If Harry Kane has been taking lessons in how to lose the respect of his own fans in the fastest possible time, then his teacher deserves a pay rise. The England captain has been the best player at Tottenham Hotspur since soon after breaking through as a first-team regular under Mauricio Pochettino, remaining comfortably the most complete even during Son Heung-Min’s purplest of purple patches or when Gareth Bale joined on loan last term. But in missing training this week, many Spurs fans have lost patience.
The moral of the story is that forcing through a move quite so forcefully as this — or trying to — doesn’t wash with even the most understanding of supporters. His 17 years of service at Tottenham Hotspur, his boyhood club, are worth less if one day he just doesn’t turn up to work. He’ll say he was isolating after a summer holiday in Florida. The club will say he didn’t inform them he was stopping off there on his way home from The Bahamas. He will say he wasn’t missing training for the reasons the media were claiming. The club will say he still should have made them aware of his intended delayed return. He will say they shouldn’t worry as he’s back now. The club and the fans will say it’s the principle that counts. Not too much middle ground will be found.Embed from Getty Images
Whoever’s version of events is closest to the truth, it has been a week to make life a hell of a lot harder for Harry Kane. His understandable desire for a transfer to a larger club looks less, not more, likely to come true now. By the time Kane finally broke his piercing silence on the whole debacle, five days had passed since he had first missed a day’s training. The statement which he put out on his social media channels pleaded innocence — but alluded to few concrete details beyond that. It really was the height of PR vagueness.
The non-statement and Kane’s non-whereabouts over the past week restoke the debate about football agents. Is the current system they operate under working? On the face of it, it seems to be perfectly flawed. As football writer Grace Robertson rightly points out, players have two options. Neither is particularly attractive, and which is best is very much open to interpretation. Players can employ a renowned agent, but risk them not acting in the player’s best interests (instead chasing money for themself). Or they can do what Harry Kane has done: employ their brother, who will act on the player’s behalf, but who won’t have anything like the expertise of top agents. No-one will ever know how influential Charlie Kane is at advising his younger brother, but things have moved back a few steps here whoever is at the steering wheel.
Harry Kane is rumoured to have chatted to a few of his England teammates during the Euros, tipping them off that he was intending to miss some of Tottenham’s pre-season training in order to force through his craved Manchester City move. He spent a lot of time in conversation with Jack Grealish over the course of the tournament. One can only assume that some of their discussions were about things other than how to breech the defence of England’s next opponents.Embed from Getty Images
Grealish has already made his move from being the big fish in a reasonable-sized pond to being a reasonable-sized fish in the biggest pond of all. City forked out £100m for him, making him the most expensive British player in history. Grealish regularly speaks to Kane at England camps, quizzing him on how he too can reach that next level of sheer world-class quality. Here, though, the roles should be reversed. Kane should learn from how diplomatically and gracefully Grealish went about securing his exit from his beloved boyhood club. Grealish cooperated, didn’t hibernate, and ultimately got what he wanted.
Kane has natural obstacles in the way. There are still three years remaining on his current contract because for whatever reason he agreed to Daniel Levy’s six-year contract extension back in 2018. Levy is also one of world football’s most resolute and stern negotiators. Kane is strictly not for sale in his eyes. Levy is effectively the striker’s boss; he was never going to take kindly to the England forward failing to turn up to work.
He may well go. Lionel Messi is no longer on City’s radar after Paris Saint-Germain secured his coveted signature, and so Kane is the clear frontrunner to be that “one more” potential major signing that Pep Guardiola believes his club might make before the transfer window closes. Guardiola didn’t duck the question when asked about the player. “Harry Kane is an exceptional, extraordinary striker – no doubts about that,” he said. “Of course we are interested, but he is a Tottenham player and, if they don’t want to negotiate, there is nothing more to say. If they want to, we will try.”Embed from Getty Images
Despite rumours the new Tottenham manager Nuno Espírito Santo wishes to play them both in a front two this season, Spurs agreeing personal terms with Inter and Argentina striker Lautaro Martínez would certainly ease some of the pain were they to lose their most prized possession.
It remains quite conceivable that Kane gets his move. Or he may not, in which case he’d have to tiptoe awkwardly back into Spurs’ training ground in the hope his teammates are understanding of his predicament. One thing is for sure. If it does happen, this transfer will have a huge impact on Manchester City, a huge impact on Tottenham Hotspur, and may even affect England, at least in terms of Kane’s availability this autumn. Watch this space.