The Harry Kane will-he-won’t-he saga seems to have reach its conclusion — for this football transfer window at least — after the Tottenham Hotspur captain ended a summer of relentless speculation over his future by revealing on Wednesday that he will remain at Tottenham Hotspur this season.
The England skipper was the subject of a summer-long pursuit by Premier League champions Manchester City, who regarded the striker as the key to unlocking the keys to success in the Uefa Champions League to accompany all their domestic success.
All signs pointed to Kane pulling on the Sky Blue shirt of City after he expressed his interest to leave the London club he has called home since he was an academy prospect as a youngster.
Spurs’ failure to win any silverware of note since they lifted the League Cup 2008 seemed to be the main catalyst in Kane’s desire to move. The 28-year-old is desperate to get some winner’s medals to go with his unarguable talents and that seems ever more unlikely at Spurs as their rivals continue to improve, but chairman Daniel Levy remains reluctant to splash the cash to keep up with the likes of City, Manchester United and Liverpool (even struggling arch-rivals Arsenal are shelling out in an attempt to get back to the top).
A club with one League Cup (England’s third tournament and far from a glamorous competition) to their name in 30 years is not a good match for a player of Kane’s stature and he made the tough decision to move on to a club with bigger ambitions to ensure his legacy as one of England’s greatest frontmen was secured.
Or so we thought ...
Kane and Levy had a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that he could move on this summer and the club would not stand in his way. However, whatever the pair verbally agreed, what Levy says and what he does are two different things. Following England’s foray to the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, where they ultimately lost to Italy on — you guessed it — penalties, Kane took a brief break before returning to London, where he expected to be saying his goodbyes and then heading north to the Etihad and future glories with City.
But Levy reneged on his promise and dug his heels in, demanding City pay in excess of 150 millions pounds for his prize asset. Weeks of stand-offs ensued and almost inevitably, Kane was forced to accept he was priced out of a move and accept he is going nowhere this summer.
City were keen to make Kane their long-term successor to all-time top goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who departed after a trophy-laden decade to play for Barcelona in the twilight of his career.
Kane has three years left on his contract and Levy decided he was not willing to let him go without hefty compensation. Even the deep and generous pockets of Abu-Dhabi owned Premier League champions City could not turn Levy’s head.
Kane, who last season became just the third player to lead the Premier League in goals and assists, sucked it up and took to Twitter to publicly accept there would be no move to the Etihad.
“I will be staying at Tottenham this summer,” he wrote on Wednesday, “and will be 100 per cent focused on helping the team achieve success.”
While City will be cursing Levy’s stubbornness as they missed out on their No. 1 target of the summer, new Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo’s delight at holding on to the goal machine showed just how highly regarded Kane is both at home in London and at envious rivals.
“Great news. Fantastic news for everybody,” Espirito Santo said after he heard the news on Wednesday evening. “Since Harry joined us he has been working, so this is what we value. It’s finished, Harry is going to be with us.”
While it is a blow to City. The impact on Kane will be greater. Another season with Spurs, who will once again struggle to claim any major trophies and will languish behind their main rivals — both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and defending champions Chelsea are going for Champions League glory while Spurs are stumbling along in qualifying stages of the paltry third-tier Europa Conference League alongside the likes of relative footballing unknowns Sivasspor, Anorthosis, Shakhter Karagandy, Rijeka and Rakow Czestochowa. Glamorous stuff.
At 28, Kane has yet to lift a single trophy for club or country, while City have won five of the last 10 Premier League titles, and would all but guarantee silverware for the England man.
Throughout it all, however, Kane kept his dignity — his tweet on Wednesday almost a direct message to Spurs fans that he will give his all for them once again, even if it is a futile bid for trophies, in an attempt to rebuild their trust in him following months of uncertainty.
Even the most diehard Tottenham fan must realise that success for Kane is more likely at another club that at the perennial bridesmaids, looking on as others take the plaudits.
The supporters know just what a talent Kane is, giving him a rousing reception when he came off the bench against Wolves on Sunday.
“It was incredible to see the reception from the Spurs fans on Sunday and to read some of the messages of support I’ve had in the last few weeks,” Kane tweeted.
As for City, well, they are turning their attention to a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, and may well get the Juventus man in this week — a move that is certain to raise eyebrows at Old Trafford and beyond as the Portuguese superstar was once the pin-up hero of Manchester United.
Even if that deal does not come to light, City have proven they score goals from almost every position on the pitch as they stormed to the Premier League title and Champions League final last season without a recognised striker for most of the campaign due to injuries to Aguero.
With Aguero now out for good, City coach Pep Guardiola wanted Kane as a guarantee of goals and assists. However, he can reassure himself when he looks at the attacking players on City’s books. New 100-million-pound recruit Jack Grealish joins the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Ferran Torres, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus. Add Ronaldo and City may quickly forget about missing out on Kane this time around. Not a bad back-up.
Back in London, Espirito Santo’s mission will be to get Spurs back to Europe’s top table in the Champions League — rather than the doldrums of the Europa Conference — and he can now press ahead with plans knowing Kane is staying put. He will need the England striker firing on all cylinders, and that is something that is pretty much guaranteed, despite the unrest.
Ever the true professional, Kane will do what Kane does best and put his head down and get on with his work for Spurs this season, even if it is not what he hoped and planned for.
Espirito Santo was full of admiration of the attitude of someone he labelled as “one of the best players in the world”.
“His attitude in training sessions has been great,” the Spurs boss said. “He worked today, he is an option for tomorrow against Pacos Ferreira in the Europa Conference League. Like I said, fantastic news for everybody. We are all very happy. One of the best players in the world. We are all delighted to have one more option for the season ahead of us.”
Kane will be another year older when City will realistically make their next move — and he will have one less year on his current Spurs deal.
For now, let’s roll on and see if and when the whole saga begins once again.