The report comes out. Harry Kane ‘wants to leave Tottenham’. The club’s fans let out a collective hopeless sigh.
More news comes out days later. Sources say Harry Kane may never leave Tottenham and instead could finish his career in north London. The club’s fans let out beaming smiles.
The rumour mill really is tireless, especially when every second sentence the England striker is being referred to as Spurs’ captain. Hugo Lloris is still alive, people, do some research.
On Sunday, it was the turn of ITV’s pundits to comment on his performance in the 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Albania. He scored the opener, guiding Luke Shaw’s cross in with a perfect header, before finding Mason Mount as the Chelsea midfielder curled in to seal the victory.
The analysis? ‘Kane drops too deep, he has Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling there to do that, he needs to be in the box.’
OK, fair enough. Seems a little basic given Kane is enjoying his best individual season for Tottenham in his career to date, with 17 goals and 13 assists in the Premier League coming directly from this particular playing style. He could have done with some Son Heung-min style runs from either Sterling, Mount or Phil Foden, but that wasn’t in England’s game plan on Sunday, so if the main takeaway is that the striker needs to be in the box, then fair enough – even if he still played major roles in both goals.
Then came the chat about Kane’s future.
The 27-year-old has been talking about his prospects during the international break, claiming he is focussed only on football. When asked whether a move away from Tottenham would help his chances of winning a trophy, he said: “I think that’s a hard question to answer right now.
“It’s important that all my focus is on the two England games coming up now and the rest of the season with Spurs and then the Euros. To be thinking about speculation or rumours would be damaging in terms of my own performance.”
It was a very Kane response. It did little to feed into the ‘he needs to leave for trophies’ narrative, but also clued readers into the idea that perhaps he’s not thrilled with how the season has played out for Jose Mourinho’s side. Out of the Europa League and struggling domestically, that’s fair enough.
On ITV, Ashley Cole and Roy Keane said Tottenham isn’t the place for him to pad that trophy case. Ian Wright said he shouldn’t have signed a six-year contract. We like Ian Wright.
So, a tinge of negativity was in the air, but the segment seemed to have run its course. Until…
“Let’s talk about someone who’s very committed to their club, Mason Mount.”
Ah. A disappointing but perhaps not too surprising segway into praise for England’s other goalscorer on Sunday. That’s no skin off his back – Mount is having a fabulous season, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.
Instead, it’s that ill-feeling towards Kane that seems to follow him regardless of whether he’s playing for England or Tottenham. It may have been a throwaway segway, but it is quite alarming that the England captain is casually and regularly hit with these jibes, as if he’s shown disloyalty in the past and is just aching for the chance to split again – when the reality is, his loan spells aside, Kane has spent his whole senior career at Tottenham and is more likely to spend a few more seasons there than leave in the summer, simply because of the ruined market the coronavirus world finds itself in.
Sky Sports don’t help either, constantly pulling out god knows who to talk about his future. It’s essentially where punditry falls flat on its face – random talking heads are plucked from obscurity and give half-baked views on a topic which is actually a lot more nuanced and requires more detailed attention than, for example, five minutes at half time in an England qualifier.
That constant waffle feeds into the negativity around him. If you were to take the opinion of the first user you saw scrolling through Twitter, you’d think Kane is some Lee Cattermole-impersonating war criminal who had bombed Highbury and the whole of Merseyside.
You might think Kane is some master of the dark arts, but he’s not. He’s one of the best players of his generation.
You might think he shouldn’t have claimed a goal at Stoke a few years ago. He’s one of the best players of his generation, determined to succeed and achieve when he’s told he can’t, and that includes claiming every goal he can. Get over it.
You might think he should have squared it to Sterling in 2018. Perhaps so, but that’s no guarantee England would have made the World Cup final. Grow up.
Or maybe you just think he’s arrogant and don’t like him. There’s plenty of that going around at the moment, but guess what? He’s one of the best players of his generation and that won’t change anytime soon – regardless of whether he leaves Tottenham or you start to like him. He’s great, undeniably great, and showed that again on Sunday. That should be the main takeaway rather than some strange critique of his personality or playing style, both of which have served him extremely well during his senior career.