.

Griezmann, who arrived from Atletico Madrid in 2019, told the club's media on Wednesday: "I am happy and proud to have reached this figure.

"It was very important to get a win in the first game with the fans back, who we haven't seen for so long. It was a good game and hopefully, we can now get another win against Athletic [Bilbao]."

Since arriving in 2019, no player has played more games for Barca, while only Messi (8003) and Marc-Andre ter Stegen (8040) have racked up more minutes than Griezmann's 7,497.

France international Griezmann sits behind Messi for goal involvements in that time, too, having recorded 51 direct involvements – 19 more than the departed third-place Luis Suarez, who fired Atletico to their first LaLiga title since 2013-14 last term.

Griezmann's returns do not just impress up against his team-mates, though, given only Suarez (42), Villarreal's Gerard Moreno (51) and Real Madrid star Karim Benzema (59) have scored more among LaLiga forwards since the Frenchman's switch to Barca.

While Griezmann remains a long way behind his 94 goals for Diego Simeone's Atletico, his 20 goals across all competitions last season – the same as his goal involvements in LaLiga – did see him finish as Barca's second-highest goalscorer.

 

Having not added to his 35-goal tally yet this campaign, that return means he is 14 goals away from Thierry Henry (49) as the highest-scoring Frenchman for Koeman's side, Ludovic Giuly third with 26.

However, it is not just his finishing abilities that standout during his Camp Nou career.

Only Messi (233) and Jordi Alba (131) have created more chances than Griezmann (107), who also ranks third at the club behind the same pair for 'big' chances created, defined by Opta, with 26.

In a side dependent on the link-up play of their forwards to unleash the likes of Ansu Fati, Alba and Ousmane Dembele, it is apparent why Koeman has challenged the 30-year-old to improve on those figures to be the spearhead and guide his team to glory.

Nevertheless, the former Sociedad man is looking forward to continuing life at Camp Nou.

"I hope I get to play another 100 games and carry on giving everything to make history with this club," Griezmann added. "I want to keep helping the team both on and off the pitch, in attack and defence, and enjoying being at Barca."

Timo Werner has thanked Chelsea supporters for rallying behind him after being told to "get out of the club" by a fan during an open training session.

Chelsea's players were put through their paces at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, with those in attendance also getting a first glimpse of striker Romelu Lukaku up close since he rejoined the club last week.

But the event was somewhat overshadowed during a question-and-answer session with fans when one urged Werner to leave the club.

The comment was made over the PA system and prompted an angry response from others in the stands.

Werner was later inundated with positive messages on social media and expressed his gratitude to those who had reached out.

"Thanks for all the love and support I received today, Blues Fans! Really appreciate it," he posted on his personal Twitter account.

Werner has been a regular target of criticism during his 14 months at Chelsea, despite reaching double figures for both goals and assists last season.

That made him the first Blues player since Eden Hazard in 2018-19 to do so, though his 12 goals in 51 games was a substantial drop-off from the 34 managed in 45 appearances for RB Leipzig in the previous campaign.

Werner also endured a rather underwhelming start to the new Premier League season last weekend as he had just 29 touches of the ball during the 3-0 win against Crystal Palace, which was the fewest of any Chelsea outfield starter.

Celtic will take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their Europa League play-off tie with AZ thanks to goals from Kyogo Furuhashi and James Forrest at Celtic Park.

The Scottish side eased to a 7-2 aggregate win against Jablonec in the third qualifying round, having seen their Champions League qualifying hopes dashed by Midtjylland, and were good value for their victory in Glasgow on Wednesday.

Furuhashi fired the hosts in front with 12 minutes played and teed up Forrest for Celtic's second with just over an hour on the clock, leaving the hosts in a commanding position ahead of the return game in Alkmaar next Thursday.

AZ entered the competition at this stage by virtue of finishing third in the Eredivisie last season and the Dutch side, who have lost some key players since the end of the previous campaign, started the first leg strongly.

Zakaria Aboukhlal had a penalty appeal turned down in the opening few minutes and Joe Hart then produced a superb save with his toes to help Vangelis Pavlidis' shot onto the post.

But Furuhashi helped settle any Celtic nerves with his sixth goal in six games since joining, the Japan international athletically prodding the ball home after being picked out at the back post by David Turnbull.

Forest had a shot well kept out by Hobie Verhulst as Ange Postecoglou's side pushed for a second, though they were given a warning at the other end when Aboukhlal forced Hart into another save.

Shortly after Thijs Oosting had wasted a glorious chance for AZ by firing over from 10 yards, Celtic scored a potentially vital second goal through Forrest's shot on the turn, which took a wicked deflection off Timo Letschert on its way through.

Substitute Odsonne Edouard was twice denied by Verhulst in quick succession late on, but Celtic did at least keep out the opposition at the other end for an all-important clean sheet as they made it five wins in a row for Postecoglou.

Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso has underlined his desire to keep hold of Dusan Vlahovic amid reported interest from Tottenham and Manchester City.

The Serbia international has long been linked with a move to Spurs, who could be forced into the market for a striker by the possible loss of Harry Kane to City in this transfer window.

However, it was reported on Wednesday that Pep Guardiola's men could well look to cut out the middle man and simply target the prolific Vlahovic themselves.

That does not look to be a particularly straightforward move either, with Fiorentina determined to keep hold of their star man.

"I said from the first day that I wanted to keep Vlahovic, just like I did with Federico Chiesa," Commisso said of the forward, whose contract expires in 2023, to ANSA.

