Raheem Sterling is delighted to be playing a major part for England after he bookended a difficult time with Manchester City by scoring the winner against Croatia.

England started their Euro 2020 Group D campaign with a 1-0 victory at Wembley, Sterling netting in the 57th minute.

It was the 26-year-old's 19th direct goal involvement (13 goals, six assists) in his last 17 appearances for England, while it was his first strike in a major tournament.

Sterling endured a difficult end to the season at City, and regularly found himself out of Pep Guardiola's first XI, though he did start in the Champions League final.

Yet the former Liverpool man, who has been rumoured to be unhappy with his playing time at City, is thrilled to be in the England camp.

"It feels good. I've always said, if I play at Wembley in a major tournament, then I'm scoring, it's in my back garden, I have to score! It's great to finally do that," he told BBC Sport.

"There's a lot of different reasons why I haven't scored for my club, that's totally irrelevant now. I'm here with England, enjoying my football and I'm just happy to score.

"It's been a long season for me, I couldn't wait to get here, couldn't wait to get started because I knew it would be a positive one.

"It's great to get off with a win, that's the most important thing, now we've got the other games to look forward to and we go again."

Sterling – who has played 23 games for England at Wembley without losing, more than any other player – was selected ahead of Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford, but asked if he felt the need to justify Gareth Southgate's choice, he quipped: "Have I justified my selection? I'm trying!"

The winner was teed up by the excellent Kalvin Phillips, who put in a dominant performance in midfield on his major tournament debut.

Phillips completed 95 per cent of his 20 attempted passes in Croatia's half, completing 31 of 33 overall, and dovetailed brilliantly with Declan Rice.

"It was very enjoyable, really warm for a start, it took a toll on us towards the end of the game," Phillips told BBC Sport.

"Obviously a great result, very happy with my performance but there's two more group games left and I need to perform as well as that, if not better.

"I'm just laid back, that's the kind of person I am, regardless of what's been thrown at me I just try to take it in my path and relax as much as possible. If I didn't have the team or coaching staff around me to make me feel like that I don't think it'd be possible.

"I love playing with Declan, I love playing in the role where I can go forward and I know Declan is behind me backing me up in case I get beat. There's a lot of talk about me and Declan fighting for a position but when you look at it we play really well together."

Southgate added: "Kalvin is a player who is so understated, He's had a fantastic start to his international career, he was immense throughout the game, as they all were."

Achraf Hakimi is a player in demand following his first season with Inter.

Hakimi helped Inter to Serie A glory for the first time in 10 years, but his future could be away from San Siro.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly determined to beat Chelsea and Bayern Munich to the full-back.

 

TOP STORY – PSG CHASING HAKIMI

Paris Saint-Germain remain interested in signing Inter star Achraf Hakimi, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

PSG had a €60million (£51m) bid turned down by Serie A champions Inter, who are facing financial problems due to the coronavirus pandemic amid speculation over stars Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Alessandro Bastoni and Hakimi.

Ligue 1 giants PSG are still keen on Hakimi as Champions League winners Chelsea hold talks with the Morocco international's agent, while Bayern Munich have also been linked.

 

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Bernardo Silva wants to leave Premier League champions Manchester City, reports Duncan Castles. The Portugal international has already been linked with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona after finding himself out of favour under Pep Guardiola.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Gianluigi Buffon is close to re-joining Parma. Buffon will leave Juventus in the off-season and the Italy great is reportedly on track to return to Parma, where the 43-year-old emerged from the youth team in 1995 before eventually moving to Turin in 2001. Parma were relegated from Serie A in 2020-21.

Arsenal have turned their attention to Real Betis attacker Nabil Fekir but Diario AS says the Gunners and LaLiga side remain apart in his transfer valuation.

- Calciomercato claims there are still concerns over Paulo Dybala's future at Juventus. Dybala is out of contract in 2022 and no closer to renewing after struggling for game time. The possible departure of Cristiano Ronaldo – who has been linked with PSG and Manchester United – could solidify Dybala's position in Turin.

Leicester City are the latest team to join the race for Salzburg's Patson Daka, according to the Mirror. Liverpool, Chelsea and RB Leipzig have also been linked.

- The Mirror reports Everton and Leeds United are considering moves for veteran Real Madrid star Marcelo.

