Son Heung-min has pledged his future to Tottenham, with the South Korea star signing a new contract to keep him at the club until 2025.

Son joined Spurs from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015 and has gone on to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s best forwards, scoring 107 goals and providing 64 assists across 280 appearances in all competitions.

A key player under both Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho, Son's previous contract was due to run out in 2023.

However, Tottenham have moved to secure the future of the 29-year-old, who should play a big part in new manager Nuno Espirito Santo's team

Son said: "It was already a big honour to play here for six years, the club have showed me massive, massive respect and obviously I'm very happy to be here.

"It's like home, especially with the fans, the players, the staff. There was no decision. It was easy. I'm so happy to be here and will be so glad to see the fans again soon."

Fabio Paratici, Spurs' new managing director of football, said: "We are pleased to have agreed a new long-term contract with Son as we move towards the start of a new season and a new chapter for the club with Nuno Espirito Santo.

"Everyone can see the real positive impact he has on the club, both on and off the field, and we are delighted that he will play a part in what we are trying to achieve in the coming years."

Son’s link-up play with Kane has been a driving force for Spurs in recent times, with their partnership thriving last season.

Indeed, by early March, the duo had directly combined for 14 league goals, surpassing the record previously held by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, who managed 13 when one set up the other in Blackburn Rovers' 1994-95 title winning season.

While Kane finished as the league's leading scorer, with 23 goals, Son contributed a further 17 to Spurs' cause, averaging a strike every 183 minutes.

Kane also topped the assist charts, with 14 from 49 chances created, though Son was more creative on the whole, crafting 75 goalscoring opportunities and registering 10 assists.

However, while Son will be at Tottenham heading into 2021-22, Kane's future is far from certain.

The England captain is said to be keen to leave Spurs, with widespread reports claiming he is aiming to secure a move to Manchester City.

Talks of a £100million offer from City surfaced during Euro 2020, while reports this week have suggested a £160million fee would be enough to persuade Spurs to sell their talisman.

It remains to be seen if City will lodge a formal offer, and in the meantime Spurs are set to confirm the loan signing of Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini – their first arrival under Nuno.

Son Heung-min has pledged his future to Tottenham, with the South Korea star signing a new contract to keep him at the club until 2025.

Harry Kane looks like he might soon get his wish to leave Tottenham.

Spurs had previously dug in their heels and were determined that Kane, who is contracted until 2024, would stay.

The England captain won last season's Premier League Golden Boot with 23 goals, and now he could be heading to the champions.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SET FOR BUMPER KANE DEAL

Tottenham forward Harry Kane is poised for a £160million move to Manchester City, reports The Sun.

According to the report, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will allow Kane to exit the club for such a sum.

Kane is said by the newspaper to have agreed personal terms on a £400,000-a-week deal with City, which is reportedly double his current Tottenham contract.

 

ROUND-UP

- Paul Pogba has rejected a £50million contract offer at Manchester United and is set to leave this summer, according to The Mirror as rumours swirl about Paris Saint-Germain's interest.

- Marca reports that Kylian Mbappe will reject Paris Saint-Germain's latest contract offer and look to seal a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

- Fabrizio Romano has reported that talks are ongoing between Atalanta and Tottenham for Cristian Romero with personal terms agreed and a €55m price tag on the table.

- Atalanta want Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez included in any deal, reports Sportitalia.

- Milan are interested in signing Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech on loan, claims Calcio Mercato.

- Donyell Malen 's transfer from PSV Eindhoven to Borussia Dortmund is all but done according to Dutch outlet ED, with an anticipated €30m fee.

Following the conclusion of the European Championship and the Copa America, focus has switched back to club football as the 2021-22 campaign draws ever nearer in Europe's top leagues.

Most clubs are busy strengthening their squads ahead of the new season, while for others there is a need to raise funds as the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to be felt.

With six weeks of the window to go for teams in England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy, the futures of many top talents remain uncertain – not least in the case of Lionel Messi, who became a free agent on July 1.

But while Messi is widely expected to sign a new long-term deal with Barcelona, other global stars will remain in the headlines until a transfer is secured or the window shuts.

Stats Perform looks at some of the biggest names who could be on the move between now and the end of August.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Linked with: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United

While Messi's future now seems certain to be with Barcelona beyond next month, fellow superstar Ronaldo's status is less clear after entering the final year of his Juventus deal.

The Bianconeri are supposedly weighing up whether to cash in on the five-time Ballon d'Or winner or risk losing him for free next year when his deal expires.

While Juve endured a disappointing 2020-21 that saw them miss out on the Scudetto for the first time in nine years, Ronaldo had another impressive season in front of goal.

