Harry Kane has announced he will be staying at Tottenham this summer, bringing to an end a turbulent transfer saga for the England captain as he attempted to secure a move to Manchester City.
Kane told Spurs before the end of the 2020-21 season that he wanted to leave to compete for the silverware that has eluded him so far in his career. Though he cited a gentlemen's agreement with Daniel Levy as a reason he should be allowed to depart the, 28-year-old found he had precious little leverage with three years remaining on the contract he signed in 2018 and no release clause.
City saw one $137 million bid for Kane rejected and although they had been preparing a second offer, sources have indicated to CBS Sports that that was never formalized with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, increasingly adamant he would not sell with so little time to secure a replacement before the transfer window closes on Tuesday.
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Kane made his return to the Tottenham side in Sunday's 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, playing 18 minutes as a second half substitute, and was offered a warm reception by travelling supporters, one he cited in his announcement. He wrote on social media: "It was incredible to see the reception from the Spurs fans on Sunday and to read some of the messages of support I've had in the last few weeks.
"I will be staying at Tottenham this summer and will be 100% focused on helping the team achieve success."
Kane could play a more significant role in Tottenham's next game, a Europa Conference League qualifier against Paços de Ferreira in which Nuno Espirito Santo's side must overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.
Speaking in his pre match press conference, Nuno described Kane's announcement as "fantastic news", adding: "I think since Harry joined us he has been working so this is what we value. His attitude in training has been excellent.
"It's finished, Harry is going to be with us. He is an option for tomorrow. It is great news for everybody. We are all very happy one of the best players in the world. Delighted to have one more option for the season ahead of us."
What it means for Manchester City
For all Pep Guardiola's public statements that he wanted Kane – a rarity from any manager in the midst of a transfer saga – City's actions were those of a club that would have quite liked the 28 year old but were not exactly ready to bust a gut to get him. Making just one bid between the start of the summer and the final days of the transfer window is hardly ratcheting up the pressure on Tottenham, testing their stance that they will not sell their talismanic forward, but instead letting the situation drift and strengthening Spurs' resolve.
It is worth noting this is not the first time the Premier League champions have left it a little too late to get their man. In 2017 they wanted Alexis Sanchez. The Arsenal forward desperately wanted them. They did not make their first bid until the day before the deadline.
Still City have options in the immediate and longer term. Cristiano Ronaldo's desire to leave Juventus has led to conversations with the powers that be at the Etihad Stadium over a move but it is fair to question whether Guardiola and company would be keen to absorb the 36 year old's significant wages over several years. Kylian Mbappe has his heart set on a move to Real Madrid, who made their opening bid last night, and it may be too late to test his resolve.
Next summer could bring Erling Haaland though he would reportedly command significant wages and a signing on bonus for whichever club he chooses out of those who will consider activating his $88 million release clause. City were also admirers of Romelu Lukaku but his return to Chelsea has ended any hopes of that deal.
There are at least some options to tide Guardiola over. Gabriel Jesus was in impressive form, albeit from the right wing, in Man City's 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City, a match where Ferran Torres once more led the line. If no new striker can be secured expect those two, Kevin De Bruyne and perhaps Raheem Sterling to get the nod up top. That may be enough for success this season.
What it means for Kane
Whether Tottenham fans forgive him or not they will not forget the summer where their hero made plain his desire to leave. Ultimately the cumbersome manner in which he and his advisors went about maneuvering his way out of north London cost him dearly.
Throughout the summer Kane's messaging was woefully mismanaged. News of his desire to leave first leaked before the season was over when a Europa League place was available to Spurs. He played like a man whose mind was elsewhere in the defeat to Aston Villa that cost them that. Then came the failure to report to training, Kane insisting five days after news first broke that he had only been following a plan he and the club had agreed. If so, why did Tottenham not seem to be aware of that? Why did he not pick up the phone to Nuno to clarify? Why wait so long to correct the record?
This summer's failure dates back to 2018 when Kane agreed a six year contract that effectively tied him to Tottenham for the remainder of his best years. The England captain is not alone in having coming to regret putting pen to paper on a generous, lengthy deal with no means of maneuvering himself out should circumstances change; he has Wilfried Zaha for company there. Contrast that with Jack Grealish, who agreed a new deal with Aston Villa last summer that included a $137 million release clause. The moment City activated that a deal moved swiftly to completion.
Ultimately it is hard to see Kane now spending his prime years anywhere other than Tottenham even if his statement that he would be staying "this summer" leaves the exit door ajar. Assuming he continues in the rich scoring form he has displayed for seven seasons he will remain an exceptionally valuable asset to his club whilst suitors will see a player fast approaching his thirties with a history of ankle issues. City knew they would never get their money back if they signed Kane but they would have got perhaps three or four seasons of top tier striker out of him. In a years' time his value to buying clubs will have diminished (and Haaland will be on the market) whilst Spurs will still have no desire to lose a player seemingly destined to become their record scorer in 2022-23, if not before.
Perhaps as the years go by this will just be remembered as a blip for one of Tottenham's greatest ever players, a moment where he wavered before reasserting his commitment to the club. Increasingly that feels like the best case scenario for Kane.