Brazil soccer star Neymar

World-class soccer player Neymar leads the Brazil team at the Olympics.

The Best FIFA Awards: Why is Neymar the best?

The Best FIFA Men's Player is revealed at the end of October - here's why Neymar could win.

The Best FIFA Awards: Why is Neymar the best?

The Best FIFA Men's Player is revealed at the end of October - here's why Neymar could win.

The Best FIFA Awards: Why is Neymar the best?

The Best FIFA Men's Player is revealed at the end of October - here's why Neymar could win.

Barcelona approve historic Neymar-funded €897m budget

Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu says the club have no plans to leave La Liga following the approval of a record budget

Barcelona approve historic Neymar-funded €897m budget

Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu says the club have no plans to leave La Liga following the approval of a record budget

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar (left) speaks with Kylian Mbappe during the Champions League match against Bayern Munich on September 27

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar (left) speaks with Kylian Mbappe during the Champions League match against Bayern Munich on September 27 (AFP Photo/FRANCK FIFE)

Kobe Bryant visits PSG

NBA legend Kobe Bryant dropped by at a PSG training session and met the likes of Neymar

Kobe Bryant visits PSG

NBA legend Kobe Bryant dropped by at a PSG training session and met the likes of Neymar

Kobe Bryant visits PSG

NBA legend Kobe Bryant dropped by at a PSG training session and met the likes of Neymar

Kylian Mbappe, Gabriel Jesus & Ousmane Dembele Named in Golden Boy Top 3

Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus and Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele have all been shortlisted for the final three of the illustrious Golden Boy award.

The award is handed to the best under-21 player in Europe, with the 2017 winner set to follow in the footsteps of Swansea loanee Renato Sanches when announced on October 23.

Italian newspaper Tuttosport initially released a 25-man shortlist for the award which they consider to be the 'young Ballon d'Or', and was then voted for by a panel of 30 journalists to narrow down the list to the final three, and the eventual winner - as per Goal.

The likes of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford - who finished as runner-up last year - and AC Milan stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma are now out of the running as Mbappe, Jesus and Dembele take centre stage.

18-year-old Mbappe continues to be considered the favourite to take home the prize after an impressive year which saw him net 21 goals and provide eight assists for Ligue 1 winners Monaco - which earned him a move a lucrative move to PSG over the summer where he has since notched four goals and five assists.

His French teammate Dembele also enjoyed a stunning campaign in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund before securing his own big-money move to Barcelona, however the 20-year-old who was tipped to be a replacement for Neymar has now been sidelined with a long-term hamstring injury.

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus rounds-up the final three, and is arguably the underdog for the award despite a breakthrough in his career at the Etihad Stadium which has seen him score 15 goals in 22 matches since his arrival from Palmerias.

The 2017 Golden Boy award is the 15th edition, and the champion is set to join a prestigious group of past winners which include the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Cesc Fabregas, Isco, and Paul Pogba.

Kylian Mbappe, Gabriel Jesus & Ousmane Dembele Named in Golden Boy Top 3

Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus and Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele have all been shortlisted for the final three of the illustrious Golden Boy award.

The award is handed to the best under-21 player in Europe, with the 2017 winner set to follow in the footsteps of Swansea loanee Renato Sanches when announced on October 23.

Italian newspaper Tuttosport initially released a 25-man shortlist for the award which they consider to be the 'young Ballon d'Or', and was then voted for by a panel of 30 journalists to narrow down the list to the final three, and the eventual winner - as per Goal.

The likes of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford - who finished as runner-up last year - and AC Milan stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma are now out of the running as Mbappe, Jesus and Dembele take centre stage.

18-year-old Mbappe continues to be considered the favourite to take home the prize after an impressive year which saw him net 21 goals and provide eight assists for Ligue 1 winners Monaco - which earned him a move a lucrative move to PSG over the summer where he has since notched four goals and five assists.

His French teammate Dembele also enjoyed a stunning campaign in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund before securing his own big-money move to Barcelona, however the 20-year-old who was tipped to be a replacement for Neymar has now been sidelined with a long-term hamstring injury.

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus rounds-up the final three, and is arguably the underdog for the award despite a breakthrough in his career at the Etihad Stadium which has seen him score 15 goals in 22 matches since his arrival from Palmerias.

The 2017 Golden Boy award is the 15th edition, and the champion is set to join a prestigious group of past winners which include the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Cesc Fabregas, Isco, and Paul Pogba.

Report: Barcelona Eyes Milan Star Andre Silva

Barcelona could turn their attention to AC Milan star Andre Silva in their hunt for a new forward when the transfer window opens in January, with the 21-year-old Portugal international seemingly struggling to make an impact in Serie A since his summer move from Porto.

According to reports originating in Italy, Milan are already prepared to make Silva, who cost the Rossoneri €38m in June, available for sale after a difficult start to life in Italy.

Despite heavy investment in the squad all summer, Milan are playing catch up in the race for Champions League places just eight games into the new season and are currently desperately looking to break a run of three consecutive Serie A defeats.

Silva has scored four times in three Europa League group games, as well as twice in qualifying, but he hasn't been able to translate that form into goals in Serie A. He has been an unused substitute in four league games so far this season and is still awaiting his first domestic goal.

It could therefore be that Silva is among the first casualties as Milan look to shake things up again, with Barcelona seemingly showing early interest in acquiring his services.

Rumour has it that head Barça scout Ariedo Braida has visited Milan on a handful of occasions this season to watch Silva in action.

Silva's overall potential is not in doubt. He scored 21 times in all competitions for Porto last season, while he has netted 11 times in 17 appearances for Portugal at senior international level. But, for whatever reason, he doesn't seem to fit Italian football.

The Catalans are thought to have been in the market for a forward for some time. Neymar's exit highlighted further potential weakness in depth, with winger Ousmane Dembele the only marquee player brought in to so far replace the Brazilian.

Barça had to rely on the disappointing Paco Alcacer when Luis Suarez was injured earlier in the season, with the former Valencia man consistently not up to the challenge since arriving in a big money move last summer.

During the week, technical secretary Robert Fernandez was rumoured to have watched games in Madrid and Lisbon as he apparently took a closer look at Tottenham talisman Harry Kane and Manchester United forward Anthony Martial.

Report: Barcelona Eyes Milan Star Andre Silva

Barcelona could turn their attention to AC Milan star Andre Silva in their hunt for a new forward when the transfer window opens in January, with the 21-year-old Portugal international seemingly struggling to make an impact in Serie A since his summer move from Porto.

According to reports originating in Italy, Milan are already prepared to make Silva, who cost the Rossoneri €38m in June, available for sale after a difficult start to life in Italy.

Despite heavy investment in the squad all summer, Milan are playing catch up in the race for Champions League places just eight games into the new season and are currently desperately looking to break a run of three consecutive Serie A defeats.

Silva has scored four times in three Europa League group games, as well as twice in qualifying, but he hasn't been able to translate that form into goals in Serie A. He has been an unused substitute in four league games so far this season and is still awaiting his first domestic goal.

It could therefore be that Silva is among the first casualties as Milan look to shake things up again, with Barcelona seemingly showing early interest in acquiring his services.

Rumour has it that head Barça scout Ariedo Braida has visited Milan on a handful of occasions this season to watch Silva in action.

Silva's overall potential is not in doubt. He scored 21 times in all competitions for Porto last season, while he has netted 11 times in 17 appearances for Portugal at senior international level. But, for whatever reason, he doesn't seem to fit Italian football.

The Catalans are thought to have been in the market for a forward for some time. Neymar's exit highlighted further potential weakness in depth, with winger Ousmane Dembele the only marquee player brought in to so far replace the Brazilian.

Barça had to rely on the disappointing Paco Alcacer when Luis Suarez was injured earlier in the season, with the former Valencia man consistently not up to the challenge since arriving in a big money move last summer.

During the week, technical secretary Robert Fernandez was rumoured to have watched games in Madrid and Lisbon as he apparently took a closer look at Tottenham talisman Harry Kane and Manchester United forward Anthony Martial.

