Son Heung-min delivered the goods for Tottenham in the absence of Harry Kane as he sealed a 1-0 win over Premier League champions Manchester City in Nuno Espirito Santo's first match at the helm.

Kane, who has been strongly linked with a move to City, was reportedly deemed not sharp enough after only recently returning to training, but Spurs adapted well to the situation after a shaky start against a visiting side who handed a debut to British record signing Jack Grealish.

Spurs' reliance on counter-attacking football may have initially frustrated sections of the crowd at Tottenham Hotspur stadium, but it looked like the most realistic way of hurting City in the first half.

And that tactic bore fruit in the 55th minute, with Son rounding off a flowing move with a fine finish that even Kane would have been proud of, denying City the chance to set a new record of 11 successive opening-day wins in the Premier League.

Spurs looked to be in for a long day after a difficult opening that Pep Guardiola's men dominated, with Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez both having presentable chances fall to them, but they weathered the early storm.

The hosts were set up to threaten on the counter and several times they looked bright bursting forward, though uncharacteristically meek play from Son twice saw encouraging moves peter out.

The South Korean looked a little more like his usual self just before the interval, though, seeing a curling effort deflected agonisingly wide by Cancelo after a rapid break.

Spurs began the second period much sharper than the first. Within five minutes of the restart, Ruben Dias had to be alert to prevent Son from having a tap-in and then Lucas Moura shot wide from 20 yards.

Son soon found his range, however, tucking a lovely effort inside the left-hand post from just outside the box after Nathan Ake failed to engage him at the end of a blistering break, setting up a fourth straight win for Spurs over City on home soil.

Spurs were pressed into defensive action in the latter stages, with Hugo Lloris becoming increasingly busy, but they held on to secure only their fifth win in 13 league games without Kane since the start of 2019-20.

What does it mean? Wasteful City need options in attack

While the £100million signing of Grealish will surely be worthy, it looks as though City are going to need more if they are to take themselves to the next level, with their inability to find the net despite their expected goals being almost double that of Spurs (1.0 v 1.8).

While Ferran Torres has occasionally done a job leading the line for City, he is not a central striker and Gabriel Jesus does not seem to have convinced Guardiola in that position either, otherwise he would surely have started.

Kane is the obvious option – perhaps after seeing this match play out, Guardiola will have renewed desire to get him in as soon as possible.

Son shines without Kane

In the past few years, a lot of the praise that has come Son's way has often related to his relationship with Kane, rather than the merits of his own quality. Although he seemed strangely subdued early on, he soon got himself on the front foot and proved a real nuisance to City, his five shots more than anyone else on the pitch, and one of those was the excellent goal.

Mendy makes a meal of defensive work

While there were a few situations early on where Benjamin Mendy's ability in attack looked useful, defensively he appeared a weak link throughout. He gifted possession back to Spurs in dangerous positions a couple of times, and was nowhere to be seen for Son's goal on the break.

What's next?

Spurs go to Pacos Ferreira for the first leg of their Conference League qualifier on Thursday before Nuno reunites with Wolves at Molineux next Sunday. City host promoted Norwich City in six days' time.

Harry Kane has not been named in the Tottenham squad to face Manchester City in their Premier League opener.

England captain Kane has been extensively linked with a mega-money switch to Premier League champions City during the close season, a saga that has hung over Sunday's encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

New Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo refused to rule Kane out of the contest despite him only returning to first-team training on Friday, even though the 28-year-old's match fitness was an obvious concern.

After helping England to the final of Euro 2020, Kane was reported to have failed to show up for Tottenham training when scheduled, in what was viewed as an attempt to force through a move to City.

However, he denied refusing to train and said he returned to the club "as planned" last Saturday, before completing a five-day quarantine at The Lodge – the accommodation adjacent to Tottenham's Enfield training base.

In Kane's absence, Steve Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min will form a three-man forward line, supported by Dele Alli. New signings Bryan Gil, Cristian Romero and Pierluigi Gollini are all on the bench, with Oliver Skipp starting alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in midfield following an impressive season on loan at Norwich City.

