For Carlo Ancelotti, the lure of Real Madrid proved too good to turn down. Again.

A first full season in charge at Everton had resulted in a 10th-place finish in the Premier League, though there was no sign of the Italian doing anything other than planning for the future at Goodison Park during the close-season.

Then, however, Zinedine Zidane left Madrid and everything changed. In a flash, Ancelotti is now back in the Spanish capital six years after Los Blancos said 'thanks, but no thanks', ending a first stint in charge that spanned two eventful years and included a historic Champions League triumph.

"What did Ancelotti do wrong? I don't know," club president Florentino Perez said when announcing Ancelotti's exit in 2015. The pair parted ways as work colleagues but the personal relationship remained intact, allowing them to come back together again.

Perez opted to dispense with Ancelotti despite him delivering 'La Decima', as well as the Copa del Rey and FIFA Club World Cup. He also boasted the best success rate of any head coach to be at Madrid for a minimum of 50 games at 74.8 per cent, winning 89 of his 119 games. That number eclipses Jose Mourinho (71.9 per cent) and comfortably Zidane, too (65.4 per cent).

However, there was no league title the first time around. Now the former Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain boss gets another crack at conquering LaLiga, with Los Blancos aiming to knock noisy neighbours Atletico Madrid off their perch.

Attack the best form of defence

There will be some familiar faces in the dressing room to greet Ancelotti upon his return, but also some notable absentees from the squad he left behind.

Across his previous reign, Madrid averaged 2.7 goals per game. That number was aided by the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, the club's all-time leading scorer now taking up residence in Turin.

In LaLiga, Ancelotti's side led the way in terms of goals, getting 104 in 2013-14 and then 118 in the following campaign, eight more than a Barcelona squad led by Luis Enrique that clinched a famous treble. His Madrid averaged 18.1 shots per game – the same number as Zidane's side during his first stint – with a conversion rate of 14.9 per cent.

The Frenchman's time between January 2016 and May 2018 sees similarities in terms of attacking numbers to the period under Ancelotti, the common denominator being they both had the irrepressible Ronaldo to call upon.

Zidane's comeback saw a different Madrid, one that attempted more passes – they averaged out at 596.5 per game, compared to 576 previously – but dipped in terms of attacking output, their goals-per-outing number dropping from 2.6 to 1.8.

There was an over-reliance on Karim Benzema in 2020-21, the French striker scoring 23 times in the league. No other Madrid squad member reached double figures, Casemiro next on six. Well, Gareth Bale did, though that was during a year on loan at Tottenham.

Ancelotti may struggle to match the offensive numbers of his previous version of Madrid, but he is acutely aware of what is expected from his team.

"The history of this club forces you to play well and have a spectacular game. I believe that football has changed in these years towards a more organisational approach, but the idea of ​​Real Madrid must remain the same," he told the media.

The same Ancelotti, only different

"This is not the same Carlo Ancelotti from six years ago. I have six more years of experience. Positive and negative. I was very happy at Everton and I have grown as a person and as a coach."

Those were the words of the man himself at a news conference on Wednesday which covered a number of topics, including Sergio Ramos' future, the potential arrivals of Kylian Mbappe and Ronaldo, plus the open letter released by the man he has now replaced.

Ancelotti's appointment at Everton was seen as a coup for the Merseyside club and while there were high points during his reign, including a long-awaited win at Anfield (one of 11 away victories in 2020-21), but inconsistent results at home sunk hopes of securing European football, with a resounding 5-0 defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City ultimately bookending the 61-year-old's tenure.

Still, Ancelotti averaged 1.53 points per game, better than any other previous Everton boss to have at least 10 games in charge, including David Moyes (1.50) and Ronald Koeman (1.47), who – if reports are to be believed – will be staying on at Barca, meaning the Toffees will have been coached by both men in charge for next season's Clasico contests.

However, it is Atleti who are the top team in Spain. Diego Simeone's side faltered with the line in sight, but still managed to finish first in a title race that had seemed set to be a procession at one stage during the campaign.

LaLiga is the solitary title in the top five European leagues to so far evade Ancelotti, who knows better than anyone that not even on-pitch success is always enough to keep you in one of the biggest jobs in football.

Speculation has swirled for months about the future of Lionel Messi following a season of change at Barcelona.

Barca have been busy already this off-season, signing Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia.

Compatriot Aguero had implored Messi to extend his Barcelona stay, which dates back to 2000, and it seems the striker may get his wish.

 

TOP STORY - MESSI RE-COMMITS TO CATALANS

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is set to pen a new two-year contract with Barcelona, according to AS.

