With lockdown giving journalists little else to do other than report transfer gossip, it was inevitable that a story such as Harry Kane to Manchester United would gather pace after the player’s recent comments about being open to leaving Spurs.
But is there any truth to any of these rumours? And what are United’s chances of landing the England striker? This article will try to separate fact from fiction.
First, what did Kane actually say in that Instagram interview in March? Well, he definitely said he would be willing to leave the club:
‘I love Spurs, I’ll always love Spurs but I’ve always said if I don’t feel we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there for the sake of it.’
‘I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve and get better.’
‘I want to become one of the top players so it all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress.’
The second question is whether Spurs would be willing to sell their prize striker, who still has four years left on his contract.
The decision maker at Spurs is Daniel Levy, a very shrewd businessman and tough negotiator. Kane turns 27 in July and as such, Levy will know he would be at the peak of his marketability. Once a player approaches 30, his value starts to decline. So if Levy wanted to maximise his profit on Kane and the player is genuinely unhappy, he would sell – but at a price.
Reports that Levy has slapped a £200 million price tag on Kane’s head are probably not wide of the mark. Kane’s market value is £140 million but the Spurs chairman would want to do better, and for him, £200 million could be his opening offer in negotiations, expecting to eventually settle around the £160-£170 million mark.
However, the world crisis has thrown football finances into chaos and that sort of figure is most likely no longer attainable. So the question is whether Levy would be prepared to climb down to a significantly lower figure, or whether he will opt to hold tight for a year and hope that the market picks up.
The third issue is that even if Levy opts to sell, would he be prepared to sanction a move to a Premier League rival? It is certainly not unheard of for United to cherry pick his prize assets – Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham and Dimitar Berbatov being good examples – but if there’s a chance to move Kane overseas, the chairman would naturally choose that option.
The fourth question is whether Kane would be willing to come to Old Trafford and that issue would depend on whether United bosses could convince the player that their ambitions match his and that they are capable of winning silverware. Despite being awarded the OBE, Kane has never won a trophy with Spurs domestically or internationally and so he will want to join a club where he can be competing straight away as he moves into the latter half of his career.
The final issue is competition. According to The Express, both Manchester City and Real Madrid are pursuing Kane’s signature. With Sergio Aguero turning 32 in June and Gabriel Jesus linked with a move to Juventus, City have both the motive and financial clout to make a move for Kane. Their only weak spot is their two-year ban from taking part in European competitions.
This would leave Real Madrid ticking all the boxes. Kane would be a natural replacement for Karim Benzema, who turns 33 this year. If as expected Barcelona sign Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan, Real will need to also up their game in the striker department. Levy would welcome moving his player abroad and Kane would be handed the chance to realise his ambitions and win trophies on a silver platter.
However, Real have been heavily linked with the much cheaper options of Erling Haaland and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang recently. Indeed, there is little excitement about the Spurs man in the Spanish press, with AS saying ‘those who are interested in obtaining his services must pay an exorbitant amount, something unlikely due to the world crisis unleashed by the coronavirus.’
This brings us full circle back to the Red Devils, who The Athletic claim have ‘fielded an inquiry about their possible interest in Kane should he come on the market’ recently. Whether this came from Spurs, the player’s agent or a third party is unclear, The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell believes that United are unlikely to pursue Kane due to the enormous price tag, the problems of dealing with Levy and, to some extent, concerns over the 26-year-old’s injury record.
All in all, this leaves us with the most likely scenario being that Kane will stay at Tottenham, but The Express’s claim that United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has ‘accepted defeat’ is probably far from true. Like his counterparts at the Etihad and the Bernabeu, Woodward will be monitoring Kane’s situation very closely and will have the means and ability to pounce should the conditions become more favourable.
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