Ronald Koeman is to hold further talks with Barcelona over his future and could stay on at the club beyond the end of next season, according to his agent Rob Jansen.

Reports in Spain suggest Koeman, who was appointed last August and has another year to run on his deal, met with president Joan Laporta for 40 minutes on Tuesday.

The Dutchman has come under pressure on the back of an underwhelming first campaign at Barca, whom he also represented for six seasons during his playing career.

Barca beat Eibar 1-0 in their final LaLiga game of the season on Saturday to finish third, five points behind Real Madrid and seven adrift of champions Atletico Madrid.

The Catalans also exited the Champions League to Paris Saint-Germain at the last-16 stage, as well as losing to Athletic Bilbao in January's Supercopa de Espana.

However, Koeman's men did exact revenge by beating Athletic in last month's Copa del Rey final – a result that may have salvaged the former Netherlands coach's Camp Nou job.

Following discussions with Laporta – who succeeded Josep Maria Bartomeu as president in March – Koeman's camp believe he is set to stay on for at least another season, even as alternative reports claim he could yet be replaced.

"There was a positive atmosphere during the meeting and I personally left it with a good feeling. There was mutual respect," agent Jansen told De Telegraaf.

"The feeling is even that positive that Ronald might even stay longer [than 2021-22]. But we have not got this far yet, more conversations will follow."

What next for Koeman's Barcelona?

Speaking after the win at Ipurua last weekend, Koeman insisted his first season in charge of Barcelona could be considered a positive one.

"We have won many points in the league since the start of 2021 and won the cup in a brilliant way," he told reporters. "If you'd told me in August we'd win a trophy and be fighting for LaLiga with two or three games to go, I would sign for it. 

"Hopes were too high during the season – that's how I see it. That's why I think it's not a bad season, far from it. It is not the best possible season, but you can't ask for a double every year, or from a team that is still forming."

The 79 points collected by Koeman is the fewest of any Barcelona boss in their first 38 league games since Frank Rijkaard (72) in 2003-04.

It is the first season Barca have finished outside the top two since 2007-08 and the only time they have gone successive years without finishing top since between 2006 and 2008.

The Catalans were as reliant as ever on Lionel Messi, who scored 30 league goals – seven more than next-best Karim Benzema, the Real Madrid striker – to win an eighth Pichichi trophy 

However, doubts remain over the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's future with his contract due to expire next month.

As well as tying down Messi to a new contract, Barcelona are also expected to strengthen during the close season with the additions of free agents.

Georginio Wijnaldum is rumoured to be close to arriving from Liverpool, while Lyon forward Memphis Depay and Manchester City pair Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero have also been strongly linked.

What would new signings add?

Koeman complained about an ageing squad last week and the addition of 30-year-old Wijnaldum would not exactly help lower the average age.

The pair know each other well from their time together with the Netherlands, so Koeman will know exactly what he is getting in Wijnaldum, who has also become accustomed to winning major trophies with Liverpool.

Wijnaldum is not a clear upgrade in terms of providing additional creativity in midfield, though, his 21 chances created in the Premier League this term fewer than the tallies eight Barca players managed in LaLiga from a similar number of games.

He also failed to register a league assist in 2020-21, while finding the net only twice, which pales against what Frenkie de Jong (three goals, four assists), Pedri (three goals, three assists) and Sergio Busquets (no goals, five assists) produced.

From a defensive perspective, Wijnaldum's 198 ball recoveries were better than Pedri's 142 and Busquets' 182 but lagged some way behind the 215 from De Jong in LaLiga this season.

Depay and Aguero would provide different qualities in attack should they arrive, meanwhile, with the former coming off the back of another impressive Ligue 1 campaign for Lyon that saw him score 20 goals and assist a further 12.

To put that into perspective, only Messi (39) was directly involved in more league goals for Barcelona last season, with Antoine Griezmann (20) the sole other player to hit double figures.

Aguero may not have been used regularly for City in an injury and illness-plagued campaign, but his four goals in 12 games – two of those in the space of five minutes on the final day – gave him a return of one goal every 139.5 minutes.

That compares to a goal every 581 minutes in LaLiga this season for Barcelona's current back-up striker Martin Braithwaite, a goal every 296.5 minutes for Ousmane Dembele and one every 201.5 minutes for Griezmann.

Aguero's figures may be skewed by his limited outings this term, but he boasts a goal every 109.6 minutes in the English top flight since the start of 2018-19, a significant improvement on Barca's options aside from Messi.

The domestic football season concluded at the weekend in typically dramatic fashion.

