Jose Mourinho wants Harry Kane to "play every minute of every game" but says the Tottenham talisman was handed a rest on Thursday to manage his current fitness concerns.

Kane suffered an ankle problem in Spurs' defeat to Liverpool on January 28, and seemed set to miss several weeks, only to be brought back into the fold ahead of schedule to face West Brom on February 7.

It was a move which paid off, Kane scoring in a 2-0 win – Spurs' only league victory from their last five top-flight matches.

After coming on in the FA Cup defeat to Everton and playing against Manchester City last week, Kane did not travel to Budapest for the first leg of Spurs' Europa League round of 32 tie with Austrian side Wolfsberger on Thursday.

Tottenham did the job without their star forward, as Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius secured a 4-1 win and aggregate advantage heading into the reverse fixture.

"He knows I want to play him every minute of every game so it is never a question of a choice," Mourinho told a news conference when asked about Kane.

"I wanted to come here with the best team and the players to give us more opportunities to have a good result but he made the decision based on his feelings which was that to play in this game was a risk with the accumulation of minutes after the injury he had. 

"Myself and the medical department agreed with him, to give him this opportunity to take care of his condition. But I believe Sunday he will be okay and ready."

Kane is Spurs' joint top-scorer in the league this season – alongside Son – with 13 goals, while the England captain has also provided 11 assists.

He has created a total of 32 chances, second only to Son, while 29 of them have come from open play – six more than his South Korean team-mate.

Of the opportunities Kane has crafted for team-mates, 12 of them are big chances, once more a team-high, and his big chance conversion rate is 60 per cent.

Spurs did not miss him against Wolfsberger though, and one player to step up was Bale, who teed up Son's opener before adding a brilliant second.

It was the first time Bale has scored and assisted for Spurs in a match since April 2013, when he did so against Manchester City, and Mourinho – who took the 31-year-old off with just over an hour played – suggested the Real Madrid loanee could be in line for a third Premier League start of the season against West Ham on Sunday.

"One of the reasons why Gareth left the pitch by 64 minutes was to try to have him available for the next match because one of the things that is not easy in relation to his condition is the accumulation of minutes," said Mourinho.

"I believe he has a chance to play the match on Sunday."

Jose Mourinho acknowledged Tottenham's 4-1 win over Wolfsberger was not "incredible", but insisted it will bring positivity to his squad.

Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius scored in an ultimately routine win in Budapest on Thursday, as Spurs took a huge stride towards reaching the last 16 of the Europa League.

 Michael Liendl's 55th-minute penalty complicated matters slightly for Mourinho, but his side were comfortable as they earned just a second win in their last seven games across all competitions.

With a London derby up against West Ham next up for Spurs, Mourinho – who has been eliminated from just one of his 17 previous European knockout ties when winning the first leg, going out in the 2006-07 Champions League semi-final against Liverpool – conceded the performance was not perfect, but believes the victory provides a much-needed boost.

"We had to come and play with ambition which we did. The score should have been more than 3-0 at half-time," Mourinho told reporters.

"In the second half we made that mistake that gave them life. There were some similarities with [the FA Cup tie with] Everton.

"If you're in control and make a mistake you give the opposition life and the game can change – here it didn't change, but the 3-2 was not far from happening.

"We had good control of the game. Lots of chances. I believe the last goal put almost a period on this tie. 4-1 away is a very good result.

"I don't consider this an incredible victory, just a good victory that brings good feelings. By flying back, the plane will be a different plane than after a defeat. Tomorrow morning in training, the same."

Bale turned in an impressive display in the first half, setting up Son's opener before arrowing in Spurs' second himself.

The Wales forward's five goals this season have all been at different stadiums – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Linzer Stadion, bet365 Stadium, Adams Park and Puskas Arena – while it was the first time the 31-year-old has both scored and assisted in a game for Spurs since April 2013.

Son, meanwhile, moved onto 18 goals for the season in total with his opener, matching his tally from last season in all competitions, and the South Korea star, who has enjoyed a supreme relationship with Harry Kane this season, revelled in playing alongside an in-form Bale.

