There is no active men’s soccer star more synonymous with his club than Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur. He came through the club’s academy at age 11, he wears the captain’s armband and he has been the team’s best player and top scorer for the last seven seasons. His play for Tottenham and a reputation as a model pro has led to his emergence as the English national team captain.
And Kane is well-compensated for all that. He signed a six-year deal with the club in 2018 that gives him a reported $275,000 a week (including bonuses). So with three years left on his contract, a new coach and a recently opened stadium, why would the face of the club want out?
This summer’s transfer saga, which is now in its fourth month, has had plenty of twists and turns — and it will continue until the transfer window closes on Aug. 31. Here’s where things are at and what led us to this point:
Why Harry Kane wants to leave
Kane didn’t need to sign that six-year contract in June 2018. He was already on a long-term deal at the time that was set to expire in the summer of 2022, and he was turning 25 in 2018, which was an in-his-prime age to make a move to another club if he were so inclined. Had he not extended his stay, Tottenham would have probably been forced to cash in and transfer him before the final season of that deal.
But it made sense to sign another long deal. Kane was able to double his salary, and Spurs were a club on the rise at the time. He wanted to be the one to help finally end the trophy drought at Tottenham (dating back to 2008) and cement its place in the Premier League’s Top 4.
Things were looking promising at Tottenham. In June 2018, Spurs had just finished in third place in the Premier League, never dropping below fifth place since Kane’s breakthrough season in 2014-15. With one of the top young managers in global soccer (Mauricio Pochettino) and a young core leading the way, Spurs were a rising force on the European scene, and there was little not to like about the club. A year after signing the six-year deal, Kane and Pochettino led Spurs to the UEFA Champions League final.
It looked like it was only the beginning for Spurs, but things unraveled less than two years later, beginning with the surprising dismissal of Pochettino in November 2019 during a tough stretch of results. Spurs have since failed to finish in the top four in England in two seasons, thus missing out each time on qualification for the Champions League, the most prestigious and lucrative club soccer competition in the world.
With no Champions League prospects and the future seemingly bleak — Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool are clearly a cut above Spurs on paper — the now 28-year-old Kane is running out of time in his career to win trophies and with Spurs in a “rebuilding phase,” according to Kane, he feels a move away is the only way to do it.
“I don’t want to come to the end of my career and have any regrets. So I want to be the best that I can be. I can even be better than what I’ve been at the moment,” Kane told Gary Neville in a revealing blockbuster interview prior to this summer’s Euro 2021 tournament. “My aim is to be winning trophies season in and season out.”
So why have Spurs not let Harry Kane go?
Tottenham does not want to see its club icon leave for obvious reasons. First, his goal production is tough to replace — Kane is averaging over 30 goals in all competitions over the last seven seasons — and Spurs would struggle to do it with only days remaining in the summer transfer window.
A Kane transfer would fill the club’s coffers, but it would deal a blow to a new season that is only starting and one in which the club desperately needs to get back in the good graces of the Spurs faithful. The last campaign saw them fire their manager (Jose Mourinho) on their way to a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Premier League, their lowest finish in 12 seasons, thus missing Champions League qualification. They also suffered a League Cup final loss to Manchester City and an embarrassing Europa League elimination to Dinamo Zagreb in the Round of 16.
Another stumbling block to a deal is that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has developed a reputation over the years as a tough negotiator who doesn’t easily give into pressure, no matter how high-profile the situation. Even though there’s a sense that Spurs supporters would not begrudge a loyal servant of the club from pursuing greener pastures, Levy is not one to turn sentimental.
“He doesn’t sell within the Premier League”
“This is what he thrives on”
“He isn’t losing one second of sleep over it”
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) August 15, 2021
What if Harry Kane stays at Spurs?
Kane may very well have no choice but to stick around if Levy and Manchester City can’t reach an agreement on a transfer deal that satisfies both parties. Kane would be Spurs’ undisputed star going into the new season, and with trophies likely to prove a challenge in the first year under new head coach Nuno Espirito Santo, he could turn his focus to a personal goal of setting a new Spurs scoring record. He’s 46 goals away from owning the all-time mark for the club.
He could see out the rest of his deal through the summer of 2024 and join one of the big contenders for one last run in the 2024-25 season when he will be turning 31. Edinson Cavani is still producing for Manchester United at age 34. Luis Suarez, another 34-year-old, is the top scorer for La Liga champ Atletico Madrid. Karim Benzema is Real Madrid’s star forward at 33. There’s still plenty of time for a pro’s pro like Kane to win some silverware.
With three seasons remaining on Kane’s contract, it’s highly unlikely that Levy and Spurs will ever be able to fetch the same kind of value that they can now, while he’s still 28. With every transfer window that passes between now and the summer of 2024 (when Kane’s Spurs contract expires), his market value will continue to diminish, especially with new, younger stars like Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland emerging as more attractive prospects for the big clubs around Europe.
Latest Harry Kane transfer news
Manchester City reportedly made a $140 million transfer fee offer in July that was rejected by Spurs. In hindsight, it was a smart decision given that Man City landed Aston Villa’s 25-year-old midfielder Jack Grealish for that exact transfer fee on Aug. 5 after activating Grealish’s contract release clause. Given that Kane is a more accomplished player, Tottenham can command a much higher price tag.
The day after that Grealish signing, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola pronounced himself in no uncertain terms on the Kane situation, publicly stating his club’s interest.
“He’s a player for Tottenham Hotspur. If Tottenham don’t want to negotiate, it’s finished,” Guardiola said. “If they are open to negotiate, I think not just Man City but many clubs in the world want to try to sign him — we are not an exception — but it depends on Tottenham.
“Harry Kane is an exceptional, extraordinary striker — no doubts about that, of course we are interested — but he is a Tottenham player and, if they don’t want to negotiate, there is nothing more to say. If they want to, we will try.”
As for Kane, who helped lead England to the Euro 2021 final on July 11, he apparently conducted a training camp holdout, finally reporting to Tottenham camp on Aug. 7. That was one week before the start of the new English Premier League season and a week after he was reportedly expected to be there. The chatter was loud enough that Kane felt compelled to put out a statement to defend the timing of his return, but without getting into specifics.
Kane had to sit out for five days of self-isolation before joining full team training for the first time on Aug. 12. That proved too tight a turnaround for Kane to be available for the English Premier League opener, which happened to come against Man City.
On Aug. 15, the day of that first match, the Sunday Times reported that Kane is “increasingly likely to stay at Tottenham Hotspur.” Some more PR bluster to bump up the transfer fee? Perhaps. With two weeks remaining until the close of the transfer window, there’s plenty of time for a few more twists.