The title went down to the wire in France and Spain, while Champions League qualification was up for grabs for some big names in England and Italy.

Much of the focus during the closing rounds in Germany was on Robert Lewandowski's record bid, but there was no shortage of intrigue whichever way you looked.

It was in keeping with the rest of an unpredictable campaign, one that Stats Perform breaks down with the use of Opta data.
 

LILLE, LALIGA AND LUKAKU SHAKE THINGS UP

Lille, Atletico Madrid and Inter all have relatively recent history of league glory, but a pre-season wager would have fetched long odds.

In Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain had won seven of the previous eight titles and would have expected to do so again, having claimed a domestic treble and reached the Champions League final in 2020.

As it was, under new coach Mauricio Pochettino, they had to settle for pushing Lille all the way.

Les Dogues claimed the title but had already set a club points record when they reached 79 with two games to spare. PSG finished on 82, though, meaning Lille desperately needed the final two results to boost their tally.

Despite the presence of Real Madrid and Barcelona in LaLiga, Atletico's triumph was perhaps more likely, even if the impressive nature of it may have come as a surprise.

Although they stuttered on the home stretch and had to come from behind on the last day to edge out Madrid, Atleti spent 30 matchdays at the top of the table – a mark only bettered once in their 10 other title-winning campaigns (36 matchdays in 1995-96).

Indeed, Atleti are used to having to wait to celebrate, with 10 of their 11 championships seeing the destination of the trophy decided on the final day (all except 1976-77).

Inter are another big name but had been waiting even longer than Lille for their most recent title, with one Milan victory and then nine in a row for Juventus since the 2009-10 Nerazzurri treble.

Antonio Conte's men completed the job in style, though, confirmed as champions with four games to play before finishing with 91 points (behind only their 2006-07 haul of 97) and 89 goals (third-most behind the classes of 1949-50 and 1950-51 – 99 and 107 respectively).

Talisman Romelu Lukaku was involved in 35 of them, becoming the first Serie A player to have at least 20 goals and 10 assists in the same season since at least 2004-05.


BAYERN BACK ON TOP, CITY SCALING NEW HEIGHTS

In Germany, the title race was a little less exciting. Winners of everything in 2020, Bayern Munich took home the Bundesliga crown for a ninth successive season.

Prior to this run, no team had won more than three on the bounce, yet there appears no end to Bayern's dominance in sight. They have now won 52 per cent of the championships since the formation of the competition in 1963.

Julian Nagelsmann, arriving from RB Leipzig, will be the coach tasked with achieving 10 in a row and Hansi Flick has set the bar high. His 86 games brought seven trophies.

Manchester City could soon be reflecting on a similarly dominant dynasty having now claimed three titles in four seasons.

Pep Guardiola played a big part in Bayern's run and now has nine league wins in 12 top-flight seasons as a coach, although this was an unprecedented achievement, with City eighth on Christmas Day – the lowest position at that stage for an eventual Premier League champion.

A record English league run of 12 away victories played a pivotal role in City's season, while defending champions Liverpool saw a club-record 68-game unbeaten home run in the Premier League ended as they subsequently lost six consecutive league matches at Anfield for the first time in their history.

City could yet win the Champions League too, where Sergio Aguero is in line for his final appearance before his contract expires. He will hope it is as successful as his last league outing, during which he scored twice against Everton on Sunday to set a new record for the most Premier League goals by a player for one club (184).
 

RECORD-BREAKING LEWY DELAYS NEXT GENERATION

Aguero might have had his say on the final day, once the title was secure, but he largely took a backseat – unlike Lewandowski at Bayern.

His 41 Bundesliga goals broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 in a single season. The next-best tally in Europe's top five leagues in 2020-21 saw Lionel Messi trailing well behind on 30.

Lewandowski unsurprisingly also led Europe in expected goals, with his chances worth 32.2 xG, and expected goals on target, producing shots with a value of 35.8 xGOT.

As Lewandowski took the Kicker-Torjagerkanone and Messi went away with the Pichichi, Cristiano Ronaldo (29 goals) won the Capocannoniere, having also previously topped the charts in England and Spain.

Kylian Mbappe (27) was the leading marksman in France, while Harry Kane (23) earned the Premier League Golden Boot for a third time.

Kane is set to be the subject of intense transfer speculation throughout the close-season – replacing Aguero at City might be one option if he gets his wish to leave Spurs – and he will join Mbappe and Erling Haaland in that regard.

Haaland also scored 27 league goals and only just trailed Mbappe's seven assists with his six.