Raheem Sterling still has the determination and strength of character to make an impact on the biggest stage, according to former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha.

Sterling is expected to start England's opening Euro 2020 game against their 2018 World Cup conquerors Croatia at Wembley, even though his club form dwindled during the second half of the 2020-21 campaign.

So often an automatic pick during the Pep Guardiola era, Sterling fell out of favour for Manchester City as they continued their progress towards a third Premier League title in four seasons.

The 26-year-old has only scored once apiece for club and country since February, with rumours over a deterioration of relations with Guardiola and speculation surrounding whether or not he will sign a new contract at the Etihad Stadium providing unhelpful background noise.

However, even allowing for the impressive attacking options at his disposal – including Phil Foden, who has edged Sterling out of the left-wing berth at City – England boss Gareth Southgate still counts the former Liverpool player as a key man.

"I think he'll pull through, he's pulled through difficult situations before," Onuoha told Stats Perform.

"For the last two or three years, Raheem's been playing so well that that's been his position and nobody's been able to [get him out of the City team].

"But a slight drop off in performances, for whatever reason, grants somebody else an opportunity, and [Foden] took the opportunity and he's played exceptionally well.

"I think Raheem understands that because he's somebody who's been at the club long enough. He's happy at the club, it seems. I think he will sign a new long-term deal because it sounds like there's discussions about it.

"This is somebody who, when Fernandinho was not on the field, has worn the captain's armband. So he understands it, he understands the manager and he understands he wants to play and make a big difference."

Since featuring prominently in England's run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, where Sterling's tireless running along Harry Kane did not yield any returns in terms of getting on the scoresheet, he has underlined his importance to Southgate.

Sterling has 12 goals for the Three Lions across all matches post-Russia 2018, bettered only by skipper Harry Kane (15).

When penalties are taken out of the equation, Sterling actually comes out on top by 11 to 10, while his six assists are second to Kane's nine.

Nevertheless, this sample size spans almost three years, taking in a purple patch of career-best form in 2019 that the player is now straining to rediscover.

A surprise recall for City's 1-0 Champions League final defeat to Chelsea in Porto last month proved underwhelming, but Onuoha pointed towards Sterling's inclusion in the EFL Cup final win over Tottenham in April.

He turned in an all-action performance for Guardiola, making five attempts on goal and winning the free-kick that led to Aymeric Laporte heading the only goal.

"There were points in the season where people were questioning his performances and then I remember him playing in the League Cup final and I thought he was exceptional," Onuoha said.

"He didn't look like somebody who was lacking confidence, he looked like somebody who was desperate to play well enough to guarantee himself more football going forward.

"And I think when you are driven and competitive in the way that he is, it's a shame that you're not playing [for your club], but you kind of understand it.

"As well as that, it's not something that puts a weight on your shoulders; it's something that inspires you to get better.

"At City, there are people who thrive under that type of pressure - as a consequence, it makes them perform better. I think Raheem falls right into that category."

Raheem Sterling has been awarded an MBE for his services to racial equality in sport, with England team-mate Jordan Henderson similarly recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Manchester City winger has campaigned consistently against racism in football, most notably since a social media post in December 2018 after he was abused during a match at Chelsea.

Sterling highlighted the contrast in certain aspects of media coverage given to black and white footballers and was widely praised for making his feelings public.

He has since leant his weight to initiatives such as the United Nations #FightRacism campaign, along with launching his own charitable foundation.

“Receiving this honour is a fantastic feeling and a proud moment - not just for myself but for my family and friends," the 26-year-old said.

"I am grateful to have been recognised but my priority is to try to help to educate society and myself. If it doesn’t start from within, then there’s no way you can help others. I’m learning every day.

"My motivation for racial equality is to get people to understand the difficulties people from diverse backgrounds face and create an environment where everybody is equal."

The issue of protest in favour of racial equality has dominated the build-up to England's Euro 2020 campaign, with a section of home supporters booing their team for taking a knee in solidarity before kick-off.

Premier League teams have made the gesture - one synonymous with campaigns for racial justice going back to the days of Martin Luther King and, more recently, the Black Lives Matter movement - before all games since last year's coronavirus shutdown, with Sterling a vocal early supporter.