The Argentina forward has practically agreed to the deal, with only "structural details" to complete.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have both shown interest in Messi but he looks set to commit until 2023.

 

ROUND-UP

- Everton are in the market for a new manager after Carlo Ancelotti's sudden departure and The Athletic reports they will consider Rangers boss and Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard. TalkSPORT claims ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo is also on their radar.

- COPE claims that new Real Madrid boss Ancelotti will not push to recruit James Rodriguez from the Italian's former club Everton.

- The Sun reports that Arsenal are in pole position in the race to sign Raheem Sterling from Manchester City. 

- The Sun also claims any potential Sterling move to Arsenal may scupper Manchester City's plans to sign Tottenham's Harry Kane , as they want to use the winger in a swap deal given Spurs hefty asking price.

- Manchester United are keen on Sevilla defender Jules Kounde but Barcelona have joined the pursuit for his signature, claims Mundo Deportivo.

Carlo Ancelotti is the new head coach of Real Madrid after Florentino Perez attracted the Italian from Everton.

Ancelotti dramatically jumped to the front of the queue for the job when it had looked as though Raul and Mauricio Pochettino were the main contenders.

His appointment means a return to the club that sacked him six years ago, with Perez having been head of the board that reached that decision at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Perez said at the time he had a good personal relationship with Ancelotti, and that will have been a factor in bringing the veteran coach back to the Spanish capital.

Ancelotti could not deliver a LaLiga title during his previous two-year stint, but he helped Madrid win the Champions League in 2014 - the 10th time in their history they had become European club champions, famously recognised as 'La Decima'.

Madrid also landed the Copa del Rey in the same season and the Club World Cup in December 2014.

Since leaving the Santiago Bernabeu, Ancelotti has coached Bayern Munich, Napoli and Everton, joining the latter in December 2019.

Madrid confirmed his appointment on their official website, stating: "Carlo Ancelotti is Real Madrid's new manager. The 61-year-old Italian coach comes from Everton and returns to our club after making history in his first spell.

"He managed Real Madrid for two seasons, between 2013 and 2015, and became the coach of La Decima. With him at the helm, the team reigned again in Europe 12 years later after the unforgettable Lisbon final against Atletico."

Madrid relinquished the league title in the 2020-21 season as Atletico Madrid were crowned champions in Spain.

Under the guidance of Zinedine Zidane, they finished the campaign without a trophy, after an early Copa del Rey exit to minnows Alcoyano and a Champions League semi-final loss to Chelsea.

Zidane resigned last week, bringing an end to his second stint in charge, and now another coach gets a second opportunity at one of the most demanding jobs in football, where winning trophies is everything.

Ancelotti's Everton finished 10th in the 2020-21 Premier League season.

That position has been viewed as a failure in some quarters, given the investment in a world-renowned coach. Yet of all managers to have taken charge of at least 10 Premier League games with Everton, Ancelotti's average of 1.53 points per game is unsurpassed.

LaLiga is the only one of Europe's top five leagues that Ancelotti has not yet won, having triumphed in Serie A with Milan, in the Premier League with Chelsea, in Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain and in Germany's Bundesliga with Bayern.

He has also won the Champions League three times in his coaching career – twice with Milan and once with Madrid – which is a record he shares with former Liverpool boss Bob Paisley and Zidane.

Carlo Ancelotti is back in charge of Real Madrid and has plenty on his plate after succeeding Zinedine Zidane.

The Italian called time on an 18-month stay at Everton in order to return to the club where he won the Champions League, Copa del Rey and Club World Cup in a spell between 2013 and 2015.

However, Ancelotti inherits a Real squad with plenty of question marks over it.

The Spanish giants have just endured their first trophyless season since 2009-10 and so there is plenty for the 61-year-old to consider as he starts his second stint.

Sergio Ramos' future

Ancelotti joins a Madrid side who are on the cusp of losing captain Sergio Ramos for nothing. The Spaniard has long been in talks over a new deal but, with his current contract days from expiry, no breakthrough seems imminent.

Although his last season was hampered by injury that has cost him a place at Euro 2020 with Spain, Ramos still proved his worth time and time again.

Looking at his performances in LaLiga, the 35-year-old posted better statistics in tackle success rate (80 per cent) and tackles won per 90 minutes (0.85) than any of his fellow Real centre-halves.

He was also dribbled past fewer times per 90 minutes (0.28) than Raphael Varane (0.3), Eder Militao (0.48) and Nacho (1.03).

These statistics could well be enough to convince Ancelotti to keep him around.

Does Hazard have a role?

With 21 appearances, four goals, and further injury issues all Eden Hazard has to show for last season, it has been suggested a departure could be the best outcome for all parties.