The expectation is both players will establish themselves as the world's best in the coming seasons, but it is now Lewandowski, rather than Messi and Ronaldo, they must surpass.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed football's worst kept secret that star forward Sergio Aguero is set to join Barcelona this off-season.

It had widely been reported that Aguero had agreed to a two-year deal with LaLiga giants Barca on a free transfer, with his City exit confirmed two months ago.

Guardiola "revealed a secret" after City's 5-0 final-day win over Everton where Aguero signed off with a double as the club lifted the Premier League title on Sunday.

"I'm pretty sure, maybe I'll reveal a secret, maybe he is close to a agreeing a deal for the club of my heart, from Barcelona," Guardiola told BBC.

"He's going to play alongside the best player of all time, Lionel Messi. I'm pretty sure he's going to enjoy it and make my club Barcelona stronger and strongest with him on the pitch."

Aguero has been with City since 2011, making 389 appearances and scoring a club record 260 goals.

The 32-year-old won 15 trophies with City, including five Premier League titles, ending the club's wait in 2011-12 when he scored a dramatic late winner.

Aguero won the 2014-15 Premier League Golden Boot and is a two-time winner of City's Player of the Year, in 2011-12 and 2014-15.

Pep Guardiola believes Sergio Aguero is ready to help Manchester City in the Champions League final following his glorious Etihad Stadium farewell.

Aguero came off the bench on Sunday to score a brace as the Premier League champions thrashed Everton 5-0 – his final game in England's top flight before his City contract expires next month.

All attention now shifts to the showdown with Chelsea at Porto's Estadio do Dragao in six days' time and Guardiola felt Aguero's 183rd and 184th Premier League goals gave a timely demonstration of his enduring quality.

"Yeah, of course [he can play in the final]," he told a post-match news conference. "We have five substitutions. At the beginning, I don't know, I have to think about it.

"He has something special, Sergio. Of course he is ready to help us if we need him to win the Champions League."

Aguero improved his record as City's all-time leading scorer to 260, while he now has more for a single club than any other player in Premier League history, usurping Wayne Rooney's 183 for Manchester United.

Guardiola broke down in tears when discussing the five-time Premier League champion's legacy during a pitchside interview with Sky Sports.

Although the two have not always seemed like natural allies during Guardiola's five season in Manchester, he insists the Argentina striker has a place in his affections like few others.

"Some of them in Barcelona, it sometimes happens [you get emotional]," he said.

"Sergio has brought this club to the level we are now. He's a special person

"It was a perfect end, a fairy tale moment. We won the game, we had some good moments."

Guardiola revealed that Aguero, whose final campaign in Manchester has been dogged by injuries, asked to be deployed from the bench against Carlo Ancelotti's men.

"We spoke to Sergio yesterday, he had some little niggles and said, 'what do you want to do?'," he added.

"He said [he wanted to play] the last 30 minutes but he didn't tell me he needed just 30 minutes to score two goals. He did it again.

"It's perfect, it's so good for him."

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sergio Aguero hopes he has sent a Champions League final message to Pep Guardiola after he said his Premier League farewell with a brace in Manchester City's 5-0 win over Everton.

The champions closed out their domestic campaign in emphatic fashion, with Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus on target before Phil Foden made it 3-0 early in the second half.

That cleared the stage for Aguero, making his final appearance for City at the Etihad Stadium as a 65th-minute substitute.

A cute finish with the outside of his right foot brought the 10,000 in attendance to their feet before a superb header from Fernandinho's right-wing cross completed the rout.

Aguero moved on to 260 goals for City, where he is the all-time record goalscorer, and usurped Wayne Rooney as the highest one-club scorer in Premier League history by chalking up goals 183 and 184 in the competition.

The 32-year-old has been widely linked with a move to Barcelona on a free transfer when his deal expires next month after an injury-ruined campaign, but first there is the small matter of next weekend's Champions League final against Chelsea in Porto.

"I hope, I hope," Aguero told Sky Sports when asked whether Guardiola had been handed a timely reminder of his qualities.

"I don't know. If I play some minutes I will do all the best because I love the football."

Speaking about Aguero to Sky afterwards, a visibly emotional Guardiola struggled to choke back tears.

"We love him so much," he said.

"He's a special person for all of us. It's so nice.

"He helped me a lot. We cannot replace him, we cannot."

Aguero lifted his fifth Premier League title across 10 seasons in England – the first of which was unforgettably sealed by a last-gasp winner against Queens Park Rangers to snatch glory from Manchester United.