"I feel we are starting to make a step in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do. There are still a lot of things we can get better at as a society, such as social media with people taking more accountability," Sterling said.

"I think that is a major factor in achieving the ultimate goal of racial equality. We also need to support young people and give them opportunities to show what they are capable of achieving.

"I’ve launched a foundation for underprivileged kids from deprived backgrounds. It’s something that I’m really excited to work on because I can relate to it and I will give 100 per cent.

"If I can help to change one or two lives then I’ve done a massive thing there. If you want to make change then it has to start from yourself."

Liverpool captain Henderson was given an MBE for his services to football, having followed up 2018-19 Champions League success with the Premier League title in 2019-20, along with his charitable efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Henderson was a leading figure in captains from Premier League clubs establishing the #PlayersTogether initiative to support NHS Charities Together.

"There are many privileges that come from playing professional football, but having a platform to promote a charitable cause such as #PlayersTogether and NHS Charities Together is as big a privilege as any," Henderson said.

"It's important for me to state that although the honour has been issued to me personally, the credit must be shared to a far larger group of people and I accept this in the knowledge I was part of something special, rather than the reason for it.

"The other Premier League captains were the catalyst and the rest of the players, including my own teammates at Liverpool, were a driving force behind the scenes. Huge numbers of football fans, from across the country, also displayed great generosity in donating.

"But the true heroes are the NHS staff; they put themselves in harm’s way to serve and protect us. Therefore I dedicate this to all the nurses, doctors, carers, porters, admin workers, cleaners, security personnel and every single individual who devotes their career and their lives to making the NHS the part of British life we are rightly most proud of as a nation."

Jamaica striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw has given the clearest indication yet that her time at Bordeaux has come to an end amid rumours that she is likely to make a move to England in the offseason.

The Jadon Sancho saga continues.

A move to Manchester United has long been mooted for England international Sancho.

While United and Borussia Dortmund negotiate, could Sancho's future be set to become clearer?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED HAVE OFFER REBUFFED

Manchester United have had their first offer for Jadon Sancho rejected by Borussia Dortmund, according to the BBC.

United have long been interested in Sancho, with the Premier League giants unable to prise Sancho from Dortmund before the 2020-21 season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are back again for England international Sancho, though their initial £67million (€77.9m) bid will not suffice as Dortmund hold out for at least £77.5m (€90.1m).

 

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- If United miss out on Sancho, Sport1 claims the Red Devils will turn to Kingsley Coman after registering their interest in the Bayern Munich winger.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona are interested in Roma and Italy midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini. The 24-year-old is out of contract in 2022 and Liverpool and Atletico Madrid are also eyeing the Italian.

United and Liverpool are set to go head-to-head for Argentina defender Cristian Romero, per Calciomercato. Romero has impressed during his loan spell with Atalanta from Juventus. Atalanta are expected to trigger a clause to sign the 23-year-old permanently as they then look to receive a big fee.

- Ronald Koeman is the key to Barca signing Memphis Depay, reports Mundo Deportivo. Depay is a free agent following the conclusion of his Lyon contract.

Barcelona have offered Antoine Griezmann to Juve, according to Calciomercato. With Cristiano Ronaldo's future in Turin uncertain, Juve could be tempted by Griezmann's availability. Juve have also been linked with Tottenham star Harry Kane, who is reportedly wanted by United, Manchester City, Chelsea, BarcaReal Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Everton continue their search for Carlo Ancelotti's replacement.

One emerging candidate has plenty of familiarity with Liverpool. 

Could the Toffees turn to a former rival? 

 

TOP STORY – BENITEZ IN MERSEYSIDE RETURN?

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has emerged as a strong contender to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, the Daily Mirror and other outlets report. 

As the Merseyside club's interest in former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has faded, majority owner Farhad Moshiri apparently plans to speak to the 61-year-old Benitez. 

The Spaniard was Liverpool's manager from 2004-10, winning the Champions League title in 2005. He spent 18 months in charge of Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional before leaving by mutual consent in January. 

Others under consideration include Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter, former Lille coach Christophe Galtier and former Toffees boss Roberto Martinez

 

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- Chelsea have matched Paris Saint-Germain's offer of about €65million (£56.1m) to Inter for Achraf Hakimi, according to Sky Sport Italia, though Inter value the 22-year-old at €81m (£70m).

