Harry Kane equalled Gary Lineker as England's joint-highest goalscorer in major tournaments as he propelled the Three Lions into the Euro 2020 final.

Kane scored on the rebound after having a penalty saved by Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in extra-time at Wembley on Wednesday.

It made it 2-1 to England, with Simon Kjaer's own goal having cancelled out Mikkel Damsgaard's opener.

Schmeichel got down to his left to keep out a relatively tame spot-kick – which was won contentiously by the excellent Raheem Sterling – yet the rebound fell kindly to Kane, who coolly tucked in his 10th goal in a major tournament.

That tally brings the England captain level with Three Lions great Lineker.

All of Kane's major-tournament goals have come with his right foot (seven) or head (three).

 

The Tottenham talisman scored six times at World Cup 2018, repeating Lineker's feat from 1986 of winning the golden boot. 

After a slow start to Euro 2020, he has netted four times in the three knockout rounds, and will aim to set the new record when England take on Italy in Sunday's showdown.

Kane and Lineker are out ahead of Alan Shearer (nine), Wayne Rooney (seven), Geoff Hurst (six) and Michael Owen (six).

Hurst's fellow World Cup winner Bobby Charlton has five, while David Platt and Steven Gerrard both netted four times.

Kane is behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (both five) in the scoring charts at Euro 2020, with another tournament golden boot firmly in his sights.

On his penalty miss and subsequent follow-up effort, Kane told ITV Sport: "I chose the side I was going to go, it wasn't the best executed penalty I've ever had sometimes you miss and it falls your way and thankfully it did today. 

"We know it's going to be a very tough game against Italy. We've had a great tournament so far. One more game to go at home and we can't wait."

Harry Kane is the best finisher in world football and supporters were wrong to doubt him amid his slow Euro 2020 start.

That is the view of former England manager Steve McClaren as Kane prepares to lead the line in Wednesday's huge semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday.

Kane failed to score in all three group games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic as England made a steady but unspectacular start.

There were questions over whether the 27-year-old should retain his place in the line-up but the Tottenham striker responded with a headed goal against Germany in the last 16 and two more as England thrashed Ukraine 4-0 in the last eight.

Kane, the top scorer at World Cup 2018, has been involved in 27 goals in his last 26 games for England.

He has nine goals at major tournaments, with his second goal against Ukraine meaning he matched the career total scored by Alan Shearer.

Ahead of the Denmark game, Kane is one away from equalling the national record held by Gary Lineker (10).

Reflecting on Kane's tournament, McClaren told Stats Perform: "Unbelievable. 

"Do we not learn the lessons? You know, you have got Shearer and Lineker on the TV and talking their exploits and not scoring for ages coming into squads.

"Terry Venables [kept faith] with Shearer and Bobby Robson did with Lineker, do we not learn from this? 

"And you could see from the first games, okay, he's out of sorts, but he didn't get the service.

"There were no crosses going into the box, there was no one sliding balls through. 

"And to be fair Harry was outside the box the majority of the time but against Ukraine, Germany, he was inside the box.

"When he is inside the box, he is the best finisher in the world at the present moment. So put the ball in the box. Once we do that, he will score without a doubt."

 

McClaren believes Kane and Raheem Sterling are the two automatic attacking selections for Gareth Southgate, with a host of options beyond that for the other two spots.

"Reliability, that is the key thing," McClaren said about Sterling. "He's always produced for England, why? He's got the trust of Gareth. Every time he comes in, he plays. 

"It's difficult in a club because there are many, many games and sometimes you've been left out or other talent comes in. 

"And I think he's had an up and down season with Man City and in his relationship with Pep Guardiola. 

"He's not the nailed on number one like he is with England and that's the key thing. 

"He's playing with that freedom and you don't see players like that in any of the other nations. 

"Someone who can beat players, go past players, can score with both feet, with his head now he's getting into the box. But he can also create like he did for Kane against Ukraine."

 

McClaren believes England have fringe players who would be huge stars for most of the other nations at the Euros, talking up the likes of Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden.

He added: "Gareth's got an embarrassment of riches, he's got so many players who are so different in those positions.

"Grealish normally in any other team in these championships would be the star man regularly playing every game, Foden would be the star man playing every game, Sancho would be the star man playing every game. 

"They are not for England - what a luxury for Gareth.

"Sancho is just one of those talents amongst quite a few that we've got. He beats players, he's quick, strong, direct - he can assist, he can score. 

"He is a younger Sterling at the present moment and looking at him in the future, he could be better than him."

 

While the attacking options often dominate the public debate, McClaren has been extremely impressed with West Ham's Declan Rice and Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in midfield.

"The work-rate, intensity, the amount of interceptions, the tackles that they put in, they have been for me the unsung heroes of the performances so far," said McClaren.

"We always say if you if you've got weak centre backs or you're not too sure about your centre backs, you always give them protection.

"When you're a little bit suspect there and you have [Tryone] Mings and [John] Stones and people, and without [Harry] Maguire [for the initial games], he [Southgate] needed that protection.

"They've been absolutely fantastic. They've protected the back, let them defend well from crosses. And they've also provided the front players the freedom to go about their jobs. 

