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Harry Kane’s relentless drive key to record-breaking 2017

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LONDON — Harry Kane‘s record-breaking 2017 wouldn’t be possible without one thing: his relentless drive.

Kane, 24, scored 39 Premier League goals in the calendar year to break Alan Shearer’s record as the Tottenham Hotspur forward bagged a hat trick at Wembley on Boxing Day to break the record in style.

More impressive than his penchant for scoring goals of all types, leading the line tirelessly and dropping deeper to open up space for others to exploit is his drive and determination to get even better in 2018.

After bursting onto the scene in 2014-15 following various loan spells at lower-tier clubs, Kane was dubbed a “one season wonder” by opposition fans across the Premier League. Kane now has two-straight Golden Boots in the PL and is on course for a third-straight as well as being England’s main man, and probably their captain, at the 2018 World Cup next summer, plus driving Spurs on in the knockout stages in the UEFA Champions League.

The doubters fueled his determination to become the leading marksman on the planet in 2017, a year which also saw him as the only Englishman nominated for the Ballon d’Or.

“Does that still spur me on? Probably, it’s always in the back of my mind,” Kane told reporters in the tunnel area at Wembley on Boxing Day. “I’ve always said that when people doubt me I want to prove them wrong whether it’s at a young age or now, that’s just my mindset, something in me since a young age. I’ll keep getting better, keep trying to improve. I’ll keep doing it for nine, 10 seasons and see where it takes me.”

Kane’s record of 56 goals in 52 appearances for club and country in 2017 surpasses what Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Roberto Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani have achieved. He’s top of the tree in the soccer pantheon right now, in terms of goals and attacking play, and that’s where he plans to stay for the next decade.

“When you look at Messi and Ronaldo, I’ve obviously still got a long way to go before I can be compared to them but it’s a start and that’s what I want to do, keep improving and be up there one day,” Kane said. “That’s always the goal, to be bracketed with the best players in the world. Messi and Ronaldo have set that standard for so long now. To nick ahead is something I’m proud of and it’s just the start for me. I want to do it year in, year out. They’ve done it for eight, nine years now so be classed in that bracket, that’s what I’ve got to do. That’s my aim.”

His manager at Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino, waxed lyrical about Kane’s achievements in 2017 and believes he is now “in the same company” of Ronaldo and Messi because of the hard work and dedication the Englishman puts into training each and every day.

Kane is humble and focused when he talks to the media, with his latest match ball for a treble being held by a Spurs employee in a plastic bag as he smiled and joked about what he had for his Christmas dinner.

He is efficient and deadly when he plays. You never see him in trouble in the tabloids. Off the pitch he is totally dedicated to getting the best out of his career. He is, in many respects, the complete package and the epitome of a role model to not only youngsters but current pros and his teammates.

I remember just before he burst onto the scene, he was given a run in Spurs’ first team by Tim Sherwood at the end of the 2013-14 season. In one game he suffered a head injury. Kane raced over to the touchline to get his head bandaged up and a new shirt on and was desperate to get back on the pitch and help out his team as Sherwood barked out orders.

After Kane’s hat trick on Boxing Day his teammates spoke to the media in the tunnel area of Wembley and were somewhat in awe of his achievements in 2017.

Tottenham’s captain Hugo Lloris, who has played with the likes of Thierry Henry and Antoine Griezmann among many other great forwards in his career, believes Kane is the best.

“I’ve never played with a striker capable of scoring so many goals in a year. I’ve played with a lot of top strikers and probably he is the best I’ve played with,” Lloris said. “He deserves all the praise at the moment. Now the most difficult part is coming because he needs to stick at this level. But with his mentality and quality I have no doubt he will do that. He is one of the best and he is going to keep showing it.”

Lloris continued: “If he scores one goal in a game, he wants two or three. This is his mentality. He’s a goal machine. It’s his target. When he enters the pitch, he focuses on that. His job is to score goals and it’s his mentality every day. The perception from outside is different now. He has more attention from the fans and media. But he has a good head on his shoulders and a lot of humility and that’s the key. He will keep working hard and I’m sure he will break more records if he does.”