- Barcelona see Manchester City's Raheem Sterling as a potential replacement for Ousmane Dembele should the France international depart, according to Sport, and Marca says PSG have interest in Dembele. 

- David de Gea seems inclined to extend his stay at Manchester United and expects to be the first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Dean Henderson, The Sun reports. 

- Atletico Madrid rejected United's £10m bid for England right-back Kieran Trippier, according to Football Insider. 

- Roma are close to completing their long-rumoured signing of Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, Corriere dello Sport claims. 

- West Ham would like to sign Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard on a permanent deal, The Sun reports. 

- Tottenham have had discussions with Borussia Monchengladbach winger Marcus Thuram, RMC Sport reports, and The Athletic says Spurs could also be eyeing RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer

- Former Roma coach Paulo Fonseca has emerged as Spurs' preferred option to replace Jose Mourinho and the sides have discussed a three-year contract, the Guardian reports. 

- Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard could be in the mix for the Crystal Palace opening, the Daily Mirror reports. 

The Premier League's 'big six' will face 30-point deductions and fines of £25million if they sign up to another breakaway competition following the European Super League farce.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham were six of the 12 founding members behind an attempted closed-shop competition that was announced back in April.

The Super League would have guaranteed yearly entry to its founder clubs, who could be joined by a small group of select guest teams.

But the tournament imploded within 48 hours after a huge public backlash led to the six English clubs rescinding their involvement.

While UEFA praised those who accepted they had made a mistake, in early May the governing body confirmed they were to be hit with a five per cent sacrifice of their European competition revenue plus a collective £13m donation to the organisation.

A Club Commitment Declaration was also signed, with the agreement including fines of up to £87m for each team as a deterrent against any future rebellion.

Although reports initially suggested the other 14 Premier League clubs were divided on sanctions, the competition has now outlined its own punishments, which include a similar commitment to avoid future threats of a breakaway.

Firstly, a combined settlement figure of £22m will be paid to the Premier League, but if any of the big six sign up to another similar competition, they will be liable to pay £25m each and face 30-point deductions as per the agreement.

A joint statement from the Premier League and Football Association read: "The six clubs involved in proposals to form a European Super League have today acknowledged once again that their actions were a mistake, and have reconfirmed their commitment to the Premier League and the future of the English game.

"They have wholeheartedly apologised to their fans, fellow clubs, the Premier League and the FA.

"As a gesture of goodwill, the clubs have collectively agreed to make a contribution of £22million which will go towards the good of the game, including new investment in support for fans, grassroots football and community programmes.

"Furthermore, the clubs have agreed to support rule changes so that any similar actions in the future would lead to a 30-point deduction. Each of the six clubs, in that event, was also be subject to an additional £25million fine.

"The Premier League and the FA have worked closely together throughout this process and this agreement brings both investigations into the matter to a conclusion."

Manchester City's ambitions are showing no end after missing out on the Champions League title.

City have been linked with star England pair Harry Kane and Jack Grealish to further bolster the Premier League champions.

But the price tags on the duo from Tottenham and Aston Villa may be their stumbling blocks.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SALE TO FUND KANE AND GREALISH MOVES

Manchester City will offload several fringe players to raise £70million in order to fund their moves for Tottenham star Harry Kane and Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, claims the Daily Mail.

With Sergio Aguero departed, City manager Pep Guardiola wants a frontline striker and those surplus to requirements will reportedly be let go.

First-team players Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez all have admirers and could move on.

But also fringe talent like Yangel Herrera, Ivan Ilic, Jack Harrison, Pedro Porro and Lukas Nmecha, who have had loan spells elsewhere, could be cashed in.

Bernardo Silva has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid in exchange for Saul Niguez, while Juventus are reportedly eyeing Gundogan.

 

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Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are both keen on Inter's Achraf Hakimi and have lodged €60m (£52m) offers, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter's asking price may be higher, while Chelsea may utilise Emerson Palmieri or Andreas Christensen as part of a swap deal.

- Bild says Borussia Dortmund will sell Jadon Sancho to United if they receive a suitable offer by the end of July. Sancho has long been tipped to swap Dortmund for United.

- Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin is being linked with LaLiga champions Atletico and Real Betis by CBS Sport, while Sport have also claimed Juve are interested in the Spaniard, utilising Aaron Ramsey in a swap deal.

Liverpool are looking to replace Georginio Wijnaldum, lining up Roma skipper Lorenzo Pellegrini, according to Corriere dello Sport.

- The Sun claims West Ham are ready this month to step up their bid to sign Jesse Lingard permanently from Manchester United after his excellent loan spell.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Arsenal are set to finalise the details on a new contract for young talent Emile Smith Rowe.

Crystal Palace are closed to appointing former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as their new manager to replace Roy Hodgson, claims The Telegraph.

Chelsea won the Champions League last month but they are not sitting still.

Thomas Tuchel is determined to strengthen his attack as he seeks to dethrone Premier League champions Manchester City in 2021-22.

Erling Haaland is reportedly Chelsea's number one target.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA WANT HAALAND

Chelsea are "working intensely" on a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to the Telegraph.

Haaland has been linked with Real MadridManchester CityBarcelonaParis Saint-GermainManchester UnitedJuventusLiverpoolChelsea and Bayern Munich.

Tottenham's Harry Kane and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku have emerged as options for Chelsea, though the Champions League winners appear set on Haaland.

 

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PSG are poised to sign Italy international goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma on a free transfer, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Out of contract at Milan, Donnarumma was also linked with Juve and Barca.

- The Times says United are moving closer to reaching an agreement with Dortmund for Jadon Sancho. The England international was heavily tipped to move to Old Trafford ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

City are chasing Spurs star Kane and Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, per ESPN. Pep Guardiola's side are willing to buy both if they are able to do so. Kane and Grealish have also been linked with Manchester neighbours United.

Atletico Madrid have offered Saul Niguez to City in exchange for Bernardo Silva, according to the Times. Unsettled at LaLiga champions Atletico, Saul has also reportedly caught the attention of United, Chelsea and Bayern.

- The Daily Mail claims Brighton and Hove Albion are looking to keep England international defender Ben White by demanding £50million amid interest from clubs such as United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Milan are eyeing Chelsea trio Olivier Giroud, Fikayo Tomori and Hakim Ziyech, claims the Gazzetta dello Sport. Ziyech has also been linked with Napoli.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are hopeful of re-signing Nicolo Barella and Atletico Madrid target Lautaro Martinez by the end of the off-season.

- Juventus are interested in Roma veteran Edin Dzeko and are ready to offer a two-year deal, reports Corriere dello Sport.

Pep Guardiola believes Ronald Koeman deserves to stay on as Barcelona boss for another season.

Koeman admitted it was a relief to see speculation over his future as Barca head coach ended last week when president Joan Laporta confirmed he would remain in charge for the 2021-22 season.

It followed a period where Laporta sought out other potential candidates while Koeman remained in his post, with some controversy when the president was criticised by the head coach's representatives for comments about his health.

The Dutchman led Barca to Copa del Rey glory last season, though fell short in LaLiga and the Champions League, having taken over at a turbulent period that saw Lionel Messi request to leave following a fallout with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Luis Suarez controversially sold to eventual champions Atletico Madrid.

Former Barca team-mates Koeman and Guardiola were golfing together with their sons last week, with the Manchester City boss thrilled at Laporta's decision.

"Koeman is the ideal coach for next season, I spoke to Laporta and I am very happy the president is convinced," Guardiola said to Cadena SER.

"I am a good friend of Ronald. It has been a difficult year for everyone and Ronald deserves one more year, with people in the stadium. 

"Besides, second years are always better.

"At times the team has played very well, they are among those who played better football in Spain.

"They fell at the end when he was close to winning and Atletico won the league, but he won the cup and in general were very good."

Guardiola was one of the names briefly connected with the Camp Nou post when Laporta referenced his dream to bring the Catalan back to the club he coached so successfully from 2008 to 2012.

"I have a two-year contract at Manchester, I'm happy and so it will continue to be," said Guardiola.

He recently saw one of his top young prospects and an experienced stalwart swap City for Barca after the Catalans signed Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero on free transfers.

Guardiola had warm words for both players, predicting Garcia to become a future Camp Nou star.

"Aguero and Eric Garcia are two great signings - Kun is a scorer," said Guardiola. 

