Kane – should he stay or should he go?

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May 20, 2021
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    Harry Kane celebrates scoring for Tottenham against WolvesHarry Kane has 220 goals from 334 games for Tottenham after scoring in Sunday's win over Wolves

    Speculation around Harry Kane's future has increased after reports stated that the prolific striker wants to leave Tottenham.

    After Spurs lost April's Carabao Cup final, the England captain, 27, said he wants "to be winning the biggest prizes and we are not quite doing that".

    Sources have told BBC Sport that Kane has not handed in an official transfer request but it is understood he thinks he has a gentleman's agreement that would allow him to leave this summer, as Tottenham's run without a trophy extends to 13 years.

    So should he stay or go? Can he achieve trophies as well as greatness at Tottenham, or does need to look elsewhere? BBC Sport looks at other Premier League stars who found themselves in a similar position, and weighs up Kane's options.

    Stay and cement status as a club legend?

    After helping Blackburn win the Premier League title in 1995 and finishing the 1996 European Championship as its top scorer, Alan Shearer turned down Manchester United for a second time – having rejected them before moving to Ewood Park in 1992.

    This time, he made a world-record £15m move to home-city club Newcastle, just before he turned 26.

    While United continued to fill their trophy cabinet, Shearer failed to claim another winners' medal in 10 years with Newcastle, but the former England captain became Newcastle's all-time record goalscorer and now has a statue outside St James' Park.

    Francesco Totti also turned down a potential move to Old Trafford to spend his entire career with Roma, winning a solitary Serie A title, while Matt Le Tissier says he has no regrets about staying with 'little' Southampton after almost joining Tottenham.

    MOTD analysis: Spurs' performances are giving Kane an excuse to leave – Shearer

    Steven Gerrard had a big decision to make after leading Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005. Chelsea had seen a British record bid rejected, but Gerrard said he wanted to leave. The very next day, though, the 25-year-old had a change of heart and signed a new contract with the Reds, with the ambition of ending a wait for the league title stretching back to 1990.

    Although a Premier League winners' medal ultimately eluded the ex-England midfielder, with his slip against Chelsea helping to hand Manchester City the title in 2014, he is still revered at Anfield and would be welcomed back with open arms if he returned as manager after leading Rangers to the Scottish title.

    Like Liverpool back then, Tottenham have been challenging for honours, reaching the 2019 Champions League final and this season's EFL Cup final. But Kane is yet to lift a trophy after seven years as a regular, and whether he chooses to gamble on winning one with Spurs could depend on who succeeds Jose Mourinho as their permanent manager.

    "Kane's contract runs until 2024, so Spurs don't have to sell him now and I don't think they will," said MOTD2 pundit Jermaine Jenas.

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    "They do need to keep him happy though, and one way of doing that is by starting to play on the front foot with more energy and a better tempo. The same goes for the rest of that squad.

    "My hope now is that, whoever the next manager is, he is someone who will get Tottenham playing in a way their players enjoy."

    Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Monday Night Club, ex-Manchester City defender Micah Richards said: "What's the point in having a beautiful stadium if you're not building a winning team. I know it [the £1bn Tottenham Hotspur Stadium] will generate money. But surely if you have a stadium like that then you want the players to fill it."

    Move to win trophies?

    Shortly after helping Tottenham win their last major trophy, the 2008 League Cup, a 27-year-old Dimitar Berbatov joined Manchester United, where he won two league titles in four years.

    Then after seeing Manchester City win their first Premier League title in 2012, Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to make one last splash in the transfer market and end his glorious managerial career on a high.

    He signed Robin van Persie, who had just one FA Cup win to show for eight years at Arsenal and had just been the Premier League's top scorer. The 29-year-old won the Golden Boot again as United regained the title in 2013, but that would be the Dutchman's only major honour in three years.

    Admittedly, Andrew Cole was younger (23) when he made a British-record move from Newcastle to Manchester United in January 1995. And despite winning eight major honours in seven years, Cole, Berbatov and Van Persie are certainly not held in the same regard at Old Trafford as Shearer and Gerrard are at their home-city clubs.

    • Tottenham face huge summer – Jenas

    "The season after Blackburn won the league, we were nowhere near winning the title and that made my mind up [to leave]," Shearer said earlier this month.

    "If Harry wants an excuse [to leave], then Tottenham's performances are giving him one. If I was in his position, I'd look elsewhere and try to win some trophies."

    But Jenas warned: "Spurs are not the only team who might contemplate selling a big star who could help fund a rebuild. The problem is, every club is going to be short of funds this summer because of the Covid pandemic.

    "Basically this is the worst time to sell your star player, because you are not going to get anything like the numbers you would have done two years ago."

    New York Times journalist Rory Smith said on BBC Radio 5 Live: "Is there not a possibility that selling Kane gets Spurs out of a hole?

    "They and Arsenal have probably been hit harder by the pandemic than anyone else. Daniel Levy runs a tight ship, but basically a fundamentally economically sound ship. Is there a point where he says £130m for Harry Kane in this environment – given our needs as a club – is the sensible decision?"

    Do goal records matter without trophies?

    Ask Alan Shearer if goals matter without trophies and he will point to the statue that stands yards from where he watched Newcastle as a boy.

    He is remembered more for being the Premier League's all-time record scorer (260) than for his solitary title win with Blackburn. Andrew Cole, meanwhile, won trophies and scored goals (187 in the Premier League) yet is rarely mentioned in the same breathe as Shearer.

    Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, Frank Lampard and Thierry Henry were all winning trophies while they became their record scorers for their respective clubs, so seldom faced Kane's dilemma.

    MOTD2 analysis: Only Harry Kane knows where his future lies

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    He is next on the Premier League scorers' list (seventh with 165) and only Jimmy Greaves (266) has scored more goals for Tottenham than Kane (220).

    "He'll be fed up with people discussing [his future]," Shearer said on MOTD2.

    "It's what he decides, what he wants to do – whether he wants to break Jimmy Greaves' [Tottenham] record or the Premier League record I have. He's got an excellent chance of doing that, or does he want to go out and win a league title somewhere [else]?

    "There's probably only a couple of clubs that could pay what Tottenham will demand, but you're guaranteed goals with him. There's no gamble."

    Where would he go?

    Ex-Manchester City defender Micah Richards was asked about Kane moving to his former club, the current Premier League champions.

    "Of course he would work at Manchester City," Richards said. "He works hard and scores goals. But they wouldn't pay £150m for a 27-year-old. They might pay £80m-£90m, but you won't get Kane for that. They'd be looking for youth.

    "I think Kane is a perfect suit for Man United – you've seen the impact Edinson Cavani can have."

    Rory Smith added: "It's all entwined with what happens to [Borussia Dortmund striker] Erling Braut Haaland. The same three clubs who have been in contact with Kane's representatives, by all accounts, are all looking at Haaland too.

    "What's really interesting is what does Pep Guardiola do with that Manchester City team if you suddenly put a focal point striker in it. He's built this iteration of City designed not to have a central striker, so if he then signs Kane or Haaland, you have to fine tune that blueprint and operate around them.

    "That's not something that Guardiola's got a brilliant record of doing, by his standards, throughout his career.

    "The chances are – as bizarre as it sounds for a striker that good – Kane's almost the second option for a few clubs if they're in the market for Erling Braut Haaland, just because Haaland is five years younger."

    Fellow BBC pundit Chris Sutton added: "Who is the most likely club to win things? I think it would be a great fit for Manchester City and the way they play.

    "We know they have money, why wouldn't they spend it? Pay the money and he'll guarantee you will win things. I'd be shocked if Pep didn't go for him."

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