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Decision time looms for Kane as Manchester United looks the plausible move

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The prospect of Harry Kane leaving Tottenham for Manchester United is very real. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The prospect of Harry Kane leaving Tottenham for Manchester United is very real. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

PA

The prospect of Harry Kane leaving Tottenham for Manchester United is very real. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

It was not the answer Tottenham Hotspur wanted to hear, but it was typical of Harry Kane that when he was asked about his future he did not duck it.

"I've always said if I don't feel we are progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I'm not one to stay there for the sake of it," he said, during an Instagram Q&A with Jamie Redknapp, the Sky Sports pundit and former Tottenham midfielder.

Kane and Redknapp are friends, so maybe Kane's guard was down a little in going quite so far in speaking of his future, although he surely knew what he was saying and the effect it would have. Neither will the sentiment have come as a shock to Spurs or Daniel Levy, their chairman, who will maintain the striker is not for sale at any price.

The problem for Kane is that it is starting to feel like it is now or never if he is to do what many had previously considered unthinkable: leave Spurs, despite his love for the club, to win trophies.

Impulse

It is a natural sporting impulse and who can blame him, even if Spurs will note that, not only is he their highest-paid player, on £200,000 (€223,000) a week, but has a contract that runs until close to his 31st birthday in 2024.

But Kane will be 27 in July, so the clock is ticking. Any reasonable assessment would suggest that if he is finally going to leave then it has to be by the summer of 2021. His prime will lie between the ages of 28 and 32. If he waits much longer than the next 12 months, the ship may have sailed.

Within that time frame, would even the staunchest of Jose Mourinho's supporters or the most positive of Spurs fans envisage them challenging for trophies? It is difficult to see, with Mourinho having said he does not have the budget to reshape a squad in desperate need of an overhaul.

Of course, even if no one knows the likely state of the transfer market in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, selling Kane would give a substantial boost to the funds available to ­Mourinho. At the same time, the fans may feel that Kane has done as much as he can for the club, and would they really begrudge him going if it was finally to win the silverware he wants?

When Kane was coming through at Spurs, players such as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale were in the first team and, while they had both left by the time he established himself, their influence had been there. Now Kane is probably looking around the squad and wondering, who else is there? What more can I do? There is Son Heung-min, but beyond the Korean, the burden is on Kane.

It may make a difference if Spurs are able to bring in a player such as Philippe Coutinho, with whom they were in talks to sign last summer, but who appears set to convert his loan to Bayern Munich into a permanent deal.

A player such as that would provide some of the big-club experience Spurs appear to lack. The comparison is often drawn between Kane and Steven ­Gerrard, who remained a one-club man with Liverpool during his career.

But while Gerrard had Istanbul and winning the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005 - when the midfielder had just turned 25 - to sustain him, Kane has already passed that age, with Spurs having lost last season's Champions League final. By then, Gerrard had also won the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup and, although he never won the Premier League, he won more trophies before he retired.

Kane has won nothing. Gerrard's salary reflected his status and, while Kane is well paid, he would receive more elsewhere. Spurs cannot compete with the biggest teams in terms of performance. Neither can they do so in terms of finance.

So, what now? Spurs will maintain that Kane is not for sale, a stance that will put off some clubs who know how difficult it is to negotiate with Levy. The market for a player of Kane's stature is limited in the current climate and, while he may move abroad, Premier League logic would suggest Manchester United would be a likely destination.

Spurs may not have sold a player to United since Dimitar Berbatov in 2008, a deal which annoyed Levy, but it did not prevent them being open to negotiating over Bale. That move did not happen because United left it too late and, even though they eventually offered more than Real Madrid, Bale's mind was made up.

The situation may prove ­different with Kane. Whether United are ­prepared to test Spurs' resolve or have the means to do so remains to be seen. What it does feel like, though, is this is a story gathering momentum. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk