The constant saga of Manchester City’s pursuit of Tottenham Hotspur and England captain Harry Kane has been one that has frustrated supporters of both clubs involved. Throughout the entirety of the summer transfer window, Kane had seemingly been destined for a move from London to the blue side of Manchester.
And yet, in the last week, the proposed transfer has dissolved into nothing and Kane has pledged himself back to Spurs. Digesting all that has transpired there are clear winners and losers of the failed attempt of signing Harry Kane.
Yet the question remains, did Manchester City ever need Harry Kane? On the surface, the simple answer is, yes. City legend and all-time goalscorer, Sergio Agüero left the club when his contract expired this summer and it was clear that manager Pep Guardiola doesn’t trust Gabriel Jesus to fill the void created.
Despite constant injuries to Agüero last season, Jesus was still, more often than not, a bench option, and the Spanish manager elected, as he has done much in the past, to play a False nine. Recently, Jesus has expressed his desire to play more as a winger and young Spanish international, Ferran Torres has been leading the line.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – playing large parts of the season without a striker in 2020/21 saw City lift the League Title, EFL Cup, as well as make the UEFA Champions League final. The ‘Citizens’ also had a FA Cup run, losing in the semi-final game to Chelsea. All-in-all, the club had a legitimate chance at a quadruple just a season ago, with very little support from their striker partnership.
The question is, can a False nine system continue to work both in England and in Europe, or can a young inexperienced striker fill the void of the greatest player the club has seen? City certainly has the midfield depth to explore and test this experiment further, especially with the aforementioned addition of Jack Grealish.
When analysing the club’s decision to pass on Levy’s firm and unmoving demands it certainly shows that while City are not hesitant to splash the cash, they will not be held ransom. It remains to be seen if they will rue the chance at signing the prolific striker, but with back-to-back 5-0 victories, they look certain to be scoring with or without Kane this season. The prospect of signing Cristiano Ronaldo put any thought of Kane out of sight and mind, but with the dust settling, and money aside, City have missed out on filling a definite need for their team.
To explore the other side of the question, Harry Kane is now 28 years-old and has been a loyal servant to Tottenham, with really nothing but his loyalty to show for it. He had publicly stated a desire to leave his hometown club in pursuit of titles and one could argue that he deserves this opportunity.
Kane is in his prime with limited years left to mark his already successful career with silverware, which seems less and less likely at Tottenham with the current strength of other “top six” clubs. The story and analysis of Harry Kane is much shorter, it did certainly appear he was desperate for a move and that move has always pointed towards Manchester City.
With the deal past being a possibility, the rehabilitation PR game has begun – Kane has stayed quiet on the matter since, except when expressing his desire to help Tottenham win and has featured back in the side. Or, one could argue, it was Kane’s lack of single-minded selfishness that failed to achieve his desired move. All told, he blinked and the holder of his six-season long contract, David Levy, did not.
Tottenham certainly come out as winners in all of this madness, having their best player on the pitch is worth more than excessive fees to them at this point, especially with Kane still having years left on his current deal. While Harry Kane and Manchester City could have been a perfect marriage, in the end, it was not meant to be.
Ultimately the transfer that never was has resulted in, well, nothing happening. City will continue to look for goals from within or a last-ditch effort in the transfer market for someone proven to lead the line, but their success without a striker in 2020/21 will likely give them some solace and necessary restraint. Kane will continue to bag goals and lead Tottenham throughout this season. However, if Manchester City march on as world-beaters again this season, Kane could very well be lamenting his lack of killer instinct off the pitch.