Dele Alli, so often Kane’s partner in crime, told Pro Soccer Talk that Kane could break more records in 2018.

“Harry is one of those players that just because he’s broken one record, he’s not going to stop now,” Alli smiled. “He is going to keep going and working hard every day. Who knows, next year in 2018 he might break it again.”

Kane’s incredible goalscoring record is only half the story. His dedication and relentless drive to burst onto the scene in his early 20s is what is driving him to be among the best on the planet.

The conversation about whether or not he is world class is over. Now he is trying to prove he’s the best center forward on the planet.

Video: Fekir’s brilliant free kick has Lyon leading PSG

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Paris-Saint Germain has established itself as one of Europe’s best sides, but their opponent on Sunday isn’t playing scared against Neymar and Co.

[ MORE: Spurs, Saints play to 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s ]

Lyon has taken a 1-0 lead inside the opening two minutes against the Parisians after a stunning free kick by Nabil Fekir caught PSG keeper Alphonse Aréola off his line.

The hosts could move all the way up to second place today with a victory over PSG, who holds the league lead in Ligue 1 with a nine-point advantage.

The 24-year-old Fekir has been a revelation for Lyon in his fifth season with the club, scoring his 19th goal in all competitions on Sunday.

That total has already surpassed his career-high from the 2014/15 season, when he eclipsed 15 goals.

USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie injured in Schalke draw

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Look away, U.S. Men’s National Team fans.

American and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie was forced out of Sunday’s 1-1 Bundesliga draw against Hanover 96 after the 19-year-old collided with Felix Kraus.

McKennie, who entered the match in the 62nd minute for Leon Goretzka, managed to stay on the field for nearly 20 minutes before being substituted out.

To this point there has been no indication that the young USMNT player’s injury is serious.

More to follow…

Watford announces Gracia as Silva replacement

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Watford’s replacement for fired manager Marco Silva is indeed veteran Spanish boss Javi Gracia.

[ MORE: Watford fires Silva, blames Everton ]

The Hornets announced the 47-year-old’s hiring on Sunday, hours after firing Silva and blaming Everton’s pursuit of the manager for the club’s fall from European contender to the fringe of a relegation battle.

Watford is still four points clear of the drop following Southampton’s draw with Spurs on Sunday.

Gracia led Malaga to eighth and ninth place finishes in La Liga between 2014-16 before spending last season at Rubin Kazan.

Gracia, 47, has led promotion campaigns in Spain and has plenty of experience with perceived smaller clubs battling the drop zone.

Watford will hope the Hornets don’t reach that point after flirting with the Top Seven for the first quarter of the Premier League season.

Pochettino on sloppy Spurs draw, dismisses Malcom “rumor”

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Mauricio Pochettino knows St. Mary’s well, and the ex-Southampton boss has managed a rainy, sloppy match or three there in the past.

[ RECAP: Saints 1-1 Spurs ]

So he knows it’s possible to play well in those circumstances, leaving him feeling like Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday was a wasted opportunity against a struggling Saints side.

“It is temporary that Southampton are in the relegation zone, for sure they will push up the table,” Pochettino said. “It is two points we are going to miss at the end of the season because it is so tough between six or seven teams.”

[ MORE: Bertrand reacts to draw ]

So why couldn’t Spurs find their foothold? Well, aside from sickness keeping Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris out of the lineup, a bug that may’ve affected more on the team, Spurs just weren’t up to snuff.

“We struggled to play,” Pochettino said. “It was in possession, we made mistakes which allowed them to play. To win the game we should do better and play better. It wasn’t great.

Pochettino was also asked about Spurs’ reported pursuit of 20-year-old Bordeaux star Malcom, who has seven goals and five assists in Ligue 1 this season.

“That is a rumor and I don’t want to speak about it. I am happy with our squad. We are open to quality players but you know very well it is difficult in this transfer window.”