He scored 29 goals in 33 league appearances to finish top of the scoring charts, becoming the first player to win the Golden Boot in Serie A, LaLiga and the Premier League.

 

Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Linked with: Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid

Kane has spent 17 years with Tottenham but admitted in May he feels at a "crossroads" in his career following another trophyless campaign last time out.

The England international, who scored four times in his country's run to the Euro 2020 final, is yet to discuss his future with recently-appointed boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

He finished as the Premier League's top scorer last season, making him the third player to win the Golden Boot on three occasions after Thierry Henry (four times) and Alan Shearer.

Kane also set up 14 goals to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

 

Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

Linked with: Manchester City, Real Madrid, Chelsea

Alongside Kylian Mbappe, who Paris Saint-Germain will refuse to sell this window despite his delicate contract situation, Haaland is arguably football's hottest property.

The Norway international has been superb for Dortmund since arriving in January 2020, breaking a number of Bundesliga and Champions League goals records along the way.

That includes becoming both the quickest and youngest player to hit 20 goals in the Champions League, doing so in just 14 matches for Dortmund and former side Salzburg.

Last season alone, Haaland netted 27 times in 28 Bundesliga games. That included two or more goals on 11 occasions – only Gerd Muller (12 in 1971-72) has done so more times in a season.

 

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Linked with: Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid

Having won it all during his time with Bayern, including seven successive Bundesliga crowns, could the time be right for Lewandowski to seek a new challenge elsewhere?

Recently-appointed Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann admitted last week teams are interested in signing the 32-year-old, but that should of course come as no surprise.

Lewandowski is coming off his finest campaign yet for the Bavarian giants, having scored 41 times in the Bundesliga in 2020-21 to break Bayern great Muller's record for goals in a single season that had stood for 49 years.

The Poland striker's 48 goals in all competitions last time out were the most scored by any player in Europe's top five leagues in 2020-21, meanwhile, followed by Mbappe (42) and Haaland (41).

 

Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Linked with: Manchester United

With the signing of Jadon Sancho as good as wrapped up, Man Utd are rumoured to be closing in on a second big-money signing of the window in long-serving Madrid defender Varane.

The Frenchman has spent a decade at the Santiago Bernabeu, but it looks as though both the player and club are ready to cut ties with less than a year to run on his contract.

United are seeking a partner for Harry Maguire and Varane ticks plenty of boxes for what the Red Devils are after, not least in terms of his passing accuracy (89.58) and headed clearances (60) in 31 LaLiga games last term.

That compares to a passing accuracy of 89.82 for Victor Lindelof, 88.26 for Eric Bailly and 87.29 for Maguire in the Premier League last term. Maguire led the way with 86 headed clearances, meanwhile, some way in front of Lindelof's 40 in 29 games.

Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

Linked with: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Juventus

United have been linked with an array of top talent, though they could have a battle on their hands keeping hold of one of their own star men in Pogba.

Following a couple of years of speculation, the World Cup-winning midfielder is supposedly eager to head home to France with Paris Saint-Germain.

Pogba has undoubtedly struggled for consistency in his second spell with United, but showed exactly what he is capable of in his four appearances for France at Euro 2020.

He scored a stunning goal against Switzerland and set up another against Portugal, while his eight chances created was second only to Antoine Griezmann (10) among France players.

Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes)

Linked with: Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Arsenal

A number of Europe's top clubs are on red alert after Rennes president Nicolas Holveck admitted this week that in-demand midfielder Camavinga may be sold this window if a new contract cannot be agreed.

Camavinga made his debut for boyhood club Rennes in April 2019 and has gone on to make 82 appearances in all competitions, with 67 of those outings coming in Ligue 1.

The 18-year-old leads the way in the French top flight for tackles attempted (226) and tackles won (138) since his debut, followed by Marseille's Valentin Rongier in both categories (194 and 125 respectively).

To further underline exactly why so many teams are keen on the youngster, he was one of only two current teenagers – along with Barcelona's Pedri (1,485) – to complete more than 1,000 passes in Europe's top five leagues last term with 1,418.

 

Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo)

Linked with: Juventus, Arsenal

Euro 2020 acted as a shop window for a number of players, and not many of them saw their stock rise in such a way as Italy midfielder Locatelli.

The 23-year-old featured five times for the Azzurri in their successful European Championship campaign, including an appearance from the bench during extra time in the victory over England in the final.

He scored twice in the 3-0 group-stage win over Switzerland and had the second best goals-per-90-minutes ratio of any Italy player (0.66) after Matteo Pessina, who scored twice in four games (0.95).

Locatelli also won more tackles per 90 minutes (2.32) at the Euros than any other Italy player, followed by Marco Verratti (2.02) and Federico Bernardeschi (1.42).