"I spoke to Vlahovic the other day and believe he wants to stay in Florence, but then when family, agents and offers get involved…

"You never know where it's going to go, but I hope and think he will remain."

Commisso has recently come under fire for his running of Fiorentina since a 2019 takeover of the club was completed.

However, while the Italian-born businessman described last season as "disappointing", he defended his overall record at the helm.

"It's only right that I remind them that when I took over, Fiorentina were in 16th place and in one year I took them to 10th position," he added.

"No other foreign owners, after buying one of the most important clubs in Serie A, managed to improve their level by six places in the first year.

"As I said many times, last season was disappointing, but that does not authorise anyone to talk about a failed project, because that is not true.

"If someone wants to kick me out of Florence, then step forward and purchase Fiorentina. I don't see anyone walking up to the Viola door with money in hand. So far, all I've heard is cheap gossip."

The Jamaica duo of Tina Clayton and Kerrica Hill advanced to the final of the women’s 100m, in contrasting fashion, at the World Athletics U20 Championships, in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday.

In semifinal 1 Clayton put on a dominant display of sprinting to easily clear the rest of the field before stopping the clock at 11.34.  Serbia’s Ivana Ilic was second in 11.50 and secured the other qualifying spot.  Romania’s Maria Mihalache was third in 11.64 but did not advance.

Hill has a much more difficult time of things in semifinal 2.  It was Namibia’s Beatrice Masilingi who put away that field, claiming the top spot in 11.35.  Switzerland’s Melissa Gutschmidt was second in 11.50 and Viktória Forster third in 11.54.  Hill was third in 11.60 but still managed to advance as one of the fastest losers.

Semifinal three was won by Nigeria’s Praise Ofoku in 11.57, with Czech Republic’s Eva Kubíčková securing the second automatic qualifying spot after finishing second in 11.64.  The Bahamas’ Camille Rutherford took third spot in Trinidad and Tobago’s in 11.72, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Leah Bertrand was fourth in 11.80.

In the men’s equivalent, Cuba’s Shainer Rengifo was one of two Caribbean athletes to advance to the final, after finishing second in semifinal 3.  The event was won by Nigeria’s Godson Oke Oghenebrume who claimed first place in 10.22.  Bahamian athlete Carlos Brown was fourth.  Jamaica’s Brian Levell faced the starter for semifinal 2 but was disqualified after a false start. 

The race was won by Oman's Ali Anwar Ali AL Balushi who won the event in a new national record of 10.27.  Italy’s Matteo Melluzzo was second in 10.29, with South Africa’s Benjamin Richardson third in 10.30.  Grenada’s Nazzio John was fourth in a personal best 10.32.  John and Melluzzo secured qualifying positions as the fastest losers.

Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo was the winner of semifinal 1 in a quick 10.11, with Poland’s Oliwer Wdowik also securing a spot after finishing second in 10.37.  Jamaica’s Alicke Cranston finished last in 10.94.

Nuno Espirito Santo is uncertain as to whether he will be able to call on Harry Kane when Tottenham face their new coach's former team Wolves on Sunday.

Spurs travelled to Portugal on Wednesday ahead of a Europa Conference League qualifier against Pacos de Ferreira.

Kane, who still reportedly wants to leave the club and join Manchester City, was not included in the travelling party, though Spurs have stated that is due to the England captain working on building up his fitness at the training ground.

The 28-year-old, who only returned to training last Friday, was not involved at all as Spurs won their opening game of the season against City on Sunday.

Wolves, the team Nuno left at the end of last season, are next up for Tottenham in the Premier League, though Kane's availability is still unclear.

"I cannot answer this. I can answer that he's getting better and better, fitter and he will join the group on Friday. Then we'll see," Nuno told a news conference.

"He's better than yesterday and hopefully he's going to be better tomorrow. That's how all the players working should be: improving and working on fitness."

Asked if he was in contact with Kane, Nuno said: "We speak to all the players on a daily basis. It's normal that we speak to them all."

Dele Alli and Steven Bergwijn, who both started against City, did not travel either, while club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele, along with Serge Aurier, was not included in the squad.

"It's important that all our players have competition," Nuno added. "For tomorrow [Thursday], the players that started on Sunday are not going to be involved."

Reports emerged on Tuesday suggesting City's previous bid for Kane – rumoured to have been close to £100million – was actually nearer to £125m, though it was turned down by Tottenham.

Kane is said to be frustrated with the club, though he does not wish to push further for a move. It is anticipated City will lodge another offer in the coming days.

Ben Davies also took part in the pre-match news conference, and the full-back said the squad were yet to have any discussions with Kane over his future.

"He's one of the world's best strikers. We definitely want him. Having him in the team is definitely better than not," Davies said.

"It's probably a blessing when he gets to chat to us, not about his future. There's been no real chats about what’s happening."

Two-time US Open champion Venus Williams has been given a wildcard entry to participate in this year's tournament.

The 41-year-old American will be making her 23rd appearance at Flushing Meadows and a 15th in a row.

Williams, who has not missed a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2013, is one of eight wild card selections for the women's singles draw.

Former semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe and Emma Navarro are joined by teenagers Hailey Baptiste, Ashlyn Krueger, Caty McNally and Katie Volynets.

Storm Sanders has been awarded a reciprocal wild card in agreement with Tennis Australia.

Naomi Osaka will be looking to defend her title in New York, with the main draw scheduled to run from August 30 to September 11.

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