MARTIN SAMUEL: Tottenham have gone slowly backwards since their Champions League final defeat in 2019… THAT is why Harry Kane is walking away from the unconditional love of their fans and the club legend status enjoyed by Gerrard, Shearer and Co
- Tottenham striker Harry Kane has informed the club he wants to leave this year
- Kane is second in Spurs’ all-time scoring charts but has won no trophies
- English sides Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United could sign him
- Spurs have moved backwards as a club since the 2019 Champions League final
Steven Gerrard never regretted his decision to stay at Liverpool. He said that even if he had won the title at Chelsea, it would not have meant as much to him as what he achieved with his club. He got the lot, bar that.
For Matt Le Tissier, bragging rights were enough. He saw it like this. When he had retired and all the old pros went to the bar, there would be a few who could say they had more medals than him, but none who could say they were better at football.
Matthew Harding, a significant investor in Chelsea before the time of Roman Abramovich, used to carry a crumpled picture of Le Tissier in his wallet. He would show it around. ‘Matty,’ he would say, purring. This was the man he dreamed of watching at Stamford Bridge. Even Harding’s fortunes were never enough.
Harry Kane has informed Tottenham that he wants to leave the club for more trophies
Steven Gerrard and Alan Shearer are two England stars who chose loyalty over more trophies
Then there was Alan Shearer, who rejected Manchester United to sign for his hometown club, Newcastle, again with a mission to bring glory to Tyneside. He didn’t, but he didn’t care. He remains the local hero — and he had already won his title, with Blackburn.
So every story is different. Every player has his own reason for leaving, for staying, or a moment when circumstances change and enough is enough. For Kane, maybe, it was the day when Jose Mourinho was sacked; when he realised another great leap forward had come to nothing at Tottenham.
If there were signs of progress, of moving on up, it might be different. Yet Tottenham have gone slowly backwards since their Champions League final appearance in 2019. They were never the same under Mauricio Pochettino the following season, never the same under Mourinho.
Spurs have gone backwards since the 2019 Champions League final which Kane played in
Where do they go from here? The marquee names on the continent are hardly beating a path to Daniel Levy’s door. There is talk of Ryan Mason, maybe Graham Potter. No offence to any of the candidates, but Kane has heard and seen it all before.
If Tottenham progress, it will not be with a click of the fingers. It took a brilliant coach like Jurgen Klopp four years to deliver his first trophy at Liverpool, and Kane is 28 in July.
Already his options are limited. Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea all have vacancies — his preference is to stay in England — but negatives, too. All three are chasing Erling Haaland, who is younger but not dearer. United have just re-signed Edinson Cavani and may trust him to steer to maturity two Kanes of the club’s own in Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford. Kane would be brilliant at Chelsea but could Spurs sell to such a bitter rival?
Should Kane move abroad, a potential option is a reunion with Mauricio Pochettino at PSG
The most obvious European option, Paris Saint-Germain and former coach Pochettino, also has complications. Not least that the club already have Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in situ and, unless they leave, where does Kane fit in? Bayern Munich? Robert Lewandowski, and they don’t pay big money. Real Madrid and Barcelona are in a parlous financial state. Nobody in Italy could afford him.
Equally, the only way this works for Tottenham is if Levy can play the Gareth Bale card and win the fans over by the sheer value in the deal. Tottenham bought half a team out of the Bale money and, while none of them were in his class, at the time some thought this impressive.
Plainly, Tottenham need a sizable rebuild now. If Levy can sell it that the money for Kane finances a new era, maybe there will be understanding. But in the post-Super League, ENIC-out season, it is hard to see how he gets away with it.
The Spurs owner faces an almighty summer rebuild to find a coach and replace his star striker
Perhaps this is why Kane has broken cover now. To give his representatives, CK66, and the club as much time as possible to find a deal.
Kane is believed to have asked for business to be completed in time for the European Championship, but that is less than four weeks away. It would be astonishing if Levy had finished negotiations by then. He probably takes that long to order the first round of coffees. Tottenham transfers are the most protracted in football.
It will be interesting to see, too, how Tottenham fans react to one of their own asking for a divorce. Kane’s 220 goals in 334 appearances compares to just about any striker in the modern game. Anything Tottenham have come close to achieving in the last seven seasons — and that’s all they’ve ever been, close — has been in part due to his immense talent.
Yet that often counts for little at times like this. Fans never leave their club and resent players who do, no matter their service. Sol Campbell was bemused that he wasn’t invited to the ceremony for the last game at White Hart Lane. From Tottenham’s perspective — and that of their fans — there was more chance of Arsene Wenger getting the call.
Kane (right) has over 200 goals for Spurs but is walking away from the love of his supporters
So Kane will know this. He will know what he is doing. He will know he is walking away from unconditional love, from club legend status, from statues and maybe even a stand if he had turned Spurs’ fortunes around.
Yet that, clearly, is the problem. He can’t shoulder that burden any longer. He hasn’t the time for a new project, a coach finding his feet, a club finding its way.
He hasn’t claimed Shearer’s one title, he’s not content with Le Tissier’s bar-room anecdotes, and he hasn’t got Gerrard’s nine trophies in a Liverpool shirt. He hasn’t even got one. And he’s worth a swing at one, undoubtedly.
They can be unforgiving in that corner of north London, but surely nobody can begrudge him that.
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