City's British record signing Jack Grealish starts in north London alongside Raheem Sterling, although their England team-mates Kyle Walker and John Stones are on the bench alongside Kevin De Bruyne.

Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus, each of whom have been linked with moves away from the Etihad Stadium to help fund any move for Kane, are also among Pep Guardiola's substitutes as the ex-Barcelona boss begins his bid for a fourth Premier League title in the past five seasons.

Manchester City's interest in signing Tottenham forward Harry Kane is well known.

The two sides will meet on Sunday in the Premier League with the situation adding spice.

Spurs have held out on City's interest although the matter will develop as the conclusion of the transfer window approaches.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS HOLDING FIRM ON KANE

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is refusing to budge as Manchester City attempt to sign Harry Kane, reports The Telegraph.

Levy will come face to face with City officials in Sunday's Premier League meeting between the two sides.

The report claims the Spurs chairman is unwavering in his plan to retain his best player despite Kane expressing his desire to leave.

ROUND-UP

- Despite that, Tottenham continue to be linked with big-money moves, hinting they are expecting funds in their pockets soon, with Villarreal's Pau Torres firmly in their sights for £55m (€65m) according to The Mirror.

- Tammy Abraham's proposed switch from Chelsea to Roma is imminent according to The Athletic. The fee is reportedly worth €40m (£34m) with a buy-back clause after his second season.

- Calciomercato claims that Bayern Munich are willing to accept Hector Bellerin as part of a straight swap with Arsenal for Corentin Tolisso .

- Despite heavy speculation, Liverpool are yet to formally lodge a bid for Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez claims AS.

- Former Atletico Madrid and Chelsea striker Diego Costa is set to complete his move to join Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro until December next year reports Fabrizio Romano.

Manchester City manager Josep Guardiola has brushed off debate around the club's spending insisting it is relative to ambition.

City landed Jack Grealish for £100 million from Aston Villa in the off-season and have been heavily linked with a big-money move for Tottenham's Harry Kane.

In 2020, City purchased Ferran Torres from Valencia for £20m, Nathan Ake from Bournemouth for £40m and Ruben Dias from Benfica for £62m, with their total off-season transfer expenditure reaching almost £144m.

Guardiola pointed to the fact the club sold players to the region of £97m last off-season, while they have again made money selling peripheral players such as Ivan Ilic, Jack Harrison and Lukas Nmecha.

"I said last year that we couldn’t spend £100m," Guardiola told The Guardian.

"We have bought Jack Grealish because we sell for £60m, so in the end we have spent £40m. Otherwise, we cannot do it."

City's spending comes amid Paris Saint-Germain's off-season flurry of transfer activity which has seen the French powerhouse land Lionel Messi, Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Chelsea have also this week completed a bumper deal for Romelu Lukaku for £97.5m from Internazionale, having previously shown strong interest in a lucrative move for Borussia Dortmund Erling Haaland.

"Each club has its own reality, its own history," Guardiola said. "And every owner of every club decides how he wants to live.

"Our owners do not want to benefit, they want to reinvest in the team. There is Chelsea with [Roman] Abramovich and our club with Sheikh Mansour.

"They want to be in this world, they want to be buying into football. What is the problem?"

Guardiola also eluded to the potential signing of Kane when he said: "I don’t know if we will sign a striker; that depends."

Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has backed Harry Kane's professionalism amid intense speculation linking the forward with a move to Sunday's Premier League opponents Manchester City.

City manager Josep Guardiola has declared his desire to sign Kane, who had requested Spurs allow him to leave late last season.

The situation has dragged on with no clarity ahead of Sunday's meeting between the two sides to open their Premier League campaigns.

Kane only returned to Tottenham training late this week after a delayed break following Euro 2020 following by a period in isolation.

"Harry is a professional and he is here with a smile," Lloris told The Guardian. "There is a situation in the air, we can not hide that, but it belongs to him and the club.

"I’m just focused on the team, and if the manager needs him he will be professional."

Lloris reiterated the message that the group was focused on one direction, with Kane's situation not affecting their preparations for the new season.

"The priority is the team, the start of the season, and the rest we try to separate," 34-year-old Lloris said.