"So it's a thankless task, but they're doing it so well."

 

Of the threat posed by Denmark, he added: "I think the big danger is the momentum that they're gaining, the emotion from everybody is with Denmark.

"Christian Eriksen with that incident - so pleased for him and his family and for everybody in football that he's fine and is recovering. 

"But I just think they've been galvanised by what has happened and if Eriksen is at the game with the Danish squad, that's an unbelievable boost. 

"You can see that something is behind them and that for me is the biggest danger, it is not so much Denmark, the players and the team - it's the momentum and the sway and the emotion and the euphoria that is propelling that Danish team above what they should be doing. 

"When you have a cause like that, it so powerful, a powerful emotion, a powerful incentive to see Eriksen at the game as well."

A lot can change in a month. Think back to England's pre-Euro 2020 friendlies and most fans or pundits were likely highlighting the defence as their primary concern.

Harry Maguire was injured and seemingly a doubt for the entire group stage; Trent Alexander-Arnold was ruled out of the tournament; and certain decisions made by Tyrone Mings had alarm bells ringing.

Yet, here we are, four weeks on and England are preparing for a Euro 2020 semi-final having not conceded a single goal in five tournament matches.

While sceptics might suggest the general level of those opponents wasn't always world class, the fact is their five clean sheets has equalled a major tournament record – it is a genuine achievement in itself.

That record is extended to Jordan Pickford as well, with the Everton goalkeeper one clean sheet away from setting a new record for the most clean sheets at a European Championship (six).

 

Before Euro 2020, most will have been championing England's forward options as the team's strongest element, but now there's more than a case for the defence.

Solid and dependable

While Everton fans would insist Jordan Pickford's form has been strong for a while, it's fair to say there are many who've been surprised – rightly or wrongly – by his showings at Euro 2020.

His kicking has been an asset to England, while he's produced some excellent saves and his importance to the team is quantifiable as well.

According to xGOT (expected goals on target) conceded data, Pickford has actively prevented 1.5 goals at Euro 2020. Now, that may not sound massive in the grand scheme of things, it's actually highly impressive given the small sample of matches involved.

Only Stole Dimitrievski (2.6) and Tomas Vaclik (2.5) have prevented more goals than him in the tournament, though their respective xGA (expected goals against) figures of 8.85 and 6.7 show their records come from a larger pool of quality chances than Pickford (2.95).

 

Of course, away from goalkeeping, defensive excellence can be difficult to outline with statistics, particularly in good teams. For example, if John Stones was leading the charts for the most tackles, it would suggest England were playing a risky game because of the over-reliance on someone in their backline. He isn't, and that obviously reflects well on the Three Lions' organisation.

But two individual metrics reflect particularly well on Harry Maguire. The Manchester United centre-back has received great praise since returning to the team for the third group game, impressing with his reliability at the back.

The acclaim is backed up by the fact he's not lost a single aerial duel (8/8) and come out on top in 14 of his 16 overall duels since coming back into the side.

Both he and Pickford will be looked to again on Wednesday, particularly given Denmark – whose 15 direct attacks is the most of all teams at Euro 2020 – have scored 11 times so far, a haul bettered by only Spain (12) before the semis.

Shields up

Central midfield was another area of the team that had sections of the support unconvinced ahead of the tournament, with the double-pivot of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips deemed by many as too conservative. Granted, few Premier League fans would have looked at them and thought, "these two guarantee goals", but international football over the past nine years has given great credence to the idea pragmatism rules.

It'd now be fair to assume the majority of England fans would start both players for the remainder of the tournament, regardless of the opposition. As a pair they possess great athleticism, good ball-retention ability, work ethic and defensive nous.

Phillips has arguably been the greater eye-opener. While his advanced role against Croatia may not have developed into a continuing theme, his ability to sniff out danger and be in the right place at the right time has been notable, and as such only six midfielders could better his 28 recoveries prior to the semi-finals.

 

Similarly, his athleticism has translated well to aerial battles as well, with his 10 aerial wins ranking him fourth among midfielders.

Rice has generally been the one of the two with the greater defensive responsibility, as reflected by his eight interceptions, two blocks and seven clearances, all of which put him in the top five for midfielders at Euro 2020 prior to the semi-finals.

Though it's also worth highlighting that, although Rice works effectively off the ball, his influence in possession is also significant, as evidenced by the collective xG value of build-ups he's involved in being 3.1, only bettered by four Spain players.

Sure, this metric will be weighted in favour of teams who play more games and have a greater share of the ball, but he's ranked higher than the likes of Jordi Alba (2.3) and Jorginho (2.6), which speaks volumes.

So, while the defence and Pickford are certainly doing a fine job, their defensive shield is also proving highly capable.

Passive effective

In 2021, high-intensity pressing is very much in vogue, which is another reason why this England team is so interesting. While some teams almost religiously stick to such principals, the Three Lions prefer to pick their moments.

This is partly reflected by England's 35 high turnovers being the lowest of the four semi-finalists (Spain and Denmark on 47, Italy on 42), while their 98 defensive actions is also well behind (Spain 159, Italy 134, Denmark 127).

