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Harry Kane to Manchester United: Should Ten Hag spend the money?



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Credit: IMAGO / Action Plus

Harry Kane has been linked to Manchester United many times over the years, with Erik ten Hag reportedly pushing for him to become a marquee signing this coming summer.

Ahead of the 2012/13 season, Manchester United signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal for almost £28 million. The Dutchman was, at the time, one of the most lethal strikers in the Premier League, having scored 30 goals in 38 league games the previous season.

United brought van Persie in intending to regain as Premier League champions once again, having lost it the previous season to Manchester City on the final day. The signing of Van Persie was a success; United won the league comfortably, and the striker scored 26 times and assisting 15 on the way to his first, and only, Premier League title. That was also Sir Alex Ferguson’s final managerial trophy, as he retired at the end of the season.

Ten seasons on, Manchester United have not won a Premier League title since. The closest they have gotten is second place twice, under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

Van Persie was the catalyst to that 13th Premier League title. One of the big missing pieces of the puzzle at United in the present day, under Erik ten Hag, is a world-class striker. One option Ten Hag has is Tottenham striker Harry Kane. Here is a look at what he could bring to Old Trafford, as well as some downsides to the deal.


One thing that can be said without a doubt about Harry Kane is the fact that he is an elite goal-scorer. This season, he has already scored 18 league goals, with Erling Haaland the only man to have scored more. At 29, the Englishman currently sits on 201 goals in just 308 league games, an incredible number.

As his numbers suggest, Kane is an elite finisher. His xG in the Premier League this season sits at 13.81, and, whilst he is outscoring his xG this season, it shows just how clinical Kane can be from all types of chances.

In the penalty box, Kane’s movement is exceptional, and he will often lose a defender or manage to create space for him or a teammate to attack. United have missed a striker who will get in front of defenders and gamble in the box. There is no doubt Kane will bring this to United.

The England captain also scores his goals in a variety of ways. Of his 201 Premier League goals, 122 have come with his right foot, 40 with his left foot, 37 with his head, and 30 have come from the penalty spot. Being a right-footed player, it is not surprising that most of his goals have been scored this way, but it is still invaluable that he has such a good variation with his goals, and with good numbers too.

With the creativity levels in United’s side, Kane should thrive. The likes of Bruno Fernandes, Christian Eriksen, and Luke Shaw, to name but three players, are all incredibly creative from open play and put in exceptional set-piece deliveries. We have already seen Kane thrive with both Eriksen at Tottenham and Shaw with England. It is certainly exciting to imagine the link-up Kane could have with Fernandes.

Playmaking Abilities

In the last few seasons, one thing Harry Kane has improved in his game is his playmaking abilities. Last season, in all competitions for Tottenham, he registered 17 assists, taking his goal-contribution tally to 50 in 49 games; genuinely outrageous numbers.

Kane has seen success dropping deeper into midfield, picking up the ball and looking for teammates running in behind the opposition defence. At Tottenham, it is often Heung-Min Son who is making those runs. At United, the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Antony, and Fernandes could well be getting onto the end of the striker’s line-breaking passes.

Kane’s combination play is also brilliant. He reads the game very well and has the ability to play quick one-twos and link up with teammates in and around the box. The likes of Sancho would thrive in this scenario. His off-the-ball movement is also exceptional. He will often make clever runs or even just a slight movement, to create space for either himself or a teammate.

The 29-year-old has superb progressive passing numbers. On average, according to Fbref, he plays 4.89 progressive passes per 90 minutes. This ranks him in the 96th percentile across Europe. Kane also plays 1.61 key passes per 90 minutes, placing him in the 88th percentile, and 2.64 passes into the final third per 90 minutes, which means he is in the 95th percentile. These are exceptional numbers for a striker and they show just how creative Kane is, and how much he could contribute to United outside of his goals.

United’s attackers all fit the profile of players who would complement Kane perfectly. Fast, direct players who will hang on the shoulder of the last defender and make runs in behind to get on the end of Kane’s passes and get into a goalscoring position.  

A Desire to Win

Despite the fact he is one of the best strikers in the world, Harry Kane is yet to win a team trophy. So far in his career, the England captain has won three Premier League golden boots, and a 2018 World Cup golden boot, but a major trophy has so far eluded him.

He has gotten close with club and country; Tottenham have reached two EFL Cup finals since Kane made his debut, and they lost in the 2018/19 Champions League final to Liverpool. England also reach the final of Euro 2020 but were defeated on penalties by Italy.

United recently won their first trophy under Ten Hag. The Dutchman led his side to the Carabao Cup, beating Newcastle in the final at Wembley a couple of weeks ago.

However, United fans have had to wait over a decade for the Premier League title to return to Old Trafford. With something exciting building at the club, there are hopes the Red Devils could mount a serious title charge next season. Harry Kane could be a catalyst for that.

If United were to sign Kane ahead of next season, by which time he would be 30, the striker would be in the prime of his career. Should he sign for United, he could be the spearhead of the attack for at least four or five years, hopefully driving United to major titles once again. He is a world-class footballer, and there is no doubting his ability, or his hunger to win trophies. It seems like a perfect match.

The Downsides

Despite the obvious qualities of Harry Kane, there are some downsides to the deal. Firstly, the price Spurs could demand for their talisman could end up being around £100 million. This isn’t necessarily an issue, especially considering the state of the transfer market today. However, there are a few other downsides that go hand in hand with the price Spurs would potentially want for Kane.

The first, and most pressing downside, is Kane’s injury record. For all his goals and assists, Kane also comes with the heavy baggage that is injury issues. Across his career, he has had six injuries which have lasted at least a month. Kane has, in total, missed 75 games in his career due to injury.

Another worrying element to Kane’s injury record is the fact that he has had a variety of injuries, not just one recurring issue. Despite his worrying record, it is encouraging that he has not missed a game due to injury this season and has not had one since 16 April 2021.

Secondly, and probably the less important of the two obvious downsides is the England captain’s age. Kane is now 29 years old, and he turns 30 on July 28th. Starting next season in his 30s, having just completed what would be a very expensive transfer, and considering his injury record, could be cause for concern for United fans.

United could well turn their attention to a younger striker, such as Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, or Benfica’s Goncalo Ramos. Both players would likely cost a similar price to Kane, but are much younger and would fit into Ten Hag’s system well. Ramos, especially, is a very similar profile to Kane.


Despite the negative aspects of the signing, bringing Harry Kane to Manchester United would certainly improve the team overall, both in front of goal and as an attacking unit. He is a world-class striker and would be the kind of quality leading the line that Old Trafford has not seen for many years.

Whether or not Ten Hag and United decide to pursue the deal remains to be seen, however, it could be an interesting summer when it comes to the future of Harry Kane.