"The most important for me as the captain and a player is to see my teammates going in the same direction, together. But we are in a period that a lot of things can happen.

"It is also the message from the manager, he just wants players focused on training sessions and focused on the competition, and then we will see what will happen.

"As a player, a teammate, I have no words to say. It belongs to the club and Harry to find a solution."

Tammy Abraham appears close to leaving Stamford Bridge.

With Romelu Lukaku arriving at Chelsea from Serie A, Roma are calling for Abraham.

Or will he remain in the Premier League? 

 

TOP STORY – ROMA PUSHING FOR ABRAHAM

The dominoes appear to be falling into place for Tammy Abraham's move to Roma, and the Italian club are pushing for a decision from the player, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

With Edin Dzeko expected to complete his move to Inter in the coming days and Romelu Lukaku now officially a Chelsea player, Abraham could complete the triangle with a jump to Serie A. 

Multiple outlets have said the two clubs already have agreed a £34million (€40m) fee. 

Arsenal remain a possibility to land Abraham should the Roma move not work out. 

If that happens, Jose Mourinho's side have lined up Kelechi Iheanacho as their next option, according to Sky Sports. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Villarreal want €65m (£55m) for Spain international Pau Torres, and the Times says Tottenham are ready to pounce with Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool also interested. 

- Paris Saint-Germain could make a move for Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly to fill the hole left by Sergio Ramos' injury, says La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Serie A club will want €50m (£43m) for the veteran centre-back.

- Liverpool are interested in adding Adama Traore, but Wolves want £40m for the forward, according to 90min. 

- West Ham have long been the favourites to land Nikola Milenkovic from Fiorentina but Sky Sports says Tottenham have entered the frame for the Serbia defender. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was not in attendance for Arsenal's season-opening defeat at Brentford due to illness and The Times reports he could be on his way out at Emirates Stadium. 

- Manchester United are poised to loan out Amad Diallo, reports Romano, with Crystal Palace and Basel among those interested in the young Ivory Coast winger.

- Everton have approached United about another potential loan, for Andreas Pereira, though Romano says United prefer a permanent move. 

Pep Guardiola refused to be drawn on a potential move for Harry Kane ahead of Manchester City's Premier League opener at Tottenham on Sunday.

Guardiola last week confirmed City would be "very interested" in signing the "exceptional, extraordinary" Kane.

The England captain disputed suggestions he did not report for pre-season training last week, but has now reported for duty and Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo on Friday revealed he has had talks with the prolific striker.

Nuno stated that a decision had not yet been made over whether Kane will face City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Guardiola was not interested in discussing a move for Kane when he faced the media two days before the champions take on Spurs in the capital.

The City manager said: "I answered this last time. He's a player for Tottenham. I made an exception last time - usually I don't talk about transfers because it is not my business. That's all."

Guardiola also dismissed talk of going through a second successive season without a recognised number nine.

He said: "I would say we play with recognised strikers. Sergio [Aguero] was injured [last season] and played a few games. Always when Sergio was fit he was an important part of the team.

"He was incredibly recognised by me. He was a proper striker and Gabriel [Jesus] is a proper striker."

Guardiola added of Jesus: "Always his mind was in the right place. Gabriel is an incredible, important player for us, can play as a striker or wider. He had an incredibly key role in these many years of success in every season."

The Spaniard revealed Kevin De Bruyne has not returned to full training but is making progress in his recovery from an ankle injury.

Guardiola said: "He is getting better [De Bruyne]. Every day he is getting better. But we are still waiting. He can't do a full training session. Some with us, some alone. We will see in the next few days."

Jack Grealish is also building up his fitness after City's new British record £100million took a break following Euro 2020.

"Every player needs time to get his best," Guardiola said of Grealish. "Yesterday was the first day we were altogether, except Phil [Foden] because he is injured - but he was in the locker room with us.

City have lost their last three away games against Tottenham in all competitions, with Guardiola never having lost four away games in a row against a single club in his managerial career.

Champions City have won their first league match of the season in each of their past 10 top-flight campaigns.

Harry Kane is back in Tottenham training, but head coach Nuno Espirito Santo could not confirm he will face Manchester City this weekend and is taking the striker's future "day by day".

