The Tottenham talisman probably deserved to be considered an elite player a long time ago, but few wanted to jump to conclusions, instead deciding to wait to make sure he wasn’t just a three-season wonder. Now, though, it has become undeniable. In 2017, the 24-year-old has scored 36 goals across 31 games in all competitions, working out at 1.16 per appearance. That’s better than Lionel Messi. That’s better than Cristiano Ronaldo. That’s world-class.
There might be one or two other world-class players in Gareth Southgate’s current England set-up, depending on how loosely you define the term, but Kane is currently the very best of the bunch, so much so that the England team should be built around him. Pep Guardiola may have been unfairly dismissive when he labelled Tottenham as the “Harry Kane team”, given how much talent there is dripping throughout the Spurs squad, but the Catalan coach might be onto something. A team centred around Harry Kane would be a very good one. Southgate should take note.
In fact, Southgate seemingly already has. Not only has he symbolically handed Kane the England captain’s armband on more than one occasion, but he has been full of praise for the way the striker plays and sets an example. “He’s keen to lead,” the England manager said of the player back in June. “I’ve worked with Harry at the Under 21s and I know his mentality. He wants to be one of the best in the world.”
Better to have the likes of Dele Alli thread the ball to Kane than have a winger thump it towards him. Of course, building around Kane is more than just picking a tactical shape, as it also involves selecting players who best compliment him. This, though, is where it could be toughest for Southgate to fully commit to forging a “Harry Kane team”, but it could pay off to fill his attacking positions with players who Kane links up well with, even if that means dropping some other big names. A chef preparing a Filet Mignon may have some expensive oysters in the fridge too, but he knows some cheap potatoes and a simple sauce will do a better job of garnishing the steak.
When it comes to Harry Kane, Southgate and future England managers should make him their priority, focussing on how to make him tick. As we’ve seen in recent months at Tottenham, a comfortable Kane is an effective Kane. Tottenham are not a “Harry Kane team”, but a “Harry Kane team” could be a successful one.