Thursday 19 July 2018

Stephen Hunt: Inevitable Kane departure takes gloss off Moura move

Brazilian a smart signing but he's unlikely to get time to build partnership with Spurs' star man

Tottenham's Harry Kane. Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images
Tottenham's Harry Kane. Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images
Stephen Hunt

Stephen Hunt

They did spend money but, compared to the rest of the top six, with the notable exception of Chelsea, it was a quiet January transfer window for Tottenham Hotspur. The next one in the summer promises to be their most challenging.

This week, they signed Lucas Moura from Paris St-Germain in a £25 million (€28m) deal and that was a typical no-fuss transfer for Tottenham. Moura has the potential to be a very good attacking option for them but the big question is will he be playing alongside Harry Kane next season?

For all the talk about him staying at the new White Hart Lane for the rest of his career, I think it is only a matter of time before he leaves. If what I'm hearing is true, Kane has already been lined up and signed up by mega agent Jorge Mendes and I am sure he only has one destination in mind for the England and Spurs striker and that is Real Madrid. And if they come calling, it is hard to see Kane turning them down.

The decision on his future and where he plays his football won't be about money and he doesn't need to worry about his legendary status among the Spurs faithful. He already has that. This is about his stature in the game, making his name at one of the biggest clubs in the world and being the next Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu. Kane has the ability to do that for the next five or six years. He would bring so much to that Real Madrid team.

Over the last two years he has gone to the next level. He went from being a fantastic young player to an unbelievable striker in a very short period of time with his consistent performances, his goals and finishing, and his work-rate on and off the ball. He is now one of the best centre forwards in the world and his technique and temperament are up there with the best.

There are three interesting side issues here. One, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has also been linked with Real Madrid and he could face the same dilemma as Kane. And how can he beg him to stay if he is going to be leaving? Two, Daniel Levy, Spurs' notoriously difficult chief executive, will have a lot to say about this. It could drag on for months. And three, arguably the biggest threat to Kane's move to Madrid is the future of Cristiano Ronaldo. Where does he see himself playing his football for the rest of his career? Does he want to stay at Madrid? And, if so, will he want to play through the middle?

Where would it leave Tottenham if Kane left this summer? You could have asked the same question when Gareth Bale left. They have a knack of finding players and producing stars to keep the fans in their seats. That is how I see Tottenham, they always seem to find a way of doing business quietly and discovering young, hungry lads with the potential to be Spurs players.

One of those is Dele Alli, who might have to stay there for a few years to come. He is on Real Madrid's radar, as well as Barcelona's and Manchester United's, but he is not quite in Kane's league. Although he is only slightly behind him, he is not ready for such a big move and needs time to play more games and develop as a deeper midfielder.

He is playing in a No 10 role at the moment, which suits him in a good Spurs team, but I see him as a box-to-box midfielder in years to come as he improves technically and learns to time his runs, his passing and his shooting - like Frank Lampard. It is important he stays focused and matures as he goes to the next stage of his career.

I also have to mention Christian Eriksen who until this week hadn't really shone since his brilliant display in Dublin, which perhaps highlights the level of his performance that night, and what it means to win a place at the World Cup for your country.

He proved the hangover is over with his goal after 10.5 seconds against Manchester United, a typically clever, brilliant finish. He's another level down from Kane and Alli and he might be like Luka Modric before him. You could only really appreciate his worth when he is playing abroad and in a consistently outstanding team.

And that is the frustration with this Spurs team. They go into today's game at Liverpool on the back of a very good win over United but it doesn't mean anything because they are not consistent enough. We've no idea how they will play at Anfield, which is why they have not seriously challenged for the title this season.

As for Liverpool, they need to buy a goalkeeper in the summer, or they can forget about the title again next season. You can spend billions building the best back four in the world, but if they don't trust their goalkeeper, you are wasting your money.

The front four or five can be as good as Manchester City's on their day, if not better. Defensively they will never be as solid as the soon-to-be champions until the goalkeeping position is sorted. The men in front of the No 1 need to trust him, and know what he is going to do. At the moment, every Liverpool defender thinks Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius will make mistakes. A replacement is key.

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