Sergio Aguero became the Premier League’s leading foreign goalscorer by hitting a hat-trick in Manchester City’s 6-1 thrashing of Aston Villa on this day in 2020.

The Argentina striker surpassed Frenchman Thierry Henry as the competition’s top overseas marksman at Villa Park after taking his tally to 177 goals in 255 matches.

Aguero also claimed the record of the most hat-tricks in the league’s history, with his 12th treble seeing him move past former Blackburn and Newcastle striker Alan Shearer.

“I’m so happy for the record,” said the then 31-year-old, who joined City from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

“But I thank my team-mates because they helped me this year. I’m so happy.

“I want to keep scoring more goals, but it all depends on my team-mates. If they pass to me, then it’s fine.”

Aguero went on to score 184 Premier League goals for City, placing him fifth on the all-time list, before moving to Barcelona in 2021.

He held the record for the most Premier League goals scored for a single club until it was overtaken by former Tottenham captain Harry Kane.

City boss Pep Guardiola said of Aguero: “He will die scoring goals. He is one of the best, no doubt. The best is (Lionel) Messi but the rest? Sergio is absolutely one of them.

“It’s an honour to be here the day he achieved that.

“There are players through the incredible history of English football and he is one of them, he helps to make the Premier League and English football better.”

Erling Haaland has not ruled out breaking Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League goalscoring record.

Shearer scored 260 Premier League goals in 441 appearances during 14 seasons as a player with Blackburn and Newcastle before retiring in 2006.

Norway and Manchester City striker Haaland has scored 44 Premier League goals in 42 appearances since arriving in England from Borussia Dortmund in time for the start of the 2022-23 season.

The 23-year-old, who has notched eight goals in seven top-flight games this season, jokingly told the Telegraph: “How long is my contract? Three years and 10 months (left)? So, there is still time to do it, no?”

When asked if he was serious about breaking the record during that time, Haaland added: “I didn’t say that!

“That’s something you can’t think of. You have to think of the next game, the season and then these things come after a while. But if I will still be 15 years longer in England then why not? We will see.”

Haaland, who has scored a total of 199 goals in 203 career appearances for Salzburg, Dortmund, City and Norway, said it was now a bigger story whenever he does not hit the target.

He said: “Norwegian media when I don’t score: Goalless! That’s the headline. That’s how it is. It’s a good thing. I am not complaining at all but, also, I signed for City to score goals.

“So, it was also a bit expected – maybe not so many – but I am still the one who is going to get the ball in the back of the net.”

Haaland can often appear to drift out of games without touching the ball for long periods and explained how he slips into a ‘zombie’ state as he waits for his chance.

“I go out of my body and become a zombie,” he added. “It’s kind of a bit of a ‘zone out’. Like looking around. Waiting for the chance. And when the chance comes I know I have to be ready, you know?”

Record goalscorer Alan Shearer led the tributes to Newcastle’s latest European generation after witnessing their Champions League demolition of Paris St Germain.

The former Magpies skipper, who scored 206 goals during a glittering 10-year stay with his hometown club, was in the crowd at St James’ Park on Wednesday evening as they took the French champions apart to go top of Group F.

Shearer, the last man to score for the Magpies in the competition in 2003 before Miguel Almiron set them on their way against PSG, said on X, formerly known as Twitter: “As days and nights go that’s a f——— Belta. Hangover coming!!! What a performance man.”

Former team-mate Rob Lee was slightly more measured, posting “What an atmosphere!! What a result”, while Shay Given, who played alongside Shearer against Barcelona in the final game of Newcastle’s last Champions League campaign in March 2003, added: “Did that really happen?? WOW what a night.”

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton, who spent four years with the Magpies, made an astute half-time prediction on X when he wrote: “PSG are playing uphill 2nd half. (Metaphorically and proverbially). @NUFC downhill to the Gallowgate. The Toon might give these a right pumping here, especially if these front players for PSG don’t track back.”

Former England captain and TV pundit Gary Lineker tweeted during the game, “What a performance this is from @NUFC”, while Jamie Carragher and Micah Richards shared in defender Dan Burn’s delight after the final whistle, joining him in a celebratory dance.

Carragher wrote: “What a night #NEWPSG. Only way to celebrate is to have a drink or a dance. Big Dan has got the moves.”

 

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Burn, who scored the Magpies’ second goal, was singled out for praise by another presenter, Jake Humphrey, who highlighted the defender’s journey in football.