But Ancelotti will no doubt be tempted to try and get the best out of the Belgian as he looks to fix an attack that needs to offer a wider threat.

Karim Benzema remains from the Italian's first stint, but no other Madrid player got close to the French striker's 23 goals in LaLiga last term, with Casemiro (6), Marco Asensio and Luka Modric (both 5) next best.

Hazard could be key to bridging that gap if he can stay fit for long enough periods.

What next for returning loanees?

One man who could help on the goal front is Gareth Bale, who scored 11 times in 20 Premier League appearances for Tottenham during a season-long loan stay in 2020-21.

The Welshman first joined Real under Ancelotti in the summer of 2013 and could be more open to staying put with a manager who has faith in him after becoming frustrated under Zidane.

It remains to be seen what happens with Martin Odegaard, who will return from a loan spell at Arsenal where he impressed but perhaps not to the degree necessary to earn a starting place in Madrid.

The futures of Luka Jovic and Brahim Diaz are also uncertain as they return from Eintracht Frankfurt and Milan respectively.

One big sale?

With Real feeling the pinch of a season without supporters, it is likely that the new manager will have to generate his own funds in the transfer market.

And, with moving on fringe players likely to be tricky, the possibility of selling a more in-demand asset increases.

Raphael Varane is one possible contender as he heads into the final year of his contract amid reported interest from the likes of Manchester United.

The Frenchman established himself as a regular starter in Ancelotti's second season and has missed just 68 of the 266 league games played since that point.

Real conceded an average of 1.1 goal per game without Varane across the past seven seasons, and 0.9 in the fixtures in which he featured.

Interestingly, though, their win percentage rose to 73.5 per cent without him in the side from 66.2 per cent with - will these statistics inform the manager's decision?

One big signing?

Money may be tight at Real Madrid, but that won't stop them being linked to the biggest names in world football.

Kylian Mbappe is one of them, the Frenchman having enjoyed another remarkable season in which he scored more goals (21) and landed more shots on target (55) than anyone else in Ligue 1.

The 22-year-old also converted 60.5 per cent of his big chances - a rate that would help ease Real's problems with lack of goals outside of Benzema.

Still, it remains to be seen whether Ancelotti can pull together the funds to start off his reign with such a high-profile signing.

Carlo Ancelotti is the new head coach of Real Madrid after Florentino Perez attracted the Italian from Everton.

Ancelotti dramatically jumped to the front of the queue for the job when it had looked as though Raul and Mauricio Pochettino were the main contenders.

His appointment means a return to the club that sacked him six years ago, with Perez having been head of the board that reached that decision at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Perez said at the time he had a good personal relationship with Ancelotti, and that will have been a factor in bringing the veteran coach back to the Spanish capital.

Real Madrid know what Carlo Ancelotti can do.

The Italian led Los Blancos to Champions League glory in 2014.

Could a return to the Bernabeu be on the cards? 

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRD EYE ANCELOTTI

Real Madrid have been in contact with Carlo Ancelotti to replace Zinedine Zidane, Calciomercato says. 

The Everton boss previously led Los Blancos from 2013-15, winning the Champions League title and Club World Cup in 2014. 

Cadena SER reports Florentino Perez has reached out to Ancelotti and Everton have begun to ponder replacements in the event that he leaves. 

Several other candidates have been linked to the opening at the Bernabeu, including Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte, Raul and Xabi Alonso

 

ROUND-UP

Fikayo Tomori is set to stay with Milan on a five-year permanent deal, Fabrizio Romano reports. Chelsea will get €28million for the move. 

- Tottenham are plotting a move for Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger, the Mirror reports. 

- Everton want to bring Pedro back to the Premier League but have yet to make Roma an offer for the former Chelsea winger, Calciomercato says. 

- Saul Niguez wants to join Manchester United, with Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus also possibilities for the Atletico Madrid midfielder, the Mirror reports.

- Now free of his Juventus contract, Maurizio Sarri is favoured to take over at Lazio, Calciomercato reports. 

Colombia will be without star player James Rodriguez for their Copa America campaign, though the Everton playmaker claimed he has worked hard to be fit.

It was at an international tournament with Colombia that James rose to stardom. He won the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup, scoring six goals – including a sensational effort against Uruguay – as his country made it to the quarter-finals.

His performances in Brazil earned him a move to Real Madrid, though injuries have since plagued his spells with Los Blancos, Bayern Munich and Everton, and now his hopes of starring for Colombia once more have taken a blow.

The 29-year-old missed the end of Everton's campaign due to a persistent calf injury which has limited him to 26 appearances in all competitions this season, though James has still played more minutes (2,045) in 2020-21 than in four of the previous seven campaigns since his move to Monaco in 2013-14.

