Wednesday 21 February 2018

Spurs say Kane is their Totti - but he was paid properly

2018 could be a defining year for Kane. Photo credit: John Walton/PA Wire.
2018 could be a defining year for Kane. Photo credit: John Walton/PA Wire.

Jason Burt

Harry Kane posted a photograph of himself on social media on New Year's Eve, sitting in front of a Christmas tree surrounded by the eight footballs he collected in 2017 for the eight hat-tricks he scored for Tottenham Hotspur.

"2017 has been good to me," Kane wrote. "Bring on 2018! #Hattrickballs #Goldenboot #HappyNewYear."

Few should begrudge him the moment of personal congratulation, not least because of all the footballers in the Premier League, Kane is probably the least likely to let success go to his head.

This is not the case of a player posting a dressing-room "selfie" after one win and craving approval.

Bring on 2018, indeed. It could be a defining year for Kane. He goes again in Spurs' fixture away to Swansea City tonight and it would be a brave man to bet against the 24-year-old scoring, having just achieved back-to-back hat-tricks to take his season's tally to 18 in the Premier League alone.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is having a phenomenal season but he still went into the New Year a goal behind Kane (by the way, Kane has 28 in all for club and country, Salah has 24) and, again, the smart money would be on the England international finishing as the Premier League's top scorer.

Incredibly

That would, incredibly, be for a third season in a row - hence the "goldenboot" hashtag - which would equal the feat achieved by Alan Shearer in the mid-'90s. He has already beaten Shearer's phenomenal 1995 record of 36 goals in 42 league games in a single 12-month cycle.

As brilliant as Shearer was, there are even more impressive numbers, that take Kane into more exalted company - out-scoring Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and, perhaps more significantly, more traditional No 9s, including Robert Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani. He belongs in that elite.

He is a world-class centre forward. No question. And one who does not play for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Paris St-Germain - who dominate their leagues - as the others do.

Crucially, Kane is far younger than any of that illustrious quartet. He is five years younger than Lewandowski, the next closest to him in age. So, there is plenty more to come which, inevitably, leads into the obvious discussion as to where that will happen. Teeth will grind at Tottenham at the mere mention of Kane's future and whether he will outgrow the club.

There is an argument that it has already happened, although that is tempered by a number of factors: Kane is, genuinely, "one of our own" when it comes to Spurs, he recognises the value of being at the club and the progress he has made there, he has an incredibly close bond with manager Mauricio Pochettino and he does understand and embrace the importance of being the player who will be the figurehead when Spurs move into their new 61,000-seat stadium, hopefully for the start of next season.

But it is complex. For a player who covets honours, there may come a pinch point at Tottenham. Also, it is difficult enough for a Premier League player to win the Ballon d'Or - given the traditional focus on the stars at Barcelona and Real Madrid - but it will be nigh-on impossible to do so in a team who do not win trophies.

This is also a World Cup year, with Kane set to lead the line for England in Russia. What happens if he stars in the tournament, collecting yet more goals, and especially with Ronaldo agitating for a life away from Real Madrid, and PSG capable of coming back into the market for another stellar signing of their own?

And that is not even to mention other Premier League suitors, although, given his ambition, and his relationship with Spurs, it may well be that Kane regards it as right that, if he does leave, then it would be wiser to go abroad.

Contract

Spurs have him on a long-term contract, signed up to 2022, so there is no need to sell even if astronomical offers come in. The greater likelihood is that they will want to offer him improved terms at the end of this campaign, and may feel compelled to do so, especially if he does well in Russia, but even then will they go close to the wages commanded by other Premier League strikers, such as Sergio Aguero, who he is out-scoring?

Spurs have cleverly likened Kane to Francesco Totti, who spent the whole of his 24-year playing career at one club, Roma, and counted the single league title he won there as more precious than had he gained far more elsewhere.

Except, there is one qualification to the Totti argument: the Italian remained, throughout the peak of his playing days, among the top half-dozen paid players in Serie A. And Kane is nowhere near that salary grade.

It could become a real dilemma. Should Kane commit to stay even if the club continue their long trophy drought? Or does there come a time - possibly after a season in Spurs' new home - when it makes sense for him to go?

Beyond that, it would also appear that Kane's future - and where he wants it to be - may well be tied up with that of Pochettino. Should he stay, and the indications are he wants to, there is more likelihood of Kane also remaining. But, at the very least, Spurs may need to recognise his worth even more with a new deal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Swansea v Tottenham, Live, Sky Sports, 7.45

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