Without ambition, football clubs decline. But there are occasions when too much ambition becomes a bad thing.
Daniel Levy is tinkering on the edge of the latter if recent reports are to be believed. According to The Telegraph, the Spurs chairman has put a £250million valuation on star striker Harry Kane amid fears the England international may look to move at the end of the current campaign.
The 26-year-old has apparently made it known he is desperate to start winning silverware, rather than individuals awards, and this could lead him to consider his future with the club.
The price tag slapped on Kane would make him the world’s most expensive player, surpassing the £198million Paris Saint-Germain parted with to land Neymar in 2017.
Levy is using a scare tactic in an attempt to ensure the Spurs No.10 remains at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the foreseeable future. And his current deal does take him through to 2024.
There’s no problem with overvaluing players, especially when teams end up negotiating and selling at a lower price. But Levy is no ordinary chairman.
He drives a hard bargain and prides himself on his reputation as one of football's toughest negotiators. He isn’t going to back down from that £250million valuation, not unless Kane does everything he can to force through a move.
However, if this turns into a saga, this one deal could undo all the good work the Spurs chairman has done in the transfer market over the last decade.
Tottenham obviously want to keep their best players but there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel. If an individual is open to leaving and another team makes a reasonable offer, Spurs should at the very least entertain it.
But what would be a reasonable offer for Kane?
It’s a tricky question to answer with the Spurs No.10 somewhat out of sorts in a team struggling to put together a consistent run of form.
Kane has hit 20 or more goals in five consecutive seasons, he scored 30 or more in three of those, and he already has five goals to his name this term. He’s considered by the masses to be one of the best strikers in world football and has previously been courted by the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City. All could come calling again but if his price tag remains at £250million.
Despite his ability and his reputation, there are a few caveats to consider when analysing Kane.
Ankle injuries have plagued the England captain since the 2016/17 campaign and have ruled him out of 37 matches since that season. That’s an average of 12 missed games a year – clubs don’t like being without the lynchpin of their attacks for such large periods of time.
Another thing to take into account is that Kane takes penalties. It isn’t something he should be punished for but in his five full Premier League campaigns he’s scored 19 penalties. He has 107 non-penalty goals in total with a non-penalty expected goals total of 88.
All elite forward better their expected numbers but it’s worth noting Kane’s non-penalty expected goals total has only been north of 20 on one occasion in the Premier League and only twice has it surpassed 15.
He’s not an elite chance-getter in open-play situations. What he is is a high-volume shot taker, one that has averaged over four per 90 since his Premier League debut.
For further context, Kane’s non-penalty expected goals average is 17. Mohamed Salah, in his full two seasons with Liverpool, averaged 23.
Of course, it’s a smaller sample size but it shows the difference between a player who is a sustainable threat in open-play situations and one who relies on running hot to deliver the high numbers that he does.
The point of this is whether or not interested parties feel Kane can keep significantly bettering his expected numbers or whether they’d be better off banking on someone who is a repeat performer in the sense they get into dangerous areas on a regular basis.
One win in the last seven games (all comps) ?
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Furthermore, the Spurs man is someone who relies on others to fashion the majority of his opportunities; the big-money movers are often those who can create something out of nothing.
Kane isn’t going to dance past four players and slot his shot past the keeper. Any interested team needs to deploy a set-up the England international will thrive in. Another thing to take into account.
Pure goalscorers, which Kane is, have been going for around the £70million mark – Romelu Lukaku, Mauro Icardi, Álvaro Morata. But the Spurs No.10 would go for far more given English players come with a premium, he has a long contract, and the beaten 2018/19 Champions League finalists aren’t actively looking to sell him.
Tottenham would probably receive initial approaches for Kane around the £125million mark, so half of the asking price Levy has placed upon the striker. Could the Tottenham chairman negotiate up? Almost certainly, but a world-record fee is almost certainly out of the equation.
A few years back, Kane would’ve been the ideal forward for most teams but the game has evolved and the Spurs man will now find his options fairly limited if he does look to move elsewhere. It’s hard to see him leaving, however, as it’s unlikely the Spurs chairman will accept such a fee for his prized asset.