Carlo Ancelotti confirmed before Everton's defeat to Manchester City that James had returned to Colombia to link up with their squad for the World Cup 2022 qualifiers against Peru and Argentina, and the Copa America.

However, Colombia confirmed on Friday that James would be unable to take part.

"The coaching staff of the Colombia men's senior team reports that the player James Rodriguez has been called off for the games against Peru and Argentina for the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and the CONMEBOL Copa America 2021," a statement on the Colombia team's official website read.

The statement went on to reveal that James, who netted six goals and provided eight assists in 2020-21, was "not at the optimal level of competition" following medical checks.

Yet it is a decision which has surprised and disappointed James, who says he has been focusing specifically on being fit for the tournament.

In a statement released on his official social media accounts, James said: "To the media, soccer fans and the general public I want to express my thoughts and feelings regarding the decision made by the coaching staff of the Colombian National Team regarding the next qualification dates and Copa America.

"I [am in] a recovery that is in its final part, in which I have taken enough time to fully integrate myself to the practice of football and in this way not affect my participation in the next commitments of our national team.

"With surprise I receive the statement from the coaching staff, stating that they do not count on me and wishing me a full recovery. A recovery that I have already made and in which I have sacrificed a lot.

"The above fills me with deep disappointment, for what it means to me playing for my country. Not receiving the trust of the coaching staff breaks with everything and causes me enormous pain.

"For my colleagues the best energy and best wishes. I will support with passion as always."

Despite managing 26 matches – and 24 of those coming as starts – James still finished as Everton's second-highest chance creator in all competitions, crafting 54 opportunities, trailing only Gylfi Sigurdsson (60), who made 18 more appearances. On average, he created two chances per 90 minutes.

James teed up 11 big chances, which Opta classify as opportunities from which a player would be expected to score, in the Premier League, with only 10 players managing a higher total.

Colombia face Peru and Argentina on June 3 and June 8, before starting their Copa America campaign against Ecuador on June 14.

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."

Harry Kane has won the Premier League Golden Boot award for the third time in his career after edging out Mohamed Salah.

The Tottenham forward netted in the dramatic 4-2 win over Leicester City on Sunday, while Salah did not find the scoresheet as Liverpool defeated Crystal Palace 2-0.

That meant Kane emerged triumphant from a season-long battle, both players having gone into the final weekend locked on 22 goals.

Kane, who finishes the season with 23 goals from 35 games, also won the Golden boot in 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns.

Salah had won the award in 2017-18 and shared it the following season with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane.

But he falls just short of another triumph after netting 22 times from 36 top-flight matches this season.

Jamie Vardy was last season's winner but it was Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes who finished third with 18 goals.

Another Tottenham star, Son Heung-min, shares fourth place with Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford on 17.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (16), Vardy (15), Ollie Watkins (14), Ilkay Gundogan and Alexandre Lacazette (both 13) round out the top 10.

Kane's accomplishment comes amid huge speculation over his future after he reportedly asked to leave Spurs at the end of the season.

The England captain is now one away from the record of four Golden Boots held by Arsenal great Thierry Henry, with Alan Shearer the only other player to have won it three times in the Premier League era.

Kane also had 14 assists in a fine individual season, giving him 37 total goal involvements, his best-ever return.

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.

The Premier League's big-money clubs are circling for Declan Rice.

The England international has been a key figure in West Ham's quest for European football in 2021-22.

Will the Hammers hold on to the defensive midfielder? 

 

TOP STORY - WEST HAM'S RICE IN DEMAND

Interest in 22-year-old Declan Rice is heating up, the Telegraph reports.

Chelsea may be the strongest suitors for the West Ham player, potentially using Tammy Abraham in a swap deal to land him.

Manchester United also are said to be monitoring Rice's status as he could be set to move on from Upton Park in a £90million deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- If Cristiano Ronaldo departs Juventus, La Stampa says Barcelona's France international Antoine Griezmann is being lined up as a potential replacement.

- Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero is drawing interest from Everton and Juventus after failing to find regular playing time at Old Trafford, the Mail on Sunday reports.

Lautaro Martinez could be on the move from Italy to Spain as the Inter Milan striker's agent met with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, Marca claimed.

- Loanee Dani Ceballos will leave Arsenal this summer as parent club Real Madrid invite permanent offers for the midfielder, Fabrizio Romano reports.

Newcastle are eyeing a move for USA international Cameron Carter-Vickers, who spent the season with Bournemouth on loan from Tottenham, according to SBI Soccer.

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."

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