Arsenal have already made a €40million (£35m) bid, but Juventus are considered the favourites to land the Milan youth product.

After winning the Champions League, Chelsea are looking to add a goalscorer. 

With Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland seemingly no longer a possibility, the Blues could look elsewhere in Germany.

Robert Lewandowski has become the name to watch. 

 

TOP STORY - CHELSEA LINE UP LEWANDOWSKI BID

Robert Lewandowski has moved to the top of Chelsea's wish list, according to the Sun. 

The Poland international scored a record 41 league goals for Bayern Munich last season and is under contract through 2023.

But Thomas Tuchel wants a prolific scorer and Lewandowski would certainly fit the bill, should Bayern accept a £50million offer for the 32-year-old.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United will make an offer for Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane this week, says the Daily Mail, but not at the rumoured £50m asking price. Fabrizio Romano reports Varane wants to move to the Premier League and is ready to accept United's contract proposal. 

United also are in the mix for Real Madrid's winger Vinicius Junior, claims the Mirror. 

Mauro Icardi could leave Paris Saint-Germain for Juventus, says Footmercato.

– Barring a Lewandowski move, Chelsea could wind up as a surprise landing spot for Harry Kane if he does not end up at Manchester City, according to The Athletic.

Liverpool will extend Alisson's contract through 2026 within the next few weeks, Fabrizio Romano reports, while the Mirror says Jordan Henderson will sign a new deal at Anfield through 2023. 

Roma and Inter could lure Alex Telles away from United, according to Calciomercato. 

Arsenal are hoping to complete a deal for Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga within the next week, says the Daily Mail.

Tottenham are eyeing Atalanta's Pierluigi Gollini, says Calciomercato. 

Tottenham must make signings in this transfer window if they want to challenge for the top four in the Premier League, according to former Spurs star Chris Waddle.

Having appointed former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, Spurs will be looking for the Portuguese head coach to guide them to Champions League football for the first time since their fourth-place finish in the 2018-19 season.

Following Jose Mourinho's sacking in April, Ryan Mason steered his boyhood club to seventh at the end of last season to secure a position in the new UEFA Conference League before Nuno's appointment.

Amid continuing speculation surrounding talisman Harry Kane's departure, Nuno may be preparing for life in London without the England captain, who netted four times at Euro 2020 to finish behind Patrik Schick and Cristiano Ronaldo (five each) for the Golden Boot.

But Waddle feels it is the other end of the pitch that Nuno needs to focus on.

"Tottenham need to sort their defence out first and foremost," he told Stats Perform.

"Nuno had a good track record with Wolves defensively. But the football at Wolves wasn't probably what Tottenham fans would want to watch."

Tottenham shipped 45 goals last campaign, two fewer than they conceded in the 2019-20 season.

While Wolves' defence was breached 52 times last campaign – a season largely hampered by Raul Jimenez’s injury and the departures of Diogo Jota and Matt Doherty – Nuno's men conceded just 40 goals in 2019-20.

Up front, the situation with Kane, who finished as the Premier League's top scorer with 23 goals in the 2020-21 season before guiding England to their first major tournament final in 55 years, remains unclear.

 

With or without their star forward, Waddle feels Spurs have quality in their ranks, which could thrive with a few smart signings.

"[Pierre-Emile] Hojbjerg had a good tournament - good footballer, he's a good player," Waddle added.

"Son [Heung-min] is a good player we know that. It looks like [Nuno] is trying to buy, and it looks like he's trying to get a midfield player [to play] alongside Hojbjerg, which would be good.

"What I see, would it be a top-four team next season? At the present minute before the transfer market really kicks in. I would say well what they've got now - no.

"I would say they're probably going to be sixth or seventh. If they make four or five good signings - possibly top four, yes.

"Maybe they'll go into the pack, and they'll go into it with a chance, but at this minute in time no I wouldn't put Tottenham in top four."

Nuno Espirito Santo insists Harry Kane is very much part of his plans as he aims to propel Tottenham back into the Champions League.

Nuno was appointed by Spurs in June, replacing Ryan Mason, who had been interim charge since Jose Mourinho's dismissal in April.

Paulo Fonseca and Gennaro Gattuso were among the coaches who had been in talks with Tottenham prior to Nuno's appointment, with the former Wolves boss having previously been close to joining Crystal Palace and then Everton.

One of Nuno's first tasks will be helping to convince star man Kane, fresh from his run to the Euro 2020 final with England, to stay put.

Kane disclosed in May that he was open to moving away from Tottenham, with reports claiming he is hoping to sign for Manchester City, who have held discussions with Spurs – rumours of a £100million bid, which included potential player swaps, surfaced last month.