Report: Barcelona Eyes Milan Star Andre Silva

Barcelona could turn their attention to AC Milan star Andre Silva in their hunt for a new forward when the transfer window opens in January, with the 21-year-old Portugal international seemingly struggling to make an impact in Serie A since his summer move from Porto.

According to reports originating in Italy, Milan are already prepared to make Silva, who cost the Rossoneri €38m in June, available for sale after a difficult start to life in Italy.

Despite heavy investment in the squad all summer, Milan are playing catch up in the race for Champions League places just eight games into the new season and are currently desperately looking to break a run of three consecutive Serie A defeats.

Silva has scored four times in three Europa League group games, as well as twice in qualifying, but he hasn't been able to translate that form into goals in Serie A. He has been an unused substitute in four league games so far this season and is still awaiting his first domestic goal.

It could therefore be that Silva is among the first casualties as Milan look to shake things up again, with Barcelona seemingly showing early interest in acquiring his services.

Rumour has it that head Barça scout Ariedo Braida has visited Milan on a handful of occasions this season to watch Silva in action.

Silva's overall potential is not in doubt. He scored 21 times in all competitions for Porto last season, while he has netted 11 times in 17 appearances for Portugal at senior international level. But, for whatever reason, he doesn't seem to fit Italian football.

The Catalans are thought to have been in the market for a forward for some time. Neymar's exit highlighted further potential weakness in depth, with winger Ousmane Dembele the only marquee player brought in to so far replace the Brazilian.

Barça had to rely on the disappointing Paco Alcacer when Luis Suarez was injured earlier in the season, with the former Valencia man consistently not up to the challenge since arriving in a big money move last summer.

During the week, technical secretary Robert Fernandez was rumoured to have watched games in Madrid and Lisbon as he apparently took a closer look at Tottenham talisman Harry Kane and Manchester United forward Anthony Martial.

Big Match Focus - Neymar moves from Clasico to Classique

Here's all you need to know about Le Classique this week, as PSG take on Marseille in Ligue 1.

Big Match Focus - Neymar moves from Clasico to Classique

Here's all you need to know about Le Classique this week, as PSG take on Marseille in Ligue 1.

Big Match Focus - Neymar moves from Clasico to Classique

Here's all you need to know about Le Classique this week, as PSG take on Marseille in Ligue 1.

Kobe Bryant Brings ‘Mamba Mentality’ to PSG

Retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant took in PSG training, met Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and got an up-close look at one of Europe’s top teams.

Kobe Bryant Brings ‘Mamba Mentality’ to PSG

Retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant took in PSG training, met Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and got an up-close look at one of Europe’s top teams.

Kobe Bryant Brings ‘Mamba Mentality’ to PSG

Retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant took in PSG training, met Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and got an up-close look at one of Europe’s top teams.

Kobe Bryant Brings ‘Mamba Mentality’ to PSG

Retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant took in PSG training, met Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and got an up-close look at one of Europe’s top teams.

Neymar fined £900,000 for tax evasion in Brazil

The superstar PSG attacker has been hit with a large fine in his homeland and was slammed by a judge for trying to obstruct justice

Neymar fined £900,000 for tax evasion in Brazil

The superstar PSG attacker has been hit with a large fine in his homeland and was slammed by a judge for trying to obstruct justice

Emery: Neymar needs time to become PSG's Messi

Amid constant comparisons with his former Barcelona team-mate, the Brazilian's coach insists he still needs to adapt to his new club

Emery: Neymar needs time to become PSG's Messi

Amid constant comparisons with his former Barcelona team-mate, the Brazilian's coach insists he still needs to adapt to his new club

Emery: Neymar needs time to become PSG's Messi

Unai Emery wants Neymar to be his own man and continue to improve as he is touted as Paris Saint-Germain's answer to Lionel Messi.

We've not seen the best of Neymar at PSG - Emery

PSG boss Unai Emery says Neymar's talents are yet to be fully unleashed upon Ligue 1.

