Harry Kane has opened up, at least a little, about his future in embargoed comments printed today in the Evening Standard. Kane, speaking in the wake of Tottenham Hotspur’s home loss to Brentford in the last home match of the season, expressed his disappointment with the match result and the overall underperformance of the season, but also stayed relatively mum about his thoughts on his own Spurs future.
Kane appeared to be clear-eyed about the amount of change needed to turn things around at Tottenham, even with the prospect of another new manager and backroom staff. Kane seemed to suggest it’s not just about who’s coaching the first team, there are deeply held cultural elements to the club that have been neglected as well.
And no, he did not commit to staying (or leaving).
“I’ve said all along I’m focused on this season and trying to help the team as much as possible. That’s all I can do. There’s a big summer ahead and a lot that needs to change here to start being successful again. Ultimately my focus now is to enjoy this last week as much as possible and try to finish with a win [at Leeds United] on Sunday.
“I think there’s a conversation [with the chairman] to be had anyway in terms of some of the values of the club. It will be a conversation, we’ve had many conversations before like that on how we can improve, and that will be the case again.”
I don’t know about the rest of you, but while Kane’s statement is his typically anodyne let’s see what happens kind of thing (clearly a product of his extensive media training and experience), to me this kind of implies that he’s truly on the fence about what to do. We know he loves Spurs, and after going golfing with Gary Neville a couple years ago I think he’s unlikely to make any kind of similarly difinitive-ish definitive statements, but he also knows the power he has at Tottenham. It’s certainly not unreasonable to expect to have a conversation about the direction the club is taking and then decide if he wants to be a part of it.
There’s division on what the club should do about Kane going forward, with Harry entering the final year of his contract. The three potential paths are 1) Harry is convinced by whatever new vision is being developed and signs on, either because he wants to stay or he doesn’t have any better options; 2) Harry says he wants to peace out and the club finds the highest bidder either in England or on the continent; or 3) Spurs kick the can down the road for a season and Kane leaves the club on a free transfer at the end of his contract.
But Harry’s 100% not wrong about “the values of the club” needing to change. As good a servant as Daniel Levy has been (and yes, he has done very good things stewarding this football club over the past 20+ years) he has made numerous and significant mistakes over the past five. The smoke around the club lately seems to suggest that things are changing, but we’ve heard that before, and significant change takes time, which is something Kane probably doesn’t have.
There’s also the fact that if Spurs don’t finish in European competition next season, then Tottenham’s squad is incredibly bloated, far too large for a club that only plays in the leagues and domestic cups. There’s a lot of work that has to be done regardless, but even more if it’s a season of one game per week. I’ve had conversations with my colleagues at Carty Free about this, and the general consensus is that if Spurs don’t have Europe, it’s going to be very difficult to truly refresh the squad with younger talent if they’re carrying both Kane and Son next season. Something would probably have to give.
Kane isn’t unaware of the legacy he would leave behind at Tottenham based on his decision, but neither did he give much away. When asked about the mural debuted outside the ground to celebrate his becoming Spurs’ all time leading goal scorer, Kane acknowledged its presence, but couched its reception in terms of the Brentford result and the awkward walk of honor around the pitch afterwards.
“I’m extremely grateful to the guys for doing [the mural]. It’s nice to have those memories. I was there with my family and kids and it was nice for them to see that as well. As always these things never feel quite as good when you don’t get the result the next day. Even walking round the pitch doesn’t feel as good. That’s life, we have to take it on the chin and get ready for next week.
“It’s hard. You feel responsible. We wanted to send the fans home happy. You want to enjoy the moment with your family but the fans can’t enjoy it as much as we would have done. We have to keep battling, keep working and try to send the away fans home happy on Sunday.”
Tottenham need a complete overhaul. It’s an open question as to whether in the long run the club would be better off ripping off the bandaid and allowing Kane to close out his career in a different club’s kit, or if it’s still possible to carry him and manage his minutes while retooling with a new manager and younger, hungry players. I don’t think anyone has a firm idea — yet — what that overhaul looks like or how Kane fits into that process.