 

He posted on X: “2013: League One with Yeovil 2023: Champions League with Newcastle. What a story. What a night.”

Newcastle’s players were also quick to take to social media as they celebrated a famous night for the club.

Brazil midfielder Bruno Guimaraes said on Instagram: “One night to remember forever! Very proud of the team! We have the best fans in the world! We keep going. Unbelievable performance for everyone.”

Fabian Schar, whose late strike wrapped up the win, said on X, “No words for that night”, while Sean Longstaff, scorer of the third, said: “A night we’ll never forget! Champions League football is back at St. James’ Park.”

 

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Kieran Trippier and his defensive colleagues did a sterling job to keep Kylian Mbappe at bay, much to the disappointment of his son Jacob, a huge fan of the France superstar, although his consolation was to receive the frontman’s shirt.

Trippier posted a photograph of the youngster wearing the shirt on Instagram accompanied by the caption, “Good morning”.

Sports stars and clubs across the world continue to provide an insight into their lives on social media.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the best examples from August 11.

Football

Alan Shearer was prepared to go to extreme lengths to protect his record Premier League goals haul, as Harry Kane neared a move to Bayern Munich from Tottenham.

Former Spurs stars Gary Lineker and Ramon Vega stuck up for Bayern.

Jamie Carragher defended Liverpool’s lavish spending…

…but soon had a, er, change of heart.

JJ Watt was buzzing before Burnley’s Premier League return against Manchester City.

Swansea announced a new signing in a creative way.

Luis Enrique opted for a bird’s eye view.

Andres Iniesta was hard at work with his new club Emirates.

Golf

Sergio Garcia is still loving LIV life.

F1

George Russell met up with Daniel Ricciardo.

Basketball

Dwyane Wade was feeling the love.

Alan Shearer says "scary" Manchester City striker Erling Haaland can reach 60 goals for the season after closing in on the Newcastle United icon's Premier League record.

Haaland scored a brace in Saturday's win at Southampton to take his tally for the season in all competitions in his maiden campaign with City to 44 goals in 38 games.

That is 13 goals more than the next-highest scorer among players across Europe's top five leagues, with Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe netting 31 in 35 appearances.

Thirty of Haaland's goals have come in the Premier League, leaving him just four short of matching Shearer's record of 34 in a season, which he jointly holds with Andy Cole.

Shearer expects Haaland to surpass that target with time to spare and, with potentially 16 more games to play in all competitions, he believes a bigger milestone is attainable.

"If he can stay fit, Haaland will obliterate the Premier League record I share with Andy Cole of 34 goals in a single season," Shearer said in his column for The Athletic.

"At his current rate of averages in all competitions, with 44 in 38 appearances, he will storm past 50. Even that may be a disservice to him. 

"Who knows, we could even be talking 60 and Dixie Dean territory. Scary."

 

Haaland reached 30 Premier League goals in 27 games, doing so in five matches fewer than any other player in the competition's history.

Only eight players in the English top flight – most recently Jimmy Greaves in 1961 – have scored more than 40 goals in a single league season.

"I wonder how many people thought it was hyperbole when I wrote nearly a year ago that Erling Haaland would score 40 goals in this Manchester City team?" Shearer said. 

"City were buying goals – as close as you can get to an absolute, cast-iron guarantee – by adding an exceptional centre-forward to a phenomenally creative side.

"If anything, I was being stingy. Exceptional? He's almost perfect and that haul of 40 is already in his rearview mirror."

Haaland's next opportunity to add to his growing haul will come on Tuesday when City host Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

The former Borussia Dortmund man has 33 goals in 25 games in the competition, which is also a record for the quickest time to surpass the 30-goal mark in the Champions League.

Erling Haaland has done rather well for Manchester City since arriving.

Fine, that may be something of an understatement. The 22-year-old has filled his boots and then some since he moved to the Etihad Stadium from Borussia Dortmund last year.

Haaland has 42 goals in 37 games for City, with 28 of those coming in 26 Premier League appearances.

Pundits will say they had their tongues firmly embedded in their cheeks when some suggested the Norwegian might find English football trickier to conquer despite his domination of the Austrian and German top-flights, but few could have anticipated such a relentless flow of goals.

Those doubts appeared after Haaland's blank against Liverpool in the Community Shield defeat in his first official outing for the club, while he also failed to score in City's 1-0 loss at Anfield two and a half months later.