We've not seen the best of Neymar at PSG - Emery

PSG boss Unai Emery says Neymar's talents are yet to be fully unleashed upon Ligue 1.

We've not seen the best of Neymar at PSG - Emery

PSG boss Unai Emery says Neymar's talents are yet to be fully unleashed upon Ligue 1.

Harry Kane is England's most talented footballer, but is not world class yet

It is often said in football the word ‘legend’ is applied too loosely. The same must be said of the phrase ‘world class’.  Too many players are given this tag, but we should pause before handing out such lavish compliments. That is why I do not agree with those arguing Harry Kane is a world-class footballer. He isn’t. Not yet. My criteria for world class status are stricter than excelling in the Premier League, no matter how long Kane terrorises defences domestically. World class players are those who deliver in the post-Christmas stage of the Champions League, shining in the quarter-finals and beyond. World class players are those who deliver at major international tournaments. By the end of this season Kane might tick both boxes. He has the credentials, but until such time becoming English football’s most talented footballer is not enough. There was a comment by Pep Guardiola when asked about Kevin De Bruyne’s superb start to the season. I loved it. “If you want Kevin to be considered one of the best he has to win titles,” said Guardiola. In that sentence Pep encapsulated my argument. De Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League at this moment. But one of the greatest managers of all time is telling him how much farther he has to go. The same applies to Kane. I agree he is one of the finest strikers in the world, but it's not solely about being one of the best of your generation. The stage on which you consistently apply that talent also matters.  If selecting a world XI, would Kane join Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo in the line-up? No. Not at this moment. Kane’s form compares favourably with his goalscoring peers, but his task is to go beyond them. Harry Kane goals in Champs League 02/10 The record of the most prolific in this calendar year is similar. In 2017, Kane and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski have 36 goals apiece in all competitions. Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang has 35. Edinson Cavani has 37 for PSG. Domestically, Kane and Lewandowski have 27 league goals over this period, so statistically the Spurs man is already on a par with the most productive around. He is outscoring Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain. I believe he is better than them. This is why there is understandable enthusiasm to promote Kane’s current standing. You see the reports suggesting Real Madrid are prepared to pay £200 million, and I am sure had he scored the winning goal in the Bernabeu in the Champions League in midweek it would have been presented as evidence Kane has reached the highest tier.  But, with the exception of Lewandowski who helped Borussia Dortmund to the Champions League final, I would contend these strikers have more to do to be truly world class. Forwards like Cavani, Benzema, Higuain and Aubamayang are greatly admired and some might argue to be part of this group proves Kane is world class. Not for me. Arsene Wenger made a good point a couple of years ago regarding the number of top class strikers out there. “The strikers are South American today. Europe doesn’t produce strikers any more,” Wenger said.  