Over the past two weeks, it has become abundantly clear that Harry Kane wants to leave Tottenham Hotspur. As reported by The Athletic, he has wanted to leave for a while. Season after season, Kane has seen his fellow teammates leave for clubs both bigger and smaller than Spurs – Juan Foyth, a Spurs loanee, just lifted the Europa League trophy with Villarreal – and win trophies, while he has had to look from a distance, with neither hap nor silverware by his side. Now reaching his prime years, Kane feels he has given all that he could to his boyhood club, but the time has come for him to actually start winning things and if that means life away from Spurs, so be it.
There’s little discussion about whether Kane wants to leave, but there’s a bigger question about – will he be able to?
As far as Spurs are concerned, they are in as strong a position as they could have wanted. Daniel Levy managed to bind Kane to the club with a six-year contract extension back in 2018, which immediately shot the England Men’s Football Team’s captain’s estimated evaluation north of £200 million. Three years down the line, even in a post-COVID economy, Spurs will demand no less than £120m-£150m for their forward.
That’s not to say that Spurs couldn’t use the money. They’re in need of a serious rebuild of their squad. Add to that the COVID ramifications all clubs are dealing with as well as their recently opened stadium, a cash influx of the aforementioned amount would certainly go a long way to help them. That said, they are in no way going to cave in and let go of Kane easily, especially not with Daniel Levy at the helm. The Spurs chairman is well known for playing hard ball in transfer negotiations, especially when it comes to selling his players to rival Premier League clubs, which he tries to avoid as much as he can. He’s not going to allow Kane to leave out of sheer goodwill.
Let’s now take a look at the clubs who are capable of and have been linked with taking Kane off Spurs’ hands.
Naturally, granted one could meet his evaluation, Levy’s first choice would be to sell Kane to a club outside of England. Despite interest, that already rules out the likes of Barça and Real Madrid, given their lack of funds and priorities elsewhere. Paris Saint-Germain have been sounded out as a fit, football-wise. They have the funds. They have a requirement up front, having not been totally satisfied with Mauro Icardi. There’s the obvious Mauricio Pochettino connection, although he himself is being reported to be wanting to return to Spurs in what would be a sensational turn of events. However, Kane is a family man and wouldn’t give too much thought to a move outside the UK.
That restricts us to candidates within the Premier League. Chelsea are one club that need a Number 9 for Tuchel next season and could finance a move, but given the local rivalry and Levy’s record of dealings with the Blues, there is little to suggest that this move could materialise. In the past, Levy has gone to great lengths to not sell a player to his local rivals, even at the expense of reduced profit. At the turn of the last decade, Chelsea had multiple bids rejected for then Spurs star Luka Modrić, who Levy eventually sold to Real Madrid for a reduced fee and the rest, as they say, is history.
Manchester United are another one to have long shown interest in Kane. While there’s no doubt Kane would improve their side, the Red Devils are better off not going all in on this move. Despite the disappointing Europa League final defeat, United have shown real signs of progress this season. They also have well-defined issues that need to be addressed by making prudent choices in the market this summer. Regardless of what the name suggests, Manchester United are not swimming in money sufficiently enough to be able to ignore their actual deficiencies and go for a move like this. The most realistic estimation is that out of the three positions – a predominantly right-sided attacker, a Number 6, and a centre-back – United need to bolster, they’ll probably be able to make one high-end transaction, with any other business predicating on the money generated via player sales. Having just signed Edinson Cavani to a one-year extension, they are in a position to make some constructive moves in the market before the start of next season. While buying Kane would undoubtedly make huge waves across the world, it wouldn’t solve United’s deep-rooted issues that should already have been addressed last season. In a footballing context, this is the most stable the club have been since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013. They ought to make sure they build on it, which they won’t be doing if they contrive to bring Kane at Old Trafford.
Then come Manchester City who, from a footballing point of view, are the perfect match for Harry Kane. At the moment, no other club in England can guarantee trophies the way City can. Financially, they have sufficient funds to sanction the move and bring Kane to the Etihad. Also, they need to fill the Sergio Agüero-shaped hole up front, and who better to do that than England’s Golden Boy himself?
Both sides would like to have each other. It’s a move that can happen. What, then, could stop it from happening? The answer lies in the logistics.
Harry Kane is 27 years old. He’ll be 28 in July, just after the season officially begins. Despite being in his prime years, Harry has become rather accustomed to periods on the sidelines, periods induced by recurring injuries. Occasional knocks aside, Kane has suffered six different ankle injuries since 2016, leaving his managers across club and country to manage him precariously throughout a season. Right now, he’s the academy graduate doing wonders for his boyhood club. Once laden with a £150m price tag, everything that would happen with him would be subjected to a much higher, often unreasonable, standard, in which case any prospective injury would only add more pressure on both him and City, who would have to manage him more delicately, something you wouldn’t want to do with a player you spent £150m on.
Then there’s the way City spend their money in the transfer market, which is completely opposite to what a Harry Kane transfer would demand. Most of the success of the Abu Dhabi United Group’s ownership of the club has been down to the nature of their squad building. In the last 13 years, while City have liberally spent money to raise the team to the level they’re now at, they have made sure to spread the amount spent uniformly across the squad, and not pay exorbitant fees for just a few players. While the likes of PSG and Barça have mainstreamed the idea of €100m+ transfer prices, City have chosen to keep most of their prices within the range of €30m- €55m. They might spend slightly more opulently on an above-average player to bolster their squad, but they never go out of their way to break the transfer record with a trailblazing price tag, which they very much could if they wanted to.
In January 2018, City wanted Alexis Sánchez but walked away because of his wage demands. In the summer of 2019, they wanted Harry Maguire but once again shied away because of his £80m price tag, and instead bought Rúben Dias from SL Benfica last summer by breaking their transfer record with a £51 million fee, although Nicolás Otamendi went the other way as a £13m makeweight. Time and again, City choose to make sensible decisions and back themselves and their squad to perform well. Time and again, they succeed. As much as they would love to bring Harry Kane to Manchester and would even consider going a certain distance by again breaking their transfer record, it is highly unlikely they’ll discard the morals that have brought them to this level by acquiescing to Daniel Levy’s obstinacy.
The speculation regarding Harry Kane’s Spurs future existed even back in 2018, when he signed that six-year contract extension. It wasn’t hard to imagine a scenario where it would come to bite Kane back some years down the line if and when he wished to leave. Dutifully, that moment has arrived. There are no complaints to the loyalty Kane has shown to Spurs in his time at the club, although he has been trying his diplomatic best to engineer a situation where forces around him would attempt, albeit softly, to execute his exit from the club. From his hour-long interview with Gary Neville that was shot a week before news of his wish to leave Spurs broke, with him alluding to a “gentleman’s agreement” between him and Daniel Levy, Kane has made sure that his image remains intact, and irrespective of what happens, the Spurs fans won’t begrudge him for wanting to leave. This is a saga that will continue to rumble on throughout the summer until the transfer window closes, but by all accounts, the likeliest outcome is that Kane will continue at Spurs, at least for next season.