He did find the net against Liverpool in their EFL Cup fourth-round win in December though, and should he be fit to take the field against Jurgen Klopp's men on Saturday, Haaland will be hoping to get closer to a record that many thought would never be broken.

With 11 games remaining, Haaland is just seven short of claiming the record for the most goals in a single Premier League season, with Andrew Cole in 1993-94 for Newcastle United and Alan Shearer for Blackburn Rovers a year later both managing 34, albeit in campaigns that lasted 42 games.

Haaland is just four behind Mohamed Salah's record for a 38-game Premier League season, set in 2017-18.

So perhaps the question is not 'will he break the record?' but 'when?'

Haaland has missed just one league game so far, and the injury that caused him to pull out of Norway's Euro 2024 qualifiers did not sound particularly serious, so even if he does miss the visit of Liverpool, he still has plenty of time to find the necessary goals.

After all, he scored eight in his last two games before the international break, hitting five against RB Leipzig in the Champions League before another treble against Burnley in the FA Cup.

As they fight Arsenal for the league title, City's remaining fixtures see them face Liverpool (h), Southampton (a), Leicester City (h), Arsenal (h), Fulham (a), West Ham (h), Leeds United (h), Everton (a), Chelsea (h), Brentford (a) and Brighton and Hove Albion (a).

With the leaky defences of Liverpool, Saints and Leicester this season, it would not be a complete shock if he has already reached the magic number of 35 by the time he lines up against Arsenal for a crucial title clash.

In the corresponding fixtures against those 11 opponents, Haaland scored 10 goals (two against West Ham, Leeds and Brighton, one against Southampton, Fulham, Arsenal and Everton, zero against Liverpool, Chelsea and Brentford and he did not play at Leicester), so even repeating his efforts against them will be more than enough.

 

With 28 goals in 26 league games, Haaland is averaging 1.1 goals per game. That means if he can play in each of City's remaining games, he should reach 40 by the season's end.

That could be asking a bit too much from him, especially considering City also have a Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich coming up, and head coach Pep Guardiola has been known to rest his stars for league games once that competition gets to the latter stages.

Continuing the rate though – assuming he continues to play and the re-arranged game at Brighton is not scheduled beforehand – would see him break the record against Leeds on May 7, appropriately a former club of his father.

While reaching 40 might be beyond him – emphasis on "might" – finding the seven required to overtake Cole and Shearer actually seems borderline routine for a player who has produced the numbers he has.

In just the Premier League, Haaland has four hat-tricks, as many as the rest of the league combined (Phil Foden, Son Heung-min, Leandro Trossard and Ivan Toney all on one).

He also doesn't have to worry about opportunities being created for him by his immensely talented City team-mates, having had 43 Opta-defined "big chances" – a chance from which a player would be expected to score – 15 more than the player with the next most (Toney).

Haaland's shot conversion rate of 31.1 per cent is also well above any other player to score at least six goals in the Premier League this season, ahead of Brighton duo Kaoru Mitoma and Pascal Gross (both 26.1 per cent).

 

He averages a goal every 75.6 minutes, comfortably ahead of Newcastle's Alexander Isak (103.8), Tottenham's Harry Kane (119.3), Leeds' Rodrigo Moreno (123.1) and Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (129).

Former Newcastle and Manchester United striker Cole recently told Stats Perform it "doesn't bother" him if Haaland breaks his record.

"I've said to people it doesn't bother me in the slightest, I don't care. If someone deserved to break that record, go ahead and do it," he said.

"I don't care if he does it. I'll be the first one to congratulate him. Records are there to be broken."

It looks like a record that will indeed go soon, and it may be the first of many that the irrepressible striker shatters.

Saturday's Match of the Day will have a new format without a host or studio pundits after Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and other leading names backed presenter Gary Lineker.

The BBC announced on Friday that Lineker would not be involved in this week's edition of the hugely popular British football show after he became involved in a political row following a Twitter post.

Lineker would be absent from Match of the Day "until we've got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media", the BBC said, but it soon became clear he had the support of a number of colleagues.

Wright and Shearer, the show's two leading pundits who were due to feature on Saturday, announced they had told the BBC they would not be appearing.

As Micah Richards, Jermaine Jenas and Alex Scott joined the pair in standing by Lineker, the BBC's options for an alternative line-up became increasingly thin.

Ultimately, a statement from the broadcaster appeared to acknowledge it had not been possible to put a studio team together.

