Tottenham Hotspur’s clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday evening was not just significant in the sense it was a meeting between two of Europe’s very best teams, but rather it was the first opportunity the Spanish club had to see Harry Kane play in the flesh.
The match itself was a tactical battle with both teams having their own periods of dominance, a 1-1 draw was a reasonably fair result, yet all the post-match talk was about a certain English striker who marked his first ever appearance at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu with a goal.
Kane’s performance was not as impressive as his recent work in the Premier League, yet it was a display that got people’s attention on the biggest possible stage.
Impressive at the Bernabeu
One of the take home points from the match in the Spanish press was just how impressive both Kane and Mauricio Pochettino were on the night, it seemed like the very beginning of a charm offensive that English clubs, and Tottenham specifically, know all too well.
At 24 years of age, the English striker has a long career ahead of him, on Sunday he surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo’s haul of 84 Premier League goals with a brace at Wembley against Liverpool. If we remember how revered and highly thought of Ronaldo was when he left Manchester for Madrid, Kane is missing only the titles.
There is an argument to make that Spurs won’t be able to secure those titles given the current economic climate in the sport and the club’s policy of not paying a player over a certain salary.
The Premier League’s bonafide star
Irrespective of how good your team is and how well your players are performing, if a top level player is earning less than one hundred thousand pounds per week at a top Premier League club, his agent will be at Daniel Levy’s door every single day from May onwards, and rightly so.
This isn’t a sustainable model for on-pitch success, you get the feeling from Harry Kane that he would actually quite like to stay at Tottenham Hotspur, he has grown up at the club from a young age, despite his Arsenal allegiances, and has seen his entire footballing development take place in North London, aside from a short spell with Norwich.
The same cannot be said for others like Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen; it is quite conceivable that they could all wish to leave in the summer if their contracts do not get significantly improved.
If Kane was to see the team breaking up around him then it is likely he could be swayed to swap England for Spain like so many have done before him.
Given the fact he has yet to win a major trophy as a player, Kane isn’t held in the same regard as he would be otherwise, yet it must be remembered that he is the Premier League’s bonafide star in 2017.
He is consistently the best goal-scorer and has an unbelievably clean public persona; he is a marketing agent’s best friend.
It has been so rare over the years that the Premier League has housed a genuine star who happens to be English; there is so much widespread goodwill for the Tottenham striker to do well, even if he will always underachieve in an abysmally poor international setup.
Itching to make a splash
For Real Madrid, they are itching to make a splash in the transfer market.
Being out of the transfer game for two summers is too much for Florentino Perez to bear, although to the president’s credit, he has acquiesced to every single Zinedine Zidane wish.
He has not pursued David de Gea, despite what reports would have you believe, he hasn’t looked to sign Eden Hazard and he didn’t fight to the end for Kylian Mbappe because Zidane knew he would have to lose one of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Karim Benzema.
For as long as Real Madrid are winning trophies, this policy will stay in place. Perez is an incredibly smart man, he is aware of just how poor his approval ratings were amongst supporters prior to Zidane’s appointment, yet in June 2017 he was re-elected unopposed.
Given Los Blancos’ poor start to the season though, it isn’t impossible for them to fall short both domestically and in Europe this term and if that should happen, then Perez will make the high-profile signing he hasn’t been able to for the past two summers.
The number one target
Harry Kane is the number one target.
He fits the profile perfectly; he scores an incredible amount of goals and has shown he can do it in both a physically tougher and more psychologically tougher division in the Premier League. This just means that the lower teams in England are more competitive than the lower teams in Spain.
He has followed a similar path to Ronaldo in England and there could be an argument to be made that he can be the Portuguese forward’s long-term replacement in the Spanish capital.
Karim Benzema is a not the most prolific of goal-scorers, his talents are more visible in other departments, Bale can’t seem to stay fit and looks set to head to Old Trafford in the summer whilst Marco Asensio will be the leader of Real Madrid’s attacking line before too long.
Asensio will be supported by Isco, yet they will still need a world class goal getter. Kane is that individual.
Levy may smell very pricey and precious blood
Now this is obviously very early in the season and things can change, however with Kane’s contract in North London running until June 2022, Daniel Levy can, and will, ask for a monumentally large fee.
Whether or not it would break the 222 million euros paid for Neymar, that remains to be seen, but you can imagine Tottenham’s chief pointing to that deal as a benchmark to start negotiations.
For the moment, he will continue to star for Spurs and remain in the goals; he is the finest period of his career and would do well to avoid any transfer speculation until the summer at least. One thing that is for sure though, Real Madrid are circling and Kane is their target.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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