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Harry Kane at Tottenham Hotspur: Should he stay or should he go? | Premier League 2019-20

  • Is it time for Harry Kane to leave Tottenham? Or should he stick with his boyhood club? We explore the question in depth here.
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
Modified 04 Mar 2020, 21:30 IST

Could Harry Kane really leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer?
Could Harry Kane really leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer?

The hearts of Tottenham Hotspur fans across the world will have sunk a little this morning when it was reported by The Telegraph that talismanic striker Harry Kane will apparently be “weighing up his options” in the summer when it comes to staying in North London or departing for pastures new in his quest for silverware and personal glory.

The usual reasons were given for Kane’s dilemma; Tottenham remain in the FA Cup and Champions League this season, but the former competition seems like the only true possibility they have of picking up their first trophy since 2008, and in the Premier League – following a loss to Wolves at the weekend – they currently sit in 7th place, with those all-important Champions League qualification spots seemingly further away than ever before.

Also Read: Kane targets April return for Spurs and England spot for Euro 2020

Not that Kane can currently do a lot about things on the pitch anyway; the England captain is currently on the shelf, rehabbing the hamstring injury he suffered on New Year’s Day in Spurs’ loss to Southampton. Once he returns, the striker will undoubtedly look to help Tottenham’s cause, but going forward, as The Clash once famously asked, should he stay or should he go?

The case for staying at Spurs

Serial winner Jose Mourinho may be the man to deliver trophies to Spurs
Serial winner Jose Mourinho may be the man to deliver trophies to Spurs

Thankfully for Spurs fans, there are plenty of reasons why Kane should stay in North London with Jose Mourinho’s side. Firstly, there’s the simple fact that Tottenham now have a manager who’s well used to winning silverware, so if the England captain wants to get his hands on a trophy in the near future, staying put might be his best bet.

Sure, Mauricio Pochettino did a tremendous job during his time at White Hart Lane, changing Spurs from a somewhat flaky side into perennial Premier League title contenders, but the truth is that every time his side came close to winning a trophy – be it the EFL Cup in 2015, the FA Cup in 2018 or the Champions League in 2019 – they came up slightly short. Part of that may well have been down to a lack of experience on the behalf of the Argentine.

His replacement, on the other hand, has more experience than practically any other manager in the game when it comes to winning trophies. Mourinho’s outspoken style – and at times, dour on-pitch style – isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but it’s hard to deny that the Portuguese is a serial winner who’s delivered trophies at every single club he’s been at, regardless of how his tenure ended.

Whether ‘The Special One’ can bring a Premier League title to Tottenham is a massive question mark, but to see him lead them to one of the smaller trophies like the FA Cup wouldn’t be a shock at all. So if it’s trophies that he wants, Kane could do much worse than staying alongside Mourinho.

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There are other reasons, too. While Tottenham admittedly don’t have the recent pedigree of some of their closest rivals – Liverpool, the Manchester clubs and Chelsea – when it comes to winning trophies, it’s impossible to dispute their rise over the past decade. Spurs are now considered one of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’, and with the opening of their new stadium last season, they arguably have the best ground in the entire country.

Does that mean a lot in terms of on-pitch success? Well, no; plenty of great stadiums don’t breed winning teams, but it does mean that the profile of Tottenham in and out of the UK is only going to grow over the next few years, as is their financial clout.

Of course, the England captain is surely well aware of this; after all, no player has done more to contribute to Spurs’ recent rise than him, as the side seem somewhat blunted without his goalscoring abilities. But the truth is that over recent seasons – essentially since 2015-16 – there’s a very fair argument to suggest that Spurs have surpassed teams like Manchester United and Arsenal even if they’re still not seen as quite as high profile.

Essentially, it seems like only a matter of time now before Tottenham turn their potential into genuine success in terms of major trophies. We all saw a similar thing happen at Liverpool, as they made it to the Champions League final in 2017-18 before losing to Real Madrid – only to bounce back in the next campaign to win Europe’s biggest trophy. And of course, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are now on course to win their first-ever Premier League title.