"Some of our pundits have said that they don't wish to appear while we seek to resolve the situation with Gary," it read.

"We understand their position and have decided that the programme will focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry."

Lineker had criticised the UK government's new asylum policy, comparing language being used by current politicians to the voices expressed in Nazi Germany.

Condemning the policy, the former England striker posted: "There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I'm out of order?"

Phillip Billing stunned Premier League leaders Arsenal when he scored after 9.11 seconds for Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

It ranked as the second-fastest goal at the start of a game in Premier League history, beaten only by Shane Long's effort after 7.69 seconds for Southampton against Watford in April 2019.

Here, we take a closer look at the five fastest goals ever scored in the Premier League, as recorded by Opta.

Shane Long: Watford v Southampton, April 2019 – 7.69 seconds

There appeared to be little danger when Craig Cathcart looked to play a long ball downfield from Roberto Pereyra's kick-off, but Long had other ideas. His block fell fortuitously into his path, but there was nothing lucky about the glorious flick over the onrushing Ben Foster.

What a moment! #SaintsFC 's @ShaneLong7 celebrates the fastest goal in #PL history!   pic.twitter.com/M4fpU1sIcj

— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) April 23, 2019

Phillip Billing, Arsenal v Bournemouth, March 2023, 9.11 seconds

Sleepy Arsenal let Bournemouth get straight on the attack, and Dango Ouattara's cross from the right took a slight touch off Gabriel Magalhaes and ran into the path of Billing, who fired past Aaron Ramsdale from close range.

Ledley King: Bradford City v Tottenham, December 2000 – 9.82 seconds

It might have held the title of quickest goal for nearly 19 years, but it certainly was not the prettiest. King powered forward from midfield and dispatched a bobbling effort past Matt Clarke, who might feel he should have done better.

Alan Shearer: Newcastle United v Manchester City, January 2003 – 10.52 seconds

The Premier League's all-time top goalscorer scarcely needed a helping hand to find the back of the net, but he got one from Carlo Nash. The Magpies hero closed down the City goalkeeper's attempted clearance and tapped into an empty net for possibly the easiest finish of his decorated career.

Christian Eriksen: Tottenham v Manchester United, January 2018 – 10.54 seconds

The Denmark international took full advantage of some generous United defending to set Spurs on their way to a 2-0 win. Son Heung-min's attempted shot was blocked into the path of Eriksen, who coolly slotted past a shell-shocked David de Gea, a future United team-mate.

Harry Kane hailed a "magical moment" after breaking Tottenham's all-time scoring record and surpassing "complete hero" Jimmy Greaves.

The England striker surpassed Greaves' 266-goal benchmark for Spurs as his 15th-minute strike proved the difference in a 1-0 triumph over Manchester City on Sunday.

His first-half winner was also Kane's 200th Premier League goal, hitting the mark in two games fewer than Alan Shearer (306), while Wayne Rooney needed 462 matches to reach his double century.

Kane told Sky Sports: "It's a magical moment. I was so desperate to do it with a win – once we went 1-0 up, it was about the clean sheet.

"To do it in front of the fans is a special moment. There has been so much talk about it, I just wanted to get it done. So, to do it in a big game against one of the best teams in the world is special.

"[Greaves] is a complete hero, one of the best strikers to play the game, so to be in that conversation is special. And to overtake him is a huge moment for me."

Shearer's 260-goal Premier League record will be Kane's next target, and the 29-year-old acknowledged he will have time for many more top-flight strikes.

"When I started playing regularly, it wasn't even in my imagination to score 200 Premier League goals," he added. 

"To be there now is exciting, and I've got plenty of years left, so there will be a few more to come."

Newcastle United and England great Shearer welcomed Kane to an illustrious Premier League club after his strike left City trailing leaders Arsenal by five points and moved Spurs within one of the top four.

"Congratulations @HarryKane passing the great Jimmy Greaves record at [Tottenham]," Shearer posted on Twitter.

"Also @WayneRooney and I were wondering where you've been! Well done on joining the 200 @premierleague club."

Marcus Rashford "lacks the killer instinct" to lead Manchester United's attack, according to the Premier League's all-time record goalscorer Alan Shearer.

England international Rashford made it two goals in two games since returning to club action following the World Cup break with his strike against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old now has 10 goals in 21 games this season, double his tally from the whole of last season in 32 matches and twice as many as any United team-mate this term.

