It was not the type of news that locked-down Tottenham fans wanted to hear. This has been a frustrating season for the club, whose transition from Mauricio Pochettino to Jose Mourinho has been anything but smooth. Before the Premier League's suspension, Spurs found themselves down in eighth place in the standings.
With that in mind, supporters of the north London outfit were in need of a pick-me-up. They did not get it from Harry Kane, who hinted last weekend that he may need to seek pastures new in order to progress his career.
“I love Spurs, I’ll always love Spurs but I’ve always said if I don’t feel we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there for the sake of it," he said on Instagram.
“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve, get better and become one of the top, top players. It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team. So it’s not a definite I’m going to stay there forever, but it’s not a no either.”
It goes without saying that Kane is Tottenham’s most important player. Mourinho’s side were not without their problems prior to the hamstring injury he suffered against Southampton in late December, but they have certainly looked a poorer side without their talisman at the top of the pitch.
That is not surprising. Spurs do not possess in their squad a natural replacement for Kane, but even if there was a like-for-like alternative, he would not be in the England captain’s class. Kane has scored 11 goals in 20 Premier League outings this term, having managed 17 in 28 last time out. The three years before that saw him find the back of the net an average 28 times per season.
Kane is more than just a goal-getter too. He is adept at holding the ball up and bringing others into play. His passing is genuinely superb, and he is comfortable receiving possession to feet or in the air. Kane is ideally suited to the single-striker formations that abound in the game today.
Replacing him would be extremely difficult, especially for a club like Tottenham. The move to a new stadium will bolster the club’s revenue streams in the long-term, and Spurs are undoubtedly in a better place off the pitch today than they were a few years ago.
Even so, they do not have the funds to compete with Europe’s heavyweights, many of whom are also domestic rivals in the Premier League. Sourcing a successor to one of the world’s leading strikers would not be at all easy.
It would also send a worrying message to others within the game that, in spite of their recent advances, Tottenham remain a selling club. That need not automatically be a negative thing – many successful sides acknowledge and make the most of their respective position in the food chain – but Kane’s departure would undoubtedly make Spurs a less attractive destination to potential new recruits, many of whom will be keen to compete for silverware.
It is highly unlikely that Kane will leave this summer, particularly as the entire football world is currently in a state of flux. Nevertheless, Tottenham must act decisively if they want to keep hold of their homegrown superstar beyond the summer of 2021.