"With Eric I will tell Koeman that he has a spectacular fit, he is a good guy, really intelligent. He will be one of the captains of the next decade."

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips this off-season.

Haaland enjoyed a stunning campaign for Borussia Dortmund, earning admirers from Europe's elite.

As speculation mounts over his future, Dortmund are determined to keep the Norwegian.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND NAME HAALAND PRICE

Borussia Dortmund are demanding €200million (£172m) for star striker Erling Haaland, according to AS.

Haaland has been linked with Real MadridManchester CityBarcelona, Paris Saint-GermainManchester UnitedJuventusLiverpoolChelsea and Bayern Munich.

Dortmund previously quoted €180m (£154m) but BVB have reportedly increased their demands as they try to retain the Norway forward for at least another season.

 

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- LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid are targeting Inter star Lautaro Martinez, according to AS. With Diego Simeone poised to extend his contract, the head coach is eyeing a move for Martinez, who has previously been linked with Barca.

Barca could sell Samuel UmtitiSergi Roberto and Junior Firpo to reduce their wage bill, says Mundo Deportivo. Jordi Alba could also depart for the right price as Ronald Koeman's men look to sign Lyon captain Memphis Depay.

- Fabrizio Romano reports PSG have agreed a deal to sign Georginio Wijnaldum, who had been tipped to join Barca with his Liverpool contract set to expire. As Wijnaldum looks destined for Paris, Marca claims Barca are now interested in City veteran FernandinhoPSG are also in talks with Inter to sign Achraf Hakimi.

- Staying at Camp Nou, Sport claims Barca are looking to sign City trio Aymeric LaporteGabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan, having already brought Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia in on free transfers from the Premier League champions.

- Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma will decide his future in the coming days, according to Romano. The soon-to-be free agent has been linked with JuventusBarca and PSG.

Atletico are hoping to lure Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin to Madrid, according to Marca. It comes as United reportedly try to prise Kieran Trippier from Los Colchoneros.

Kevin De Bruyne has retained the men's PFA Players' Player of the Year award, matching the achievement of Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry.

Belgium star De Bruyne saw off competition from Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes, Tottenham's Harry Kane and three of his Manchester City team-mates – Ilkay Gundogan, Ruben Dias and Phil Foden, who scooped the Young Player of the Year accolade.

Foden had been nominated for the young player prize alongside fellow England internationals Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bukayo Saka and Mason Greenwood.

De Bruyne's win in voting for the Professional Footballers' Association main prize sees him match Ronaldo and Henry, greats from United and Arsenal who are the only previous players to have won the award in back-to-back seasons.

"The fact that the players chose me for this award means that I've done really well. You want to win all the trophies with the team, and this is probably the most important one as an individual trophy in the league," De Bruyne said.

"To be voted for by your competitors... that means a lot.

"When you have these things, you can show your kids and say, 'Look! This is what Daddy did when he was younger.'"

Only three Premier League players created more chances in the competition in 2020-21 than De Bruyne (80) – Fernandes (95), Mount (87) and Jack Grealish (81) – though all of them made more appearances than the 29-year-old.

De Bruyne crafted 19 big chances – defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score – with only Fernandes (20) managing a higher total.

The City playmaker scored six goals and created a further 12 in the Premier League. In that regard, he was below his expected goals estimation (9.26), but some way above his expected assists of 6.21. Ten of his assists came from passes in open play, with two from set-pieces.

On average, De Bruyne created 3.6 chances per 90 minutes, more than any of those who made the PFA's final list.

 

Foden, meanwhile, made fewer league appearances than any of his competitors for the Young Player of the Year award, and also tallied the fewest minutes (1,613).

However, his nine goals put him two ahead of the haul that Greenwood – his nearest challenger in that regard – managed, with his five assists second only to Alexander-Arnold.

Indeed, when calculated per 90 minutes, Foden averaged 0.5 goals and 0.28 assists, ranking him top among those in the frame for the award, while he also attempted more dribbles (4.18) with the highest success rate (2.83).

Another City player to scoop an award was Lauren Hemp, who took the women's Young Player of the Year prize.

Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby won the women's Players' Player of the Year award after a prolific campaign for Emma Hayes' side in the WSL and Women's Champions League.