England's average starting position of 42.6 metres (also a low among the last four) shows how they tend to defend deeper, and the fact they allow 18.6 passes on average before initiating a defensive action (PPDA) further reflects Southgate's desire to have a lower line of engagement.

 

It's not that England don't press, they are just more passive in general. This certainly won't be a surprising revelation to anyone who has watched them at Euro 2020.

This passive nature doesn't necessarily lend itself to many people's idea of exciting football, but it seems to be having a real impact…

How it all comes together

Whether or not Southgate's masterplan was to shutdown the opposition and rely on their own clinical finishing, only he can say, though it's worked out that way so far.

Again, generally speaking England games haven't exactly been packed with excitement for the neutrals, with their matches averaging just 15.8 shots – that's the lowest of any side in the Euros dating back to at least 1980, with the next being Germany (2021) on 18.5.

Seemingly England's low defensive line – which has often comprised of a back three – coupled with two defensive-minded deep-lying midfielders has contributed to England facing just two shots on target per game, second only to Italy (1.8).

 

On top of that, 43 per cent of their shots faced have been outside of the box, the fourth-highest share of all teams at the tournament, and that undoubtedly plays a role in England's 0.07 xG against per shot being the lowest at Euro 2020 ahead of the semis. Additionally, their 2.95 xG against and two Opta-defined 'big chances' conceded are the lowest.

Of course, that would all be for nothing if England couldn't put the ball away at the other end, yet their 21.6 conversion rate is the highest of all 24 teams prior to the final three matches and shows just how efficient they've been, despite Harry Kane coming in for significant criticism earlier in the tournament.

 

Nevertheless, England's excellence at the back so far is by no means a guarantee of success on Wednesday. It only takes one moment of genius or calamity to ruin all the hard work, and that could come from anywhere, anyone.

But the data helps paint a picture of structural effectiveness in the team, as well as a collective quality that is breeding consistency.

While the relevance of the past certainly pales in comparison to what comes next, it's undoubtedly comforting to Southgate and England fans alike that they've had such a solid foundation to this point.

However, it will be defined by what happens in the next five days: crumble and England will fade, or stand firm and the Three Lions will surely roar again.

Will Kylian Mbappe move to Real Madrid?

Will Lionel Messi leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain?

The star pair are dominating headlines in the transfer market.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO MADRID?

Real Madrid believe they will be able to prise Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain if the Ligue 1 giants sign Lionel Messi, according to the front page of Wednesday's Diario AS.

Mbappe – entering the final year of his contract – has long been tipped to join LaLiga powerhouse Madrid, while Liverpool have also been linked.

Messi is out of contract at Barca and while the Catalan club remain confident of re-signing the superstar captain, PSG and Madrid are hoping to make the most of the situation.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal have joined PSG and Atletico Madrid in the chase to sign Lyon star Houssem Aouar, reports Le10 Sport.

- Calciomercato says Serie A champions Inter and Ligue 1 outfit Lyon are both eyeing Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Milan have increased their contract offer for star midfielder Franck Kessie, per Gazzetta dello Sport. Having already lost Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu, the Rossoneri are keen to re-sign Kessie, who has been linked with PSG, Tottenham, Arsenal and Inter.

Manchester City are interested in Napoli star Piotr Zielinski, according to Tuttosport. Napoli are believed to be willing to listen to offers. Premier League champions City have also been linked with the likes of Tottenham's Harry Kane, Inter forward Romelu Lukaku, Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland and Madrid defender Raphael Varane in the transfer window.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga and Varane both moving to Manchester United, while not impossible is "remote in reality", according to Sky Sports.

Gareth Southgate challenged his England players to keep making history ahead of their Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark.

Southgate's men are aiming to win a first major honour for 55 years but have consistently breached new ground of late.

The last-16 win over Germany was the first time they had beaten a country with a world title to their name in a knockout fixture since the 1966 World Cup final.

A 4-0 quarter-final thrashing of Ukraine made it consecutive semi-finals on the back of the run Southgate masterminded at Russia 2018 – the first time England have accomplished that since going close in the 1968 European Championship.

Nevertheless, that five-and-a-half-decade drought is the one statistic that continues to loom, but one from which the manager suggested his young and gifted squad can feel liberated by.

"We don't have as good a football history as we like to believe sometimes," he told a pre-match news conference. "These players are making massive strides."

"We've broken down barriers in this tournament and we have another opportunity to do that tomorrow.

"We have never been to a European Championship final so we can be the first England team to do that which is really exciting."

There will be 60,000 fans at Wembley on Wednesday – an increased capacity on previous matches in London at Euro 2020.

The win against Germany was celebrated with a lap of honour but Southgate has witnessed a more muted reception to progress among his players when compared to their Russian adventure.

 

"It definitely feels different this time," he said. "The World Cup was a very emotional journey for us. We hadn't won a knockout game for 12 years or something like that.

"The night with Colombia where we won that knockout game, won a penalty shoot-out. It was highly emotional.

"Then the quarter-final with Sweden, again, the first time in a semi-final for [22] years.