We’re only a season removed from Tottenham’s own appearance in the Champions League final, and while the instant success of Liverpool might be beyond them – particularly in the current season – there’s no reason why it has to be seen as the end of an era rather than the beginning of an unprecedented period of success in North London.

And again, Kane, more than anyone else, knows this. He’s a boyhood Spurs fan, beloved by the fans more than any other player in the squad, and at the age of 26, assuming his injuries don’t completely ruin him going forward, he’s in with a chance of supplanting the legendary Jimmy Greaves as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. Why would he want to throw all of that away?

The case for leaving Tottenham

Other Premier League stars like Kevin De Bruyne are better paid than Kane
Other Premier League stars like Kevin De Bruyne are better paid than Kane

Of course, there’s definitely a case to be made that the summer of 2020 would be the perfect time for Kane to depart Tottenham and look for a new challenge. There are a number of reasons that could be given, but perhaps the most important one is also a simple one: time.

At 26 years old, Kane isn’t reaching the end of his time at the top just yet, but he does turn 27 in July and so as strange as it feels, he’s no longer a young gun as he was when he rose to fame in 2014-15. Throw in the fact that he seems to be suffering from more injuries than ever before now – 2018-19 saw him miss two long periods with ankle injuries while he’s currently out of action following a hamstring tear – and it’s hard to deny that his window for winning trophies is slowly closing.

And historically, we’ve seen players who were beloved at a club after spending years there end up moving on in their older years in order to look for success in terms of silverware.

Famed Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta, for instance, became an icon at Fiorentina to the point where a statue in his likeness was built at their ground. But after spending nine seasons in Florence – winning a couple of minor trophies along the way – the 31-year old ‘Batigol’ decided to move on in order to chase the Scudetto – which he won with Roma in his debut season at the club.

It’s not like such things haven’t been seen at Tottenham in the past, either; Teddy Sheringham was adored by Spurs fans after spending five seasons at White Hart Lane, but at the age of 31 the lure of trophies proved to be too much for him, and he moved to Manchester United, where he subsequently won three Premier League titles as well as the Champions League.

Would it be too early for Kane to copy the example of Batistuta and Sheringham, who were both older when they made their big moves? Perhaps, but it’d also mean he’d have more of a chance of success than they did.

Another factor for the England captain could be money. Kane is reportedly Tottenham’s highest earner, bringing in around £200k per week, but while that sounds like a lot of money, in comparison to other Premier League stars, it really isn’t.

The likes of Kevin De Bruyne (£320k per week), Paul Pogba (£290k per week) and Marcus Rashford (£300k per week) all earn more than the Spurs talisman, and while The Telegraph’s report mentions that Tottenham would be willing to up Kane’s pay packet, it’s debatable how far they’d be willing to go; the club are well-known for keeping a tight grip of their wage bill in order to ensure the club never stretches itself too far financially.

And outside of the Premier League, the opportunity for earning can go even higher, depending on the club. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, for instance, is the world’s highest-paid player, making around £500k per week, but Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo earns almost as much, while Neymar, Gareth Bale and Kylian Mbappe all reportedly make more than the Premier League’s highest-paid stars.

Also Read: The 5 highest-paid football players in the world in 2020

So if money is Kane’s primary motivation, then he almost certainly needs to leave Tottenham. However, despite there being no suggestion that that is the case, there are other arguments to be made too. 

Tottenham would almost certainly be reluctant to sell Kane to a Premier League rival for any potential fee, but selling him to a European giant would be another question entirely. And if Real Madrid or Barcelona, for instance, came in for the England captain, it may well be the case that he’d like to go for no other reason than to experience life in another European league.

Life abroad hasn’t suited all of the British players that moved; Michael Owen and Paul Gascoigne both struggled, for instance, but the likes of David Beckham, Steve McManaman and Gareth Bale thrived in Europe and currently, more English players than ever before are making the move, with the likes of Jadon Sancho, Kieran Trippier and Chris Smalling all plying their trade away from the Premier League.

The prestige that a move to a club like Real or Barcelona brings would also be hard for Kane to ignore, despite the love he clearly has for Tottenham. A move abroad would be a risk, but for the England captain at the peak of his powers, it could be one worth taking.

