If it has his way, that Harry Kane The Tottenham Hotspur era ends this summer. The 27-year-old, who led the Premier League on both goals and assisted this season, has announced to the club (for the second year in a row) that he would like to leave.
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There is of course no obligation for the club to let him go. He’s still under contract for three years and Spurs will charge a very large transfer fee – possibly in the region of £ 150m – to be persuaded to sanction his departure. That could even mark Spurs’ richest rivals, striker-hungry Chelsea. Sources told ESPN’s James Olley last week that the Blues could try to propose a player change in an offer to cut potential costs.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is known for making tough business and likely won’t settle for anything less than his price (or a player swap equivalent), but his team has been even with Kane and himself this season seventh seventh Premier League winger Son of Heung-Min Combination for an incredible 40 goals and 24 assists. This suggests that the roster replenishment is urgently needed. Kane’s move provides a way to do just that.
Player swaps have been relatively rare in football history, especially when compared to what we see in American sport. The lack of salary capped leagues (and the need to hit a specific cost balance) could play a role in non-proliferation, as well as the lack of draft picks to swap and the simple fact that there are so many damn football leagues and sources out there Talent in the world. There have been some big ones here and there – Inter’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona for Samuel Eto’o and Cash to name just one – and it’s worth noting that swaps have worked well for Spurs in the past: they sent Bobby Zamora and In 2005 they sent cash to West Ham for Jermain Defoe, and in 2014 they sent Gylfi Sigurdsson to Swansea for Ben Davies and Michel Vorm.
In the right circumstances, they could serve Spurs well in the future and, technically, Chelsea aren’t the only club out there who could attempt a deal.
What could Spurs get if they looked for such a return from Chelsea and others? Actually, the first question is what exactly Spurs are doing need?
Jump to: Chelsea | Man City | Man United | Liverpool
Real Madrid | PSG | Which offer would you accept?
The condition of the spores
Obviously, Need No. 1 a substitute striker in a potential Kane deal. Spurs were sorely lacking proven backup options this season as the only other center-forward to score a league goal was loaned Carlos Vinicius. Hell, they need another striker even if they do to keep Kane. However, a look at both the list and Spurs’ stats for 2020-21 reveals some more extreme needs.
Spurs have been an odd team this season. Led by Jose Mourinho for most of the time, they weren’t as possession-minded as most of the other top Premier League teams – only West Ham United in the top nine had lower possession rates. But through a mix of decent build-up play, the occasional mind-blowing counterattack, and the magic of Kane and Son, they were third in the league in goals scored and second in expected goals (xG) per shot.
When problems arose for the team, they usually came from one of two areas: (1) defense pressure and (2) shot volume, as they were 12th in the shots per possession. The former often impacted the latter, as Spurs took on just 5.8 possessions per game in the league’s attacking third and 18th tiers. They allowed 12.4 passes per defensive action (PPDA) and 5.0 passes per opposing possession – both averages took 10th place – and the opponents finished 41% of their possession in the attacking third (14th). This meant that when Spurs took possession of the ball, they were often deep in their own end.
This did not have to be a problem in and of itself; If you don’t allow in high quality shots and counter well, you can be successful in this reactive way. But Spurs suffered too many defensive errors to achieve this: while only 24% of the shots they allowed were fired under the shot defined by Stats Perform as little to no shot pressure (first in the league), opponents succeeded Getting such a shot was an extremely high quality look. Opponents averaged 0.18 xG per shot when under little to no pressure (14th). Spurs didn’t have the defensive structure and discipline to achieve the style their manager wanted.
Whether the next manager is more modern and property-oriented – for example in the form of Erik ten Hag from Ajax, Graham Potter from Brighton & Hove Albion or Ralf Rangnick – or patient and reactive like the former manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nuno Espirito Santo No. 2 in a potential Kane deal should be a reinforcement in central defense.
Another need arises when you look at the roster for yourself. Even with rumored squad culling – supposedly up to 10 players could leave for cost reasons – there are still some fascinating players. But there are also some holes.
Here are Tottenham’s main and intermediate players (i.e. those who have played at least 600 league minutes) this season, listed by their primary position and in the order of minutes played:
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris (34 years old)
Defensive midfield: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (25)
Central midfield: Moussa Sissoko (31), Harry Winks (25)
Forward: Harry Kane (27)
New signings like Hojbjerg and Reguilon have played well and they are entering their prime and there’s a lot to like about other players like Ndombele, Lo Celso and maybe Bergwijn (despite having had a disappointing season). Winks was also a wrecking ball in the season finale against Leicester City. If forward depth is a massive problem, mid-field depth is just as problematic. Even if Winks plays an entire season like he did against Leicester, Sissoko is likely on his way out and there aren’t many proven bodies out there. Need No. 3 is a strong man in the central midfield.
If there is a fourth need, it comes on the wings. Bale returns to Real Madrid after his loan deal. he could return on a permanent contract, but it is in no way guaranteed. Lamela is almost certain to leave, and both Son and Moura are nearing their 30s. But we will consider this need secondary to the other three above.
