Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has described Harry Kane as one of the best footballers on the planet ahead of his side’s clash with Tottenham Hotspurs in a crucial top four battle on Sunday.
Reigning champions Chelsea are lying five points behind their London rivals in fifth, meaning a defeat would all but end their hopes of qualification for the Champions League next season.
Kane was ruled out of England’s matches against Netherlands and Italy over the past week due to an ankle injury but Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino reported encouraging progress and would not entirely rule out the 24-year-old playing a part Sunday.
And Conte admits that the England star is one of the leading operators in world football at the moment.
“I think that we are talking about one of the best strikers in the world. I consider him one of the best strikers in the world,” the Italian told a pre-match news conference.
“When you have a striker to score every season 30 goals, for sure, you will miss this type of player. You will feel this.
“But at the same time, I think Tottenham is an important team because of the whole team. They have many important players and international players.
“They play good football with a great intensity. Also, in the past they showed that despite Kane being missing, in many games, nothing has changed.
Conte acknowledges that the Blues’ status would be severely compromised by failing to win this weekend.
“For sure, Sunday is an important game for us and if we win we will go very close to Tottenham,” he said.
“Otherwise we continue to stay not so close and with seven games to go. It will be difficult to take a place in the Champions League.
“Nothing is impossible and also, I think in this group, I put Liverpool as well. For sure, we have to try to win, to win every game and not make a lot of mistakes – don’t drop points. It will be very important in this last part of the season.”