However, Nuno is adamant Kane will remain a Spurs player.

"Harry’s our player. Period. No need to talk about anything else," he said in his first news conference as Tottenham boss.

"Now is the moment for him to recover his energy and rest. Then we can speak. I am looking forward to him joining the group.

"I have no doubts in my mind. What I wish is for Harry to recover well, to have a good rest and when he arrives he will feel that every one of us needs to commit themselves to become better.

"We are very ambitious people. We want to do it well. We count on Harry on that.

"I am excited to work with all the players. Harry is one of the best players in the world. That is all I need to say."

Kane failed to register a single touch in the penalty area during England's defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, though he had netted four goals in the knockout stage to equal Gary Lineker as the country's leading goalscorer in major tournaments with 10.

The 27-year-old finished as the leading scorer (23) and leading assister (14) in the Premier League last term but could only help Spurs to a disappointing seventh-placed finish.

While Kane's future remains up in the air, Spurs may also be facing something of a reshuffle elsewhere in their squad.

Toby Alderweireld has reportedly asked to leave, while Lucas Moura, Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier and Erik Lamela could all be sold.

"A lot of work to be done. Improving this squad is not easy because of the quality we have," Nuno said when asked about incoming transfers.

"We [the coaches] have opinions and ideas. We do our job and try to find the best decisions."

Tottenham fans would understand if Harry Kane pushed for an exit from the club in this transfer window, according to former Spurs star Chris Waddle.

Kane is yet to win a major trophy despite a prolific Premier League career and this year is seen as a pivotal one to determine his long-term future.

Spurs finished seventh last season which was only good enough to reach the new UEFA Conference League, with the forward being open with the media on thinking seriously about his future.

Manchester City are rumoured to have already had a £100million offer knocked back by Tottenham, while Manchester United have also been linked with the England captain.

Kane revealed last week towards the end of Euro 2020 that he had yet to speak to new Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who has replaced Jose Mourinho.

Fabio Paratici, now managing director at the Premier League club, has stressed Spurs have no intention of selling the "special player" while he has three years to run on his contract.

Waddle believes Spurs fans would not query Kane, who suffered heartbreak with England at the Euro 2020 final on Sunday when Italy triumphed on penalties, if he decided to move on.

"Tottenham fans I don't think would have any complaints if he left," Waddle said to Stats Perform.

"I think they've got it and accept that he's given a lot of service to Tottenham – he's enjoyed it, he supports them and he'd love to win trophies.

"Now Harry Kane can win the golden boot each year and be the top scorer of the Premier League, top scorer of the Premier League and top scorer of the Premier League again.

"When he looks back, he will say personal achievements have been great.

"Now he probably wants to say I want to stand up and lift that trophy to say Tottenham have won the FA Cup, League Cup – something! - and I think he feels he needs to win trophies.

"He has done everything he's wanted to do personally, obviously he'd love to win something with England but personal-wise I think he's probably thought I've got them [the individual accolades].

"But [he will think], 'I've not won any medals as a footballer as a team player' and it's probably getting to him now." 

Kane, who turns 28 this month, finished as the Premier League's top scorer with 23 goals in 2020-21.

He also set up 14 goals to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

Kane then finished the Euros with four goals – only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (five each) managed more – to draw level with Gary Lineker as his nation's leading scorer at major tournaments.

Waddle understands why a striker of that calibre feels the urgency to seek a resolution on his club future, with Manchester being his likely destination one way or another.

"He's 27, 28 years old and his next contract will be the last big contract he will think where he's going to win something," added Waddle.

"And let's be honest, it's only Man City who are definitely a fair chance of winning a trophy, two or three.

"Manchester United is another club, but if you look abroad, most teams are skint.

"So I think there's only a couple of teams who can afford Harry Kane."

Waddle is certain Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will hold out as long as it takes to get a huge transfer fee for Kane, even if that results in a protracted transfer saga.

While the final transfer fee could be eye-watering, Waddle insists Kane is worth it.

Waddle said: "Tottenham will hold out for money because they want to buy their own players on their budget.

"So it's going to be an interesting two or three weeks because if he's desperate to get away, Daniel Levy as we've seen in the past does drive a hard bargain.

"He may not be forced into Harry Kane leaving on the cheap, put it that way, and if it means keeping hold of him for a longer period, then they will do that.

"They want the money and if we look at the valuation, yes, it is a hell of a lot of money.

"But you've got to say in modern-day football he is worth it."

Manchester City's search to replace Sergio Aguero is well known.

Spanish reports have linked Pep Guardiola’s side with Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann.