To the trading machine!
Rumor has it that Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are the teams most likely to chase Kane, but let’s broaden those choices a bit. Let’s add Liverpool along with two other clubs outside of England. Kane’s preference is to remain in the Premier League, but two other teams – Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain – have resources, players and a strong need for a center-forward.
For each of these clubs I put together a package with about three players and money. The goal was to create a value of roughly £ 150m that would not detract from either Spurs’ needs or Kane’s new team’s ability to produce a trophy-worthy squad. I used Transfermarkt’s player reviews as a loose guide to determine who should be in the deal and how much money each club would have to add. These evaluations are obviously far from the gospel, but they are useful as well-educated guesswork.
Is Kane worth the following packages? The clubs have to say that, not me. But if you’re trying to match Levy’s rating, you may have to give this up.
First rumors pointed to the unfavorable Abraham and substitute goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could be the main cog in a Chelsea offer but that seems wishful thinking unless Chelsea are still planning to bring in £ 75m to 100million. Abraham is a breeze simply because of the position he plays, but as Lloris ages it would be a potential waste for Spurs to address a future goalkeeping problem in this deal.
It would be shocking if Levy couldn’t hold out any longer, in other words. But Chelsea still have players to offer. The club doesn’t necessarily have the deepest midfield itself and obviously wouldn’t be ready to give up Mason Mount, N’Golo Kante or probably even Jorginhowho did well under the new manager Thomas Tuchel. But they have an excess of wings and / or full-backs and could be convinced to part with either Ziyech or Hudson-Odoi, who teamed up for just under 1,000 league minutes after Tuchel’s appointment. (Technically, Christian Pulisic could also be an option.) Zouma had some brilliant moments this year but only played in nine of 17 league games according to Tuchel’s hiring.
Chelsea could offer a high-profile wing, a 26-year-old center-back who could thrive in a new setting and Abraham, a player who has scored 30 goals in all competitions over the last two seasons. And they could do it without really weakening their roster. Sure, there could be a rivalry premium Chelsea have to pay here – more money or a better player – but that would be a solid package for both sides.
The offer: Forward Gabriel JesusCenter-back Aymeric Laporte, a young prospect (maybe either forward Liam Delapmidfield player Adrian Bernabe or winger / full-back Luke Bolton) and between £ 15m and £ 25m
If so, City could potentially top Chelsea’s offer. In Jesus they have a player who is much more seasoned than Abraham (but only a few years older) who would be overtaken by the addition of Kane. He has scored 50 league goals in 4½ seasons since coming to Manchester, he has added 16 more in the Champions League and he has increased his assists play recently, with 11 spreading over the last two league seasons.
The city also has a surplus of center-backs after attacking some of them in recent years. Laporte was the big newcomer in January 2018 but lost much of 2019-20 to a knee injury and played in just 16 league games that season. At just 26, he still has time to become the centerpiece of a Premier League defense.
Man City also has some interesting players in the pipeline, depending on who Spurs would appreciate the most. 18-year-old Delap had a nice first result in the Carabao Cup against Bournemouth in September, although 19-year-old Bernabe could fit into the midfield rotation pretty quickly. Including either of them would be like including a future first or second round draft in an American deal, but would Levy find that attractive?
Ian Darke believes Harry Kane is openly flirting with Manchester City with his recent comments on Kevin De Bruyne.
United are guaranteed to see a big boost this off-season. Borussia Dortmund’s long-awaited winger Jadon Sancho could obviously be up for a £ 100m transfer fee, and although it’s hard to imagine the Red Devils chasing him both and Kane, a player swap could make it technically possible without making £ 250m in transfer expenses.
Who would they give Spurs to? Like Chelsea, they don’t necessarily have the right players to act in midfield unless we include Van de Beek, who was last season’s biggest signing. The 24-year-old struggled, scored a goal and only had three chances in 513 minutes of the Premier League this year after averaging nine and 44 respectively in his last three seasons at Ajax. It still has potential, but it is a work in progress. So did 23-year-old Tuanzebe, who looked pretty good on loan to Aston Villa two seasons ago, but hasn’t achieved much of that form at Old Trafford so far.
Unless his March knee injury changed the timing of this hypothetical deal to an impractical extent, Martial is a breeze, a bridge to the future that scored 17 goals for United in 2019-20. And you could include James instead of Van de Beek or Martial, too. But unless this deal includes both Marcus Rashford or Mason Greenwood – possibly dispensable with a Sancho deal, but almost certainly not – it’s hard to see that this package is more attractive than City’s unless it’s a good amount of cash. And a good amount of money would somehow ruin the point of this exercise.
Liverpool wasn’t really linked to a possible Kane move and it would go against the general “signs before they peak” approach that has served them well over the past few years. But hey, that’s all hypothetical and technical anyway someone could benefit from the addition of the reigning Golden Boot winner. Let’s see what they have to offer.
Thanks to the staggering number of central defense injuries this season, Liverpool have played against many players there and may make one of them redundant if everyone is well again. With Nathaniel Phillips‘In the late season, Gomez could become a candidate for this redundancy. If you include Firmino as a comparable switch, Spurs would attract two key players to the 2019-20 championship title at Liverpool. Include the older Matip in place of Gomez and Spurs would win two of Liverpool’s starters from the 2019 Champions League final win over Spurs.
But is that enough? Gomez, 24, and Keita, 25, still have tons of advantages, but Gomez has a serious injury and Keita has been plagued by all sorts of illnesses since moving from RB Leipzig. In addition, Firmino has more kilometers on his feet than Kane. If Spurs’ main goal is to improve immediately, this bundle might be for you. But it could be that they are not as well equipped for the future as others, unless it is a 20-year-old midfielder Curtis Jones at least.
The offer: Forward Luka Jovic, Midfielder Martin Odegaard, center-back Eder Militao and between £ 20m and £ 30m (less if a permanent contract for Bale is included)
Kane has indeed expressed his preference to stay in England and with three young children the desire for continuity makes sense. But a deal with Real Madrid would make sense for both Spurs and tons of people Los Blancos.
Madrid’s allergy to young players – 11 players have played more than 1,800 minutes for manager Zinedine Zidane in La Liga this season but only one was under 25 and seven were 29 or older – has created a blurry future for some young people. Zidane is likely on his way out after a trophyless season and perhaps his replacement is more open to exploring the trajectory of players like Odegaard. Or maybe next season Blancos are in full win-now mode with the addition of Kane and / or PSGs Kylian Mbappe.
Including Jovic and Odegaard in a deal would be fascinating. The 23-year-old Jovic combined 25 goals with 34 chances that Eintracht Frankfurt scored in 3,200 minutes in 2017-18 and 2018-19. At Real Madrid, however, he hardly saw the field and was loaned to Frankfurt for 18 games this season. Odegaard is now 22 years old and has loaned most of the past four seasons. He has shown great playing potential for Arsenal this spring, but has also shown enough disagreements to make his future in Madrid uncertain. Both could thrive in new environments, as could Militao, 23, who has been a part-time worker in a crowded defense for the past two years.
ESPN FC’s Craig Burley talks reported that both Manchester clubs were interested in Harry Kane.
Throw Bale and / or Boy Like Forward Hugo Duro or midfielder Sergio Arribas and you help both Spurs stock up on useful players and Real Madrid make way for their next round Galacticos. If Kane wants to live in Spain anyway.
Paris St. Germain
This is what a crisis looks like for France’s dominant club. PSG finished second in Ligue 1 that season and failed to sign Mbappe – one of the world’s two best young players – on a new deal. (His current one expires in a year.) He could land at Real Madrid either this or next off-season and PSG will be looking for a new anchor Neymar.
Kane would be the most attractive option on the table that is not mentioned Erling Haalandbut it might take a decent amount of money to make a move because for all the money they spent PSG haven’t put together a particularly deep roster.
Icardi would be an obvious part of a package to be sent to London. His performance was disappointing that injury-ridden season, but he has averaged 23 goals per year in all competitions for Internazionale and PSG for the previous six seasons. However, it is unclear who else could represent the best options. Rafinha, 28, who was added from Barcelona in October, was only a part-time worker in Paris this year. Kehrer and Diallo are both solid and approaching their peaks. But Pembele could outdo both; Is he ready for a full Premier League season at 18? An Icardi plus £ 100m deal might be more likely, although it might make sense to snatch Pembele just in case he turns out to be an all-time star.
Steve Nicol says interest in Erling Haaland could cost Harry Kane his ideal move this summer.
Which one would you choose?
Imagine for a moment that these six packages are all on the table. Which is the most attractive? This is how I would classify them:
Best deals on Spurs
1. Manchester City
2. Real Madrid
4. Manchester United
City has the greatest potential for both proven players and a long-term uptrend, while Real Madrid can almost hit the uptrend without contributing the same level of proven play (or britishness). Chelsea could also raise the stakes with a particularly attractive midfielder.
Of the potential Kane targets, here are the ones that would benefit most from the above hypotheses:
The best deals for Kane applicants
2. Real Madrid
4. Manchester City
5. Manchester United
Real Madrid would do a couple of “What to do with this guy?” Headache, add a brilliant goalscorer and finally find a way to score goals that are not simply “hope” Karim Benzema does something amazing. “(They would of course also create new headaches with Kane and Benzema playing the same position.) But it is impossible to exaggerate how much the finishing has held Chelsea back this season.
The Blues scored just 58 goals from 71.6 xG chances that year, almost missing out on the Champions League game. (They only made it because Spurs beat Leicester City on Matchday last.) While part of that inequality was undoubtedly a bad fortune that could average over the next year, it’s doubtful that was all. Chelsea would benefit most from being led by one of the best scorer in the world. The club could make a pretty fantastic offer, both in terms of player swaps and money, if Levy could stand the thought of Kane joining a bitter rival.