Harry Kane took the Premier League by storm in 2014/15. From out of nowhere, a young English striker scored 21 goals in the Premier League, second only to Sergio Aguero for the Golden Boot. A staggering 31 goals in all competitions. Some believed he was a one season wonder. Yet the then 22 year old quickly silenced his critics. He went on a rampage for the following 3 seasons, scoring 104 goals in 136 appearances in all competitions. These were numbers rivalling Messi and Ronaldo. It seemed like there was finally someone who could go on to break Alan Shearer’s long standing goal record.
But now, though it’s still a possibility, the excitement and hype previously surrounding Kane has now faded. You could say that’s expected because he’s now 26 years old and an established striker. Yet I believe there are other reasons too. It wasn’t long ago there were suggestions Daniel Levy would demand £200 million for his star striker. If Real Madrid, Manchester United, or any big club were to come for him. Now though, it feels like the 2019 Champions League finalist has regressed.
No football fan, regardless of who they support, will deny that Kane isn’t a world class goal scorer. Penalties, one on ones, long shots or simple tap-ins, you would bet on the England international to put the ball in the back of the net in any situation. Apart from free-kicks as we saw in Euro 2016. Jokes aside, he’s clinical and proven that even in his last 2 less successful seasons.
There’s a part of me though that feels we may have already seen the Tottenham youth product peak. A strange thing to say considering he’s only going to turn 27 this year, what many would associate as the beginning of a player’s prime years. I think we won’t see a better Harry Kane than 2017/18.
The curse of injuries
The obvious reason is injuries. The Englishman has been plagued with setbacks for the last few seasons. Whether that be his recurring ankle injuries or most recent hamstring issue, he’s spent a lot of time on the sidelines. We’ve seen players recover from horror injuries and come back better than ever before. Alan Shearer for example when he got a career threatening injury at Blackburn.
But with Kane, it could the other way. Before 2019/20, the England striker had made 227 appearances in 5 seasons. That’s excluding internationals. Due to Tottenham’s sheer reliance on him, he hasn’t been given a break or time to recover and remain in peak condition. As a result, I fear a his returns from injury have been either rushed or left incomplete.
Evidence of this was last season’s Champions League final vs Liverpool. He was rushed back for the biggest game of the season, clearly not sharp or fit enough for the match and it showed. Hardly a touch in the game and Spurs failed to convert their best chance of winning a major trophy. What made the whole situation even more bizarre was the fact the North London side had statistically played better without Kane before the final and still persisted on benching in-form Lucas Moura for their talisman.
Harry Kane – On the decline?
Though his injury this season was his hamstring rather than his ankle, you suspect the rushing back and no rest or rotation has taken its toll on Kane’s body. From watching him play over the last couple of season, he’s lost a yard of pace. Probably from the ridiculous demands and expectations placed on him due to the lack of a competent second striker.
The Spurs star’s overall game has also suffered. By that, I’m referring to what he offers besides goals. In 2016/17, Kane was averaging an impressive 1.4 key passes per game and laid on 7 assists that season. This was alongside scoring 29 Premier League goals that season, highlighting the other sides to his game and making him one of Europe’s most elite strikers. In 2019/20, that figure has fallen to 1 key pass per game and he has only managed 8 assists in the Premier League across his last 3 seasons. Still a clinical finisher and top goal scorer. But is he much more than that any more?
Part of the reason why Spurs as a team have fallen off too is their dependence on Kane too. When the Englishman plays, the formation and tactics are revolve around getting him the ball, which a lot of the time worked well. Yet now, after losing some pace and perhaps either carrying or being conscious of his injuries, there’s no plan B if the World Cup Golden Boot winner is having an off day.
Break at the right time for Kane?
In many ways, perhaps this isolation period has come at the right time for the the 26 year old. He can finally have a complete and slow recovery, rather than being rushed back again for April. He might be better than ever because of this quarantine period, contrary to my opinion in this article. Either way, when football eventually comes back, we’ll see whether we have a Harry Kane in his prime, or a Harry Kane on the decline.
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