"I have a really close relationship with him," Son said.

"I'm very happy he's getting game time and scored a goal and got an assist. I really enjoy playing with him."

Tottenham took control of their Europa League round-of-32 tie against Wolfsberger with ease as Gareth Bale impressed in a 4-1 victory in Budapest on Thursday.

On the same ground where Liverpool beat RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday, Spurs dismantled their Austrian opponents with a superb first-half display.

Bale was integral, teeing up Son Heung-min's opener before doubling Spurs' lead with a fine finish.

Lucas Moura put Spurs further ahead and even though Moussa Sissoko's lapse amid a disjointed second-half performance from Spurs allowed Michael Liendl to pull one back from the penalty spot, substitute Carlos Vinicius restored the three-goal cushion.

 

Jose Mourinho has blasted Gareth Bale following the under-fire Tottenham star's Instagram post, which the Portuguese coach said did not reflect reality.

The on-loan Real Madrid forward, who has failed to live up to his billing following a celebrated return to north London in September, was not included in the squad for Wednesday's remarkable 5-4 loss to Everton in the FA Cup.

Mourinho suggested after the fifth-round exit at Goodison Park that Bale had practically ruled himself out after the Welshman said he was in some discomfort and required a scan.

The Spurs boss said there was no "obvious, clear injury" but that Bale had opted to work with the club's sports scientists to help alleviate the problem, hence his omission in midweek.

However, Bale had put a post on Instagram before the game showing him apparently in full training, with the words "good session today".

It left Mourinho, who has the small matter of Saturday's trip to Premier League leaders Manchester City to contend with, baffled.

"I have to admit that his post created a need of being addressed," he said. "There was a contradiction between the post and the reality.

"Since the beginning of the season, in relation to everything, I've tried to be very private and keep everything indoors, but I felt that I needed to address the situation.

"Probably the post was not even his responsibility, but it was showing that training session was great and I'm ready, which was totally wrong. So, when questioned I had to give the reality of things.

"I repeat for the last time. He was not feeling good. He asked for a scan. He had a scan. The scan did not show an injury, but his feelings were still there. But as coaches, medical people, we can never go against the player's feelings. So, he was not ready for the game. It's as simple as that. If he's ready for tomorrow, he's selected for tomorrow."

The incident marks another unhelpful chapter in Bale's thus far deeply underwhelming return to Spurs, with the chances of a permanent switch back looking increasingly remote.

A scorer in two of his four Champions League final successes at Madrid, fitness problems dogged Bale over recent seasons as he fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane.

The 31-year-old has four goals in 16 appearances for Spurs this term, although only two of his six Premier League outings have been starts.

Jose Mourinho expressed surprise over Gareth Bale ruling himself out of Tottenham's FA Cup fifth-round defeat to Everton.

Spurs took their hosts to extra time in a wonderfully chaotic game, eventually falling 5-4 to Bernard's 97th-minute winner.

Davinson Sanchez gave the visitors a third minute lead a Goodison Park and completed an unlikely brace to make it 3-3 before the hour - Erik Lamela having reduced the arrears after Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson were all on target during a crazy seven-and-a-half-minute spell.

Harry Kane came off the bench to net Tottenham's second equaliser, Richarlison having brilliantly doubled his tally, although Bale was not among the options on the bench to bolster Mourinho's attempts to save the game.

"I think it’s better for me to say," he said at a post-match news conference when asked to explain the Wales star's absence.

"So, we played against West Bromwich on the Sunday and he didn't play. On Monday, I was a bit surprised by him wanting to have a scan because he was not comfortable with some muscular area.

"So, he didn’t train on Monday and then on Tuesday he trained with the team but I was informed that his desire was to work with the sports scientists for a couple of days to strengthen that area. That's the reason why he’s not here.

"I don’t think it’s an obvious, clear injury. I would say he feels uncomfortable. Because of that he could not be 100 per cent, but I don’t think an injury."

Asked to elaborate further on whether Bale had disappointed him, Mourinho replied: "This is Everton post-match and Gareth was not here. The only thing I can say is I am being completely open and honest."

The incident marks another unhelpful chapter in Bale's as-yet deeply underwhelming return to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid, with the chances of a permanent switch back to north London looking increasingly remote.

A scorer in two of his four Champions League final successes at Madrid, fitness problems dogged Bale over recent seasons as he fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane.

The 31-year-old has four goals in 16 appearances for Spurs this term, although only two of his six Premier League outings have been starts.

Matters at the other end of the pitch look to be a more immediate concern for Mourinho ahead of Saturday's trip to face in-form Premier League leaders Manchester City.

"I enjoyed the way we played when we had the ball from the first minute," he told BT Sport after the breathless affair on Merseyside. "We had a great dynamic, great movement and great character to fight against incredible mistakes

"But attacking football only wins matches when you don't make more mistakes than what you create.

"We scored four goals and four goals was not enough.

"It was the mouse and the cat. The mouse was our defensive mistakes and the cat was trying to compensate for that and playing very well."

Spurs must now lick their wounds after a punishing encounter, having seen City rotate their XI and saunter to a 3-1 win in their own last-16 tie at Swansea City earlier on Wednesday.

"Of course, City are great team, they rested a big percentage of their team," Mourinho added. "We have this situation but you can't cry."

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho said his struggling and fatigued Spurs are feeling the absence of Harry Kane and their key attackers after he suffered a career first on Thursday.

Spurs crashed to a 1-0 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in Premier League action at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Jorginho's first-half penalty settled the contest.

It was another toothless display from Tottenham, who were without Kane, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Reguilon, while Dele Alli remains out of favour following a failed attempt to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on loan prior to the transfer window closing.

Mourinho – in his 327th home league match – suffered back-to-back league defeats on home soil for the first time in his career, while Spurs were condemned to three successive Premier League losses for the first time since November 2012.

As Spurs languish in eighth position and seven points adrift of the top four, Mourinho bemoaned his absentees and a hectic fixture list.

"Well, [Sergio] Reguilon means something for our attacking football," Mourinho told reporters. "Harry Kane means something for our attacking football. Giovani Lo Celso again means something for our attacking football.

"A good Dele Alli that we don’t have yet but hope that we can have in the future means something for us. It's not just what they mean, they mean that we don't have many options to rotate players and we finish with people with some signs of fatigue because of the accumulation of matches because we don't have so many players to rest. 

"The second thing is confidence. The confidence levels are very, very important to play football. When a team doesn't have good results, a period when results are not good, you need that click back to go back to normality. So, for me it's a little bit like that."

On rebuilding confidence after losses to Liverpool (3-1), Brighton and Hove Albion (1-0) and Chelsea, Mourinho added: "Look, I think we did that after Brighton because for me the Brighton defeat is a defeat like this one, 1-0, the same way.

"We managed in the group to change some things and I believe the reflection of the second half means something for me and I believe for the group. I don't like to speak about Harry Kane and company but they mean something also for the confidence of the players. The reality is that since Liverpool half-time, that is very difficult for us to connect certain dynamics. We tried without [Carlos] Vinicius against Brighton.

"We tried today with Vinicius and two up. We tried in the second half with him as a target man and two wingers and a No.10. We're trying to go on the search but I saw togetherness.  

"It's not easy to see togetherness with bad results, defeats, difficulties, injuries. Togetherness is very easy to show when you're on a high and winning matches, when everything is amazing. But in difficult moments it's more difficult to see that togetherness but I saw that in the second half. No doubts for me."

Despite Tottenham's desperate and unsuccessful search for an equaliser against Chelsea, star loanee Gareth Bale was snubbed again by Mourinho.

Bale was left among the substitutes – the Wales international has only featured in 230 minutes of Premier League action this season, with just two of his six appearances coming as starts under Mourinho.

Asked about Bale – on a season-long loan from Madrid, Mourinho replied: "I'm doing my best; he's doing his best. Everybody is doing their best."

Gareth Bale has reached "a crucial moment" in his second spell at Tottenham and must help the team soften the blow of losing Harry Kane, according to Jose Mourinho.

The on-loan Real Madrid forward has struggled to make a major impression this season with Spurs, starting only one Premier League game.

Taking into account four appearances as substitute, Bale has played a mere 170 minutes in the English top flight this season, scoring once and creating four chances.

Barring a turnaround in fortunes in the second half of the season, his switch looks set to go down as a disappointing gamble by the club.

Bale scored 42 goals and had 20 assists in 146 Premier League games across his first spell at the club, productivity which heralded a big-money move to Spain.

With Kane facing a lay-off after injuring his ankle in Thursday's 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, head coach Mourinho wants other players to "step up", starting from Sunday's game at Brighton and Hove Albion.

And asked whether Bale can do that, Mourinho said: "Yes, I hope so. He didn't play much [against Liverpool], he played 15 minutes with the team losing 3-1.

"But he played 90 minutes in the [FA] cup and that for him is a big impact for him, to play 90 minutes.

"It's a crucial moment for him, he's feeling better and better. When you lose a player of Harry's quality and dimension, the other guys have to step up and hopefully he can help us."

Bale's appearance in Monday's 4-1 cup win over Wycombe, a match in which he scored, was a signal that his fitness is returning, but Mourinho knows it will take a big effort from several players to fill the void created by Kane's setback, given the England captain is such a linchpin of the side.

"Harry Kane is Harry Kane, there are players in some teams that are not replaceable," Mourinho said.

Spurs were without a host of forwards for a time last season, with Kane and Son Heung-min particularly missed, and Mourinho was forced to field several makeshift line-ups.

Mourinho pointed to having Carlos Vinicius, Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Bale all available this time.

However, he stressed Bale could not be a like-for-like replacement for star man Kane, who has 12 Premier League goals and 11 assists this season.

Removing penalties, Kane has nine goals from an xG (expected goals) rating of 7.2, meaning he is exceeding what he might be expected to achieve based on his chances.

"I don't think Gareth is a striker and I don't think he likes to play as a striker," said Mourinho.

"It was something we spoke about when he joined us and he was very objective with me by saying that he doesn't feel he is a left winger, like he was before, or a number 10, like he was before too.

"The position he likes to play is the position where we are playing him every minute we are giving him, which is on the right side of attack.

"When Gareth plays, starting or coming from the bench, that's his position in our team."

Mourinho said Dele Alli, linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, is injured and would not be available for the Brighton trip.

Gareth Bale can make a difference in key moments as Jose Mourinho is the right coach to get the best out of him, according to former Tottenham midfielder Gus Poyet.  

Spurs moved to bring Bale back to north London on loan from Real Madrid for the 2020-21 campaign back in September.  

The move was welcomed by supporters, who had hopes Bale could replicate the form that made him a fan favourite and twice led to the Wales international being named PFA Players' Player of the Year.  

However, issues with injury and form have seen Bale start just once in the Premier League so far, while he has managed just one top-flight goal.  

Across all competitions, Bale has 13 appearances, four goals, no assists, has created nine chances (two of which are defined by Opta as 'big chances'), while having 10 shots on target.  

Prior to the FA Cup tie against Wycombe Wanderers on Monday, Mourinho said Bale had to earn his minutes after it was suggested he could benefit from more playing time.  

Bale responded with a goal and an impressive showing in a 4-1 victory in that tie and Poyet – who played for Spurs between 2001 and 2004 – feels Mourinho is the ideal man to help the 31-year-old prosper.

"I think you as a coach - and especially with the experience of Jose - you really believe in your way of managing," Poyet told Stats Perform News.  

"And let's say it wasn't as easy as probably Jose thought. Because he was up and down.   

"Now, I think he is still playing a part, even if it's in moments, he is still a player that at any time, any game, he can give you the difference between winning or not winning a game.   

