Harry Kane’s future at Tottenham is once again in major doubt – PA/John Walton
The choice of all the clubs in the world lies 12 months ahead for Harry Kane, who turns 30 next month, injury-free, in-form and still one of the greatest goalscorers of this era and any other. The problem as ever, is what lies between now and free agency, and whether to put it bluntly – he can tolerate one more season at Tottenham Hotspur.
The answer would appear to be that is no longer the case. Kane and his advisors cannot force Daniel Levy to take any offer Bayern Munich might make. Just as they could not impose on the Spurs chairman whatever it was that Manchester City may or may not have proposed in the summer of 2021. Yet in offering no discouragement to Bayern, Kane is making it clear that there will be no new Spurs contract now or in the next 12 months and if Levy wishes to realise some value then he will have to do so now.
Does Kane want to halt his pursuit of Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record – even if just temporarily – and uproot his family for Germany and a league that is currently more of a preparatory stage than a career pinnacle for English players? His attitude seems to be that he is prepared to consider any serious offers – and no doubt in the hope that this one might smoke out others in the Premier League.
To sell or not, that will be Levy’s choice to make – although before it has always felt different. Levy long believed, with the seasoned gambler’s confidence, that he could pull off something that might convince Kane into signing anew. Yet even he must now know that if Kane’s departure is not to be now then it will be next summer, and in which case it might have to be now.
Levy has long had Kane where he wanted him. Chiefly because of the six-year deal the player signed before the 2018 World Cup finals which gave him no scope for manoeuvre and handed the Spurs chairman the advantage. Kane was not to know the meltdown that would follow at the club a little less than 18 months later with the departure of Mauricio Pochettino. Although he should perhaps have foreseen that when he most needed flexibility in planning his career, he had given himself none.
As for Levy, it has long been a case of refusing to grant Kane his release while at the same time trying to sweeten the pill of that refusal. He has mollified his star player in the post-Pochettino years, appointing Jose Mourinho and then Antonio Conte to try to get the show back on the road. He had tried, with the investment from Enic’s billionaire owner Joe Lewis last summer, to demonstrate necessary ambition on the part of the club and that ultimately did nothing in arresting the decline.
Does Daniel Levy risk losing Harry Kane on a free transfer next summer? – Getty Images/Adrian Dennis
Yet when it comes to Kane, ever more now it feels that all Levy has is that final year left on his contract and nothing else. Levy has relied upon Kane to be a model prisoner of his circumstances at Spurs in the last two seasons and he has certainly been that. He has never caused the kind of commotion that would force his sale. He has been the best player in a side declining fast. Perhaps if the goals had started to dwindle, or the star to wane, Levy might have seized upon that decline and offered him a new deal. But Kane’s standards have never wavered.
The summer of 2024 is the moment that Kane can seize control of his career. Even so these latest developments suggest, if the chance presents, he would rather not wait until then. Thomas Tuchel will tell him that Bayern is the place where he might yet win a Champions League. Bayern are agreed to be in something of a trough by their standards, even after their 11th straight Bundesliga title, and yet even so there is always a chance they challenge for the Champions League. Certainly a better chance than Spurs who have no European football of any flavour next season.
For Ange Postecoglou the future of Kane at Spurs feels like a movie the club’s new manager has walked into ten minutes before the credits roll. There is so much water under the bridge, and there have been times when Kane has been left nowhere to go. But there was always a limit on how long Levy had to persuade his best player to stay and now the clock is ticking down to midnight.
The Spurs chairman can maintain his stance of asking for more than £100 million for a footballer now touching 30, but that too has its consequences when the same player can leave for nothing in one year’s time. Kane himself has made it quite clear where he stands and when it comes to sticking steadfast to what he wants – however others might feel – you might say that Levy has taught him well.
Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.