Kane has been pushing to leave Spurs and join City, their opening Premier League opponents, according to widespread reports.

The England captain returned late in pre-season following Euro 2020 and has had to quarantine, meaning his involvement in training was delayed.

Nuno had planned talks with Kane, which have now taken place, but the Tottenham boss was revealing little on Friday.

"Harry joined the group today," Nuno told a pre-match news conference. "He trained, we talked. Of course, it's a private conversation.

"Everything is okay. He's preparing himself, like Bryan [Gil], like [Cristian] Romero, players who joined us later. We have to be careful but everything's okay."

On his availability for Sunday, he added: "We still have the session tomorrow [Saturday] to decide.

"Romero, Bryan, Harry, players that do not have too many sessions with us, we have to think. We still have the day tomorrow to make decisions."

Nuno was then asked outright if he expected Kane to remain a Tottenham player beyond the end of the transfer window.

"He's here with us. He's a Tottenham player. He's here with us," he replied.

"We have to think about tomorrow, prepare the training session of tomorrow, and go day by day. All the players that have worked with us are our players."

Tanguy Ndombele is another player at Nuno's disposal, but he has merely been on the fringes of the squad in pre-season.

"There's always a reason in all the decisions we make. There's always a why," the coach explained when asked if Ndombele had a Spurs future. "We think, we talk and then we decide.

"We believe that Tanguy did not perform in the pre-season matches because we considered that he's not at the right moment for him to be with the group in terms of competition."

Tottenham have also been linked with incoming transfers, including Inter's Lautaro Martinez, and Nuno acknowledged they were working on incomings.

"The squad needs balance. We have a very talented squad, but it needs to be balanced," he said. "Everybody knows we are working very hard, but it's always hard to improve something that is good.

"We have to be really, really accurate on the players that we bring, because they have to bring things that we believe can make us better and strong. That is not easy, because we have quality players with us."

Jurgen Klopp is not surprised to see Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United spend with "no limits" and says Liverpool can be successful living within their means.

Champions City forked out a British record fee of £100million for Jack Grealish, while Chelsea smashed their club record when they re-signed Romelu Lukaku for a reported £97.5m on Thursday.

United have also splashed the cash with a £76.5m move for Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane is poised to complete a big-money switch to Old Trafford ahead of the 2021-22 season.

The Reds have recruited Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig for a reported £36m, while Virgil van Dijk on Friday followed Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho in signing new deals.

Manager Klopp has no problem with a lack of new faces as his rivals make big statements in the transfer market.

He said in a press conference on the eve of Saturday's Premier League opener at Norwich City: "I'm never surprised about the financial power of City, Chelsea or United. I've been in the country long enough to know they always find a solution to do these things.

"For us, it's our way. We keep the team together, that's important as well. I know it's not as exciting as signing new players.

"People think that if you don't sign, you don't work - that's not the case. We are constantly thinking short term and long term - what can we do? How will the team look this year and next?

"I know it's not as exciting, but if you're a real Liverpool fan you're excited about the news the club delivered in the last few weeks - Allisson's new contract, same with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk. Others will follow, so that's great.

"It's not as spectacular but it's great news - if other teams wanted to sign these players they'd have to pay a lot of money and we have them already. We have a good squad together and are in a better situation than we were last year. Let's try to build on that and see where we end up."

Klopp also took exception to a reporter questioning why Georginio Wijnaldum, who joined Paris Saint-Germain after his contract, has not been replaced.

"You tell me if you would sign a midfielder and tell me the name and I will think about it," Klopp said. "That would be really interesting.

"We can count our midfielders and you tell me if we need to replace Gini Wijnaldum. So we have now Henderson and Thiago have been not really been involved in the pre-season, we've played quite a few games now with [James] Milner, Naby Keita and Harvey [Elliott].

"We have another midfield that I think played the same game that is [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho and Curtis Jones. Curtis is another player who can and will sure make the next step. 

"Apart from the year in which we sign Ali and Virg it always looks like we don't sign enough [players], but we work constantly on improving the team and part of it is signing new players.