"I think we can see something, especially if he keeps himself fit. That's the key to the situation. So, you know, it's not only training well, it's about being fit enough to perform well.   

"And there is a limit to Gareth at the moment, physically, that if he goes above that level, he can get injured. To control those levels is very, very difficult. But if there is someone who can do it, definitely it's Mourinho."

Gareth Bale impressed in a scoring display during Tottenham's 4-1 FA Cup win at Wycombe Wanderers, with Jose Mourinho insisting he has no worries over the Wales star's fitness.

Bale returned to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid in September but an initial knee problem delayed his second debut and he has largely existed on the periphery of Mourinho's plans in the Premier League.

He was once again called into cup action at Adams Park and produced an all-action performance, equalising after Fred Onyedinma put the Championship's bottom club ahead against the run of play.

Mourinho still had to call for the cavalry from the bench as Wycombe withstood a second-half onslaught.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both went close, but fellow substitute Tanguy Ndombele finished superbly for a late brace after Harry Winks' cool chip gave Spurs an 86th-minute lead.

Faltering Premier League champions Liverpool are next on the agenda for Tottenham and Mourinho suggested Bale had done his prospects of adding to a solitary top-flight start this term no harm at all.

"He looked good, taking on players, scored the goal," he told a post-match news conference.

"I never felt that he could not play 90 minutes, I never felt I had to take him off.

"The Championship is a good level. That is good. I am happy."

If Bale is concerned over whether he can make himself a fixture in Mourinho's first XI, he should look no further than Ndombele.

The former Lyon midfielder was not always trusted when the ex-Chelsea boss replaced Mauricio Pochettino last term, but he is now a player on top form and oozing confidence, as his late salvo emphatically showed.

"He is very creative. He's one of these players who can break the balance [of a game]," Mourinho told BT Sport.

"They tried to get him man-against-man. Number 18 [Curtis Thompson] was man-against-man with him.

"But he is always the kind of player who can break that. If, on the top of that, he can score a goal for us, even better."

Tottenham were forced to come from behind before securing a 4-1 FA Cup win over Wycombe Wanderers.

The Championship's bottom club stunned their Premier League opponents when Fred Onyedinma capitalised on fine work by Uche Ikpeazu.

Gareth Bale went close either side of the opener and was on hand to level in first-half stoppage time.

Spurs dominated after the break, although Jose Mourinho felt the need to introduce Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Tanguy Ndombele - the latter sealing a place in round five with a late brace after Harry Winks' classy 20-yard chip gave the visitors the lead for the first time in the 86th-minute.

 

Gareth Bale must earn every minute on the pitch at Tottenham with Jose Mourinho insisting he does not give them out easily. 

On loan from Real Madrid and facing an uncertain future, Bale is yet to hit the heights since delighting Spurs fans with his return to the club in September. 

Issues with the winger's form and fitness have meant he has only started one Premier League match, while he is yet to complete 90 minutes in any competition. 

Ahead of Monday's FA Cup fourth-round tie at Wycombe Wanderers, Mourinho was asked if it would be beneficial to give Bale regular outings of between 30 and 60 minutes to build up his fitness and confidence. 

Mourinho, however, suggested performances in training held the key to his decision. 

The former Madrid head coach hopes Bale will come through this week unscathed in order to boost his chances of a long run-out against Championship outfit Wycombe. 

"I cannot give players minutes," Mourinho said about Bale. "Minutes on the pitch are not something I can give. I wouldn't go in this direction.  

"We all know the difficulties he had for a couple of seasons. We all know that he arrived injured. We all know that even this season he has been a little bit up and down with small things.  

"The most important thing is to be consistent and training without any problems. 

"When a player is consistently training high intensity without any kind of problems then the player is ready not to be given minutes but is ready to earn minutes. That to me is a different thing." 

Mourinho added: "This week, he is working every minute like everybody else at a good intensity.  

"Let's see the way he reacts to that accumulation, to that load of work. Let's see how he reacts by the end of the week.  