Rashford is on course for his best scoring campaign, but Shearer has urged Erik ten Hag to continue fielding the versatile attacker out wide and bring in a new out-and-out striker.

"I think Marcus enjoys it more, he looks better certainly in the position [on the left] we saw tonight," Newcastle United great Shearer told Amazon Prime.

"He's been given a little bit of freedom – if he wants to go down the middle at times, he can.

"But when he's got all that space to run into from out wide, he's a better player in doing that and he's very, very good at doing that.

"In terms of him being a centre-forward, he lacks the killer instinct, that natural ability to think 'yeah, I'm going to get in there, I'm going to get the two or three yarders'.

"But there's no doubting his ability – he's a fantastic player."

Rashford has five goals in 15 Premier League outings this term, which is already one more than last season and 12 off his career-best tally in the 2019-20 campaign.

Speaking after the 3-0 win over Forest, which moved United within a point of the top four with a game in hand, Rashford declared he is aiming to better his previous high.

However, fellow former striker and now pundit Michael Owen agrees with Shearer's assessment that United still need another new striker in the January window.

"I do feel that Rashford is better on the left, he will contribute a decent number of goals each year," Owen said.

"But he's not going to be the Ruud van Nistelrooy, the Robin van Persie, the Wayne Rooney who scores 30-plus goals a season.

"Obviously he is a huge asset to this football club, gives them something different, gives them pace, gives them directness."

United have scored 23 goals in 15 Premier League games this season at an average of 1.53 per match, which is only the 11th best return in the division.

Despite easing to victory against Forest, Ten Hag admitted after the match he was not entirely satisfied with his side's finishing and reiterated the need for a new striker.

"It's what I said in the dressing room, we have to score more goals," he said.

"We created so many chances and it takes us until just before the end to score the third goal. We need to finish this game in an earlier moment.

"We are looking for offensive players, we are looking for a striker. It would be good because we have games coming, so many, every third day, and it's tough."

Eddie Howe laughed off Alan Shearer's suggestion that Newcastle United should sign Argentina's World Cup star Enzo Fernandez.

Fernandez won the Young Player Award at Qatar 2022 following his excellent performances in midfield for La Albiceleste, who beat France on 4-2 on penalties in a thrilling final on Sunday.

Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick at Lusail Stadium on Sunday, but it was Lionel Messi and Argentina who came out on top in the shoot-out after a 3-3 draw.

Benfica's Fernandez was one of the breakout stars at the tournament, featuring in all seven of Argentina's games and starting five, having scored a stunning goal in a 2-0 win over Mexico in the group stage.

Newcastle great Shearer, a BBC Sport pundit during the World Cup, quipped he would love the cash-rich Magpies to make a move for the 21-year-old, saying: "Absolutely yes. See if he wants to play against Bournemouth on Tuesday."

Naturally, ahead of that EFL Cup tie, Howe was quizzed on whether he had heard Shearer's comments.

"Sorry, I didn't, I think I was on the other channel," Howe said with a smile. "That's a mistake on my part."

Asked if he would like to target Fernandez, Howe replied: "I'm aware of him and I know him. But I think the transfer fee might be quite lumpy."

 

Howe also noted it would be unlikely that any team buys a player based solely off their World Cup displays.

"From a recruitment perspective you never just analyse a World Cup and sign a player on the back of those performances," he said.

"There's a huge body of work that goes into signing a player, it’s never after four weeks. There's a period of work that goes into it. It's not to say we wouldn't use the World Cup as a recruitment tool."

Howe, who also dismissed the idea Newcastle would move for Messi in January should the 35-year-old be available, is also pleased that England manager Gareth Southgate has elected to stay on with the Three Lions following their World Cup exit.

Southgate will take charge of England heading into Euro 2024, with Howe having often been cited as a possible replacement.

"The only time it affects me is sat here [in front of the media]," Howe said.

"I'm pleased Gareth made his decision so I don't have to field questions on it.

"My focus has only ever been Newcastle and making sure that we return from this break in the best possible form we can. I'm enjoying the job and loving the challenge of managing this huge club."

After playing Bournemouth, Newcastle, who sit third in the Premier League, face Leicester City on Boxing Day in their first top-flight game after the World Cup break.

Harry Kane appeared "weighed down" by the presence of his Tottenham team-mate Hugo Lloris as his late penalty miss saw England exit the World Cup against France, says Alan Shearer.