"The most important thing, and I think our fans appreciate that, who is fun to watch, who is exciting to watch, who is fighting together, who is definitely 100 per cent committed to the club and the values of the club?

"We have that, so let's fight with all we have but we cannot just add players to the squad and say 'let's have a look what works' because we have to deal with the squad the whole year. If somebody wants to leave or leave, we have to think do we replace them or not?

"With Gini it's like that, we have two players who are not new, but can make the next step in Harvey and Curtis. And Naby can make the next step, he had an exceptional pre-season. We cannot just ignore that.

"We cannot compare to the other clubs, they obviously don't have any limits, we have limits but we were quite successful with having limits in the last few years and that is what we should try again, not using it as an excuse.

"If we don't win again we will not say 'it's because we did not have him or him', that will not be the case. We want to use our resources; that's passion, a good way, desire, a clear plan, direction, flexibility.

"That's our football, let's see which is the right way. We cannot spend money we don't have, at least we cannot, maybe others can, be we cannot."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not among the final nominees for the 2020-21 Champions League positional awards.

On Friday, UEFA announced the 12 players, three per position, who could win the individual prizes on August 26.

The 12 players each received the most points in each positional category following a jury vote. The jury comprised coaches from the 32 clubs that entered into the group stage last season, as well as 55 journalists representing UEFA's 55 member associations. Coaches could not vote for players from their own teams.

Messi came fourth in the poll for the best forwards, while Ronaldo did not make the top 10. Each player was eliminated at the last-16 stage, Barcelona losing to Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus to Porto.

Five of the 12 nominees are from Chelsea, who won their second Champions League by beating Manchester City in the final. Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, N'Golo Kante and Jorginho are all nominated.

City have three representatives – Ederson, Ruben Dias and Kevin De Bruyne – while beaten semi-finalists Real Madrid and PSG provide one each: Thibaut Courtois, and Kylian Mbappe.

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who finished as top scorer last season with 10, are the other nominees.

The winners of the best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward prizes will be announced at the group-stage draw in Istanbul in two weeks' time.

Here we go again. The Premier League race begins once more, despite some players barely having the chance to unpack their suitcases after short-lived pre-season breaks.

Last time out, Manchester City turned a potentially intriguing title battle into a procession. They had plenty of tests along the way, just mostly of the PCR variety as the teams pushed on amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Thankfully, fans will be in grounds to watch from the start this time around, while some familiar faces have returned. Romelu Lukaku is back. Patrick Vieira – a three-time Premier League winner in his playing days – and Rafa Benitez, a former red now aligned to the Blues, are on the touchline. Norwich City and Watford, meanwhile, have negotiated the Championship to secure a quick reunion.

Still, there is always a freshness to every campaign, aided by summer signings and, this time, the presence of a newcomer.

Brentford provide a new, exciting chapter to the Premier League story, though it is perhaps expecting too much to hope for riveting plot twists when it comes to the likely contenders to be crowned champions.

THE THOROUGHBREDS READY TO RUN AGAIN

When Manchester rivals City and United drew 0-0 in an instantly forgettable derby in December 2020, one that left those who had watched on wondering what else they should have done with their time instead, Pep Guardiola's side were sitting outside the top seven in the table. It was actually an upturn in their position – they had languished down in 11th during the previous month.

By the time they hosted their neighbours in the return fixture in March 2021, however, City had won 21 in a row in all competitions and held a double-digit lead at the head of the league. The stunning run did come to an end that day, but it was just a case of delaying the inevitable.

The rich have got richer in pursuit of a third title in four years, in terms of talent at least. Spending £100million to get Jack Grealish has add further creativity, as if they really needed it. The squad could still be bolstered by Harry Kane, too. If the Tottenham striker moves north, the deck will be stacked even more in City's favour.

Yet there are reasons for the others who finished in the top four to be optimistic. Chelsea denied Guardiola in the Champions League final, giving a silver-lined finish to the promising early form under Thomas Tuchel. They have strengthened in attack, Lukaku back at the Bridge to sort out some unfinished business. A glaring gap in the squad (sorry, Timo Werner) has been filled.

