Aug 15, 2023, 12:26 PM ET
After months of rumours and negotiations, this summer’s blockbuster transfer saga involving Harry Kane, Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur came down to the wire.
On Thursday, Spurs finally agreed to Bayern’s fourth bid in six weeks for the England captain. Even after Kane had agreed to join Bayern on a four-year deal, he was delayed from hopping aboard the private jet waiting to take off from London-Stansted airport.
While it seemed that Kane had doubts about whether he really wanted to leave Tottenham after being part of the club for almost two decades, the reality was that it unexpectedly took some time before the last financial details were clarified. Eventually, he landed in Munich, held up a red-and-white jersey and had a big smile on his face.
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“It was always going to be a tough decision,” Kane said at a news conference on Sunday. “Ultimately, I’m a professional, I’ve always pushed myself to my limits and the time was right.”
Throughout all of this, Bayern supporters needed to be patient; they’d read a lot of rumors and hearsay, moods oscillating between hopeful and pessimistic. In the end, they got what they desperately wanted, a world-class No. 9 to fill the void left by Robert Lewandowski’s departure to Barcelona last summer, but whether the wait was worth it remains to be seen.
The beginnings of Bayern’s interest
What can already be said is that Bayern’s bosses went out of their way to break the club’s transfer record, offering Tottenham a package worth €100 million with a further €20m in add-ons. They also deviated from the usual club policy of keeping transfer negotiations behind closed doors. Much of Bayern’s pursuit of Kane was happening in the public by way of constant leaks to the media.
The saga took more than a month to unfold, but Bayern’s interest in the England captain dates back to 12 months ago, when Lewandowski left for the Camp Nou. As Bayern searched for a replacement for the longtime No. 9, they turned to Kane, who wasn’t available.
Harry Kane made his Bayern Munich debut coming off the bench in Saturday’s German Supercup defeat to RB Leipzig. Christian Kaspar/Bartke/Getty Images
Instead, they signed Sadio Mané from Liverpool, hoping that they could use the Senegal forward in something of a false-nine role. That experiment didn’t work out over the early stages of the 2022-23 campaign, though, forcing the Bavarians to effectively decide that a traditional centre-forward would be their top priority for this year’s summer transfer window.
Bayern initiated contact in the first weeks of summer, with sources telling ESPN’s James Olley that head coach Thomas Tuchel met with Kane at his family home, as the striker signaled his readiness to join Bayern. This encouraged the German club to intensify their efforts and seek an agreement with Tottenham. Two executives within Bayern’s newly formed transfer committee were tasked with leading the negotiations: Jan-Christian Dreesen, the chief executive, and Marco Neppe, the technical director.
When Bayern submitted their first bid in late June, they used the offer to initiate a line of communication with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. While Bayern were well aware that the offered €70m was nowhere near enough to meet Levy’s demands, the German club wanted to get a feel for how likely a transfer might be this summer.
As Bayern followed up with another, slightly larger bid of €79m, they intended to underline how serious their interest was.
Bayern have been known to conduct their transfer business rather discretely, but they decided to deviate from their usual approach, as plenty of details of the negotiations were leaked to the public one way or another. It seems as though the belief was that they needed to make their efforts be seen.
Resiliency key to Bayern’s pursuit
A recurring theme in Bayern’s pursuit of stars from abroad is the German champions’ claim that their potential signings would not only elevate their squad, but also the Bundesliga as a whole.
“Bayern always try to bring in stars,” club president Herbert Hainer told German football magazine Kicker in July. “Harry Kane is a highly attractive player, the England captain and a top scorer. He would do us and the Bundesliga good.”
Hainer’s comment could also be seen as a sign to Tottenham that the Bundesliga side were not ready to give up too easily. After Bayern’s first two bids, there was continuous communication between executives of both clubs. Dreesen then met Levy for breakfast the day before Tottenham left London for Australia, where they soon began their preseason tour.
Harry Kane ‘excited’ by Bayern move after ‘magical’ reception
Harry Kane shares his excitement to join Bayern during his first press conference in Munich.
Once Spurs were back home, Dreesen and Neppe intended to meet Levy and other members of Tottenham’s hierarchy on July 28, although the meeting would be postponed for three days, when the two parties discussed the matter in person in London for a few hours.
In the aftermath, Dreesen and other executives remained confident, and submitted another bid on Aug. 4. This time Bayern offered a total of €100m.
As Levy rejected that bid on Aug. 7, Bayern’s transfer committee held a meeting the same day, deciding they would increase their offer one more time. That decision was communicated to Spurs.
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So Bayern prepared yet another bid, and the €100m offered on Aug. 9 came close to the €116m that had reportedly been demanded by Levy in previous conversations. The Rekordmeister also offered to pay a considerable chunk of the fixed transfer fee rather quickly, while so often payments in modern transfers are spread over three or four years.
Spurs accepted the offer of €100 million with a further €20m in add-ons a day later.
Sights set on Wembley
A few weeks before the final agreement was reached, sources inside Tottenham’s facility were convinced that Kane would leave. Whether Levy had already made up his mind in July and wanted to get the best possible financial deal will likely remain a mystery, but given that Bayern had come quite close with their third bid, it would have come off as stubborn to let the deal fall through because of a small gap in valuations.
Bayern have a history of breaking their record transfer fees and disrupting the Bundesliga throughout the past decade. In 2012, they reacted to Borussia Dortmund’s back-to-back championship wins by signing Javi Martínez from Athletic Club for €40m. A year later, they brought in Mario Götze from Dortmund for €37m. In 2019, Bayern almost doubled their transfer record by signing Lucas Hernández from Atletico Madrid for €80m. Leroy Sané joined the next summer for €49m from Manchester City.
Some of these big arrivals didn’t quite satisfy Bayern’s hierarchy. Hernández, for instance, struggled with various injuries during his four-year stint and was recently moved to Paris Saint-Germain for €45.
Furthermore, a large transfer fee alone does offers no guarantee that a player will be a difference-maker. However, considering how challenging the No. 9 role is in today’s game and how few great centre-forwards there are, Kane was almost Bayern’s only option, as they were determined to add only someone from the top shelf.
During the long pursuit of the England captain, Bayern’s hierarchy had essentially neglected any possible alternative, fully focused on bringing the 30-year-old to the Allianz Arena. Bayern were convinced that they negotiated with Tottenham from a position of strength, given that this was the last transfer window the Premier League club could move Kane for large fee and based on the belief that Kane had made up his mind and wanted to join Bayern.
The pursuit was successful, but now the hard work begins, with Tuchel being tasked to integrate the record signing into the team as quickly as possible and form an attack that can compete for the Champions League. Coincidentally, the final in 2024 will be played at Wembley Stadium.
“I joined this club to have a good chance of winning the Champions League,” Kane said on Sunday, “but for it to be at Wembley is amazing.”
It seems as though the goal for the silverware-starved striker is set.