"It has felt different this time in that we expected ourselves to get to this point. We've had that internal aim.

"We've not been our celebrating the victories in the same way. We've moved on to the next challenge quickly and it was the same in Rome. Our focus was very quickly on the game against Denmark."

Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand suggested the pressure of expectation from the home crowd could get to England, but Southgate was again keen to emphasise a sense of opportunity.

"We've had expectation during the whole tournament and I think we have dealt with that really well, in the opening game [against Croatia] for example, and in the game with Germany," he added.

"But we've never been to a final so the pressure is what you choose it to be really. I think it is a motivating thing, it is a challenge for us.

"If we were a country that had won five titles and had to match what had gone before I might feel differently – but we are not."

Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is hoping to turnaround a wretched individual record against England captain Harry Kane in Wednesday's Euro 2020 semi-final.

Kane has put a slow start to the tournament behind him during the knockout stages, following his game-sealing header in the 2-0 last-16 win over Germany with a brace in last weekend's 4-0 quarter-final demolition of Ukraine in Rome.

Leicester City keeper Schmeichel knows all about Kane's lethal qualities from their duels in the Premier League.

Indeed, Kane's 14 goals past Schmeichel are more than he has managed against any other goalkeeper across all competitions.

One of those was in a 4-2 win for Spurs at the King Power Stadium on the final day of the Premier League season that denied Leicester a Champions League place.

On the other hand, Schmeichel went unbeaten by Kane or any other England player when Denmark drew 0-0 at home with the Three Lions in last season's Nations League before winning 1-0 at Wembley, where their semi-final will also take place.

"He's a world class striker, someone who can always guarantee you a lot of goals during the season," Schmeichel told a pre-match news conference.

"He's a very dedicated and professional player. He knows where to position himself, he's very instinctive.

"I would say that he is among the top three or top five strikers in the world."

 

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who shares a club dressing room with Kane, ranks him even more highly.

However, the Denmark midfielder insists he will have no special tips for his defensive colleagues.

"I don't need to introduce Harry Kane for anyone," he said.

"Behind closed doors he is very professional. He's good at what he does, he's very dedicated.

"He's just an incredible football player. So, for me, Harry is the best player in that position.

"It is an honour to play with him every day but I'm sure that, with the defence we have, it's going to be tough for him."

 

Denmark head coach Kasper Hjulmand does not see his team as underdogs and hopes the pressure of having 60,000 expectant home supporters can work against England.

"There are some psychological factors in the game," he said. "They have a lot of supporters, but we also have to remember that they have a lot of pressure and expectations.

"I don't think it is going to be so easy for them. We believe that we can take advantage of the pressure that England feel."

The prize for England would be a first major final appearance since their 1966 World Cup triumph, with the prospect prompting plenty of excitement across the country.

The hopeful refrain of "It's coming home" from the Euro 96 song 'Three Lions' has become something of a rallying call, although Schmeichel – whose father Peter helped Denmark to a shock success at Euro 92 – could not resist poking a little fun at his adopted country's expense.

"Has it ever been home?" he chuckled.

"I don't know, have you ever won it? Was [1966] not the World Cup?"

Schmeichel added: "To be honest, I haven't given any thought to what it would mean to stop England, rather than what it would do for Denmark – the joy it would bring to a country of five million people, competing with the nations we're competing with.

"I've not really thought much about England's feelings on this."

Euro 2020 is disappearing before our eyes, with the delayed tournament somehow already at the business end as we head into the final three matches.

It's been a thrill ride since the very beginning. From Italy making a sparkling start and Denmark rallying after Christian Eriksen's medical emergency, to France falling at the last 16 and England reaching the semi-finals of a second successive major tournament.

Italy, England, Spain and Denmark are all that's left as Euro 2020 enters its final week, and at this point it seems particularly tricky to call, particularly between first three.

But, given how integral statistics are to football these days, data can potentially give you edge when attempting to predict certain outcomes, and this is where Stats Perform's Artificial Intelligence team comes in as they've used Opta's extensive data reserves to quantify each semi-finalist's chances of winning tournament.

Every match has been run through the Stats Perform Euros Prediction model to calculate the estimated probability of the outcome (win, draw or loss). This uses odds from betting markets and Stats Perform team rankings, which are based on historical and recent performances and also takes into consideration the strength of each side's opponents.

The games are then simulated 40,000 times and analysed, providing the AI team with a percentage for each nation, showing the probability of them ultimately lifting the trophy at Wembley on July 11.

Without any further ado, let's take a look at the results…

Denmark (8.8 per cent chance of winning Euro 2020)

The fact Denmark even got out of their group was an achievement in itself as they became the first team to ever reach the knockout phase having lost their opening two matches. Yet, here we are.

The Danes are into the last four for the first time since winning the competition in 1992 and have really hit their stride since their two early defeats, with only Spain (12) outscoring Kasper Hjulmands' men until this point (11) – that haul is the most they've ever managed at a major tournament.

 

Denmark have projected a real sense of unity since Eriksen collapsed against Finland, and it's hard to believe they will fear anyone at this point.