"For me, when I came here I didn't know what would happen," he said. "The first title was most important, to go on to win many titles more.

"I'm happy. It's not easy to be at one club for 10 years. It's an honour.

"Before the game I feel so strange. Before the game, the sensation is not good but I prefer to think and enjoy this moment."

Sergio Aguero signed off on his Premier League career with another record as he came off the bench to score a brace in Manchester City's 5-0 thrashing of Everton.

Aguero, already the top-scoring overseas player in Premier League history, entered the fray at 3-0 in the 65th minute and converted with the outside of his boot when Fernandinho snaffled possession six minutes later.

He then headed home a superb delivery from the veteran Brazilian for his 184th top-flight City goal, usurping Wayne Rooney's 183 for Manchester United as the Premier League's largest one-club haul.

City's all-time record goalscorer has endured an injury-ravaged season and was only fit enough for a place on the bench, leaving Pep Guardiola's champions to again demonstrate how expertly they have shared the goals around in his absence.

Kevin De Bruyne's 10th of the season in the 11th minute made him the seventh City player into double figures this term, with Gabriel Jesus scoring his 14th shortly afterwards and Phil Foden his 16th after half-time.

Six days out from their Champions League final showdown with Chelsea, City were not always at their best defensively and Golden Glove winner Ederson needed a 36th-minute penalty save from Gylfi Sigurdsson's effort to preserve a 19th league clean sheet of the season.

There was little Jordan Pickford could do little when De Bruyne got Riyad Mahrez's pass out of his feet to thump home emphatically from 20 yards.

Jesus quickly got in on the act himself, with De Bruyne back in his customary role of provider, leaving the Brazil international to engineer space in the box and score his eighth Premier League goal against the Toffees.

After a week when he was voted FWA Football of the Year, Ruben Dias was unusually lax at the heart of the City defence and brought down Richarlison in the box, only for Ederson to spring right and keep out Sigurdsson's kick.

Mahrez clattered the bar from distance before the interval and Foden extended City's advantage further six minutes after the resumption, slotting in right-footed from Raheem Sterling's pass.

A bedraggled Everton then proved to be very accommodating opponents on Aguero's victory lap, with only a superb Pickford save when he met an 81st-minute De Bruyne corner preventing a fairy tale hat-trick.

Sergio Aguero will have to make his final Premier League appearance for Manchester City from the bench, with Pep Guardiola naming the departing striker among the substitutes against Everton.

A total of 10,000 fans will be supporting City at the Etihad Stadium, though 32-year-old Aguero, who is reportedly bound for Barcelona, was among nine potential replacements for the champions.

City's all-time record goalscorer has had a season blighted by injuries, having made just eight starts across all competitions.

Aguero, who joined City in 2011 from Atletico Madrid, is the highest scoring non-English player in Premier League history with 182 goals, while he has so far averaged a goal every 109 minutes in the competition – the best rate of any player to have scored at least 10.

Yet it was Gabriel Jesus who got the nod ahead of Aguero. The Brazil forward has scored seven Premier League goals against Everton, more than he has against any other opponent in the competition, including two braces in his previous two appearances against the Toffees at home.

There was little in the way of a second-string line up from Guardiola ahead of next week's Champions League showdown with Chelsea.

Kevin De Bruyne returned to the XI for his first action since the semi-final win over Paris Saint-Germain on May 4, while Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden were also selected.

Ilkay Gundogan – who sustained a knock against Brighton and Hove Albion last time out – joined Aguero on the bench, although first-choice pairing Ruben Dias and John Stones started in defence.

While City were looking to celebrate their title with a win, Everton headed into Sunday's contest in need of at least a point to keep their hopes of European football for next season alive.

Carlo Ancelotti was without James Rodriguez, who has returned to Colombia to link up with their Copa America squad, and the playmaker's compatriot Yerry Mina.

Everton have lost their past six league games against City, only losing more consecutively in the competition against Manchester United (nine between 1999-2004), though they were boosted by Seamus Coleman being able to make the bench – Ancelotti had initially expected the club captain to miss out through injury.

Pep Guardiola would love to bring a free-scoring striker to Manchester City, amid speculation surrounding Harry Kane, with Sergio Aguero saying goodbye to the club.

Aguero will leave City after next week's Champions League final against Chelsea in Porto.

The Argentine, who joined the club in 2011 and has gone on to become the Premier League's leading foreign goalscorer, as well as City's record scorer, has won five top-flight titles in Manchester.