Saturday had seen more awards sent City's way, with Pep Guardiola named the Premier League's Manager of the Season winner, while Ruben Dias took the league's own Player of the Season prize.

Manchester City have completed a clean sweep of the Premier League's end-of-season awards after reclaiming the title in impressive fashion.

Pep Guardiola and Ruben Dias have been named the top manager and player respectively for the 2020-21 season, while Phil Foden was chosen as the best youngster in the competition.

City finished 12 points clear of second-placed Manchester United as they reclaimed the title from Liverpool, winning their third league crown in the space of four seasons, albeit an excellent campaign ended in disappointment with a defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League final.

Key to their domestic success was the form of centre-back Dias, who elevated the defence following his arrival from Benfica.

City kept more clean sheets than any other team in the Premier League last season (19), while Dias featured in more of those matches (15) than any other outfield player at the club.

The 24-year-old Portugal international also helped bring the best out of John Stones, with the duo integral to City's remarkable run of 21 straight wins across all competitions between December and March.

Dias, who also won the Football Writers' Player of the Year Award and has been nominated for the PFA Player of the Year accolade, played more league games (32, all of them starts) than any other City defender, helping Guardiola's team to 23 wins in the process, while they lost just four times when he featured.

He won 62 of his 101 aerial contests, again topping the charts for City's defence, while only Joao Cancelo (163) won more duels than Dias (111), who also made the most headed clearances (49) and clearances overall (90).

As for Foden, the 21-year-old contributed nine goals in 28 league appearances – 17 of which were starts – as his involvement in the first team increased following the departure of club legend David Silva.

Guardiola, meanwhile has been named the top manager by the Premier League for a third time, having previously received the honour in City's title-winning years of 2018 and 2019.

Only United's legendary manager Alex Ferguson has won the award on more occasions than Guardiola, though he will have some way to go to match the Scot's haul of 11.

Nominated alongside Guardiola were Marcelo Bielsa, who guided Leeds United to an impressive ninth-placed finish and took four points off City, West Ham's David Moyes, Brendan Rodgers of Leicester City and United boss Ole Gunnar Solskajer.

Dias, meanwhile, saw off competition from Harry Kane, City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne, Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, Aston Villa's talisman Jack Grealish, Mason Mount of Chelsea and West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek.

Paul Pogba believes his France team-mate N'Golo Kante would be a worthy winner of the Ballon d'Or after playing a key role in Chelsea's Champions League success.

It was not too long ago that speculation suggesting Chelsea were tempted to cash in on Kante was rife, with the midfielder struggling with a few injuries in 2019-20.

But he enjoyed a strong 2020-21, evidenced particularly by his performances towards the end of the season in the Champions League.

The 30-year-old stamped his presence all over the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid and was named man of the match for both legs in a 3-1 aggregate triumph.

During the second encounter in London, Kante made five interceptions – only bettered by six from Jorginho – but also made more passes in the opposition half (25) and created more chances (three) than any other Chelsea player.

Heading into the final, he was one of just six midfielders in the 2020-21 competition with a passing accuracy above 85 per cent (86.4), an accuracy into the final third of above 80 per cent (82.1), more than 40 ball recoveries (63), over 500 touches (511) and at least 25 possession wins in the middle third of the pitch (42).

Then, in the final itself, Kante won 11 of 15 duels, recovered the ball 10 times for his team, and, as the shortest man on the pitch, won four out of seven aerial duels – nobody on his team won more. Chelsea beat Manchester City 1-0, with Kante a vital component as Pep Guardiola's men lost the midfield battle.

While some in the past might have limited Kante's strengths to the more defensive aspects of the game, his form in the Champions League highlighted that to be unfair, with the World Cup winner actually a far greater all-round player than many give him credit for.

Indeed, international colleague Pogba thinks he is deserving of the most illustrious individual prize of all.

"What I would like to say to the whole world is that the 'NG' we have seen in recent months has always been the same," Pogba told Eurosport. "We talk a lot about his performances but he has always been as good as ever.

"There was no Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi in the semi-final, so it's good to see the performances of the midfielders or even the defenders.

"I said a long time ago that it would be appropriate, if Chelsea won, for him to win the Ballon d'Or. It would be deserved, too.

"He's always performed well. I'm not surprised by what he's doing, I'm just surprised that he's still doing it. He has always played matches like that."

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