There was more than a hint of intent to Harry Kane’s words.
A public figure of his repute is more than capable of batting away a question like the one he was posed on an Instagram live chat two weeks ago, but the Tottenham striker instead chose to directly address the topic of his future with the North London club.
“I get asked this question a lot, it’s one of them things, I couldn’t say yes, I couldn’t say no,” he said. “I love Spurs, I’ll always love Spurs, but it’s one of them things I’ve always said if I don’t feel like we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there just for the sake of it.”
Such remarks have intensified the speculation that was already swirling around Kane heading into the summer transfer window. On one hand, these comments could push Spurs into taking action to ensure their prize asset stays. On the other hand, the starting pistol may have been fired on a saga that ends with Kane leaving Tottenham. But which of the clubs reportedly interested would be the best fit for the 26-year-old?
Manchester United have been widely mooted as a potential destination for Kane, with some reports claiming Daniel Levy would sanction a move to Old Trafford for a record fee of £200 million. On pedigree alone, Kane would be an upgrade on Anthony Martial, the French winger-turned-striker forward who has been moved into the middle by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for this season.
Indeed, Kane is far more productive in terms of shots on goal (3.7 per game compared to Martial’s 2.6 game average) and certainly boasts a better scoring rate over the years. But a key part of Solskjaer’s primary game plan involves overloading the left wing, something Martial is very effective at having played much of his career there.
Would Kane be as comfortable so far away from goal? Solskjaer’s left-sided ploy is largely designed to open up more space for Marcus Rashford, implying that Martial is the foil of the duo. Is that a role Kane, widely seen as the best goalscorer in the land and one of the best in Europe, would be willing to perform?
Real Madrid utilise a system that would, in theory, facilitate Kane. Both in terms of the areas of the pitch they occupy and the way they act as the centre forward in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system, there are parallels to be drawn between the England international and Karim Benzema. Indeed, Kane would surely be a good long term replacement for the Frenchman now into the twilight of his career.
Kane and Benzema have fired off exactly the same number of average shots per game (3.7) this season. The former has notched 17 goals for the season while the latter has 18. Benzema has averaged slightly more key passes per game (1.9 compared to 0.9), but Kane is just as capable of dropping deep to pick up the ball and drive it forward. In fact, it’s likely only because Jose Mourinho has demanded his centre forward play more like a centre forward that his key passing average is so low this season (it was higher in each of the previous three Premier League seasons).
Juventus is another club believed to be monitoring Kane and they too might be a good fit. Maurizio Sarri has switched between a 4-3-1-2 and 4-3-3 system, but it’s the latter which has the potential to accommodate Kane. Cristiano Ronaldo still tends to drift centrally from out left, but this is similar to what Heung-min Son does for Tottenham.
Kane would likely be signed as a replacement for Gonzalo Higuain at Juve. Considering Higuain was so far out of the Old Lady’s plans last season he was loaned to two different clubs, that would be a considerable upgrade, with Kane averaging more total shots, shots on target and dribbles per match.
Higuain averages slightly more touches in the box P90 (5.4 compared to 4.9), but the difference is negligible. They are comparable as players, both positionally and stylistically.
At this critical juncture Kane mustn’t just judge whether he can achieve all his dreams and ambitions at Spurs, but the suitability of the clubs after his signature.
A transfer to the wrong club at the wrong time can ruin a career - just ask Philippe Coutinho. Kane has options, but not all options in front of him are equal.