Nevertheless, England should represent trickier opposition than the likes of Wales and the Czech Republic, which is perhaps reflected by the fact their 8.8 per cent chance of winning the title is the lowest of the four remaining teams.

But if standout performers such as Joakim Maehle, Simon Kjaer and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg continue to deliver the goods, who's to say they cannot emulate the 1992 vintage?

 

Spain (23.1 per cent)

Luis Enrique's Spain have been a fascinating watch at Euro 2020, partly because they somehow manage to flitter between exceptional and unrefined. Their erratic nature has become one of the sideshows of the tournament.

For example, only the Netherlands (53) have forced more high turnovers than Spain, while La Roja are the sole side to break the 100 barrier in terms of sequences of 10 or more passes (147). They only allow their opponents 8.3 passes on average in the defensive third before they initiate a defensive action, indicating they are the most intense pressers at the tournament, and their haul of 12 goals is more than anyone else.

 

Yet, their xGA (expected goals against) of 6.8 is comfortably the worst of the four teams left, and their xG underperformance of 3.6 is the biggest of all 24 teams. In short, these points suggest that not only have Spain been lucky to only concede five times, they are also the most wasteful team at Euro 2020.

 

That's obviously not helped by the fact Gerard Moreno (no goals from 3.3 xG) and Alvaro Morata (two goals from 3.95 xG) are among the three players with the worst xG underperformance records in the competition.

However, they've got this far and have still crafted plenty of goal-scoring opportunities, with their record of 25 big chances a tournament-high. If the penny drops with Spain's forwards and they start to convert in line with their xG, they could have real joy.

 

England (29.1 per cent)

It would be fair to say England's performances in the group stage, although not alarming, certainly didn't inspire a huge amount of confidence as they scored just two goals. But in the two games since, they have netted six times and attracted significant acclaim.

The fact they don't necessarily stand out in many specific team metrics (perhaps bar 10+ passing sequences – 98, second to Spain) is arguably partly down to how flexible Gareth Southgate's team have been in their approach to specific games. For example, their passes per defensive action (PPDA) dropped from 13.7 against Scotland to 25.9 against Germany, suggesting they were concerned about the German midfield playing through their press and instead sat back more in order to cut off passing routes.

Of course, adapting to your opponents is hardly revolutionary, most teams do it to a certain extent, but in a tournament where Spain and Italy have almost religiously stuck to principals and formations that govern their setups, England have chopped and changed.

 

It's clearly worked as well given the fact the Three Lions have equalled a major-tournament record of five successive clean sheets, while their 2.95 xGA (with no goals conceded) leads the way at Euro 2020.

With their defence seemingly watertight and Harry Kane finding some confidence with three goals in two games, England look in great shape. If our prediction model took into consideration that all of the remaining games are to be at Wembley, they'd likely be a bit closer to top spot.

 

Italy (38.9 per cent)

It seems like a long time ago now that Italy came into Euro 2020 as – some claimed at the time – unknown quantities. The common conception was that their 27-match unbeaten run coming into the tournament was misleading because most of the games were said to have been against sub-optimal opposition.

Well, they are now at 32 games unbeaten having won or drawn all of their five matches to this point at Euro 2020, setting a new national record in the process.

But, more than that, they've been utterly joyful to watch. They are relentless in attack, as highlighted by their tournament-leading shot (11) and goal-ending high turnovers (three), but also impressive at the back having only conceded one non-penalty goal.

 

Built around a solid core of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella that expertly blends craft and guile arguably unlike any team at Euro 2020, Roberto Mancini's turned Italy into a side that's not only been generally fun to watch, but also effective.

Spain represent a completely different challenge to any other side Italy have faced thus far, yet Luis Enrique's men have afforded their opponents plenty of chances. The Azzurri have been consistent throughout in attack, as demonstrated by their 11 goals from 10.3 xG. Without the one own goal in their favour, it would be 10 from 10.3 xG.

 

Italy have shown no major weaknesses en route to the semi-finals, and as such our model suggests it is they who have the greatest chance of success this week.

Lionel Messi became a free agent last week.

Initial reports suggested he had agreed to a new two-deal with Barca.

The 34-year-old told Barcelona last year he wanted to leave but opted to remain.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI BEING EYED BY DUO

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are both monitoring Lionel Messi's transfer position after becoming a free agent, according to the front page of Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo.

Messi's Barcelona contract expired on June 30, but he has been widely expected to re-sign with the LaLiga giants, who need to manage their finances.

However, with Messi still unattached, Ligue 1 powerhouse PSG and Premier League champions City are continuing to eye the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN reports Sergio Ramos, fresh from his Real Madrid exit, will have a medical with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday and join as a free agent.

Juventus remain interested in signing France international midfielder Paul Pogba from Manchester United, according to 90min.

- Marca reports United are leading the race to sign Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga, ahead of Madrid and PSG.

City may still turn to Barca forward Antoine Griezmann, if they fail to land Tottenham's Harry Kane, claims Mundo Deportivo. City have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Inter star Romelu Lukaku.