Adding goals will be a key factor for the Blues, as they managed only 38 in all competitions following the appointment of the German coach. To put that number into context, United and City managed 58 and 70 across the same period. Even Tottenham topped them with 49.

OLE JOCKEYS FOR SILVERWARE

United finished second but will hope Jadon Sancho can lift them even higher, albeit the arrival of Raphael Varane could be even more crucial, considering the Red Devils conceded 28 goals at home last season – their most in a single campaign since 1962-63. Tighten up and it could well be their year, but they do not want to continue the habit of giving opposing teams head-starts again in games.

Those two marquee signings, which came in the transfer window following unrest among the fanbase aimed at the club's ownership, have rightly raised expectations. Now, for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there is a need to secure something tangible, a piece of silverware to show he can clear the final hurdle.

The caretaker appointed to lift the gloom after Jose Mourinho is just three Premier League games short of a century in charge – if United triumph in all of them on the way to that Solskjaer milestone, the Norwegian will have the same winning percentage at the magical 100 mark as Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp.

As for Klopp and Liverpool, there is a degree of uncertainty. The outstanding winners in 2019-20 required a fast finish – the Reds' run of five consecutive league wins in May was more than they managed in 12 games in February, March and April combined – just to squeeze into the top four. They began to rebuild fortress Anfield, knocked down during a record-breaking losing run.

Injuries did decimate the squad during a tepid title defence, but Virgil van Dijk is now fit again and, just in case, Ibrahima Konate has come in to provide added depth at the heart of the defence. If Sadio Mane can rediscover his scoring form and ease the burden on Mohamed Salah, the ingredients are all there to mount a sustained challenge again.

THE FADING FORCES DESPERATE TO FIND FORM

In times of cutbacks, have the 'Big Six' been reduced to a 'Big Four'? Arsenal and Tottenham still retained enough pulling power to be included as part of the failed European Super League plan, but neither have ended up above Leicester City in the final league table in the past two years.

The Foxes came up short in their Champions League quest again, though the frustration at a second successive fifth-place finish was eased somewhat by lifting the FA Cup. The underappreciated Brendan Rodgers has never lacked belief, and Leicester have backed their boss in the transfer market with the signings of Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumare.

Spurs' transfer business is now being carried out by new managing director Fabio Paratici, while Nuno Espirito Santo was eventually selected to take over as head coach, despite at one stage appearing to be off the lengthy list of candidates. Both are carrying out their duties amid uncertainty over Kane, the competition's disgruntled Golden Boot winner determined to get a move.

Tottenham will be the Premier League's first participants in the Europa Conference League, which could either offer welcome relief from league issues or be a midweek nuisance. Come on, though, who doesn't want to go to Latvia in winter? Arsenal may well wish they had such concerns - they will not be playing in any European competition for the first time in 26 years.

Ben White has come in at great expense as the Gunners have put a focus on getting younger. Really, they just need to get better. To that extent, getting more out of Thomas Partey, not to mention Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who managed just the 10 league goals in 29 games, would help.

Mikel Arteta has much work to do to make sure the gap to the head of the field does not grow wider.

THE OUTSIDERS HOPING TO EMERGE

West Ham finished above the north London duo last time thanks in no small part to the impact made by Jesse Lingard during his loan spell.

The attacking midfielder scored nine goals and four assists in 16 games to propel himself back into England contention, even it remains to be seen if it was enough to rekindle his Manchester United career.

Without Lingard, David Moyes will have to conjure up more magic from within his squad as they also tackle the added workload of playing in the Europa League. Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola is unlikely to have the same kind of impact during his temporary stint from Paris Saint-Germain, leaving cravings for 'J-Lingz'.

Leeds United will hope to build on a positive first year back in the top flight, steered diligently by the boss on a bucket, Marcelo Bielsa, while Aston Villa have wisely elected not to replace the talismanic Grealish with just one player, instead bringing in several to try and fill the void.

There is still time for teams to strengthen, particularly as the leading clubs look to cut away some of the unnecessary fat in their bloated squad lists. Lingard demonstrated what a difference the right signing can make to a team.