Injuries have marred his final season, with the 32-year-old – who has reportedly agreed to join Barcelona – featuring for just 682 minutes across 18 appearances (eight starts) in all competitions.

Aguero faces a late fitness test to see if he will be able to play against Everton on Sunday, in City's final league game of the season, which will take place in front of 10,000 fans at the Etihad Stadium.

In Aguero's absence this term, and with understudy Gabriel Jesus not quite hitting the heights initially expected of him, Guardiola has often utilised a false nine system, with Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Ferran Torres and Kevin De Bruyne called upon to fill in up top.

It has served City well, Guardiola's team reclaiming the league title, winning their fourth straight EFL Cup and reaching their first Champions League final.

However, links to a new striker have not gone away, with Borussia Dortmund's in-demand forward Erling Haaland a mooted target, though Kane's recent comments about the possibility of leaving Tottenham will not have gone unnoticed. 

Kane added further fuel to the fire when, in an interview with Gary Neville on The Overlap, he declared his admiration for De Bruyne, labelling the Belgian playmaker a "striker's dream".

Pressed on possibly targetting a striker of Kane's ilk, Guardiola told a news conference: "I would love to have a guy who scores 50 goals.

"I would love it – but at the same I don't like just to have all the pressure on one player. Even at Barcelona Lionel Messi scored more than 50 goals every season, but in that team for example, in our first season Samuel Eto'o scored a lot.

"To win titles, especially the Premier League, the statistics speak for themselves, you need at least three guys [scoring] more than 10, 12, 15 goals to be competitors. But when you have a guy who scores 25 or 30, it helps a lot.

"We will try due to the way we play to have everybody involved in scoring goals – the more players we have with this quality the better we will be."

HOW HAVE CITY'S GOALS COME IN 2020-21?

With Aguero only managing four goals in all competitions – and just two from open play – the onus has been on other players to step up.

The standout in this regard has been Ilkay Gundogan, who has transformed himself into a superb attacking midfielder this term, scoring a team-high 17 times across all competitions, with the German averaging a goal every 194 minutes.

De Bruyne has tallied the most attempts (104), scoring nine goals and teeing up a further 17, while Riyad Mahrez is tied on 14 goals with Raheem Sterling.

Foden has netted 15 goals, all of which have come from open play. Torres and Jesus have both contributed 13, with John Stones and Bernardo Silva (both five) also chipping in with their fair share.

THE FINAL FAREWELL

It will no doubt be an emotional day for Aguero on Sunday, though he can take solace in the fact that there will be supporters on hand to wish him well.

"My message to the fans is: 'Thank you,'" Aguero wrote in a statement on the club's offciial website. "Thank you to the City fans for always supporting me.

"When you feel the love from your fans, everything is a lot easier. It's the same for anyone in any line of work – when someone believes in you, you do better. I owe a lot to the people at this club because I have the City fans to thank for everything.

"We have won a lot of games. I leave here feeling very satisfied with what I have achieved here. In the last games, I will do my best so that I can leave on a high.

"I want all the fans who saw me play in the stadium to remember me for what they saw me do on the pitch. I always say that you enjoy yourself on the pitch because of the support of the fans."

There might be few dry eyes in the house when Sergio Aguero bids farewell to the Manchester City faithful on Sunday, but it could be carnage if the Premier League champions replace him with Harry Kane.

Aguero, the leading overseas goalscorer in Premier League history and City's all-time record scorer, is set to play for the final time in England's top flight when Pep Guardiola's side host Everton before lifting the trophy for the fifth time in the Argentina international's 10 years at the club.

However, as is often the case in football and almost always true of the game's superstar forwards, plenty of attention has already turned towards the next move.

After 258 goals in City colours, Aguero has reportedly agreed a two-year deal at Barcelona, raising the tantalising prospect of a link-up with his great friend Lionel Messi.

Even though fitness problems have dogged his final year in Manchester, the 32-year-old will leave a considerable void, meaning Kane's apparent desire to leave Tottenham comes at an intriguing time.

"I think it will be hard to ignore the importance of all of these goals," former City defender Nedum Onuoha told Stats Perform when pondering life after Aguero.

"For Pep, it's about the collective, and if you can find somebody who fits into the collective and also has that desire for goals, then it's carnage.

"If City get Kane, if Kane's healthy for the whole time he's at City, with his footballing IQ, it could be absolutely outrageous. And I hope something like that does happen, it'll be a joy to watch.

"But then, in the same breath, in Pep we trust. He's found a way to get the team to play well to the point where we can see Raheem Sterling and Aguero sitting on the bench. That's over 300 goals for the football club."