- New Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo is interested in signing Benfica's Haris Seferovic reports the Mirror. Benfica are looking to sell the Swiss striker.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Juventus have not initiated any move for Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic despite links of a return to his former club. Juve continue to be linked with Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli, who is also reportedly wanted by Arsenal.

Harry Kane has described Nuno Espirito Santo as a "great manager" but will hold off from speaking to his new Tottenham boss until after England's Euro 2020 campaign.

The 27-year-old's club future has been a hot topic of debate after admitting in May he feels at a "crossroads" in his career following another trophyless campaign with Spurs. 

Kane, who has spent the past 17 years with the north London club aside from four loan spells away, is a rumoured target for Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Keeping hold of the prolific striker will be a top priority for Nuno, who was last week confirmed as Jose Mourinho's permanent successor.

But Kane has yet to discuss his future with the ex-Wolves coach as he is eager to focus solely on helping England to Euro 2020 glory on home soil over the next week.

"Whenever a new manager comes in, I guess there's a level of excitement around the club," Kane, who has scored three goals in England's run to the semi-finals, told talkSPORT.

"Obviously, I've not been there and not had any contact with him. I'm away with England now and my full focus is on here.

"Hopefully, we've got a week left. He's a great manager and did a great job at getting Wolves playing a really good way.

"Let's get back and I'm sure we'll be in contact after the tournament."

 

Kane finished as the Premier League's top scorer last season with 23 goals, making him the third player to win the award three times after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer.

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

Those 37 goals involvements were his most across a league campaign in his career, while his 14 assists doubled a previous high of seven in 2016-17.

Kane is under contract for another three years and new sporting director Fabio Paratici stressed on Monday that Spurs have no intention of selling the "special" player.

Asked about the comments made by Paratici, Kane said: "Of course, as a player you want to be wanted, you want to feel like you're loved, which I do.

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

"To get praise from big people from football is great, it gives you confidence, it gives you motivation so of course it’s nice to hear."

 

While Kane has yet to speak with Nuno or Paratici, he has been in dialogue with Mourinho since the Portuguese was sacked by Tottenham in April.

"He's been texting me," Kane said of the now-Roma boss. "It's common knowledge we have a great relationship and got on really well.

"I really respect him as a manager and person. I wish him all the best at Roma. It is great to have one of the best managers in the world on your side.

"I will always respect him and hopefully be in contact with him for the rest of my career."

Tottenham have a new head coach and managing director of football, but they insist they are not looking to make a break with the club's most high-profile player – Harry Kane.

Rumours of Kane's impending exit have swirled for months, with Spurs reportedly rejecting a £100million bid from Premier League champions Manchester City last month as the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain also circle.

But former Juventus executive Fabio Paratici – now managing director of football at Tottenham – heaped praise on Kane, saying Spurs want the England captain to remain as Nuno Espirito Santo takes over in London.

"Keeping him is not just my goal, it's our goal as a club," Paratici told Sky Sports. 

"I can't wait to watch him play live, I've been really lucky in the past years because I've watched a lot of top players and strikers, like Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain, and many more which now I forgot about.

"Right now, he's one of the best strikers in the world. He's a complete player, really special. His physique is that of a real number nine, a true poacher, but he also has an incredibly refined technique. ...

"He's a team player, but he's a finisher at the same time, so really I believe he is among the top three in the world."

All of those attributes of course make Kane among the most sought-after players in the transfer market as well. 

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy made clear in an interview posted to the team's official website last month that he believes his duty is to "protect the club," which he claims were hit harder than any other Premier League club in terms of lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Statements like that and Kane's reported desire to leave on the heels of a seventh-placed Premier League finish have made the 27-year-old a sought-after commodity even though three years remain on his deal. 

Kane was asked about his situation during a media conference at Euro 2020 and said his entire focus was on the tournament. 

Along those lines, Paratici confirmed he has not spoken with Kane since being appointed at Tottenham last month. 

"I haven't heard from him yet because I don't want to bother the players who are busy at the Euros, it doesn't seem fair to me," he said. "They're focused on their own goals with their national teams."

Denmark and England have joined Italy and Spain in the semi-finals of Euro 2020, with the Czech Republic and Ukraine sent packing following their respective defeats.

England seemed to back up pre-tournament suggestions of them being among the favourites when they dumped Germany out in the last 16, and they picked up where they left off to make light work of Ukraine.

It was a slightly trickier occasion for Denmark in Baku earlier in the day, though ultimately the efforts of Patrik Schick weren't enough for the Czechs as they failed to emulate the 2004 vintage that reached the last four.

Following the conclusion of the quarter-finals, Stats Perform looks at the key data takeaways from Saturday's action.

 

Ukraine 0-4 England: Record-breaking Three Lions ruthless in big win

The odds were stacked against Ukraine ahead of this clash in Rome, but even the most ardent England fans probably wouldn't have predicted such a comprehensive win.

England quickly had the advantage as Raheem Sterling sliced open the defence and fed Harry Kane to open the scoring with three minutes and 32 seconds played, their earliest Euros goal since 2004 (2:25).