Kane equalled Wayne Rooney's record of 53 England goals from the spot nine minutes into the second half at Al Bayt Stadium, but he blazed a second penalty over the crossbar 30 minutes later as France held on for a 2-1 quarter-final win. 

Shearer believes the sight of Kane's club team-mate between the sticks impacted his ill-fated second kick, which he says will hurt the Three Lions captain "for the rest of his life".

"Having taken one already, the difference was the difference itself. It becomes a mind game, not only with the goalkeeper but with yourself," Shearer wrote in a column for the Athletic.

"It's human nature. Who blinks first? To me, Harry looked weighed down for his second. Heavier, somehow.

"In that situation, you're confronted with a new set of problems and a new set of siren voices. You think 's***, what do I do now?' 

"Do I do the same as last time, do I stick with what I'm good at, do I change it up? 

"In Harry's case, he's playing against his Tottenham Hotspur team-mate in Hugo Lloris and that sense of familiarity is treacherous. Yes, he'd already scored, but Lloris knows his routines, how he practises, the side he naturally favours.

"Trust me, all that plays on your mind in the sparse seconds between the whistle going and you starting your run-up.

"It will hurt Harry for the rest of his life. A day won't go by without him thinking about it or being reminded about it."

Having taken responsibility for England's exit in the aftermath of their defeat, Kane pledged to learn from the experience as he took to social media on Sunday.

"Absolutely gutted. We've given it everything and it's come down to a small detail which I take responsibility for," Kane wrote on Twitter. "There's no hiding from it, it hurts and it'll take some time to get over it, but that's part of sport.

"Now it's about using the experience to be mentally and physically stronger for the next challenge. Thanks for all the support throughout the tournament – it means a lot."

Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham also expressed his support for Kane – as well as for England boss Gareth Southgate – in a statement released on Sunday.

"Like all England fans, we feel the pain of losing a quarter-final, along with the coaches, players and support team who are hurting this morning," the statement began.

"Gareth and Steve [Holland] prepared the team exceptionally well throughout the tournament. The players were committed to winning the trophy and were led very well by Harry Kane.

"But sport can have fine margins, and on the day, against the current world champions, it was not to be.

"This is a very exciting young English squad, and despite the intense disappointment of last night, they should be incredibly proud of their performances in Qatar."

Jude Bellingham has been the best young player at the World Cup so far and could make the difference in England's bid to capture the trophy, according to Alan Shearer.

The Borussia Dortmund star scored England's first goal of the tournament in a 6-2 thrashing of Iran in the group stage, and produced another masterful midfield display in Sunday's last-16 win over Senegal.

Bellingham leads his team-mates for dribbles completed (six) and possessions won (23) in Qatar, while only Luke Shaw (72) has bettered his tally of 48 passes ending in the final third.  

The 19-year-old's all-round ability has seen him touted as a contender to be named the young player of the tournament, and Shearer believes his presence has improved England considerably. 

"England did very well at their past couple of tournaments, but I think there is a difference this time," the former striker wrote in a column for BBC Sport.

"Four years ago, we were not the most talented side at the World Cup, but we were well-organised, had fantastic team spirit and great character, and that took us to the semi-finals.

"This time we are definitely a better team, ability-wise, than we were at Russia 2018 or last year's European Championship where we lost in the final.

"We still have a plan, and that same togetherness, but we have more experience, more depth – and we have got a very exciting young talent in Jude Bellingham too.

"Bellingham has probably been the young player of this World Cup so far. His performance against Senegal was unbelievably good, and he brings something different to this England team that we didn't have four years ago.

"With him driving forward from midfield, we look more dangerous – we are far more fluid now when we build attacks, wherever they start."

England will face holders France for a place in the last four on Saturday, when Gareth Southgate's side must find a way to contain Kylian Mbappe – the tournament's top scorer with five goals. 

However, Shearer believes keeping the Paris Saint-Germain star quiet is no guarantee of success against Les Bleus.

"You need to do more than keep [Harry] Kane quiet to keep England out, and it is the same with France and Mbappe," he added.

"Antoine Griezmann and Adrien Rabiot are having brilliant tournaments, Aurelien Tchouameni has really impressed me and, while Ousmane Dembele can blow hot and cold, if he is on form that night then he is a handful.

"Then you have Olivier Giroud, of course, who is now France's record men's goalscorer. It could be a shoot-out between our front five and theirs – and it is going to be great to watch."