However, another underdog story to match the wonderful tale of Claudio Ranieri's Leicester appears impossible. Instead, after two consecutive seasons with runaway champions, it would just be nice if the 2021-22 Premier League Stakes at least provided a little more drama by the time we enter into the closing stages.

Harry Kane remains a Tottenham player with the new Premier League season set to commence.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has declared their interest in signing the England international.

The situation has been at a standstill and remains unresolved.

 

TOP STORY - CITY READY TO UP KANE BID

Manchester City are willing to pay €150m (£127m) for Harry Kane as they try to convince Tottenham to sell their captain, claims The Guardian via Fabrizio Romano.

Spurs have reiterated Kane is not for sale this off-season despite the forward's reported request to leave late last season.

Tottenham turned down a €117m (£100m) bid previously, which is the same amount City spent to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa.

 

ROUND-UP

- AS have reported that Paris Saint-Germain will look to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in 2022 as a replacement given the anticipated exit of Kylian Mbappe, whose contract expires next year. Mbappe is a long-time target for Real Madrid.

- Tottenham have ramped up their bid to sign Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic, amid interest from Atletico Madrid claims Sky Sport Italia. Spurs will offer €60m (£51m) including bonuses.

- Corriere dello Sport reports that Barcelona are shopping around Philippe Coutinho, who has been offered to Lazio, Milan and Inter.

- Tammy Abraham remains unconvinced about moving to Roma despite meeting with the Italian club who had agreed terms with Chelsea, reports Corriere dello Sport.

- The Sun claims Everton have joined Tottenham, Inter and Zenit in pursuing Napoli skipper Lorenzo Insigne.

The Premier League is back! 

Arsenal travel to newly promoted Brentford in the opening game of the 2021-22 campaign on Friday.

Champions Manchester City face Tottenham – and possibly top transfer target Harry Kane – on Sunday, with Liverpool in action against returning Norwich City on Saturday, after Manchester United have hosted Leeds United.

So, ahead of the new season, why not give this Opta-powered quiz a go? You can find the answers at the bottom of the page...

1. Arsenal begin against Brentford – it is the fourth time the Gunners have been involved in the opening game of a Premier League campaign, winning the other three in 2008-09, 2017-18 and 2020-21, but who did they play against in those matches? 

2. Over the last 10 Premier League matches of 2020-21, Leeds claimed 23 points, winning seven games and drawing twice. Can you name the only  club to collect more points across the same time span?

3. Liverpool are unbeaten in their five Premier League openers under Jurgen Klopp, but how many goals have the Reds scored across these matches?

4. Aston Villa begin life without Jack Grealish with a trip to Watford. Emiliano Buendia will wear the number 10 shirt, but how many goals did he assist for Norwich in the Championship last season?

5. Sunday's meeting between Spurs and City brings up Nuno Espirito Santo's first competitive game as Tottenham boss. Who was the club's last manager to lose his opening fixture in charge?

 

Answers:

1. West Brom, Leicester City, Fulham
2. Liverpool (26)
3. 19 
4. 16
5. Andre Villas-Boas 

Tottenham have confirmed their squad numbers for the upcoming campaign, with Manchester City target Harry Kane keeping the 10 shirt.

Kane has worn 10 for Spurs since the 2015-16 season, though the England captain seemingly wishes to leave the club.

He has three years remaining on his Tottenham contract, but Premier League champions City have made last season's Golden Boot winner their priority signing after they sealed the arrival of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa.

City splashed out a British record fee of £100million on Grealish, and reportedly had a bid of a similar amount for Kane turned down by Tottenham earlier in the transfer window.

Pep Guardiola has outlined his intention to sign Kane if possible, though City's manager acknowledged the ball will ultimately be in Tottenham's court.

On Thursday, reports emerged that Kane – who is set to return to training with Spurs on Friday – would be the subject of a second offer from City worth in the region of £150m.

However, despite the uncertainty over his future, Kane was named among the Spurs players to be given squad numbers for the season.

He keeps the number 10, while Bryan Gil, signed from Sevilla in a part-exchange deal with Erik Lamela, takes the 11 jersey that was vacated by the Argentinian.

