Is Tottenham’s Harry Kane world class or simply a flat-track bully?

Date published: Wednesday 24th May 2017 6:38 - Matthew Briggs

Harry Kane: Without a goal this season

We take a look at Harry Kane’s vital statistics and analyse whether another Premier League Golden Boot is enough to shoot him into the list of the world’s elite strikers.

Stat padders, flat-track bullies – whatever you want to call them, strikers can only score against what is put in front of them. In this instance, Harry Kane came into the final two games of the season with 22 goals to his name.

Tottenham faced opponents, who perhaps earlier in the campaign would have put up a stronger fight, but with their position in the table a moot point, Spurs’ trips to Leicester and Hull were essentially dead rubbers. All that was at stake for the north London side was to finish with as high a point total as possible and ensure Kane ended the campaign as the Golden Boot winner for the second successive season.

Both came to fruition. Spurs knocked Leicester for six and then put seven past a relegated Hull on the final day of the campaign. Of the 13 goals scored, Kane bagged seven, and got himself an assist for good measure.

Indeed, he scored more goals (29) than any other player in the Premier League this season and in the last three seasons, has netted 75 goals. Not bad for a ‘one-season wonder’.

This year alone, six hat-tricks have been scored in England’s top tier, four of which have been netted by Kane, with trebles against Stoke and West Brom to go with his four-goal salvo at Leicester and final day hat-trick at Hull.

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What’s all the more impressive about his 29-goal haul is that he missed eight games win an ankle injury and didn’t score his first league goal of the campaign until mid-September. A goal every 87.4 minutes was a stunning return for the frontman. Of the 46 players to score 15 or more league goals in Europe’s top five leagues this season, only three – Lionel Messi, Edison Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette – scored more frequently.

Indeed, Kane was scoring at a better rate than the likes of Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Aguero. To be perfectly candid, it was a world-class return.

When mentioning the likes of Messi, Suarez, Cavani, Lewandowski, Ronaldo and Aguero, all are considered to be world class in their respective field and rightly so – after all, they are just that. There’s no reason, then, why Kane shouldn’t be considered in the same bracket, even after disappointing showings for England at Euro 2016 and in Europe for Spurs this season.

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Not one player excelled for the national team in France, while Spurs’ Champions League and Europa League campaigns were disappointing to say the least, but that shouldn’t be held against Kane.

In fact, it’s all the more reason to laud his goal return. The 23-year-old could have regressed in the wake of criticism, yet took it all in his stride to better his figures from the previous campaign.

It’s all the more impressive when you take into account his early figures, where Kane struggled on loan spells at Norwich, Millwall and Leicester. Not many could have foreseen the striker’s career path take such an upward trajectory, yet he has continued to bat away the sceptics and bested his Spurs totals season after season.

That’s not to mention the all-round aspects to his game. The best strikers are capable of playing as a lone forward or with a partner and it is as the former that has helped Kane reached new heights.

Mauricio Pochettino favours a system than requires a solitary frontman, be it in a three-man or a four-man defence, and Kane has shown all the right traits to succeed in the role, whether he is playing on the shoulder of the last man to maximise his strength to ease pressure on the Spurs goal and bring team-mates into play or by dropping deep to receive the ball and aid in the build up play. In that regard, modern day strikers are expected to carry out a number of roles, not just score the goals to fire their team to victory.

Kane excels in the primary duties associated with a forward in today’s game, noted in that he had seven assists to go with his 29 goals coupled with averages of 1.5 key passes and 1.3 successful dribbles per 90 in the Premier League this season.

Even with injury, that he still managed to put out such commendable figures is a testament to his ever improving ability to become one of the best frontmen in the world.

Indeed, the world-class tag is batted about on a whim these days, but Kane has surely done enough to warrant being mentioned in the same breath as the above frontman after another stunning season in England.

Ben McAleer – @BenMcAleer1


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