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The Athletic: Kane wants to leave Tottenham for trophies

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The only problem — who can afford him?

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Today, The Athletic dropped a huge piece on Harry Kane, detailing the biggest rumor that deep down all Tottenham Hotspur fans already know: he wants to leave Spurs this summer.

Oliver Kay and Jack Pitt-Brooke write that Kane has become disillusioned with the current project at Tottenham Hotspur, and despite loving the club where he has spent his entire career is ready to move on for a new challenge in an attempt to win titles and trophies.

The England captain, 27, has never hidden his ambition to win trophies, but his frustration at Tottenham has grown and grown as results have deteriorated in recent months. Although the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City on April 25 offers an opportunity to win his first trophy with Spurs, he fears the biggest prizes are now more distant than when he signed his current contract in June 2018. For the first time in his career, Kane has begun to see his future elsewhere.

—The Athletic

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard rumblings about Kane desiring to leave, nor is it the first time Kane has expressed a lofty ambition that could possibly see him depart Tottenham for another club, either in the Premier League or abroad. Kane has publicly stated that he wants to play in the Champions League and win silverware in his career, and has up to this point couched it in terms of wanting to do it at Tottenham, but has also said that he wouldn’t just stay at Spurs “for the sake of it.” He’s also expressed a desire to play football until he’s 40, giving him plenty of opportunities to eventually break Alan Shearer’s Premier League goals record, the ultimate personal achievement for an English footballer.

So in some sense it’s hardly a surprise to see this article, and not just because football pundits have been saying that Kane “has to” leave Spurs in order to further his career. All Spurs fans are aware of Kane’s incredible ambition and desire to win things at the highest levels of football. That same drive is what has helped push him to be one of the best strikers in world football.

We also know that Kane was, and may continue to be, one of Jose Mourinho’s biggest backers in the dressing room. This is obviously because of Kane’s fervent belief that Mourinho was the “proven winner” able to push Spurs, perennially the Atlas club of the league, over the top. It’s also because Kane sees Jose as the manager able to get the most out of his abilities, which have morphed in the past few seasons and after a couple of injuries. And, to be fair, Kane’s development into a deep lying playmaking secondary striker, almost a false nine, has been one of Mourinho’s biggest successes during his tenure at the club.

But Jose’s days are almost certainly numbered, barring a massive turnaround in fortunes by the end of the season. Top four isn’t quite out of the question, nor is a Carabao Cup trophy, but as the saying goes the fish rots from the head down, and there’s unquestionably a smell coming out of Hotspur Way these days.

Kane’s desire to leave may be somewhat irrelevant, at least in the short term, however, and that comes down to two things: money, and Daniel Levy. OK, that’s really one thing, or perhaps two closely related things, but either way, finances and the current pandemic fiscal climate could severely hinder whether Kane is allowed to go.

Numerous reports have stated that Daniel Levy considers Kane to be unavailable for any price. Such blanket statements are nonsense, of course, and especially to a club like Spurs who has been hit as hard as any major club by the financial impact of the coronavirus. That said, one thing we know about Levy is that he is not going to roll over on his most prized asset, even if that player wants to go.

So the question then becomes: can any club actually afford him? That seems unlikely. The Athletic notes that Levy and Tottenham would want “well into nine figures,” and that’s even before such things like performance clauses, player make-weight exchanges, and other escalators are included. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken what was already an exclusive group of clubs able to afford such a a transfer fee and reduced it even further.

Kane is said to want to prefer a move within the Premier League, but is open to a move abroad. Within the league, Manchester City is the obvious candidate to make a play for Kane, but City are also in the race to sign Dortmund’s Erling Haaland. Manchester United could also hypothetically be in the conversation, but considering they failed in their bid to sign Jadon Sancho recently, a move for an even more expensive Kane seems unlikely. Real Madrid or PSG are the two most obvious candidates abroad, and there’s something poetic about seeing Kane reunite with Mauricio Pochettino in Paris.

But in a post-COVID football landscape, clubs just aren’t making the same sorts of big-money moves like they used to. Juventus doesn’t look like it’s going to be dropping nine figures on a late-peak player like Cristian Ronaldo again anytime soon. Barcelona have some pretty serious financial issues at the moment. It’s not clear whether Real Madrid are even interested.

Daniel Levy will be highly reluctant to sell Kane, of course, so what remains to be seen is whether Harry has a market at all this summer, what it would take for Levy to consider letting him go, and how he would be replaced.

Some might argue that Kane is so valuable to Spurs that even £120 million or £140 million would not replace what he gives to the team, and that Levy would need to demand a record fee equivalent to the £198 million PSG paid Barcelona for Neymar in 2017. But there is also a view that in a relatively depressed marketplace, £120 million might buy Spurs as much as £198 million would have bought them four years ago. Especially if Son signs a new contract, and Tottenham can use that Kane money to fix the defence.

— The Athletic

Kane’s situation is corroborated, and perhaps best summed up in this tweet from Fabrizio Romano.

Letting Kane leave, even if he wants to go, would result in a cacophony of criticism from Spurs fans. However, this is the clearest indication yet that Kane’s personal ambition is not being matched by his club’s current situation. Amidst all this uncertainty, it still feels highly unlikely that Kane will be suiting up in another club’s kit when the 2021-22 season kicks off in August. The only real question is whether that club is willing to make a large enough offer to test Daniel Levy’s resolve.