On-loan goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini has been handed the number 22, while defender Cristian Romero, who also joined from Atalanta, has taken the number four that was previously occupied by Toby Alderweireld.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side kick off their Premier League campaign against City on Sunday. It remains to be seen as to whether Kane will feature.

Liverpool are the side that will provide reigning Premier League champions Manchester City with their sternest title test this season.

That is according to Mark Bosnich, who told Stats Perform he also expects Chelsea and his former club Manchester United to be in the running for top spot.

City won their third title in four seasons last time out, and a fifth in 10 years, as they finished 12 points clear of closest challengers United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have strengthened with the signing of Jadon Sancho and imminent arrival of Raphael Varane for reported combined fees of £115million.

City spent £100m to make Jack Grealish the most expensive player in British history, meanwhile, and Chelsea have re-signed Romelu Lukaku for just less.

That makes the £36m Liverpool paid to sign Ibrahima Konate seem modest by comparison, yet Bosnich believes the 2019-20 champions are capable of ousting City this term.

"The real dark horse, if you can really say that, is Liverpool," Bosnich told Stats Perform. "They've won it before, very recently. 

"And I really do think that the injury to Virgil van Dijk hurt them last season far more than anyone realised at the time.

"I think that out of three contenders, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, they are probably the best placed to really mount a serious challenge."

City, who still want to add Harry Kane to their ranks, won the title with three games to spare last season and have bolstered their attack with Grealish, offsetting the departure of club-record scorer Sergio Aguero and defender Eric Garcia, who were both used sparingly last season.

But while Bosnich considers Pep Guardiola's side as favourites before a ball is kicked, the former Australia international expects them to prioritise the Champions League after finishing as runners-up to Chelsea in 2020-21.

"For me and for a lot of people, understandably so after signing Grealish, they will definitely start as favourites, but I'm not so sure they'll win it," Bosnich said. "There's no doubt in their qualities – we saw what they achieved last season. 

"That was a phenomenal run. But if you think back, I think it was about up to about around November, they had a bit of a poor run and they changed things around and they went on a 15 or 16-game unbeaten spree. 

"But their main focus, and understandably so, is the Champions League. Guardiola hasn't won it since 2011 and City have never won it before.

"I think you have to say that it's their graduation of truly, from a football perspective, being in the big club of clubs.

"I really think the focus would go on that, and I'm not so sure that they will win it. They'll definitely start favourites, but I'm not sure that they will win it."

Bosnich's former United team-mate Solskjaer has yet to win any silverware in his two and a half seasons in charge of the club, losing four cup semi-finals in that time and falling just short in last season's Europa League final.

After finishing third and second in the last two campaigns, Bosnich feels it is time for Solskjaer to end United's nine-season wait for top-flight silverware or else he may be out of a job.

"Solskjaer, although I'll admit I'm biased, has for me done a really good job thus far," Bosnich said. "The only thing that's stopping me from saying 'an excellent job' is the fact that he hasn't won a trophy. 

"The Villarreal Europa League final, obviously losing on penalties was disappointing. But they now have Sancho and I think Raphael Varane will prove to be one of the signings of the season.

"People who have watched LaLiga over time, or France, will realise what an absolutely outstanding asset he is. 

"And I really do think that it gives Solskjaer so many options as well, because they could play three at the back with [Victor] Lindelof and [Harry] Maguire if they wanted to. He could go right-back if they really wanted him to. 

"I'd dearly love to see them sign one more like Harry Kane, but I don't think that will happen this summer. I still think that they've got to win the title in my opinion, for Ole's sake, within the next two seasons."

As for Chelsea's title prospects after winning the Champions League last season and the Super Cup this week, Bosnich cannot see Thomas Tuchel's men quite bridging the gap in the league just yet.

"Tuchel came in and did an absolutely outstanding job last season. But 19 points is too much for them to catch up," Bosnich said. "But they still probably have a better chance of doing it than a lot of teams. 

"With the signing of Lukaku, I think that's really important for them. He's an outstanding player, simple as that. I don't care what anyone says. And I've always held that close – he's an outstanding player. 

"I don't think they’ll be able to make up the 19-point gap, but I don't think they'll be far off."

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