It’s here again. The Harry Kane to Manchester United rumour. The one that won’t go away.
Its longevity can easily be explained by history, with the Reds routinely plundering Spurs of their finest talents down the years, who would leave White Hart Lane having excelled within a top six team and go on to win lots of silverware at Old Trafford. Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham and Dimitar Berbatov are just three players who took this upward trajectory and so familiar did the career path become that the crueler element of the United fan-base began to refer to their southern rivals as their ‘feeder club’.
Except that was back then, when Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides dominated domestic football and lifted a European honour or two. Ever since Kane broke through in North London, amazing one and all with his prolificacy, Manchester United’s average league placing has been fourth. In that timescale, Tottenham’s has also been fourth.
Let us park that for the time being however: about how it’s now become a sideways step, not an elevation. Instead, let’s look at why Kane to United will have significantly more substance this coming summer than any others before it.
From a Tottenham perspective it is entirely logical to at least be open to the possibility of selling their prized asset, especially if a monster bid came in far exceeding £100m. Last summer, for all that the media obsessed over the idea of Manchester City swooping with a British record fee, a switch to the league champions was never really a feasible outcome, with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy batting away the Blues’ opening offer then refusing to enter into dialogue with them thereafter. Such was his prerogative.
This time out though, the deck is stacked quite differently. The striker has only two years remaining on his contract and turning 29 in July this realistically is Tottenham’s last chance to get megabucks for their homegrown phenomenon. Furthermore, he tainted his legacy last year by so aggressively angling for a move, thereby making it much less likely that a sale would prompt locals to descend on the stadium, pitchforks in hand. When it’s also factored in that moving Kane on would largely finance a rebuild under new boss Antonio Conte, a parting of the ways begins to appear a pragmatic option. Manchester City are no longer keen while the rest of Europe’s elite are either smitten by Mbappe and Haaland or flat-broke. That leaves United, with the road to negotiation all to themselves.
As for United, and their interests, it feels like a no-brainer to target the three-time Premier League Golden Boot winner. At first glance anyway.
Harry Kane won his 𝐬𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐡 Premier League Player of the Month award 🥇
The most all time:
7—Harry Kane/Sergio Agüero
5—Cristiano Ronaldo/Wayne Rooney/Robin van Persie pic.twitter.com/8cn4msmMkn
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 1, 2022
According to various reports Edinson Cavani won’t be at Old Trafford next season, the Uruguayan eyeing up a move to La Liga while Cristiano Ronaldo’s advancing years means it would be ludicrous to enter a long, demanding season with the Portuguese genius as their principal attacking outlet. Turning 38 at the business end of next season, Ronaldo is a cherry on top, a sublimely gifted and often impactful cherry, but a cherry nonetheless.
Elsewhere, the unsavoury loss of Mason Greenwood and the worrying and sustained decline in form of Marcus Rashford unquestionably necessitates the Reds entering the market for a forward this summer and who better than Kane who fits the club’s profile to a tee. He is a renowned big game player. A 20+ a season man. He is England’s captain for goodness sake just like Rooney and Beckham and Bryan Robson before him.
Crucially and lastly, United wouldn’t baulk at spending a huge amount on premium fare. They’ve done it before. They’ll do it again.
It’s when we view the possible move through Kane’s eyes however that we hit a major snag, returning to that parked thought from earlier. Last season, the arch hit-man endured the hurtful wrath of his adoring public when trying to ‘sell’ the idea of moving on to win trophies; a motivation that gained him only negative headlines even if it was an attainable goal with City. Would the same justification be true if joining United, a club that last won the league just shy of a decade ago; that last won a trophy of any note five years ago? Even Champions League qualification is presently a stretch for the Red Devils and who is that a point ahead of them in the race? That’s right, Spurs.
And then we scratch a little deeper into this narrative and find that while Tottenham’s rationale in selling Kane to a main rival bears all scrutiny, United’s aspirations do not.
Harry Kane is now England’s joint-second all-time leading goal scorer with 49 goals ✨ pic.twitter.com/dQf7atTuRR
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 26, 2022
Granted, they are in need of a top-class attacker and granted, they can afford the exorbitant sum required to detach a Premier League legend from his moorings. But then we recall that last summer United were prohibited from challenging their city rivals for the player’s signature after purchasing Jadon Sancho for £73m. Then we acknowledge that though Manchester United are a money-making machine their allowed outgoings are not limitless and simply put, a £120m+ outlay on Kane would mean nobody else comes in this summer, not unless they strike it lucky unearthing a bargain or two.
Is such a strategy – of essentially putting all their eggs in one basket – wise for a club that is in desperate want of a squad revamp? At the most conservative estimate, this is an under-performing and under-achieving collective in dire need of a centre-back, a utilitarian full-back, a serious injection of energy into midfield – and let’s not overlook their coveting of Declan Rice in this regard, who would require an eye-watering sum to dislodge him from West Ham – not to mention one quality striker at the bare minimum.
Are United willing to sacrifice much of the above so as to once again adhere to their flawed Field Of Dreams ethos that prophesizes that if you simply buy the big players, the trophies will come? Have they learned precisely nothing from their failed Galactico thinking post-Ferguson?
More so, it is hard to see the logic in purchasing a budget-busting player in the absence of a permanent manager, especially when their preferred new boss, Erik Ten Hag, favours aggressive counter-attacking. This is a style not conducive to Kane’s strengths.
On paper, Harry Kane to Old Trafford makes a lot of sense but those papers are hopelessly out of date and no longer apply to the present. The harsh reality of who Manchester United are now – and what they must do to once again challenge for titles – means that a huge summer purchase, bought in the hope of salvation, would only lead to further stagnation, further decline.
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