Gareth Southgate has revealed England striker Harry Kane measures his goal record against perennial Ballon d’Or contenders Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Tottenham striker Kane is a back-to-back golden boot winner at Premier League level and two goals against Malta on Friday took his international tally to 10 in 20 games.
With five of those coming in the past three games he is looking increasingly comfortable with the demands of leading his country’s attack and the Three Lions boss is impressed with just how high the forward’s sights are set.
“He’s in top form, but he’s also got the mentality to want to be the best,” said Southgate on the eve of Monday’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.
“He knows where he’s sitting. I asked him how many goals in how many games and he knew. He also knew how many Ronaldo had at this point, how many Messi had at this point and everybody else.
“He’s driven to be one of the world’s best and why can’t that happen moving forward?”
A quick look at the numbers suggests Kane is still some way short of the mark set by the Barcelona and Real Madrid rivals, regardless of his own impressive stats.
Kane turns 25 next July, an age at which Messi had netted 26 times for Argentina with Ronaldo boasting 22 for Portugal.
But Southgate is clear about just how big an asset he is and says the Spain manager shares the same view.
“I was having some interaction with Julen Lopetegui at a game and he was commenting on how lucky I was to have Harry playing,” he said.
“I have every trust in Harry. I’ve worked with him long enough, from the U21s through, and he’ll deliver whatever the occasion.
“Harry is still in the early stages of his career, but he’s top scorer in the league two years running and in a really good place.
“You’ve got to have that drive and belief, and that’s what he’s got. He had that when we weren’t picking him in the U21s. He’d come and say: ‘Hold on a minute, why? What’s the rationale?’ I never minded that self-belief. That’s all important.”
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