I am sure the progress of Kane and Kylian Mbappe since he made this comment would make him revise that view slightly, but broadly I agree. Kylian Mbappe is the world's second most expensive player and a rare commodity: a high quality European striker Credit: GETTY IMAGES There was a time when the world’s greatest players were number nines. Think of Marco Van Basten from Europe, or the Brazilians Romario and Ronaldo. Now there is a dearth of world class centre-forwards and that is putting Kane top of most wanted lists. I do not write this to belittle or criticise the Tottenham striker. He is my favourite Premier League footballer and if I was a manager he is the one player I would be begging my chairman to sign. There are few certainties in the transfer market, but – injury permitting – Kane is as close to the ideal signing you can get. He guarantees goals. He is the right age, at a point in his career where he will get better. Most important, he is striving for greatness. He has the application you need to attain his targets. I do not believe it will matter to him who is saying how good he is, or whether he is world class or not, he will want more.  I can see it in Kane’s eyes when he gives interviews, that focus and single-mindedness to achieve as much as he can from the game. He is obsessed with goals. When he turns up for pre-season every summer, I can tell he has that determination to finish the year as the top goalscorer. He will be studying his numbers. When I read the extract from the Spanish journalist Guillem Balague’s book on Mauricio Pochettino describing Kane as the ‘best player in the world in terms of mental strength, willpower and endeavour’ it did not surprise me. As a 14-year-old at Spurs, Kane was not the tallest or most physically developed in his group. I believe the coaches at the time thought his progress could go either way, but when they saw his dad at the training ground – and how tall he was – they took a long-term view with the player. He has repaid that faith.  If he stays fit and is not tempted to move abroad, I believe Kane will break Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record of 260. Where he needs to distance himself from Shearer is the number of medals won. It is a travesty a player of Shearer’s ability has only one Premier League winners’ medal. His haul should be up their with the greatest players. Kane cannot let his career progress without reward. No matter how strong Kane’s affinity to Spurs, the club must starting winning trophies. Shearer underlined his world-class talent because he also performed at the highest standard for England at a major tournament, in his case Euro 96. Kane must prove his quality on the international stage with England to truly be considered world class Credit: GETTY IMAGES England has had other recent players such as Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney who used the Champions League to confirm their world class status, regardless of how their international careers are judged. Fernando Torres was world class, not because of his Anfield career, but his contribution to Spain’s European Championship win in 2012. Suarez, one of the few strikers around who I feel still has the edge on Kane, is world class because of his performances for Uruguay at the World Cup and Barcelona in Europe. These performances added to what they were producing domestically. They were consistently brilliant at all levels and collected trophies. Total Football Special: Graeme Souness 37:26 I apply the same logic to managers. The greatest are defined by their success in the European Cup or Champions League. Think of it as those great golfers who spend their careers chasing a major trophy. We all know who has the talent, but there is clear way of separating the very best from the rest – those who win green jackets and Open Championships. Kane already stands apart from every other English player. There was a time when the national team was packed with those who were the main men for their clubs – Gerrard, Terry, Lampard, Rooney and Michael Owen. Now only Kane is the main man for his club. Pochettino may be upset about Spurs being referred to as this, but England is certainly the ‘Harry Kane Team’ Like it or not, that is a phrase that will stick because when Kane eventually achieves world class status his contribution will resonate most when we recall this era for Spurs and England.