In conclusion....

Is Kane
Is Kane's future at Tottenham his to decide?

Kane’s future may well not be for him to decide anyway; the striker is under a long-term deal at Tottenham that has four years remaining, and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is well-known for being a nightmare for rival clubs to negotiate with. If Levy were to decide to refuse to sell Kane outright, there wouldn’t be a lot that the England captain could do.

The Telegraph’s report also mentions that Tottenham value Kane at well over £150m – and knowing Levy, if a sale were to take place, it wouldn’t be surprising if he were to demand a world-record fee for the striker, breaking the £200m mark paid by Paris St. Germain for Neymar in the summer of 2017.

That begs the question, which clubs could even afford such a transfer fee? Well, Real Madrid and Barcelona certainly could – meaning the question would become about whether they would want to spend that sort of money on Kane.

Los Blancos are definitely short of a striker since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, and Kane would definitely represent the Galactico-type signing that the club are renowned for making. However, rumours regarding moves for Kylian Mbappe of PSG and Paul Pogba of Manchester United simply won’t go away, which suggests that Real may have targets other than the Spurs man this summer.

What of Barcelona? Lionel Messi is still the key man at the Nou Camp, but Luis Suarez is arguably past his prime now and so La Blaugrana would love to have a goalscorer like Kane amongst their ranks. But Barca’s squad also needs a serious rebuild, and right now it appears that Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez is their primary target. So like Real, Kane may not be on their radar.

Which brings us back to Tottenham’s Premier League rivals. Realistically, three clubs could perhaps afford to break the bank for Kane: Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool.

We can probably discount the Reds right away. Under Jurgen Klopp, they haven’t been prolific spenders – choosing to strengthen smartly and look for bargain players who fit into the German’s system – and while they did splash out on Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, those moves only came after the mega-money sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.

At 26 and best used as a central striker – the focal point of a team – Kane doesn’t really fit the mould of a modern-day Liverpool signing, and so a move to Anfield seems thoroughly unlikely.

That leaves Manchester as a potential destination. City certainly have the financial clout to sign Kane; their spending has been at a ludicrous level ever since they were bought out by the Abu Dhabi Group in 2008, and with Sergio Aguero beginning to age, Kane could easily slot in at the Etihad as their new talisman.

However, City’s spending is also going to be under major scrutiny this summer following UEFA’s ruling that they have broken Financial Fair Play rules, meaning that a move for a player as expensive as Kane could well be out of the question. And if City remain banned from European competition, there’s every chance that the England captain wouldn’t want to move there anyway.

But what about United? As England’s richest club they could certainly afford his transfer fee, and could probably even double his weekly wage. And it’s not like Spurs don’t have form in selling to the Red Devils; both Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick moved to Old Trafford previously, although the Berbatov move was allegedly painful for all parties involved.

However, the fact is that money aside, United are not in a better position than Tottenham right now. Spurs have finished above the Red Devils in the Premier League in 3 of the last 4 seasons and could well finish above them in the current campaign too; Jose Mourinho – despite his own failings at Old Trafford – is a far more credentialed manager than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Kane’s England teammate Harry Maguire – who moved from Leicester to United last summer only to see his old team rise into Champions League contention – is living proof that a move to Old Trafford is no longer the guaranteed ticket to glory that it once was.

Perspectives could all change, of course, if United dispense of Solskjaer in the summer and replace him with Pochettino, as some rumours have suggested, but right now Kane must look to the present – and a move to the Red Devils under Solskjaer just doesn’t carry the same clout as a move to Alex Ferguson’s United would’ve done a decade ago.

In conclusion, then, assuming one of Real Madrid or Barcelona don’t come knocking, then the argument for Kane staying at Tottenham is probably the stronger one; Spurs are a club on the rise – unlike Manchester United – and success may only be around the corner for them. And if it doesn’t happen, then at 26, Kane still has time to make a big move in the hunt for glory – just ask Teddy Sheringham.

Published 04 Mar 2020, 21:30 IST
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