Manchester City transfer news - Harry Kane's departure is inevitable, and he is a risk worth taking at £160m
Tottenham Hotspur are subject of conflicitng reports that suggest that chairman Daniel Levy is now resigned to letting Harry Kane join Manchester City providing he can secure £160 million, with another story suggesting the London club still have no interest in negotiating his departure. There is a way forward for both clubs, though.
Harry Kane of England celebrates after victory in the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Ukraine and England at Olimpico Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly keen to keep hold of their striker and captain Harry Kane, but there may come a point where Manchester City’s offer is too good to turn down.
The reasons for Pep Guardiola to want Kane are obvious, and it is hard to disagree with any of them. At 27, he is essentially teetotal, has a private chef to keep him in excellent condition, and is clearly dedicated to his career. You rarely get that from an English footballer - indeed, you rarely get that from anyone English. To the extent that Kane commits to his career, there are probably few other athletes who are willing to show such discipline.
That is reflected in his career so far. From a slow start and plenty of loan spells, he built his talent into something few would have predicted. His build-up play has improved (making him a straightforward replacement for Sergio Aguero at the Etihad), his ability to strike early recalls the best of Alan Shearer, and he has consistently hit the back of the net while dealing with a side that has failed to quite reach the top.
The next step for Kane has to be for him to move up the ladder. There are only a few options for him to entertain, and he is fortunate that Aguero has moved on to clear a space in City’s squad. Perhaps only Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid could even consider taking him, his transfer fee and his wages on. With Kylian Mbappe the preferred striker of both of those sides, there is no easy way for Kane to move to either in the near future.
That leaves Kane and City set for one another, from the player’s point of view. City, too, might find their options a little limited. The alternatives include Mbappe, of course, but he understandably prefers the glamour of Real Madrid and what they mean to football. He appears less convinced by what City mean to football - so far, anyway.
The other option would be to try to prise Erling Haaland away from Borussia Dortmund. The Norwegian striker can be bought for around £75 million next season, so spending almost twice that for one more season is a gamble that may put off all but the financially bravest clubs off him. It’s also worth remembering that dealing with Haaland means dealing with Mino Raiola, which only very rarely actually seems worth the hassle.
As a result, City don’t have too many options. Kane is equipped to handle the Premier League, has shown an aptitude to improve so should embrace his chances at a Champions League contender, and has the professional qualities to keep standards high at the Etihad.
Nevertheless, the move is a gamble for Manchester City, even with their oil-clagged deep pockets.
We are all aware that Financial Fair Play has been stretched to breaking point, and then bullied and laughed at. That isn’t a concern, but spending £160m matters to City, and they won’t want Kane to prove a waste of money.
There are many reasons to expect his success, but a few to wonder if he could fail against the odds.
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At 27, hundreds of games, international and club responsibilities, there is a possibility that for all his healthy living, his body will start to give up. He now seems to suffer from a semi-serious injury at least once a season, so he will need Guardiola’s excellent medical team to give him some assistance to become robust again. Nevertheless, those injuries are a warning sign that even the best athletes often can't stand a decade at the top.
But that does not appear to be a certainty - it’s a known risk and for City it’s one worth taking. For Spurs, they will need to make sure this isn’t Gareth Bale all over again.
When they landed £100m or so for Gareth Bale, they brought in seven players. None of them seemed foolish buys at the time, but it demonstrates that such an outlay, however spread between individual players, is a risk. As such, Levy has to maximise the money he can bring in while not becoming profligate with the proceeds.
There is also, of course, the cost of the pandemic to deal with. £160m will go a long way to softening that blow but Levy must deal with the demands of Nuno Espírito Santo to ensure his new manager is properly supported, while the club simultaneously again tries to find sustainability and profitability, all while paying off the debt incurred for their new stadium.
Spurs have no reason to relent in the face of pressure from either City or Kane. But they have to face the reality that keeping him into next season means they are keeping a player they will know to be unhappy. They have him to a long contract, and they have the richest club in football who are after a striker. There are not many with the experience and track record of Kane, so this is a chance for Spurs to equip their new manager Nuno Espirito Santo with a hefty wedge in the transfer market, while softening the blow of the coronavirus market. There are reasons to doubt Kane’s value at £160m - age, the number of games he’s played, his lack of experience at the very top of football and occasional injuries - but that is not Spurs’ problem if they can make sure City pay up to make it theirs.