So, could City - who won the Premier League but lost the Champions League final to Chelsea – be set to bring in the France international? Possibly not...

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN NOT ON CITY RADAR

Manchester City are ready to ramp up their move for a new striker during the transfer window but will not pursue Barcelona forward Griezmann, claims The Sun.

Pep Guardiola's side will instead set their sights on Tottenham's Harry Kane, while Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is another possibility.

The Sun's report denies Spanish links between City and Frenchman Griezmann, with Barcelona understood to be keen to reduce their wage bill to free up funds to re-sign Lionel Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail reports that Atletico Madrid's signing of midfielder Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese will pave the way for Liverpool's proposed move to sign Saul Niguez. De Paul's arrival means Atleti are free to sell him off, with the Reds and Barcelona reportedly interested.

- Juventus are homing in on a transfer for Manchester City's Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, while they are also keen on bringing back Moise Kean to Turin, according to Tuttosport.

- Manchester United are edging closer to agreeing terms with French defender and long-term target Raphael Varane for a move from Real Madrid, reports the Mail.

- Jadon Sancho's move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United will be confirmed this week with a medical before his post-Euro 2020 holiday, claims The Sun.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio will become Jose Mourinho's first signing at Roma imminently.

Having been scrapped last year due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the Ballon d'Or returns in 2021.

With Euro 2020 and the Copa America rescheduled for this year, the stars of Europe and South America had the chance to use those tournaments as a springboard towards claiming the game's top individual prize.

Italy and Argentina lifted the respective trophies at the weekend, with the Azzurri beating England in a penalty shoot-out and La Albiceleste seeing off bitter rivals Brazil at the Maracana to win the Copa for the first time since 1993.

Stats Perform has looked at 13 of the leading candidates to feature at either tournament to determine how their chances look heading into the new season.

Jorginho

Before Euro 2020, N'Golo Kante was the Chelsea midfielder seen to be within the best shot of scooping individual honours at the end of 2021, but a month on it's Jorginho who is the European champion at club and international level.

While he has perhaps been underappreciated or misunderstood at times with Chelsea, perhaps supporters will see him in a new light after playing a vital role in Italy's success as their deep-lying playmaker.

Robert Lewandowski

It's widely accepted that, had the award been handed out last year, it would have gone to Robert Lewandowksi, the man whose 55 goals in 47 games delivered Bayern the treble.

How do you follow that? Well, he scored 41 times in the Bundesliga alone in 2020-21, breaking Gerd Muller's 49-year-old single-season record. Lewandowski's Ballon d'Or hopes arguably aren't any worse now than before the Euros as no one will have expected Paulo Sousa's men to make much of an impact. He got three goals in as many games and was only out-scored by six players, which is a solid achievement.

 

Marco Verratti

Had he not been injured for the first two games of Euro 2020, there's every possibility it would have been Verratti being crowned as player of the tournament, with the Paris Saint-Germain star arguably the player who embodies the qualities of Roberto Mancini's transformed Italy side more than any other.

Not only did he create more chances than anyone else at Euro 2020 (14), but averaged more touches (114.5) than anyone, played the fourth-most passes (87.1) and ranked third for tackles (four) per 90 minutes among all players to have featured for at least 125 minutes. His all-action excellence set the tone for the Azzurri's vibrant and, ultimately, successful football.

 

N'Golo Kante

Kante inspired Chelsea to Champions League glory, named man of the match in both legs of the semi-final versus Real Madrid and the final against Manchester City.

But France's last-16 elimination by Switzerland will have done little to boost his chances, with Paul Pogba rather than Kante the standout figure for Les Bleus. While a nomination is almost a certainty, taking the gong home now looks beyond the all-action midfielder.

Kevin De Bruyne

A second successive PFA Players' Player of the Year award for Kevin De Bruyne came after another standout season for Manchester City in which he won the Premier League and EFL Cup.

His exceptional quality was further underlined by the fact only Verratti created more chances than him over the course of the tournament, an impressive feat given he started the tournament late due to injury and then had to play through another fitness issue in Belgium's final match, but that's unlikely to be enough to earn him the award.

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Generally, the player considered to be the best at a major international competition has a pretty good chance of winning further accolades, so in that case Donnarumma may have a reasonable opportunity after UEFA crowned him Euro 2020's Player of the Tournament.

Statistically there were numerous goalkeepers who were more important than him to their respective teams given he technically didn't prevent any goals according to Opta's xGOT metric – Tomas Vaclik's prevented a tournament-high 2.5. Nevertheless, Donnarumma wasn't guilty of any drops or errors that led to shots, and made crucial saves across two penalty shoot-outs, including a couple in the final.