Ukraine may have taken some encouragement from the fact England's previous record when scoring in the first four minutes of a Euros game equated to no wins from five matches, but the game was effectively put beyond them within a four minutes of the restart – Harry Maguire and Kane nodding home Luke Shaw deliveries.

 

The Manchester United full-back reached three assists for the tournament in the process, tying an England record for a single European Championship (David Beckham, Euro 2000), while Kane's second of the game means he is level with Alan Shearer on nine major-tournament goals for the Three Lions, behind only Gary Lineker (10).

Jordan Henderson then completed the scoring off the bench with his first senior goal on his 62nd appearance, the longest ever wait by a player before breaking their duck for the Three Lions.

Ukraine's inability to breach the England defence meant the Three Lions have now kept seven successive clean sheets for the first time in their history.

But most impressively of all, this was England's biggest-ever win at the Euros and largest victory in the knockouts of any major tournament.

 

Czech Republic 1-2 Denmark: Schick ties with Ronaldo but Danes seal historic semi-final

Given their run in Euro 2020 has come against the backdrop of Christian Eriksen's health emergency on matchday one, it's little wonder Denmark have seemingly become the neutrals' favourites.

They moved a step close to emulating their remarkable Euro 92 success as they edged past the Czech Republic. Their 29-year gap between Euros semi-finals is the longest ever by a single nation in the competitions.

They prevailed despite the efforts of Patrik Schick. The striker got the Czechs back into the encounter with a tidy second-half finish that made him only the fourth player to score five goals in a single major tournament for Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia, also drawing him level with Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the golden boot.

 

Earlier, though, Denmark had enjoyed a great start as Thomas Delaney headed in Denmark's second-earliest Euros goal (4:52) to level the country's all-time record for goals (10) at a single major tournament.

That record was then broken just before the break. Kasper Dolberg became Denmark's joint-top scorer in Euros history (three) with the effort that proved decisive, though Joakim Maehle's assist got most of the attention.

His outside-of-the-boot cross took him to three goal involvements (two goals, one assist) in his past three Denmark games, more than in his other 12.

Denmark certainly didn't have it all their own way, with the Czechs' 16 shots more than they managed in any other Euro 2020 game, but Kasper Hjulmand's men held firm to secure their passage to Wembley.

 

 

Harry Maguire talked up the belief in the England camp and said his side will not settle with reaching a first European Championship semi-final in 25 years.

The Three Lions eased to a 4-0 win over Ukraine in Saturday's semi-final at the Stadio Olimpico to set up a showdown with Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday.

England lost their most recent semi-final appearance in the competition on penalties to Germany in 1996, while also losing at that stage to Croatia in the 2018 World Cup.

On the back of that extra-time disappointment at the hands of Croatia three years ago, Maguire is desperate to go one better this time around with victory against Denmark.

"It's a great feeling. Back-to-back semi-finals at a major tournament is a great achievement," Maguire, who scored the second of England's four goals, told BBC Sport. 

"I don't want to be a party pooper. We have another big game coming up. We want to go further this time than at the World Cup. 

"It is a great feeling that we are here and the way we have done it shows the progress we are making. Long may the improvement continue.

"It is hard to soak it up when you have another big game coming and you know who you are playing and when. 

"There's a great atmosphere in the dressing room, but we will wake up tomorrow and be focused again. This group are not settling for a semi-final, we want to go further."

 

Harry Kane opened the scoring for England inside the first four minutes – the Three Lions' earliest European Championship goal since Michael Owen against Portugal in 2004.

England endured a difficult period at the end of the first half after Andriy Shevchenko tweaked Ukraine's system, but Maguire scored 55 seconds into the second half to settle nerves.

Kane's second of the match four minutes later put the game out of Ukraine's reach and substitute Jordan Henderson rounded off the routine win with a fourth just after the hour.

It is only the second time England have scored four goals in a major tournament knockout game, the other instance being the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany.

"We have great belief in the dressing room," Maguire added. "The first half was tough. We got the early goal we wanted but they caused us problems with their change of shape. 

"The second goal settled us down a lot and from there we controlled the game. The third and fourth were deserved on the night. It was an impressive performance. 

"We spoke about being better on attacking set-plays. We hadn't scored one before the two tonight. It's nice to chip in with a goal but the main thing is the victory."

 

Kane's double made it three for the striker at Euro 2020 and nine in major tournaments for England, moving him level with Alan Shearer and behind only Gary Lineker (10).

The Tottenham star finished as the Golden Boot winner at the 2018 World Cup, but he is hopeful of a different outcome to that semi-final heartbreak this time around.

"What a great performance in a big game," he told BBC Sport. "We were favourites, there was a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations. The performance was top-drawer. 

"We set out a vision before the tournament of what we want to achieve. We're knocking it off step by step. The World Cup was great but we fell short, and in the Nations League.

"Now it's about getting over the line, the next step that we have got to do on Wednesday."

England have kept five clean sheets in a row from the start of the tournament, something only Italy in 1990 have previously managed at a World Cup or Euros.

But Kane is not getting too carried away ahead of facing Denmark, 2-1 winners over the Czech Republic in Friday's other quarter-final, on home soil next week.

