Harry Kane may well want to leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer. And if the latest reports that Spurs’ star striker wants out are true, then you can hardly blame the player.
Kane is coming to the end of his seventh full season as Tottenham’s first-choice centre-forward. In that time he has scored 215 goals in 308 appearances in all competitions, spearheading two title challenges and becoming the north London club’s record goalscorer in European competition, with four straight seasons in the Champions League.
Mauricio Pochettino took many of the plaudits, and deservedly so, but there is certainly a case to be made that Tottenham’s rise from upper-mid-table also-rans to Premier League elite has been built on Kane’s shoulders. And now, at the age of 27 and still with no major silverware to his name, Kane could be excused for feeling like strain of carrying the club has become too much.
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Spurs looked a fading force many months before their Champions League final loss to Liverpool in 2019, and the club have been sliding away from the top table ever since. The Jose Mourinho tenure was impossible to judge as anything other than a failure, and the team are now without a permanent manager and facing the prospect of missing out on European qualification all together.
For Kane it must be particularly galling to see his team show so few signs of competing for major honours anytime soon, particularly when he’s supplying more goals and assists than anyone could reasonably expect (he currently tops both the Premier League’s goalscoring and assist charts).
The problem for Kane will be his price.
The England captain signed a mammoth six-year deal at Spurs back in 2018 when the times were good under Pochettino. But the reality of that contract now is that he is still committed to the club for a further three seasons, leaving Daniel Levy and the Spurs board in a position of strength when it comes to negotiating a potential transfer fee. And for Tottenham to be willing to let their talisman and leading goal-scorer go, then any transfer fee is going to have to be sizeable. Kane is “one of their own” after all.
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If Kane does want to leave, then another stumbling block to a move is the current state of football’s finances. The covid-19 pandemic has further shortened the list of organisations willing to shell out the sort of mega transfer fees that European football saw two or three years ago.
And of those potential destinations, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich already have outstanding centre-forwards in Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski, while Barcelona have been heavily linked with a free transfer for departing Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero.
That Aguero absence does leave a gap in City’s squad, and if Kane wants trophies then there won’t be a more attractive option in English football than to join Pep Guardiola’s side. But whether a striker like Kane would fit with Pep’s style is another matter. For all of his excellent link-up play and ability to drop into midfield, Kane feels more like the sort of strikers that Guardiola has struggled to utilise throughout his career – Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Barcelona springs immediately to mind.
Manchester United and Chelsea have also been linked again this week with a move for Tottenham’s greatest goal-scorer since Jimmy Greaves.
A huge signing for United wouldn’t be particularly surprising this summer, with the Glazer family believed to be keen to move the conversation away from the financial implications of their ownership of the club. But spending an eight-figure sum on Kane might be slightly too much on a dead-cat story for the American owners to stomach. Particularly as stylistically it is hard to see how Kane and Manchester United’s star man Bruno Fernandes would operate in the same line-up without repeatedly occupying each other’s space.
Chelsea have the money, that is not in doubt. And Kane would be a great fit for Thomas Tuchel’s team too, providing them with a focal point to their strike-force and allowing Timo Werner the respite of dropping into one of the support roles in the attack, a position that would seem to suit his strengths far better than leading the line. Whether Tottenham could stomach selling a legendary homegrown talent to a bitter London rival is perhaps the greatest obstacle to such a move.
Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur looks dejected
Image credit: Getty Images
With Kane currently seventh on the all-time Premier League goalscorer’s list (on 165 goals) and with Thierry Henry (175), Frank Lampard (177), Sergio Aguero (182), Andy Cole (187), Wayne Rooney (208) and even Alan Shearer’s 260-goal tally in his sights, it is understandable that his preference would reportedly be to stay in the English top-flight. But if a club outside of England were to secure Kane’s signature this summer, then the likeliest option would appear to be Paris Saint-Germain.
PSG manager Pochettino’s existing relationship with Kane wouldn’t hurt the French club’s chances of landing the signing, and current No. 9 Mauro Icardi is reportedly looking to leave Paris after a disappointing first full season. For Kane, the opportunity to link up with Neymar and potentially also Kylian Mbappe, should he stay in the French capital, would no doubt be attractive. But whether a move to France would similarly appeal to the English captain is another matter.
Tottenham Hotspur have responded to transfer speculation by reportedly telling journalists: "Our focus is on finishing the season as strongly as possible. That’s what everyone should be focused on."
But the focus on Spurs will not be about the end of their season. That much is now very clear. The future of Harry Kane looks set to define the club’s summer.
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