"If he feels - because it is also about his own feelings - that the week that he had has had a positive impact on him and his confidence, he will play the match on Monday." 

Amid reports Tottenham would not be extending Bale's loan spell for a second season, Mourinho insisted last week that no decision had yet been made.

Tottenham will have an easy decision to send Gareth Bale back to Real Madrid at the end of the season unless the forward improves, according to Dimitar Berbatov.

Bale returned to Spurs on a season-long loan deal in September amid huge fanfare, but he has failed to live up to the hype thus far.

The 31-year-old has only made one Premier League start and is yet to play a full 90 minutes in any competition amid issues with injuries, fitness and form.

After reports suggested Spurs had already decided not to extend his loan for a second season, manager Jose Mourinho insisted last week there has not been "one second of discussion" over the issue.

But former Spurs star Berbatov believes the outcome is clear unless the Wales international embarks on a rapid turnaround in the second half of the season. 

Berbatov told Stats Perform News: "I was expecting a lot of him coming to Spurs, to shake things up and for him, Son and Kane to make it a trio up front that can rival the Liverpool attacking trio, for example.

"For the moment it is 100 per cent not working.

"There are still games until the end of the season, enough for him to show what he can do, in the [EFL Cup] final they play as well.

"So hopefully he can get back to 100 per cent and start playing. If not, in the end it is an easy decision – he can go back to Madrid."

Bale was an unused substitute in the 3-1 win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Berbatov added: "In a way, it is disappointing that he is not being given more time to play. 

"But if you are not given more time to play, there are two reasons for that. Either are you injured and not in good shape to play or you are not performing well in training.

"Whatever the reason [for his lack of games] Gareth Bale is injury free now is because he's on the bench for the team.

"But he's not playing from the from the first minute so it means that obviously he's not producing the right level of football Jose Mourinho wants from him, which is a shame because I like him a lot."

With the EFL Cup final against Manchester City coming up in April, Berbatov feels Bale – along with Mourinho and captain Hugo Lloris – can play a huge role. 

Spurs were unable to win a trophy despite five and a half otherwise productive years under Mauricio Pochettino.

Berbatov – who won the League Cup with Spurs in 2008 – underlined the importance of lifting silverware.

"Jose Mourinho has led them to the final but let's not celebrate now because you need to make one more step," said Berbatov.

"I remember the game before we qualified for the final. We played against Arsenal and we beat them 5-1, everybody was celebrating like we won the final. And I'm like, 'People we are not there yet'. 

"We need to wait, we have one more step to make and then we can celebrate."

Berbatov continued: "The person who brought them there is Jose Mourinho. I think this is the reason they brought him into the club – to win trophies.

"It doesn't matter how [they get there] – the Premier League title, the cup, something – they need one so they can get that winning mentality going. 

"Although they have a world champion in their team, the goalkeeper, he should know how things are won – especially [having lifted] the World Cup. 

"So him, Jose Mourinho, Gareth Bale – who is coming from winning mentality – will run with it. Those three are very important, they can teach them in a way how to win things and then get that winning feeling.

"And after get that feeling, trust me, you don't want to let it go."

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho says there has not been "one second of discussion" over the decision on whether to extend Gareth Bale's stay.

Bale re-joined Spurs to much fanfare on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid in September.

But his return has not yet met expectations, with Bale only making one Premier League start and yet to play a full 90 minutes in any competition amid issues with injuries, fitness and form.

Spurs are said to have an option to sign Bale for a second year on loan, but reports have suggested the Wales forward, who has scored only three times since his return to north London, is instead poised to head back to Madrid at the end of the season.

Asked if the decision not to extend his loan was made, Mourinho said: "There was not even a second of discussion about that.

"Gareth is a player on loan until the end of the season.

"Not one second of discussion. We are speaking about, of course, Gareth, himself, Real Madrid, Tottenham, but I promise you, not one second of discussion.

"Of course, you know that he arrived injured. And he was injured before, I believe, the first month. And then, step by step, Europa League matches were helping him to get his condition.

