As he looks to continue Manchester United’s re-emergence from the post-Ferguson chasm, Louis van Gaal has identified Harry Kane as the man that could re-invigorate the club’s ageing front line.
£40 million has been quoted as the sum involved but Daniel Levy has re-assured Mauricio Pochettino that he will not be looking to cash in on the asset.
There seems to be a general feeling that this it is right for Tottenham to resist and that their selling-club status is holding them back on their continual push for Champions League football.
Clubs who sell their strongest players summer after summer do not progress. Atletico Madrid were the rarest of cases as they powered the way to La Liga glory in 2014 but they subsequently slipped back to third after another summer of selling.
Southampton proved another exception through their strong showing last season although one doubts they can do this again should they offload their best players in this transfer window.
However, one only needs to look at Chelsea’s sale of David Luiz last summer to see that selling at an over-inflated price is an effective strategy. £40m for Kane fits the criteria.
The 21-year-old Englishman had a brilliant season. To score 21 goals, having only become a permanent fixture in the team in November, is a stunning achievement.
The way he terrorised the league’s strongest defence in Tottenham’s 5-3 victory over Chelsea on New Year’s Day led to John Terry labelling him the best striker he faced all season.
Doubts persist over Kane
Yet there remain doubts about where this form is sustainable. Firstly, there is his late emergence. While a few ex-pros and coaches have tried to save face by claiming they always knew Kane had it in him, most have been shocked by the revelation he has been.
This is not to say late developers cannot become world class players. Ian Wright was spurned by Southend United and Brighton during his teens but went on to become one of Arsenal’s greatest ever players. Didier Drogba did not get any widespread European recognition until the age of 25.
However, these players had pace and power that made them so hard for Premier League to defenders to handle.
While Kane is undoubtedly a great poacher and striker of the ball, one wonders if this is enough to continually cause trouble to top-class defenders. His season noticeably tailed off with only one goal from his last seven games, and while this could be put down to fatigue, it is also possible that defenders simply learned how to deal with him.
His performances at the European Under-21 Championships have continued in this vain. In the game against Sweden, he was unable to cause problems against a centre-back partnership consisting of two players from the Swedish leagues, one of whom was an out of position right-back.
It is hard to imagine that the two players either side of him in the Premier League scoring charts, Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa, would have encountered similar struggles. At prices of £38 million and £32 million respectively, both cost less than that being muted for Kane.
Of course, Kane’s valuation is partly due to his home-grown status. As Rio Ferdinand remarked recently, English players come at a great premium. However, it still seems that Kane might already have reached his peak value. If he does not maintain his scintillating form next season, as the signs already suggest, that price will begin plummeting.
Kane is not another Bale
Kane is not another Bale. Bale’s extraordinary pace made him a unique and irreplaceable asset. One could not see how Tottenham would be improved for being £75 million up but minus a special player. However, one only needs to look at available strikers in the Premier League this summer to see that Tottenham could improve with no Kane but £40 million to spend.
That money would likely get them both Dzeko and Remy, two strikers with proven Premier League pedigree over more than just one season.
Disposing of your most valuable assets for a quick buck is no recipe for success in football.
However, in the era of Financial Fair Play, pragmatism is essential in transfer dealings. A bubble has been created around Harry Kane after his amazing emergence but it is a bubble that may well burst.
Tottenham would do well to make sure it is Manchester United, rather than themselves, who feel those repercussions.