"Another clean sheet, four goals, it was a perfect night for us," he said. "We're building on [clean sheets]. 

"We have a great unit here from front to back. It's a vital part of winning games and tournaments. The job is not done yet. There's a lot more football to play."

Harry Kane scored twice as England eased to a 4-0 victory over Ukraine at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday to set up a Euro 2020 semi-final with Denmark on home soil.

England were riding the crest of a wave after beating Germany in the last 16 and, in their first game away from Wembley this tournament, took the lead inside four minutes when Raheem Sterling played in Kane.

That was England's earliest European Championship goal since Michael Owen against Portugal in 2004 and the Three Lions added two more quickfire goals to their tally in the first five minutes of the second half through Harry Maguire and Kane.

Substitute Jordan Henderson's first international goal gave Gareth Southgate further reason to cheer as his side kept their fifth clean sheet in a row from the start of the tournament, something only Italy have previously managed at a World Cup or Euros.

Sterling and Kane scored in England's last-16 win against Germany and the pair combined for their side's early opener in Rome, the Manchester City winger threading the ball through for his team-mate to poke past Georgi Bushchan.

England had failed to win any of the previous five European Championship games in which they had scored in the opening four minutes and they were given a warning when Jordan Pickford was tested by a Roman Yaremchuk strike.

The Three Lions continued to dominate possession but their only other on-target attempt of the first half came via a powerful Declan Rice drive that was routinely dealt with by Bushchan.

Ukraine were making just their second quarter-final appearance at a major tournament and ended the opening period on top, though they found themselves further behind 55 seconds into the second half when Maguire headed home.

Luke Shaw set up that goal and also played in the cross that Kane headed through the legs of Bushchan for England's third, effectively killing off the contest with 40 minutes to play in the Italian capital.

England continued to search for goals and Henderson, just six minutes after replacing Rice, made the most of some terrible Ukraine defending to head in a fourth for Southgate's side, who had little trouble in seeing out the win.

Lionel Messi is out of contract but tipped to re-sign with Barcelona.

However, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly not prepared to give up on prising Messi to Paris.

Messi's future could become clearer after the Copa America.

 

TOP STORY – PSG STILL DREAMING OF MESSI

Paris Saint-Germain are trying to trump Barcelona's offer to Lionel Messi, according to Diario AS.

Messi is officially a free agent following the expiration of his Barcelona contract and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with PSG and Manchester City.

While Messi has been tipped to re-sign at Camp Nou, PSG are reportedly refusing to give up hope on signing the Argentina superstar.

Amid uncertainty over Real Madrid and Liverpool target Kylian Mbappe, PSG have also been eyeing Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Manchester United are considering a swap deal involving Paul Pogba and Madrid defender Raphael Varane. The Red Devils are interested in signing Varane to bolster their defence, while Pogba has long been linked with Madrid and Juve.

Barca are stepping up their interest in Sampdoria and Denmark star Mikkel Damsgaard, claims Mundo Deportivo.

- Ajax star Dusan Tadic has emerged as a target for Milan following the departure of Hakan Calhanoglu, says Calciomercato.

Eduardo Camavinga's Rennes departure is inevitable, according to Le Parisien. The France sensation has been linked with Madrid, PSG, United, Arsenal and Bayern Munich among others.

- The Transfer Window Podcast says free agent Sergio Ramos has been offered to Chelsea. After leaving Madrid, Ramos is reportedly poised to join PSG. At Stamford Bridge, Champions League holders Chelsea are eyeing Borussia Dortmund's in-demand forward Erling Haaland.

Are Manchester United set for a busy transfer window?

After finishing runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League and losing in the Europa League final, United are keen to strengthen.

A trio of stars are reportedly on the club's shortlist.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT THREE MORE PLAYERS

Manchester United are targeting three more signings this off-season, according to The Guardian.

United have agreed a deal to bring Jadon Sancho to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants more.

The Red Devils are reportedly closing in on Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, though Villarreal's Pau Torres has also been linked, with Tottenham star Harry Kane and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice also on the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- Italy and Roma full-back Leonardo Spinazzola is attracting interest from Madrid following his exploits at Euro 2020, reports Calciomercato. LaLiga rivals Barcelona have also been linked.

- After agreeing to sell Sancho, Dortmund are eyeing PSV's Donyell Malen and RB Leipzig defender Marcel Halstenberg, reports Sport Bild.

Paris Saint-Germain are planning to announce the arrivals of Sergio Ramos, Inter star Achraf Hakimi and former Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma within 15 days, according to Fabrizio Romano. Ramos has agreed to sign a two-year deal in Paris.

- Antena 2 claims James Rodriguez is in talks with Serie A runners-up Milan over a move from Everton.

United are prioritising a contract extension for star Bruno Fernandes, says Romano. Fernandes has flourished since arriving from Sporting CP.

Madrid have joined Milan in the race to sign United and Portugal full-back Diogo Dalot, claims Calciomercato.

PSG have emerged as the only likely suitor for Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo after United signed Sancho, reports Calciomercato. However, a move depends on whether Kylian Mbappe leaves PSG for Madrid or Liverpool.

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