Harry Kane nominated for the GIVEMESPORT Fans' Player of the Month award

Harry Kane in action for Spurs

2020/21 is already shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable seasons in Premier League history, and perhaps the most unexpected consequence so far has come in the form of Harry Kane’s bizarre rise to the top of the assists charts.

Thus far registering eight assists in seven games, coupled with a far more predictable strike rate of six goals, the Tottenham assassin’s form has earned him a nomination for the first GIVEMESPORT Fans’ Player of the Month award of this season. 

But what does Kane’s sudden influx of assists truly mean? Has he transformed his game to become more of a playmaking centre-forward? Is this actually something we’ve seen before from him? Or, like much of what’s gone on in 2020/21, is it a red herring?

In other words, GIVEMESPORT ask whether we’re seeing a new Harry Kane, the old Harry Kane or in fact the same Harry Kane.

A new Harry Kane

Harry Kane per 90

Make no mistake about it, eight assists is completely new territory for the Tottenham striker. We’re only eight games into the new season and yet that haul already represents his best for set-ups in a single Premier League season.

Perhaps more tellingly, he’s also attempted more final third passes, more long passes, more through passes and registered more shot assists per ninety minutes than last season, which paints the picture of a centre-forward trying to play a slightly different game with a greater emphasis on bringing others into play.

While Kane is far from declining age territory at 27, and while speed isn’t hugely important to the way he plays anyway, after a few seasons of looking at times incredibly fatigued in between bouts of serious injury, perhaps it does make sense at this point in his career to drop a little deeper and let those around him run the hard yards.

But, has Kane suddenly become a creative centre-forward a-la Roberto Firmino, or is this actually the England skipper returning to his footballing roots?

The old Harry Kane

Harry Kane form

It seems a lifetime ago now, but when Kane was first breaking through at Tottenham, he was more than just a pure goalscorer and earned comparisons with Teddy Sheringham, a striker renowned for not only his finishing ability but the cleverness in which made things happen in the final third.

Perhaps that was most evident during the 2016/17 season, when Spurs finished second to Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. As well as netting a staggering 29 times that term Kane also notched up seven assists during what is currently his second-best ever Premier League season for key passes per match – only surpassed by the current one. 

The year after Kane became much more goal-centric. He averaged a career-highest five shots per game, while his key pass averaged dropped by nearly 0.5 per match. The two seasons that followed, as mentioned before, were blighted by lack of fitness as the 27-year-old’s overall form clearly dropped down a gear.

So, are we actually seeing the revival of the old Kane, the one who wasn’t just a goalscorer but an all-round footballing force? Football’s unexpected postponement in March allowed him a much-needed rest, and since then Kane’s indeed looked more like his former self.

The same Harry Kane

There is one final explanation for Kane’s sudden influx of assists this season – simply put, it’s an anomaly that will soon seem like a distant memory when the set-ups suddenly dry out. 

Perhaps the most convincing evidence of that is the huge disparity between Kane’s return for assists and his expected assists, which could actually be as low as 2.53 according to Twenty3 – over five set-ups less than his actual total.

This makes complete sense as well, because the player he’s supplied the most – Heung-min Son – has been in electric form himself, scoring eight goals from 15 shots

Of course, in some instances the passes from Kane – like his defence-splitting ball against Manchester United – have been so good that Son’s essentially been handed goals on a plate, but the South Korean’s outperforming his expected goals by a ridiculous margin as well (currently just 2.5, per Twenty3).

Spurs positions last season

That all suggests the good times will eventually start to peter out, and far from this notion of Kane suddenly reinventing himself as a false nine, positionally there isn’t really much change in 2020/21 (above) from how he played last season (below) – or at least, very limited evidence to suggest he’s dropping deeper into midfield.

Spurs positions this season

Any difference in role appears to be more a subtle, largely inconsequential one than a conscious effort on Kane’s part.

So, does Kane get your vote for the GIVEMESPORT Fans’ Player of the Month award? Let us know by getting involved below…

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