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Assessing Tottenham’s striker targets if Harry Kane leaves

Should Tottenham legend Harry Kane leave, Spurs will be in the market for a new goal-scorer.

Southampton v Leeds United - Premier League Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images

With three seasons left on his current deal and a market valuation in the range of £120-150 million, the odds are that Harry Kane will remain with Tottenham Hotspur through next season. Of course, this is a tricky and ongoing situation. Spurs have perhaps their most important decision to make in the modern era ahead of them.

With the fanbase fed up and the direction of the club unclear, this decision has to be one that Daniel Levy and company get correct. Deciding to sell the club legend would be a difficult enough decision, but it would also be on the club to reinvest that money successfully.

As shown historically by the Bale Seven, Tottenham has a use case of how to improperly utilize money received from a big-name transfer. Let’s weigh some of the scenarios of Kane staying or leaving this summer.

Half Glass-Empty Approach

The timing of the Kane news seems to be quite precarious. If Kane wanted out of Spurs, he could have gone about it quietly by making it known to Levy he wanted out, although there are indications that he did so last season. But an unhappy player can have an impact on the squad. Just last season, Tottenham dragged along the departure of Christian Eriksen and its decision to do so led to somewhat of a decline in the player as well as a negative impact in the dressing room.

With Kane apparently wanting a new challenge, Spurs could face a situation where they once again carry a player whose heart may not entirely be in it. I do want to say that I fully believe that if Kane were to stay in north London, I do not suspect that would be the case.

Half Glass-Full Approach

Kane making his feelings public is absolutely one way of signaling to Tottenham to go for it and that now is the time to move him on. In Kane’s interview with Gary Neville on The Overlap, he had said that he felt he had seven to eight more years of playing at a top level. If he truly believes that, that seems like quite a lot of time for him to win trophies.

There is of course the thought of how this would all mathematically play out. Let’s say Spurs receive £150 million for Kane. Losing Kane would mean losing their best player and goal-scorer, but also their most creative option as shown by his ability to drop deep and play somewhat of a central attacking role. If Kane were to depart from Spurs, it would be hard to see the Lilywhites back in the Champions League next season.

Knowing that Kane is the integral piece to getting back into the Top 4, qualifying for Europe’s elite competition brings in a margin frame of at least £50 million and then some depending on how far the club goes in the tournament.

Should Kane stay another year and the club returns to this decision next summer, his value would surely fall to around the £100 million area. With that being the case, it would indicate that it is the wiser decision to hold onto Kane for another season as the cost/benefit analysis would suggest that it would be a worthwhile investment.

Prospects of leaving

If Kane does go elsewhere this summer, the onus would be on Tottenham to utilize some of the money to make upgrades to the position. Depending on which manager comes in for Spurs, there may be a thought of moving Son Heung-min to striker. However, Spurs’ out-and-out striker options leave a lot to be desired outside of Kane of course.

Despite showing some ability in the Europa League, Carlos Vinícius was never really given the chance to play in a 4-4-2 alongside Kane outside of a few times here and there. The Benfica loanee was a José Mourinho choice last summer and given that it would cost Spurs roughly €45m to trigger his release clause, it seems that the Portuguese international will not return to Tottenham. Perhaps Levy would try to lower that deal, but Tottenham may have seen enough and want a better option.

Youngsters Dane Scarlett and Troy Parrott have shown that they have potential for the long-term. This past year, the Scarlett got more buzz than Parrott, who had a couple of more-or-less disappointing loans. However, neither should be relied upon yet as they are both a year or two away from breaking into the first team.

So let’s pretend Kane is leaving and look at a few options based on different cost and contract tiers

Lower-Cost Options

Odsonne Edouard, Celtic

Edouard has been linked to Spurs before. A powerful striker that has produced in three consecutive seasons for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League, the former PSG youth product may be looking for a bigger move this summer. With just a year left on his current deal, it may be time for Celtic to cash in on their prized asset to gather some needed funds to surpass resurgent crosstown rivals Rangers.

There are bits of Edouard’s game that draw some similarities to Kane. He can drop deep and he has the ability to possess the ball cleanly and let play develop in front of him. It would be a difficult ask for Edouard to come in and immediately make his presence felt at Spurs, but this is a talent that is primed to succeed and would likely not cost Spurs a whole lot.

Dusan Vlahovic, Fiorentina

Another option that has (tenuously) been linked to Spurs, Vlahovic burst onto the scene for Fiorentina this past season, netting 21 goals. It should be worth mentioning that Fiorentina featured an attacking-based approach that helped Vlahovic’s cause, but his talent was showcased without much service around him. Many questioned the Fiorentina attack once Federico Chiesa went to Juventus on loan, but Vlahovic succeeded nonetheless.

