Harry Kane has set his sights on matching the goalscoring standards set by Lionel Messi as the Tottenham Hotspur striker prepares for his shoot-out with the Barcelona legend.
Kane and Messi will be the leading men at Wembley on Wednesday when Tottenham host Barcelona in a crucial Champions League clash.
Messi has already scored eight times this season, including a hat-trick in Barca’s European demolition of PSV Eindhoven, taking his career tally for the club to well over 500 goals.
Kane has been prolific for Tottenham over the last four years, but he admits he needs to become even more ruthless with his finishing to approach the jaw-dropping statistics compiled by the Argentina forward.
“He set the standard, he and Cristiano Ronaldo have gone above the normal standard, when they are scoring 50 or 60 goals a season,” Kane said on Tuesday.
“As a striker I want to try and match that. He’s definitely set the standard for the rest of us and he still is.
“It motivates me to get even better and improve and hopefully one day score as many, if not more, than he has.
“It’s a great test for us. As players you want to play against the best in the world and Messi is certainly that, a fantastic player, and we will do our best to stop him.”
Kane is now a marked man around Europe himself, though, having outgunned the likes of Messi and Ronaldo to win the Golden Boot at the World Cup.
The England captain started the season slowly with fears he, like many of his Spurs team-mates, is suffering a World Cup hangover. But he scored twice at Huddersfield Town on Saturday to take his tally for the season to five goals.
“He is a difference maker,” said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde. “He is a danger with any ball played into him. We have to bear him in mind and expect him to be at his best.”
– Abysmal away run –
Tottenham lost their opening Champions League group game at Inter Milan, leaving the Premier League side with little margin for error as they try to qualify for the knockout stages.
Barca have wobbled domestically of late, with two draws and a defeat, to La Liga’s bottom side Leganes, in their last three matches.
And their record on the road in the Champions League in recent seasons is abysmal, winning just one and scoring two goals in their last seven away European games.
Wembley, though, brings back special memories for the Catalans, who have won the European Cup twice at the home of English football, in 1992 and 2011.
“We are aware that away from home it has been more difficult for us,” added Valverde. “We are prepared to change that and there couldn’t be a better scene to do so.”
Spurs took the scalp of Champions League holders Real Madrid at Wembley last season, and Kane is hoping for a repeat against the Spanish champions.
“We’ve got to prove we can beat the best teams in the world and we need to do that against Barcelona,” added Kane.
“Barcelona might play better than Real Madrid did last season. We need to produce that same energy, the crowd were amazing that night.
“If we can get them on their feet as soon as possible, create some chances and take one or two it would put us in a great position.”
Spurs, though, will have to deal with a mounting injury list with Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli ruled out, although captain Hugo Lloris could return in goal.