It takes a brave man to turn down Real Madrid, but if the Spaniards are serious about signing Harry Kane, the Spurs striker has very good reasons for playing it safe and saying ‘no, gracias’…
‘No’. It’s a word Florentino Perez is hearing more than he might like these days. It used to be that no one turned down Real Madrid, but a year after Kylian Mbappe said ‘non’ to the Spanish giants, Harry Kane might be wise to do the same.
Real want England’s greatest goalscorer to fill Karim Benzema’s shooting boots now that the France star is Saudi Arabia-bound. For Kane, and any player lucky enough to be given the opportunity, the lure of one of the game’s biggest clubs – the biggest? – must be enormous. But, for Kane, it’s not as simple as it has been for many of the Galacticos who have gone before.
Firstly, Real have to convince Tottenham that it’s a good idea. Daniel Levy won’t be easily wowed by Perez’s pulling power, especially if it is true that Real plan to open the bidding at £69million for a player who Spurs value at £100million. Such is Levy’s belligerence, the Spurs supremo would probably rather see Kane go for free in a year than sanction any deal that allows him to be painted as the patsy. If Real or Manchester United are serious about Kane – they both really ought to be – then their intentions need to be reflected in the size of their offers.
Being the man who sold Kane is never a label Levy wanted to wear but Ange Postecoglu offers the chairman the chance to pin it on someone else. New era, new broom at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. If Levy receives an offer he can live with, this must surely be the time to take it. And packaging Kane up for despatch to Madrid would certainly be easier to stomach than sending him up the road to Manchester.
But, despite what Perez and Sergio Ramos will tell you, there are some very good reasons why Kane would turn down Real Madrid.
Firstly, he has never hidden his desire to add Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record to the Spurs and England marks he already owns. He first discussed it more than seven years ago, when he was 215 goals behind Shearer’s total of 260. In the meantime, Kane has moved to 213. Having averaged 23 goals each campaign since becoming a regular nine seasons ago, his current tally leaves him, by his own standards, two middling seasons away from setting a new benchmark.
Of course, that massive bundle of goals, including this season’s ridiculously wasted efforts, has done nothing to satisfy whatever hunger Kane may have for trophies. In stark contrast to the Spurs that Kane has known up to now, Real Madrid ‘know how to win’. But they aren’t currently as dominant as they have been, and a transition period in which they could lose Benzema and Luka Modric might not make for a guarantee of silverware next season.
Regardless, would winning a La Liga title mean the same to Kane as being the first captain in far too long to actually hoist a trophy aloft for the team he has led and loved? Tottenham, of course, are in their own transition period, but the appointment of a manager who seems well-suited to the job, and the acknowledgement that the squad requires major surgery, might enhance their prospects even in the short term.
Another option might be to join Manchester United and help them become even more competitive than Erik ten Hag has already made them. That would require United to put on their big boy pants and stop soiling themselves over the prospect of dealing with Levy. If the Kane-shaped hole in their forward line isn’t enough motivation, maybe they never will.
Kane is unlikely to be conflicted over joining one of Spurs’ Premier League rivals – he certainly wasn’t when his brother made such a cock-up of his mission to join Manchester City in 2021. What he may have to decide is the level to which United and Spurs are actually likely to be rivals in the next season or two. To gauge that, he will at least have to hear out Postecoglou over his plans.
Regardless, it is clear that the Premier League record matters to Kane. Perhaps more than anything else. And why shouldn’t it?
Something would have to go quite catastrophically wrong for Kane to stay in England and fail to net the 48 goals he needs to claim Shearer’s crown. He may turn 30 before the start of the new season, but he’s never been fitter, having averaged 36.3 league appearances over the last three campaigns, including ever-present status this term.
That opens up the possibility of moving to Madrid for a couple of seasons now, doing his thing in Spain, then returning to the Premier League to recommence his record chase. But Kane has never seemed the sort to shift his young family, which will have grown in number when his fourth child is born this summer, to Madrid. Even Manchester seems a stretch in that regard.
Staying in England would certainly be the safe option – and in Kane’s case, there’s no shame in that. He’s adored at Spurs; and he would be Old Trafford. The Bernabeu crowd are likely to be somewhat less forgiving if Kane requires any time to adapt to a new club, country and culture while attempting to step into the shoes of a striker Real fans have known and loved for the last 14 years. Gareth Bale probably wouldn’t sell the idea to Kane. The Welshman went to Spain, tore it up, won it all, and the fans still hated him.
Bale didn’t always help himself, obviously, but Kane doesn’t need the grief. Of course, he could go to the Bernabeu and take La Liga by storm. But success in Spain is somewhat less of certainty than it would be back home.
And Kane would have all the time he wants to roam and explore once he’s finished terrorising Premier League defences. He has often spoken about swapping his boots for cleats and becoming a kicker in the NFL. Sure, why not?
Kane will have options aplenty, before and upon retirement, but before that, he clearly has plenty of unfinished business in the Premier League. It’s easy to see why completing that particular job matters so much, and why being remembered as the best to ever to do it here is more appealing than the status Real Madrid might offer.