With two years left on his deal, Vlahovic is playing himself out of Fiorentina’s squad. La Viola has not made it to European competition in over five years and cashing in on some of their more talented players like Vlahovic and Nikola Milenković could bring in funds that could rejuvenate the rest of their squad. With great height at 6’3” and excellent movement to find space in the box, Vlahovic would bring an aerial presence as well as a knack for finding the net thanks to his finishing ability.

Andrea Belotti, Torino

Another player from an Italian mid-table club, Belotti has been nothing short of consistent for a club that has been anything but. Despite playing in a pretty uninspiring side, Belotti has become one of the better goal-scorers in Serie A due to his work rate. He is not the fastest player nor most athletic, but he is effective with both feet and wins headers in the air as well.

His contract will expire at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season and if Torino were to sell off their beloved club captain, the time would be now. For years, Torino have refused to budge in selling Belotti. But with the Italian getting older and the ambition of the club up in the air, Torino finds itself somewhat in a similar situation that Tottenham are in. Should Tottenham sell Kane, perhaps the club could look to Belotti.

Mid-Range Options:

Luka Jović, Real Madrid

Just a few seasons ago, many thought Jović was on the cusp of becoming the next big thing in Europe. In the 2018-19 season, Jović enjoyed a prolific campaign, scoring nearly 30 goals across all competitions. After that season, Jović signed with Real Madrid for an estimated €70m. Since then, Jović has somewhat flopped and has failed to make his presence felt in the Spanish capital.

At 23 years old, Jović is still extremely young and has plenty of time to make a success of the high expectations that were given to him. While he is not the most demanding in terms of his size or physicality, Jović is a player that does not have a lot of weaknesses to his game. He is quick and intelligent and can also score with either foot.

He is an interesting talent that has shown his deadly scoring ability once the confidence is there. As Madrid looks to balance the books and sell players this summer, Spurs could get Jović somewhat below market value.

Danny Ings, Southampton

Watching Saints throughout the season, it is clear how much better the likes of Ings and James Ward-Prowse are in comparison to the rest of the bunch. Without those two players, Southampton’s offense is quite lifeless. While the 2020-21 season was riddled with injuries for Ings, he still netted 12 goals for a team that did not win a game for months.

A few seasons ago, Ings flopped at Liverpool in large part due to a gruesome knee injury that kept him away from picking up steam in the first team. Once Jürgen Klopp brought in the likes of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, the writing was on the wall that Ings needed out of Liverpool for consistent football.

Since coming to Southampton, Ings has become so crafty with his ability to make successful runs as well as his goal-poaching acumen. Approaching the final season on his current deal, Ings is primed for another big move. In my opinion and assessment, he is one of the more underrated players and could find consistent playing time at Tottenham even if Kane were to stay another season. I would be curious to see Ings alongside Kane in a formation where Kane may sit a little behind him and act as a glue to the midfield as well as in a strike partnership, though at 28, Ings wouldn’t be a long-term replacement.

“One-can-dream” Options:

Romelu Lukaku, Inter Milan

On Thursday, news broke that Antonio Conte was leaving Inter due to the club’s impending squad refresh this coming summer. With Inter needing to sell off assets, Conte jumped ship and has since been rumored to be flirting with Spurs on this episode of ‘Which former Chelsea manager should Spurs hire?’

All jokes aside, Conte would be a strong appointment and perhaps could influence a player like Lukaku to return to England with him. Out of the players on this list, the Belgian forward would undoubtedly cost the most. For his sheer power and pace alone, the only forward in the world that could be in the same conversation as him is Erling Haaland.

I sincerely doubt that out of all of the players Inter could look to sell this summer, cutting ties with Lukaku would be at the top of their list. But, stranger things could happen. Should Conte come to Spurs and bring his preference of two forwards up top, I would imagine Lukaku would sit alongside Son. The pair would just about bring everything to the table: pace, power, flair, work rate, intelligence. It would cost a hefty chunk of the Kane money, but it would be a huge acquisition nonetheless.

Memphis Depay, Free Agent

The future of Depay is a storyline to follow this summer. Out of contract this summer, many teams will be looking to go in on acquiring the 27-year-old. Depay accordingly came to an agreement to join Barcelona should manager and fellow compatriot Ronald Koeman stay with the club.

However, as of this writing, Depay is still available. Depay’s first stint in the Premier League was a disaster with Manchester United. He failed to get acclimated to playing in the Premier League and the rigor of the league ultimately led to him leaving to join Lyon in 2017. Under Rudi Garcia, Depay has truly flourished. I question whether Depay could co-exist on a match-by-match basis in the Premier League, but he is a talented player who could be deployed in a variety of different approaches. As Spurs would likely face a significant bidding war for the Dutchman, this move would classify as “unlikely.”

Note: There are obviously many other strikers who would fit the criteria of the above three categories. We will continue to look into other options as the summer approaches.