 

Harry Kane

Another star performer in 2020-21 to end the season empty-handed, Harry Kane finished top for goals (23) and assists (14) in the Premier League despite Tottenham finishing seventh.

A slow start to Euro 2020 followed, although Kane scored four times in the knockout phase as he played a key role in England's journey to the final. But when it mattered most he failed to have a single touch in the Italy penalty area. A talismanic performance in the showpiece may have put him firmly in the running, but it's difficult to see him being a major contender now.

Romelu Lukaku

The best player in Serie A as Inter ended an 11-year wait to win the title, Romelu Lukaku enjoyed the best season of his career, with 41 direct goal involvements in 44 appearances.

He certainly cannot be accused of failing to deliver for Belgium given he scored four times, but they came up short against Italy in the quarter-finals, with a partially injured De Bruyne unable to truly weave his magic. Lukaku's influence upon Inter shouldn't be overlooked, but the achievements of others on the international stage may overshadow his own.

Lionel Messi

The winner of the previous award in 2019 – the sixth of his astonishing career – Lionel Messi amazingly plundered 28 goals and had nine assists for Barcelona from January 1 onwards.

It wasn't enough to win Barca the LaLiga title, but it did put him right in the mix and he followed that up with a starring role in Argentina's Copa triumph, the first senior international trophy of his career. Given his lack of success with La Albiceleste was arguably the final barrier to clear in his career, a Ballon d'Or will surely follow later this year as he led Lionel Scaloni's men with four goals (joint-most) and five assists (the most).

 

Kylian Mbappe

Paris Saint-Germain lost their Ligue 1 title to Lille and could not reach back-to-back Champions League finals, which seems incredible given Kylian Mbappe managed 42 goals and 11 assists in just 47 appearances.

Departing Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick this year said there was no question Mbappe would win the Ballon d'Or one day, but it probably won't be in 2021. He was one of the biggest disappointments at Euro 2020, failing to score once despite his chances having an accumulative xG value of 2.02 – that under-performance was second-worst to Gerard Moreno (3.32).

Neymar

Even Neymar would admit he only had an outside chance of winning this year's Ballon d'Or ahead of the Copa America, his 17 goals and eight assists in 2020-21 a modest return for the world's most expensive footballer.

While his performances with Brazil would see him included in most people's team of the tournament, he wasn't dependable in front of goal, his one non-penalty strike coming from 5.3 xG, an under-performance unmatched by anyone in the tournament. He'll have to wait a bit longer for the prize he supposedly craves above all others.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus may have lost their grip on Serie A, but Cristiano Ronaldo still finished as top goalscorer (with 29), and they won the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia.

He definitely didn't do his chances any harm as he won the Golden Boot for most goals (five) – beating Patrik Schick by virtue of having more assists – after becoming the Euros' all-time leading scorer (11) and levelling Ali Daei's world-record haul of 109 international goals, but Portugal's failure to get beyond the last 16 won't help.

 

Luis Suarez

Discarded by Barcelona for being past his usefulness, Luis Suarez responded with 21 goals in 32 games to propel Atletico Madrid to a first league title since 2013-14.

But he could only muster one goal at the Copa America as he and Uruguay had a minimal impact, meaning it'll take something special for Suarez to be a major candidate at the end of the year.

Harry Kane may already be looking ahead to next year's World Cup with England but the Tottenham striker's short-term targets are less clear amid uncertainty over his club future.

The England captain suffered heartbreak with his team-mates on Sunday, the Three Lions losing to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley following a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time.

Luke Shaw gave the hosts the lead inside two minutes as he scored the fastest-ever goal in a European Championship final, only for Leonardo Bonucci to hit back for the Azzurri in the second half.

Kane converted his penalty in the shoot-out, but he otherwise endured a quiet match as he failed to have a single touch of the ball inside the opposition box. Indeed, the 27-year-old did not have a shot or create any chances for his team-mates for only the second time in his 61 senior international appearances.

However, Kane finished the tournament with four goals – only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (five each) managed more – to draw level with Gary Lineker as his nation's leading scorer at major tournaments.

While disappointed to fall at the final hurdle, the prolific striker is determined to push on at Qatar 2022.

"Last night hurts. It'll hurt for a long time. But we've come so far and broken down so many barriers that this is not the end," he posted on his Twitter account on Monday. 

"We win together, lose together and will regroup together for the World Cup. Thanks for all your support this summer."

It remains to be seen whether Kane will still be a Tottenham player come the time the next World Cup begins, though. He revealed last week he had yet to speak to new boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who was named as Jose Mourinho's permanent successor on June 30.