Guardiola guiding an often striker-less team to the title means this season is arguably the fullest realisation of his tactical vision and also something unimaginable when Aguero fired 23 goals in his maiden Premier League campaign to win City a first league championship for 44 years in 2011-12.

Goal number 23 of that haul remains the moment that will define him, one that will be replayed countless times this weekend alone and still gives Guardiola – who was Barcelona head coach at the time – "goosebumps".

For Onuoha, a boyhood City fan who lined up for QPR on May 13, 2012, the memories of his former employers scoring twice in injury time for a 3-2 win to snatch glory away from Manchester United are not as warm and fuzzy.

Briefly, before learning Bolton Wanderers had failed to get the win they required at Stoke City, he thought Aguero's strike for the ages had condemned him to relegation.

"I was the last QPR player to touch it before they went on to score," Onuoha recalled. "So I thought I'd been relegated by my old team in my home town. It was an absolute disaster.

"There was an incredible, huge sinking feeling within me as he scored the goal and I didn't watch him celebrate or anything like that. But I remember looking at our bench and I saw them celebrating. From there it was a huge sense of relief. I looked at the QPR fans and knew we were safe.

"It took me two, three days to figure out who scored the goal. I didn't watch any TV or anything for days after, because the stress of it was just too much. So even though it was a very, very iconic moment, I would say myself and a few others, we didn't necessarily catch the best of it because we were very much living it.

"Even now, instead of feeling the emotion that people associate with that moment, I feel the exact opposite emotion because I remember thinking to myself, 'this is the lowest point in my career', but thankfully it never happened."

The most impressive element of Aguero's Premier League career is how it has consistently lived up to that finest hour through sheer weight of numbers.

Of players to have scored 20 or more goals, none can better Aguero's rate of one every 109 minutes in the history of the competition. That figure only climbs slightly to 128 minutes per goal against the so-called big six, with 44 in 75 appearances across those fixtures.

He has more hat-tricks than any other Premier League player (12) and only Alan Shearer (seven) has hit 20 goals in a campaign more frequently than Aguero, who accounts for six of the 10 20-goal seasons produced by City players in the division.

No player from outside Europe has more than his five top-flight titles in England but, even as a weekend victory lap looms in front of City's first home crowd of the season, another record is within reach.

Aguero's 182 Premier League goals make him the league's second highest one-club scorer, one shy of the 183 Wayne Rooney managed at Manchester United. It will not have escaped his attention.

"This is a guy that's obsessed with scoring goals," Onuoha explained. "Joleon Lescott told me if Sergio would see if the big players scored in games before him, it would doubly motivate him to go out and score in the next game.

"That desire to score goals is something that only exists in the people who do score the most, when you looking at Kane, looking at [Mohamed] Salah and so on, you know they all have that thing within them where like goals are everything to them.

"I spoke with Sergio just this week and asked him how many goals have you scored [for City] so far? And he said 258. I said, do you remember them? He said every single one. Every single goal."

After Everton there is the final frontier, the one major honour Aguero or City have not won during his prolific decade.

Even though he is highly unlikely to start next weekend's Champions League final against Chelsea, what price a decisive contribution from the bench at Estadio do Dragao? An injury-time winner that even Onuoha could fully enjoy this time around.

"The best-case scenario for me is Aguero starts the game and he scores five goals like a did against Newcastle a few years ago and City absolutely batter Chelsea in the final," he replied.

"I'm not for 90 minutes of stress. I'd rather he just went out as a dominant force. But yes, second best-case scenario, I'll take what you said."

 

***Nedum Onuoha's 'Kickback with Nedum' podcast is available via Apple, Spotify, Google and all other major podcast platforms***

Harry Kane's reported desire to leave Tottenham has created a race for his signature.

A lack of silverware is believed to be behind Kane's alleged urge to move on, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea the leading suitors.

In the post-COVID world where club finances have been hit hard, some clubs are getting creative.

 

TOP STORY - CHELSEA'S PLAYER-PLUS-CASH SWAP DEAL

Chelsea are launching a player-plus-cash swap deal to land Kane from Tottenham involving goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and forward Tammy Abraham, claims ESPN.

Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris is expected to leave the club, hence the lure of Kepa who has been back-up to Edouard Mendy, while Abraham, who is not a regular starter for the Blues, could help to fill the void left by Kane.

Kane is contracted with Tottenham for another three seasons and Spurs are believed to want a transfer fee of £150 million, so the addition of players would drop that figure down to an affordable level.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian reports that Sergio Aguero has agreed to a two-year deal with Barcelona, with his departure from Manchester City this off-season already confirmed.

- Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac will leave the Gunners, with Schalke 04 and Lazio circling for the Bosnian's signature, reports Football London.

- Fernandinho was set to exit Manchester City, but The Times claims he will renew with the club on a one-year deal.

- The manager merry-go-round is in full swing, with The Mirror claiming that Wolves are looking at ex-Roma boss Paulo Fonseca, while The Sun reports that Tottenham will try to convince Brendan Rodgers to join the club if Leicester City fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Sergio Aguero's predatory instincts mean he can continue to prosper after he leaves Manchester City, says Pep Guardiola.

Aguero will bring down the curtain on a glittering decade in the Premier League with City, when the recently crowned champions host Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

There is, of course, the chance for a golden farewell in next week's Champions League final against Chelsea in Porto, but Aguero will enjoy an on-field tribute after full-time this weekend, with 10,000 fans allowed in attendance.

The Argentina striker is City's all-time leading goalscorer with 258 – 81 more than anyone else in the club's history – and has more goals to his name than any overseas player in the Premier League with 182.

He is one shy of Wayne Rooney's single-club Premier League record, set at Manchester United, and speaking ahead of the Everton match, Guardiola paid a glowing tribute while bemoaning the injury woes that have complicated Aguero's final season in Manchester.

"When he is fit and he has continuity in the training sessions and game, he is a guy like Romario," he said, referencing the Brazil great with whom he shared a dressing room at Barcelona.

"In five metres, he is like a lion in the jungle, making steps to kill the opponents. The biggest quality he has is a unique sense of goal. The last goal he scored at Crystal Palace defined Sergio perfectly.

"He needs the first control, two or three steps, then wow. If he plays until 35, 40, 45, he will always score a goal.

"It depends on his physical condition. When he is good in himself, he still can do whatever."

Aguero sat out Tuesday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, where City had Joao Cancelo sent off early on and went down to a 3-2 defeat.

The 32-year-old, who has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona on a free transfer, is fit to play some part against Carlo Ancelotti's men.

"As much as he can play, he will play," Guardiola said. "He has been injured. Training these two days and tomorrow, we will decide."

Irrespective of what unfolds on the field this weekend, a hero's reception for Aguero – who unforgettably scored in injury time against Queens Park Rangers to secure the first of five Premier League crowns at City in 2012 – is guaranteed

"First of all, I said many times he is an incredibly nice person, funny one, humble one," Guardiola added.

"Being the legend that he is, being from Argentina and in this country where it is so difficult to score goals and do it for many, many years, I cannot imagine how many, many more goals he would have scored if he would have been able to be more fitter than he was in some seasons.

"He has incredible love from the backroom staff because he is a very nice player. The quality of the player, it is unnecessary to say anything else because his numbers and performances when he was fit were incredible.

"Everything he has done for this club in terms of titles, numbers and performances is incredible."

Joe Willock has a bright future at Arsenal on the back of prolific loan spell at Newcastle United, says Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

Willock headed the only goal as Newcastle beat Sheffield United 1-0 in midweek, becoming the youngest player in Premier League history to score in six consecutive appearances.

Those exploits mean he is the joint-top scorer in the division since the return from the March international break, alongside Chris Wood, Mason Greenwood, Matheus Pereira and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Newcastle are reportedly looking to make the move permanent, with a £20million fee mooted, while Willock said after Wednesday's win: "Hopefully there's more to continue in the future.

"I'm not going to promise anything, but the conversation is going to be held."

But Arteta, asked whether the attacking midfielder had a future to look forward to at Emirates Stadium, told a news conference: "Yes, and I'm really happy that things have gone so well for him because of the potential that he has.

"It was great for him to go away and have a different experience. He has grabbed that opportunity in a really positive and remarkable way.

"He will be back with us, we will have those conversations with him and plan the next step then."

Arsenal conclude a fairly forgettable campaign at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, while the curtain on the Premier League career of one of the competition's all-time greats will come down elsewhere.

Arteta worked on the Manchester City coaching staff under Pep Guardiola for three-and-a-half seasons and paid a glowing tribute to Sergio Aguero, who is set to play his final league match as the division's all-time leading goalscorer from oversees when Everton visit the Etihad Stadium.

"I know from working with him – his character, his personality, he is a lovely man," he said.

"One of the best talents that I've seen, what he has done in this league for so long, scoring the amount of goals he has done.

"He changed the perception of English football in different countries.