Gareth Southgate should rest Harry Kane for England's final Group B match against Wales, according to former Three Lions captain Alan Shearer.

Kane claimed the Golden Boot after scoring six goals in the 2018 World Cup, becoming the first England player to win the award since Gary Lineker 32 years earlier.

The Three Lions skipper did not register a shot on target in the Three Lions' 6-2 thrashing of Iran or the goalless draw with the United States in Qatar.

Shearer thinks Callum Wilson might start instead of Kane against Wales on Tuesday, when Southgate's side will be expected to seal their place in the round of 16.

H said in his BBC column: "I am not overly concerned about that statistic [Kane not having a shot on target], because we know the provider role Harry plays for this England team, even when he is not scoring himself. But watching him against the United States, it was clear something wasn't right. 

"He came through that scare about his ankle before the US game but, after playing a big part in an impressive team performance in the Iran game with two assists, he looked very tired and very leggy to me.

"It might be time to think about getting him right for the knockout stages, and I have a sneaky feeling Callum Wilson might come in to face Wales on Tuesday instead.

"England need to freshen things up anyway, to get the feel-good factor back after the disappointment of our draw with the US, and restore a bit of confidence."

England were fortunate to escape with a point against the USA on Friday, with Southgate raising eyebrows by keeping Phil Foden on the bench.

Shearer added: "I can understand why Gareth stuck with the same team that had stuck six goals past Iran. But, after that, I can't see him doing the same again in our final game in Group B.

"After the euphoria of our first game, everyone was expecting, wanting and hoping that it would be a similar story against the US. It wasn't, it was actually really flat.

"You have to give great credit to the US, because they stopped us from playing, as well as playing well themselves.

"But of course, it was disappointing that we were not able to change the direction of the game with the attacking options we had on the bench.

"I was quite surprised one or two players did not come on at half-time because we were playing poorly. Our plan wasn't working and one or two players looked tired.

"There are going to be games at this tournament where, for whatever reason, we need to change our personnel or tactics, or both, to try to win them."

Despite their disappointing display, England would seal top spot in Group B with victory over a Wales side that that must win to have any chance of progressing.

And Shearer is confident a similarly positive display to that in the opening game against Iran will get Southgate's side back on track.

"The last team to go through a World Cup and win all seven games was Brazil, 20 years ago," he stated.

"Everyone who goes deep into the tournament usually hits a bump in the road during the group stage and, while that performance wasn't great, we are still in a very strong position.

"I'd really expect us to beat Wales and go through as winners of our group, which was always the aim.

"It won't be easy, of course. Wales' situation means they have to win to have any chance of getting out of the group, and then you have the rivalry you encounter whenever the home nations play each other which adds another element to the game.

"It's pretty obvious what I want to see now - the same attacking outlook, ideas and energy we showed in the Iran game. If we do that, we will be back on track for the next part of this World Cup."

Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany joked he would not sign Cristiano Ronaldo as Burnley "need players who can run".

Ronaldo is preparing for the World Cup with Portugal ahead of Thursday's Group H opener against Ghana, though the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will lreturn to club football as a free agent in January.

Manchester United and Ronaldo parted ways by mutual agreement on Tuesday after the forward's exclusive interview with Piers Morgan caused a global stir.

The Portugal captain said he felt "betrayed" by United and had no respect for manager Erik ten Hag before the fractured relationship at Old Trafford came to an abrupt end.

Kompany, now manager of Championship side Burnley, offered a tongue-in-cheek assessment of the situation, suggesting the Clarets would not be interested in signing the 37-year-old.

Asked on the BBC's World Cup coverage whether he would want Ronaldo at Turf Moor, Kompany joked: "We need players who can run."

After discussing Ronaldo's future in a jovial manner, Kompany claimed "everybody loses" after an uncomfortable situation at Old Trafford, barring Ten Hag.

"I think in the end everybody loses except perhaps the Man United manager," added Kompany, who lifted four Premier League titles with fierce rivals City.

"I think it is a problem that has been resolved and they will move on from this."

Fellow pundit and former England striker Alan Shearer believes it will be interesting to see what move Ronaldo takes next, with Chelsea reportedly among the favourites.

"It is a sad end to his Man United career," Shearer said. "He's got his wish, it is what he did the interview for. It was inevitable it was going to happen after that.

"I think it is going to be really interesting to see if a Champions League club comes in for him. Maybe Man United aren't that disappointed either, that was never going to be a match, Ten Hag and him."

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