Fabio Paratici, now managing director at the Premier League club, also stressed last week that Spurs have no intention of selling the "special player" while he has three years to run on his contract.

"Of course, as a player you want to be wanted, you want to feel like you're loved, which I do," Kane said when asked about his Tottenham future.

"I haven't had the chance to talk to any of these people yet. I'm sure we'll get to know each other after the Euros, have a phone call or two once I get a week or two of holiday."

Keeping hold of Kane will be the top priority for Paratici and Nuno, the former Leicester City loanee having finished as the Premier League's top scorer with 23 goals in 2020-21.

Kane also set up 14 goals to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

Manchester City are rumoured to have already had a big-money offer knocked back by Tottenham, while Manchester United have also been linked.

Tottenham's players not involved in international action over the past month returned to training last week ahead of their first pre-season friendly with Leyton Orient on Saturday.

Spurs are also set to take on Colchester United, MK Dons, Chelsea and Arsenal before their Premier League opener with Manchester City on August 15.

Harry Kane said the hurt of England's penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final would stay with his team-mates throughout their careers, but urged those who missed like Bukayo Saka to hold their heads up high.

After the Wembley showpiece finished 1-1, Kane scored England's first penalty of the shoot-out but Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Saka all failed to convert from the spot.

That left England to reflect on a missed opportunity to end their 55-year wait for a major trophy, but Kane insisted Gareth Southgate's team are moving in the right direction.

Kane told BBC Sport: "We couldn't have given more, the boys couldn't have given more. Penalties are obviously the worst feeling in the world when you lose. It wasn't our night.

"It's been a fantastic tournament and we should be proud, hold our heads up high. Of course it's going to hurt now, it's going to hurt for a while but we're on the right track and we're building. Hopefully we can progress from this next year.

"Obviously we got off to the perfect start. Maybe dropped a little bit too deep. Sometimes when you score that early it's easy to try soak up the pressure and hold onto that.

"They had a lot of possession but to be fair we looked fairly in control. They didn't create too many chances. They got their breakthrough from the set-piece and then after that it was probably 50-50.

"In extra time we grew into the game, had a few half-chances, and then obviously penalties is penalties. We went through our process, the boys did everything they could and it wasn't our night.

"You've just got to hold your heads up high. Fantastic tournament. These things can happen. Penalty shoot-out you go through a process, put it where you want to put it, but anyone can miss a penalty."

Kane was seen consoling Saka at the final whistle and he underlined the togetherness of Southgate's squad and their ambitions to achieve highly at the World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

The 27-year-old Tottenham striker is yet to win a major trophy in his career, but insisted he is surrounded by players with a winning mentality in the England squad.

"We win together, we lose together," said Kane. "We'll learn, we'll grow from it, and it'll give us even more motivation to do well in the World Cup next year.

"We should be extremely proud as a group of what we've achieved. We're all winners and want to win, and it'll probably hurt for the rest of our careers, but that's football.

"We've progressed well from Russia [2018 World Cup, where England reached the semi-finals], and now it's about continuing that.

"We've got a great squad, loads of great players hungry for more football like this. All we can do is build and learn, and hopefully go into next year in a better way."

Gareth Southgate insists Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips will not be fazed about going up against Italy's much-lauded midfield, pointing out they coped well despite their relative inexperience against two modern greats in Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

Italy have enjoyed almost universal acclaim for their performances at Euro 2020, with their run to Sunday's final seeing them extend their unbeaten run to 33 matches, a national record.

A lot of the praise has been centred around their midfield trio of Nicolo Barella, Jorginho and Marco Verratti, the latter two in particular.

Jorginho carries out an important function as their deep-lying playmaker, and his influence is highlighted by the fact he has completed more passes (390) and had more touches of the ball (503) than any of his team-mates, while his 38 instances of regaining possession and instigating passing sequences is 10 more than anyone else in the tournament.

As for Verratti, the Paris Saint-Germain star's 12 key passes is bettered by only Kevin De Bruyne and he leads the way in terms of involvements in open-play sequences that end in a shot, averaging 9.2 every 90 minutes (players with at least 165 mins played), which paints a picture of not only great creativity but also significant impact generally in Italy's build-up play.

 

Yet Italy struggled in that area against Spain and were subsequently overrun at times, their 0.8 xG to La Roja's 1.5 proof they were somewhat fortunate to get past Luis Enrique's side via a penalty shoot-out.

As such, Spain essentially highlighted that to dull Italy's strengths they need to win the midfield battle, and Southgate feels his players in that area are up to the challenge.

"I think when you're coaching a team, you watch everything and you have to decide the most important information for players, not flood them with too much, adapt the game to our strengths and highlight potential weaknesses," Southgate told reporters ahead of England's first major final in 55 years.

