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Harry Kane's Tottenham future: Does he need to leave Spurs?
Harry Kane wants trophies but does he need them to become a great? Adam Bate examines the England captain's predicament
Last Updated: 04/05/20 1:42pm
Show us your medals. It is one of the oldest retorts in football. For Kane, with 229 career goals but no trophies to go with it, it could yet prove the catalyst for his Tottenham exit.
Kane was a Champions League finalist as recently as May but if this Premier League season is eventually allowed to run its course he will not be competing in that competition with Tottenham next season let alone entertaining hopes of winning it.
Perhaps it is that knowledge, coupled with the unedifying spectacle of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy furloughing non-playing staff - before retracting that decision - that made it feel like a good time for Kane to fan the flames of speculation regarding his future.
"It is a hard thing to take as a player," Kane told Jamie Redknapp in an Instagram Live.
"You know me as a person, I want to win at everything I do so when you are getting close and you don't quite get there it is hard to take and then it starts to build up.
"Of course I want to win team trophies and I want to be doing it sooner rather than later but we will just have to see how it goes."
Those words prompted a swathe of newspaper reports with the prospect of a transfer to Manchester United raised and then swiftly denied. According to Sky Sports reporter James Cooper, Kane is not a target.
United have not won a trophy themselves in either of the previous two seasons so it is questionable whether that is a move that would immediately satisfy Kane's craving for success anyway. But the debate is upon us.
Does Kane need trophies to ensure his iconic status in English football? Sir Tom Finney never won a major honour but that did not prevent him receiving a knighthood. Sir Stanley Matthews had to wait until he was 38 to win the FA Cup. Maybe time is on Kane's side.
Jimmy Greaves and Gary Lineker both signed for the reigning English champions but never won that trophy themselves. Alan Shearer did win the Premier League title with Blackburn Rovers but nothing else. It is never going to be enough to placate all but nor has it proven a bar to membership to legendary status in English football.
Managers might need medals as proof of their greatness but for players their skills on the field are there for all to see. Moments of magic each weekend that leave an indelible mark.
It is about more than mere trophy lifts. Otherwise it would be Phil Neal and Neville atop the list of the game's greats. Tomasz Kuszczak played in as many Premier League title-winning teams as Cristiano Ronaldo, one more than Thierry Henry, but that makes only for a quiz question curiosity not a serious debate about their relative status in English football.
But just because Kane does not need trophies as proof of a life well lived that should not prevent him from seeking silverware either. He is not obliged to chase glory but he is entitled to do so. Kane is famous for his drive. Those instincts have taken him this far. Nobody should begrudge him giving himself the best opportunity of success.
Indeed, it would be a curious moment, as he approaches his 27th birthday in July, to accept the status quo at Tottenham. Particularly when he has no laurels to rest on. Another rebuild is on the way under Jose Mourinho. "He has won everywhere and I am sure he has no intention of not doing that at Spurs," says Kane. But it is clearly going to take time.
How long can Kane wait? For the Spurs supporters this is a familiar feeling. Next season will bring up 60 years since the club's last title win and 30 since they last lifted the FA Cup. Tottenham fans appear doomed to do this dance forever but must Kane remain with them?
Perhaps the time will come to reframe the debate. This should not necessarily be a question of whether Kane needs to leave Spurs. The real issue is whether he should have to stay.
Supporters seldom react well to star players departing but, in this instance, it should not automatically be a barrier to maintain his reputation as a Tottenham favourite. Kane could still be one of their own having scored 181 goals along the way. It has been some journey.
Much would depend on the manner of his exit, the timing of it, the destination of choice and the fee paid for his services. Free transfers to Arsenal are to be avoided.
But Tottenham supporters have had to become accustomed to losing their best to Real Madrid. Kane has done more for the club than Luka Modric and Gareth Bale. He would be more likely to return to them one day too. Perhaps such a move would be palatable.
Kane does not need to leave to be a great but he should not have to stay either. He could still have it all. The trophy-laden career with his status secure as a legend at his boyhood club. But the chances of having it all at Tottenham are diminishing as the years pass by.