Harry Kane is England's most talented footballer, but is not world class yet

It is often said in football the word ‘legend’ is applied too loosely. The same must be said of the phrase ‘world class’.  Too many players are given this tag, but we should pause before handing out such lavish compliments. That is why I do not agree with those arguing Harry Kane is a world-class footballer. He isn’t. Not yet. My criteria for world class status are stricter than excelling in the Premier League, no matter how long Kane terrorises defences domestically. World class players are those who deliver in the post-Christmas stage of the Champions League, shining in the quarter-finals and beyond. World class players are those who deliver at major international tournaments. By the end of this season Kane might tick both boxes. He has the credentials, but until such time becoming English football’s most talented footballer is not enough. There was a comment by Pep Guardiola when asked about Kevin De Bruyne’s superb start to the season. I loved it. “If you want Kevin to be considered one of the best he has to win titles,” said Guardiola. In that sentence Pep encapsulated my argument. De Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League at this moment. But one of the greatest managers of all time is telling him how much farther he has to go. The same applies to Kane. I agree he is one of the finest strikers in the world, but it's not solely about being one of the best of your generation. The stage on which you consistently apply that talent also matters.  If selecting a world XI, would Kane join Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo in the line-up? No. Not at this moment. Kane’s form compares favourably with his goalscoring peers, but his task is to go beyond them. Harry Kane goals in Champs League 02/10 The record of the most prolific in this calendar year is similar. In 2017, Kane and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski have 36 goals apiece in all competitions. Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang has 35. Edinson Cavani has 37 for PSG. Domestically, Kane and Lewandowski have 27 league goals over this period, so statistically the Spurs man is already on a par with the most productive around. He is outscoring Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain. I believe he is better than them. This is why there is understandable enthusiasm to promote Kane’s current standing. You see the reports suggesting Real Madrid are prepared to pay £200 million, and I am sure had he scored the winning goal in the Bernabeu in the Champions League in midweek it would have been presented as evidence Kane has reached the highest tier.  But, with the exception of Lewandowski who helped Borussia Dortmund to the Champions League final, I would contend these strikers have more to do to be truly world class. Forwards like Cavani, Benzema, Higuain and Aubamayang are greatly admired and some might argue to be part of this group proves Kane is world class. Not for me. Arsene Wenger made a good point a couple of years ago regarding the number of top class strikers out there. “The strikers are South American today. Europe doesn’t produce strikers any more,” Wenger said.  I am sure the progress of Kane and Kylian Mbappe since he made this comment would make him revise that view slightly, but broadly I agree. Kylian Mbappe is the world's second most expensive player and a rare commodity: a high quality European striker Credit: GETTY IMAGES There was a time when the world’s greatest players were number nines. Think of Marco Van Basten from Europe, or the Brazilians Romario and Ronaldo. Now there is a dearth of world class centre-forwards and that is putting Kane top of most wanted lists. I do not write this to belittle or criticise the Tottenham striker. He is my favourite Premier League footballer and if I was a manager he is the one player I would be begging my chairman to sign. There are few certainties in the transfer market, but – injury permitting – Kane is as close to the ideal signing you can get. He guarantees goals. He is the right age, at a point in his career where he will get better. Most important, he is striving for greatness. He has the application you need to attain his targets. I do not believe it will matter to him who is saying how good he is, or whether he is world class or not, he will want more.  I can see it in Kane’s eyes when he gives interviews, that focus and single-mindedness to achieve as much as he can from the game. He is obsessed with goals. When he turns up for pre-season every summer, I can tell he has that determination to finish the year as the top goalscorer. He will be studying his numbers. When I read the extract from the Spanish journalist Guillem Balague’s book on Mauricio Pochettino describing Kane as the ‘best player in the world in terms of mental strength, willpower and endeavour’ it did not surprise me. As a 14-year-old at Spurs, Kane was not the tallest or most physically developed in his group. I believe the coaches at the time thought his progress could go either way, but when they saw his dad at the training ground – and how tall he was – they took a long-term view with the player. He has repaid that faith.  If he stays fit and is not tempted to move abroad, I believe Kane will break Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record of 260. Where he needs to distance himself from Shearer is the number of medals won. It is a travesty a player of Shearer’s ability has only one Premier League winners’ medal. His haul should be up their with the greatest players. Kane cannot let his career progress without reward. No matter how strong Kane’s affinity to Spurs, the club must starting winning trophies. Shearer underlined his world-class talent because he also performed at the highest standard for England at a major tournament, in his case Euro 96. Kane must prove his quality on the international stage with England to truly be considered world class Credit: GETTY IMAGES England has had other recent players such as Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney who used the Champions League to confirm their world class status, regardless of how their international careers are judged. Fernando Torres was world class, not because of his Anfield career, but his contribution to Spain’s European Championship win in 2012. Suarez, one of the few strikers around who I feel still has the edge on Kane, is world class because of his performances for Uruguay at the World Cup and Barcelona in Europe. These performances added to what they were producing domestically. They were consistently brilliant at all levels and collected trophies. Total Football Special: Graeme Souness 37:26 I apply the same logic to managers. The greatest are defined by their success in the European Cup or Champions League. Think of it as those great golfers who spend their careers chasing a major trophy. We all know who has the talent, but there is clear way of separating the very best from the rest – those who win green jackets and Open Championships. Kane already stands apart from every other English player. There was a time when the national team was packed with those who were the main men for their clubs – Gerrard, Terry, Lampard, Rooney and Michael Owen. Now only Kane is the main man for his club. Pochettino may be upset about Spurs being referred to as this, but England is certainly the ‘Harry Kane Team’ Like it or not, that is a phrase that will stick because when Kane eventually achieves world class status his contribution will resonate most when we recall this era for Spurs and England.