 

"Of course there are fantastic players all through the Italy team, they've a good tactical plan, an experienced coach and an amazing record over last 30 games or so, we are very aware of that.

"But players like our two midfielders [Rice and Phillips], they've played beyond their experience in this tournament and they've already played against Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, so they've had to adapt to these midfield players with great European experience and they've done that brilliantly.

"We're different, we have our own strengths, own style of play, which is geared towards the strengths of our players.

"That's the beauty of football, every team has different strengths, we've tried to play to ours and adapt to our strengths and we need to do the same [on Sunday]."

Another Italian double act that has been showered with praise is centre-back pairing Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, whose combined 33 European Championship appearances is four more than England's entire back five that started the semi-final against Denmark.

While they may not possess the same ball-carrying ease as England's Harry Maguire and John Stones, Chiellini remains a formidable scrapper even at the age of 36, with his 71.4 duels success bettered by only six defenders (involved in 10 or more duels). And Bonucci continues to read the game well, his haul of 12 interceptions being the most of all defenders at Euro 2020.

Together, there is not much they do not possess, and Harry Kane is relishing the chance to go up against them.

"They're two amazing defenders with great experience over their careers of big matches," Kane said.

"I've been fortunate to play against them before, and as a striker I want to play against the best and they're definitely up there."

 

Kane himself has had an intriguing tournament given he was widely criticised for a slow start that saw him fail to score until the knockout phase, yet he now has four heading into the final.

It is a curious change from his performance at the 2018 World Cup, when he scored five in the group and only one in the knockouts, and he suggested that may be by design.

"Obviously don't get me wrong, I'd have loved to have scored three or four in the group and got off to fantastic start and gone from there, but it was more about the energy," he said.

"I felt in the World Cup, it was such an amazing start, scoring in the last minute against Tunisia, a lot of energy after that game was used in terms of the emotion, and then against Panama it was the same, because it was an amazing game and I got a hat-trick.

"Again, there's a lot of talk and mental energy [expended] – Colombia was the same. Not just physically but mentally I felt I just lost a little towards the latter stages, so going into this one with a bit more experience it's about not getting too carried away, whether I score or not.

"Thankfully it's worked out pretty well, but I guess that's part of the learning curve and gaining that experience, hopefully I've enough left to finish the job."

Harry Kane has rejected the suggestion England are too nice ahead of the Euro 2020 final, with Gareth Southgate's squad ready to test their mettle once again after "knocking down barriers" to set up a showdown with Italy.

England will be aiming to win a first major international trophy since the 1966 World Cup, a 55-year-drought during which they have never made it beyond the last four at any tournament.

However, Kane's winner in extra time against Denmark on Wednesday secured a place in this year's European Championship showpiece – and they will have home advantage again when they face the Azzurri at Wembley Stadium.

Southgate and his players have ended the nation's long, at times painful wait to reach another final, but Kane made clear on the eve of the contest that being "humble and respectful" as a group does not suggest they lack the ruthless edge required to get the job done on Sunday.

Asked during his pre-match media duties if England are too nice, he replied: "No, I don't think so

"That's the personality of a lot of the players in the squad, they are humble and respectful, but we have a focus and determination to win, we've shown that in last tournament and this, knocking down barriers that have been there for a long time.

"In modern football there isn't so much mind games before, getting too hyped or out of control.

"We have a real vision of where we want to be and without that and our winning mentality we wouldn't be where we are now."

 

Southgate played for England when they lost in a Euros semi-final to Germany at the old Wembley back in 1996, when the song 'Three Lions' by English comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner became synonymous with the tournament.

The lyrics reference the failures to replicate the success enjoyed by Alf Ramsey's side over West Germany in 1966 and it has remained popular ever since, particularly when the national team are in action at a major event.

While Southgate has mixed emotions towards the song – it was his missed penalty that proved costly in the shoot-out against the Germans 25 years ago – he is delighted with the support his players have received this year.

"I didn't want to listen to it for 15 years because it was too painful for me," Southgate, who confirmed Phil Foden is a doubt to face Italy due to a knock, said to the media.

"You have to know the English to understand our humour and our humour is probably quite unique. It's certainly not arrogant, the lyrics are making fun of ourselves and what's gone wrong before.

"It's always appeared at tournaments, we have a couple of replacements that seem to have come through now, which is nice to move things forward.

"The atmosphere in the ground is great. When we started three four years ago, we had people throwing paper planes, they weren't behind the team and there was an apathy towards the team, but now the energy is fantastic.

"It's so important for the players, they need that warmth and it's definitely helped inspire us in this tournament."

Page 1 of 14
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.