"Europa League group phase is a different level than the Premier League. The knockout round is a different story. But the group phase is a different intensity, a different rhythm, a different quality.

"So, in the Premier League, he didn't play many minutes. Then another small injury at Stoke City [in the EFL Cup] where he was having a good first half. It is not an easy process.

"Everybody knew that in the past couple of seasons, in Madrid, they were not easy for him. So, let's go, step by step, and try to get the best out of him."

Spurs were held to a 1-1 draw by Fulham on Wednesday, though they are on a six-game unbeaten run across all competitions.

They face Sheffield United, who have only just recorded their first win of the Premier League season, at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Mourinho added: "Gio [Lo Celso] of course is not [available] and we still have two training sessions before the game. But I believe no more problems in principle.

"They [Sheffield United] are not the worst team in the Premier League at all. They're a much, much, much better team than what the table says.

"You analyse their matches and many times the opponent was not better than them. I don't look to the table. Of course, I look but I go deeper than that.

"Many times, it was one of the small big details that decides the points, decides the score, decides the table.

"Many times, they lose 1-0, they draw 1-1, they are a very good team. If in our mind we are going to play the worst team in the Premier League, we are going to be in big trouble."

Manchester City reportedly believe they lead the race for Lionel Messi if the star leaves Barcelona.

Messi, 33, is out of contract at Barca at the end of the season and is linked with a move from the LaLiga giants.

The forward stayed at Camp Nou after sensationally requesting a transfer ahead of 2020-21, but it may have just delayed his exit.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY LEAD MESSI RACE IF STAR LEAVES

Manchester City believe they lead the race for Messi if he leaves Barcelona, according to The Telegraph.

City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter have been most strongly linked with a move for Messi, who is expected to make a decision on his future at the end of the campaign.

Messi has scored 12 goals in 20 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Gareth Bale injured, his chances of a longer stay at Tottenham appear slim. AS reports Real Madrid are expecting the attacker to return to the club at the end of his loan spell at the conclusion of the campaign, and that would hurt their chances of signing Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe with Bale contracted until 2022.

- Georginio Wijnaldum's future is no closer to being sorted. Sky Sports reports the midfielder and Liverpool have reached a stalemate over a new contract. Wijnaldum's deal expires at the end of the season and the Netherlands international has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

- Starring at Tottenham this season, Son Heung-min could be set for a new deal. The Telegraph reports Spurs are confident the forward, who is contracted until 2023, will re-sign.

- Mesut Ozil could finally be set to leave Arsenal. DHA reports the playmaker has agreed to a three-and-a-half-year deal with Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

- With Moise Kean impressing on loan at Paris Saint-Germain, Everton are expecting an offer for the forward, according to the Liverpool Echo. Kean has 10 goals in 17 matches for PSG this season.

- Diego Alonso is under pressure at the helm of Inter Miami, and Sky Sports reports the MLS side have approached Phil Neville, who is the coach of England's women's team, to take over.

Gareth Bale's unwanted piece of Premier League history has been taken by Oliver Burke after Sheffield United lost again at Burnley.

Tottenham winger Bale, a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, previously held the record for the longest wait for a first Premier League win.

After his initial move to Spurs from Southampton in 2007, the Wales superstar went 24 matches without ending on the winning side.

Not until September 2009 did Bale play a part in a top-flight triumph, making a late cameo at left-back in a 5-0 defeat of Burnley.

The Clarets were the opposition again on Tuesday as Sheffield United's Burke attempted to avoid topping Bale's miserable mark.

But a 1-0 reverse courtesy of Ben Mee's header meant Burke, a 63rd-minute substitute, took the record outright.

Burke's first 15 winless Premier League matches came in West Brom's 2017-18 relegation campaign and United are facing the same fate this term.

Chris Wilder's side are rooted to the bottom of the table with just two points after 16 matches.

As well as Burke's personal woe, the failure to beat Burnley saw the Blades equal Queens Park Rangers' 2012-13 record winless run from the start of a season. QPR were relegated.

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