Harry Kane has a decision to make about his future
MANCHESTER, England — Harry Kane likely knew what was awaiting him after he celebrated becoming England’s all-time leading scorer.
Within hours of his 55th goal for his national team on Sunday came confirmation of Antonio Conte’s departure as manager of Tottenham by “mutual agreement.”
Conte leaves after failing to end the London club's 15-year wait for a trophy and Kane’s own pursuit of silverware. The Italian coach has been a serial winner with Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but could not maintain that record at Tottenham, despite spending about $140 million on transfers.
Kane, who was presented with a golden boot ahead of England's 2-0 win over Ukraine at Wembley Stadium on Sunday after surpassing Wayne Rooney's scoring record, may wonder if any manager can turn Tottenham into a winning team.
“The individual accolades are well deserved and are amazing. But he wants to be part of a team that is successful,” England coach Gareth Southgate said Sunday.
Southgate was referring to the national team's own bid to win a trophy for the first time since 1966, but the same can be said of Kane’s club career.
In the last two months, Kane has surpassed late Tottenham great Jimmy Greaves as the club’s leading scorer and Rooney’s England total. Team honors, however, continue elude him and a fresh round of upheaval at Tottenham has come toward the end of another trophyless campaign.
Conte is the seventh full-time managerial appointment at Tottenham since the club’s last trophy — the League Cup in 2008.
At the age of 29, Kane's chances of ending his own drought are diminishing. He turns 30 before the start of next season, when he will have year left on his current contract.
“He's got a big decision to make career-wise,” former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said Sunday. “I've been there myself, where you're thinking is my team good enough to get me the medals? Am I going to get out my career what I want to get?”
Gerrard ended his Liverpool career without winning a Premier League title, but lifted virtually every other major trophy, including the Champions League in 2005.
While Kane has a decision to make about his own future, Tottenham must also consider the merits of selling while it can still command a large fee for its star player or risk losing him for nothing next year.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy was in a strong enough position to block Kane's proposed transfer to Manchester City in 2021, when the player publicly addressed the prospect leaving. The situation is very different two years later, with Kane able to exert more pressure on Tottenham's hierarchy if he chooses to seek a move.
City is unlikely to still be in the market for Kane after signing Erling Haaland last year, but he has for a long time been linked with Manchester United. A top-class striker is a priority for United manager Erik ten Hag after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in November.
A key issue will be his price, with Tottenham reportedly valuing Kane at about $123 million.
He would certainly be a statement signing for prospective new owners of United, with Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Jim Ratcliffe leading the race to buy out the Glazer family.
United's American owners want the potential sale to be completed before the transfer window opens at the end of the season and Kane would be an ambitious target at the start of a new regime.
United would appear to be one of the few realistic options if Kane were to stay in England, with the player unlikely to want to join a London rival like Chelsea, while City and Liverpool have recently invested heavily in their forward lines.
Saudi-backed Newcastle would be another possibility if it qualifies for the Champions League.
Overseas, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich could all be options, dependent on the price.
The prospect of staying in England would give him the opportunity to set another scoring benchmark by overtaking Alan Shearer's Premier League record of 260 goals. Kane currently has 204 goals and is primed to pass Rooney (208) in second place on the all-time list.
Even in a Tottenham team that has been inconsistent this season, Kane has scored 21 goals in the league, which is only seven fewer than Haaland.
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson