Harry Kane walked around the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium pitch after Wednesday’s loss t Aston Villa as though it was the last time he’d do so in a Spurs shirt. It quite possibly was. Kane’s representatives dropped a bombshell on Tottenham and the football world on Tuesday, declaring his desire to leave his boyhood club and where he became a superstar in the pursuit of trophies and the next step of his career.
But while Tottenham have apparently known for months if not longer about Kane’s desire to leave, Kane himself had not outwardly said that he wanted to go. Even Tuesday’s media bombshell was apparently leaked by his brother and agent, Charlie Kane.
Until now, that is. Speaking to Gary Neville from a golf course on Neville’s YouTube channel, Kane spoke openly about his future, and while he didn’t outright say “I want to leave” the sentiment is about as clear as you can get without actually saying the words.
“For me, I don’t want to come to my career and have any regrets. I want to be the best I can be. I’ve said before I’d never say I’d stay at Spurs the rest of my career, I’d never say that I’d leave Spurs. I’m at that stage where… people might look at is as though you know “he’s desperate for trophies, I need trophies”… I still feel like I’ve got almost another career to play, I’ve got 7-8 years past what I’ve already had in the Premier League.
“I’m not rushing anything, I’m not desperate for anything. But I just want to be the best version of me I can be. I’ve got so much more to give, I can be even better than what I’ve been, I can produce better numbers than what I’m producing at the moment.I’m not afraid to say that I want to be the best.
“I’m not afraid to say that I want to get on the level that Ronaldo and Messi got onto. That’s my ultimate goal, that’s my aim — to be winning trophies season in and season out, scoring 50-60 goals season in and season out. And that’s the goal I want to set myself, because I feel like if I give myself anything lower then when I get to the end of my career I might feel like actually I could’ve given a little bit more, I could’ve scored a few more goals. That’s my drive, the pressure for myself is always bigger than what anyone else could put on me.”
But can that happen at a period where Tottenham is pretty much at a crossroads where they will need a sustained period of redevelopment in order to start a new cycle? Kane doesn’t seem to think so, and said that he needs to have a “conversation” with chairman Daniel Levy about his future.
“It’s definitely a conversation to be had with the club. Like I said, I want to be playing in the biggest games, the biggest moments. This season I’m watching the Champions League, watching the English teams doing amazing and they’re the games I want to be involved in.
“For sure, it’s a moment in my career where I have to reflect and see where I’m at, have a good honest conversation with the Chairman [Daniel Levy]. I hope we can have that conversation. I’m sure he’ll want to set out the plan of where he sees it but ultimately it’s going to be down to me and how I feel and what’s going to be the best for me and my career at this moment.
“[My relationship with Levy] has been great if I’m totally honest. He’s always rewarded me with contracts, like I signed a 4-5 year deal when I was 21 but I did well so he added to that, but he’s always been great and fair with me. He’s held me to my contract, you know “We’ve paid you that, you’re going to stay on that”.
“I’m not sure how that conversation will go, if I’m honest. But as players, you don’t know what the chairman is thinking. I don’t know, I mean he might want to sell me. He might be thinking, ‘If I could get £100 million for you, then why not?’ You know what I mean? I’m not going to be worth that for the next two or three years.
“I hope I have a good enough relationship with him. I’ve given the club… well, I’ve given them 16 years of my life so I hope we can have a good honest conversation and see where we’re at in that aspect.”
As fans, there’s an impulse to want to look at a player like Kane potentially leaving a club where he’s been an absolute superstar as a betrayal. Certainly, you can make a very cogent argument that Kane is absolving himself somewhat of his responsibility of and culpability for Tottenham not achieving its goals over the past few years. He’s not a bystander in this. Kane has a great deal of weight that he’s thrown around at the club, especially the past 2-3 seasons — it’s not unreasonable to suggest that his opinion had a lot of weight in the decisions to sack Mauricio Pochettino and hire Jose Mourinho, and he was known as one of the last players to stay loyal to Jose before his departure. He casts a huge shadow, and denying that now that he wants to leave feels disingenuous.
The idea that now that things are hard and Spurs are taking a step back to regroup, that Kane thinks that now is an appropriate time to force a move is pretty galling to me as a fan, because there’s a sense of individual entitlement at play. It feels like a shirking of responsibility from Kane, especially as he admits that he thinks he has a good 7-8 years left in his career. He’s trying to get out because things now look harder than they were earlier and that feels gross.
On the other hand, everything he’s saying is reasonable. He’s given this club a lot. Footballers’ careers are vanishingly short in the grand scheme of things, and he’s absolutely not the first player to want to leave for a better club. There are better clubs out there, and that same drive that has propelled him into one of the best strikers in world football is likely the same drive that makes the idea of a career with no team honors to his name a distressing potential outcome.
There aren’t a lot of teams that can reasonably expected to be able to purchase Harry Kane, ever, especially this summer. Tottenham have a lot of leverage here due to the three years remaining on his six year contract. Daniel Levy is well within his rights to tell him to go pound sand for another season, just as he’d be within his rights to see if Manchester City ponys up his asking price and then use those funds as a transfer kitty for a new manager to retool the club in his image.
Or maybe there’s a compromise solution — a new contract at Spurs with a big fat raise, and a transfer clause for clubs on the continent, with that the hopes that another year will stabilize the finances at clubs like PSG, Real Madrid, or Barcelona.
This does seem like a Rubicon has been crossed, however. Whether Kane leaves now or leaves later, it’s almost certain that he WILL leave, and quite possibly not on the best terms with Tottenham Hotspur fans.
You can watch the whole video interview with Gary Neville below.