If Harry Kane leaves Tottenham Hotspur this summer, it will be the biggest test on how far Tottenham Hotspur have actually come. With chairman Daniel Levy hell-bent on making Spurs one of the major players in European football, any exit for Kane will shine a light directly on just how capable he is of doing that on a sporting basis.
Clearly, the move to the new stadium and the attempts to join the European Super League were ambitious plans geared towards solidifying Spurs’ status amongst the elite. Coming off the back of a hugely successful era under Mauricio Pochettino – one that finally saw the club challenge for major honours – few would deny Levy has taken Tottenham to a new level.
Still, and without playing too much to the ‘Spursy’ narrative, they have never got over the line. Should an interested party somehow prove willing to pay upwards of £100m for Kane, however, we might just see if it is in fact Levy holding them back.
Cast your minds back to the summer of 2013. The Gareth Bale saga had dragged on for much of that year’s transfer window and, when Real Madrid finally got their man, Levy was roundly heralded for extracting what was then a world record fee for his forward. As good as that was, Levy’s notoriously hard-nosed negotiation still cost Spurs.
The waiting cost then-manager Andre Villas-Boat the chance to rebuild without Bale as the sale came so late in the window, it was impossible to reinvest the funds in new players and the players that did come in didn’t have the required time to settle in properly. As a result Spurs missed out on the Champions League after finishing fourth, thanks to Chelsea winning the Champions League and taking the final spot.
Not long after, he was sacked and Tottenham muddled along until Mauricio Pochettino arrived to completely transform the club, bringing Kane through and giving Spurs perhaps their greatest player of the modern era in what proved a masterstroke from Levy.
This time around, there are no available candidates to take over as manager as good as Pochettino, despite suggestions that the Argentine himself might return.
Rather than a knight riding in on a white horse to transform a team, or indeed a club, it is down to Levy to sort the Kane mess out. It’s tough to imagine the notion of selling Kane even entering his mind unless a team offers close to the kind of fee that took Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 but, frankly, he is not in a position to repeat the kind of tactic that saw him bank so much money for Bale. A decision has to be made quickly either way, whether Kane likes it or not.
The new manager’s in-tray looks full already. Indeed, surely any manager worth their salt will be wanting Kane in the squad and, if Levy cannot give that guarantee (or plans to use this hard-line stance to extract close to a world-record fee), the Tottenham job looks an incredibly daunting one.
With sections of the fanbase calling for Levy’s removal following the botched attempts to join the European Super League, it is looking like an incredibly difficult summer for him. Given his standing with owner Joe Lewis, it rarely feels as if his job will come under any pressure but this is a man who, even to the detriment of the playing squad, has done everything to improve Spurs’ standing in the footballing food chain.
Of course, few would doubt the fact he has done that. Still, it was Pochettino and his revamp that helped them navigate the difficult period after Bale left and, now, a similar situation is emerging. With no one available looking as if they’re suited to do what Pochettino did, Levy is the man who has to navigate the Kane saga this time. Lessons must be learned and, if they aren’t, Tottenham’s golden period could soon be over.
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