Harry Kane is England's most talented footballer, but is not world class yet

It is often said in football the word ‘legend’ is applied too loosely. The same must be said of the phrase ‘world class’.  Too many players are given this tag, but we should pause before handing out such lavish compliments. That is why I do not agree with those arguing Harry Kane is a world-class footballer. He isn’t. Not yet. My criteria for world class status are stricter than excelling in the Premier League, no matter how long Kane terrorises defences domestically. World class players are those who deliver in the post-Christmas stage of the Champions League, shining in the quarter-finals and beyond. World class players are those who deliver at major international tournaments. By the end of this season Kane might tick both boxes. He has the credentials, but until such time becoming English football’s most talented footballer is not enough. There was a comment by Pep Guardiola when asked about Kevin De Bruyne’s superb start to the season. I loved it. “If you want Kevin to be considered one of the best he has to win titles,” said Guardiola. In that sentence Pep encapsulated my argument. De Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League at this moment. But one of the greatest managers of all time is telling him how much farther he has to go. The same applies to Kane. I agree he is one of the finest strikers in the world, but it's not solely about being one of the best of your generation. The stage on which you consistently apply that talent also matters.  If selecting a world XI, would Kane join Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo in the line-up? No. Not at this moment. Kane’s form compares favourably with his goalscoring peers, but his task is to go beyond them. Harry Kane goals in Champs League 02/10 The record of the most prolific in this calendar year is similar. In 2017, Kane and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski have 36 goals apiece in all competitions. Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang has 35. Edinson Cavani has 37 for PSG. Domestically, Kane and Lewandowski have 27 league goals over this period, so statistically the Spurs man is already on a par with the most productive around. He is outscoring Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain. I believe he is better than them. This is why there is understandable enthusiasm to promote Kane’s current standing. You see the reports suggesting Real Madrid are prepared to pay £200 million, and I am sure had he scored the winning goal in the Bernabeu in the Champions League in midweek it would have been presented as evidence Kane has reached the highest tier.  But, with the exception of Lewandowski who helped Borussia Dortmund to the Champions League final, I would contend these strikers have more to do to be truly world class. Forwards like Cavani, Benzema, Higuain and Aubamayang are greatly admired and some might argue to be part of this group proves Kane is world class. Not for me. Arsene Wenger made a good point a couple of years ago regarding the number of top class strikers out there. “The strikers are South American today. Europe doesn’t produce strikers any more,” Wenger said.  I am sure the progress of Kane and Kylian Mbappe since he made this comment would make him revise that view slightly, but broadly I agree. Kylian Mbappe is the world's second most expensive player and a rare commodity: a high quality European striker Credit: GETTY IMAGES There was a time when the world’s greatest players were number nines. Think of Marco Van Basten from Europe, or the Brazilians Romario and Ronaldo. Now there is a dearth of world class centre-forwards and that is putting Kane top of most wanted lists. I do not write this to belittle or criticise the Tottenham striker. He is my favourite Premier League footballer and if I was a manager he is the one player I would be begging my chairman to sign. There are few certainties in the transfer market, but – injury permitting – Kane is as close to the ideal signing you can get. He guarantees goals. He is the right age, at a point in his career where he will get better. Most important, he is striving for greatness. He has the application you need to attain his targets. I do not believe it will matter to him who is saying how good he is, or whether he is world class or not, he will want more.  I can see it in Kane’s eyes when he gives interviews, that focus and single-mindedness to achieve as much as he can from the game. He is obsessed with goals. When he turns up for pre-season every summer, I can tell he has that determination to finish the year as the top goalscorer. He will be studying his numbers. When I read the extract from the Spanish journalist Guillem Balague’s book on Mauricio Pochettino describing Kane as the ‘best player in the world in terms of mental strength, willpower and endeavour’ it did not surprise me. As a 14-year-old at Spurs, Kane was not the tallest or most physically developed in his group. I believe the coaches at the time thought his progress could go either way, but when they saw his dad at the training ground – and how tall he was – they took a long-term view with the player. He has repaid that faith.  If he stays fit and is not tempted to move abroad, I believe Kane will break Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record of 260. Where he needs to distance himself from Shearer is the number of medals won. It is a travesty a player of Shearer’s ability has only one Premier League winners’ medal. His haul should be up their with the greatest players. Kane cannot let his career progress without reward. No matter how strong Kane’s affinity to Spurs, the club must starting winning trophies. Shearer underlined his world-class talent because he also performed at the highest standard for England at a major tournament, in his case Euro 96. Kane must prove his quality on the international stage with England to truly be considered world class Credit: GETTY IMAGES England has had other recent players such as Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney who used the Champions League to confirm their world class status, regardless of how their international careers are judged. Fernando Torres was world class, not because of his Anfield career, but his contribution to Spain’s European Championship win in 2012. Suarez, one of the few strikers around who I feel still has the edge on Kane, is world class because of his performances for Uruguay at the World Cup and Barcelona in Europe. These performances added to what they were producing domestically. They were consistently brilliant at all levels and collected trophies. Total Football Special: Graeme Souness 37:26 I apply the same logic to managers. The greatest are defined by their success in the European Cup or Champions League. Think of it as those great golfers who spend their careers chasing a major trophy. We all know who has the talent, but there is clear way of separating the very best from the rest – those who win green jackets and Open Championships. Kane already stands apart from every other English player. There was a time when the national team was packed with those who were the main men for their clubs – Gerrard, Terry, Lampard, Rooney and Michael Owen. Now only Kane is the main man for his club. Pochettino may be upset about Spurs being referred to as this, but England is certainly the ‘Harry Kane Team’ Like it or not, that is a phrase that will stick because when Kane eventually achieves world class status his contribution will resonate most when we recall this era for Spurs and England.

Douglas Costa, Neymar & Gabriel Jesus make Brazil squad to face Japan and England

The Juventus man was joined be club-mate Alex Sandro, who appears to have edged out Filipe Luis, for Brasil Global Tour’s November stop in Europe

Douglas Costa, Neymar & Gabriel Jesus make Brazil squad to face Japan and England

The Juventus man was joined be club-mate Alex Sandro, who appears to have edged out Filipe Luis, for Brasil Global Tour’s November stop in Europe

Liverpool's Salah beats Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar to Uefa Champions League Player of the Week award

The Egypt winger again beat the Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG superstars to the top gong, making it his second in the three-matchday old competition

Liverpool's Salah beats Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar to Uefa Champions League Player of the Week award

The Egypt winger again beat the Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG superstars to the top gong, making it his second in the three-matchday old competition

Neymar told Barcelona team-mates he was joining PSG while at Lionel Messi's wedding

Former Barcelona captain Xavi has revealed that Neymar informed team-mates he would be leaving for PSG in June, while they were gathered at Lionel Messi's wedding. Neymar was the star of a transfer saga which dragged on throughout the summer with PSG breaking the world transfer record to sign him, starting a domino effect around Europe which caused player valuations to skyrocket, in a world where Harry Maguire is already worth £17 million.  Speaking of things that cost too much, it was during a wedding that Neymar chose to announce his decision to leave Barcelona, as Xavi told the BBC's World Football Show: "(Neymar) said to us at Messi's wedding that he wanted to change club. I said to him 'but why'? He said 'I am not happy in Barcelona. I prefer to leave to have a new experience in Europe at PSG' and finally he did. "It was his decision, we must respect it." Barcelona were angered when PSG met Neymar's release clause, losing the Brazilian for a world record £198million. Total Football Special: Graeme Souness 37:26 That Neymar had already set his heart on a move makes the transfer that much more interesting. Barcelona hastily paid £135.5million for young French forward Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in an attempt to address the absence of talent in their front three, and spent many summer days trying to unsuccessfully sign Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.  PSG also controversially signed Kylian Mbappe for £165million as the Qatar-backed club put money behind their plan to create a new version of Barcelona's famous MSN attacking trio. It has not been revealed which fellow footballer's wedding Mbappe decided to upstage by announcing his decision to leave Monaco.  Neymar has been in sensational form since his switch to Ligue 1, scoring nine goals in 10 games while his replacement, Dembele, started well before suffering a hamstring injury which could keep him out until late November. 

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