"For Manchester City, I think again he was a big contributor to the change in history and mentality in the winning years that they had."

Gianluigi Donnarumma's future is dominating headlines.

Milan want to re-sign the Italy international but time is running out.

A blockbuster move to LaLiga could be on the horizon…

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA TO SPAIN?

Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has been offered to Barcelona by his agent Mino Raiola, according to Diario AS.

Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season and the Italy international is yet to re-sign with Milan.

He has been linked with Serie A rivals Juventus, Barca, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Donnarumma's arrival could force Barca to sell star number one Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Kylian Mbappe's proposed transfer to Real Madrid does not hinge on head coach Zinedine Zidane, who could leave at the end of the season. Former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Madrid great Raul have emerged as the frontrunners should Zidane leave, but it will not impact Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe's future. Madrid have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

Sergio Aguero is set to accept a contract offer from Barca until June 2023, reports Fabrizio Romano. Aguero is poised to become a free agent once his deal with Manchester City expires. Lyon captain Memphis Depay is also on the verge of moving to Camp Nou on a free transfer.

- Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul, Atalanta's Josip Ilicic and Roma attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan are potential replacements for Milan's Hakan Calhanoglu, according to Tuttosport. Calhanoglu's contract is expiring at San Siro amid links with Juve, United and clubs in Qatar.

Monza are eyeing Juventus great Gianluigi Buffon, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Monza – owned by former Milan president Silvio Berlusconi – are currently in Serie B and missed out on promotion via the playoffs. Monza also boast Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Buffon has already revealed he will leave Juve at the end of the season.

Manchester City great Francis Lee said a move for Harry Kane would be "very difficult" as he questioned whether the England captain would be a long-term option.

Kane has given his strongest indication yet that he wants to leave Tottenham at the end of the season, stating his desire to play for a trophy-winning side.

Premier League champions City would fit that bill, while Kane has also been linked with the likes of Chelsea and neighbours Manchester United.

Kane, who will turn 28 in July, is level with Mohamed Salah at the top of the Premier League scoring charts heading into the final weekend of the season.

That suggests he remains in the very top bracket of Europe's top strikers, but Lee needs convincing that Kane would be capable of being a force for City for longer than a handful of seasons.

"There's three or four players who would suit us down to the ground and another three or four others who could slot into the team and probably be a sensation as well," Lee told Stats Perform.

He pointed to reports linking 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish with City, before adding Kane's name to the list of possible candidates for a close-season move.

"It'd be very difficult for Harry Kane to move to Manchester City because it would be big money for ... not a short period but maybe two or three years, something like that," Lee said.

Lee, who starred as a City forward from 1967 to 1974 and had a spell as the club's chairman from 1994 to 1998, knows there are plenty of prolific strikers who could potentially step into the City squad and replace Sergio Aguero, the record scorer who will leave on a free transfer at the end of this campaign.

Whether they are the right age and have the right qualities is a question for City manager Pep Guardiola, with Lee suggesting Romelu Lukaku, the 28-year-old former Manchester United and Everton forward, now at Inter, may have what it takes.

"There's a lot of players, there's quite a few players who would fit the bill," Lee said.

"Lukaku would fit the bill. But he didn't fit the bill when he played in the Premier League before. With Pep, a lot of it is attitude. If your attitude is right, and your training is right, and your fitness is right, everything is going on within the Pep plan, you get there."

Since Kane became a Tottenham regular in the 2014-15 season, he has scored 162 goals in 230 Premier League games, with Aguero managing 130 in 187 appearances over the same period.

Kane has managed a marginally better conversion rate when presented with what Opta defines as 'big chances', scoring from 54.77 per cent of such openings, compared to 51.48 per cent by Argentine frontman Aguero.

Aguero's minutes-per-goal record is better though, with one every 105.78 minutes to Kane's one every 120.83 minutes.

But ostensibly, they are well matched, in both being highly prolific. Their total shot conversion rate over the last seven league seasons is almost identical, with Kane netting 18.39 per cent of his efforts on goal and Aguero sticking away 18.34 per cent of his attempts.

That suggests it would be a near like-for-like replacement operation if Kane – five years younger than Aguero – came in from Spurs.

Lee is certain that City must replace Aguero. Although they have had success without him in their starting XI lately, and when deploying a 'false nine' system, Lee, 77, has no doubt Guardiola has to bring in a recognised goal-getter.

Lee said: "I think with the retirement of Sergio, that we definitely need one big striker. I'm not talking in size, I'm talking in reputation and ability. But who could it be? Because if you can't play in this team, you can't play in any team."

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