Harry Kane Race Set for Summer but Will English Clubs Steal March on Real Madrid?

Tottenham striker Harry Kane. (AFP)
Tottenham striker Harry Kane. (AFP)
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Harry Kane Race Set for Summer but Will English Clubs Steal March on Real Madrid?

Tottenham striker Harry Kane. (AFP)
Tottenham striker Harry Kane. (AFP)

The transfer window officially opened on Monday, though this one has been so eagerly awaited that some clubs have jumped the gun. It is slightly odd that this should happen in a season when all interest in the title race will most likely be over by the end of January but, perhaps because they feel the deal properly belongs to last summer, Liverpool went ahead early with the announcement that they had agreed to pay Southampton a record £75m for Virgil van Dijk.

Not to be outdone, it emerged days in advance of the window that Everton would not be letting slip another opportunity to bring in a proven goalscorer, although early reports that Besiktas had agreed to allow Cenk Tosun to leave for £25m were a trifle premature. It still remains conceivable that the two players could face each other in Friday’s FA Cup Merseyside derby, meaning that the coming month may not be dominated by José Mourinho pleading poverty or Manchester City weighing up a move for Alexis Sánchez after all.

It used to be said until quite recently that summer was the only time to do good business and that January was a last-chance saloon for those desperate enough to pay silly prices, but that view may be changing. The prices are still silly, naturally – this is England – but most clubs have a little more spending money these days and long-term targets can be landed just as easily in January as in summer.

To describe Van Dijk and Sánchez as long-term targets for Liverpool and City would be an understatement – both deals might have happened six months ago – but Ronald Koeman was outlining the importance of replacing Romelu Lukaku weeks before the last window closed and Sam Allardyce has been tracking Tosun for so long he initially recommended him to Crystal Palace.

The other name that would normally come up in this category is Antoine Griezmann of Atlético Madrid, long assumed to be a Manchester United target. That deal could also have gone through last summer but for a transfer ban being placed on Atlético. The embargo is now up and Atlético have a returning Diego Costa in the pipeline but, though the path to Old Trafford is now clear, it appears the French forward is more likely to stay in Spain. Barcelona have agreed to pay Griezmann’s £90m release clause, a figure Mourinho is understood to feel is too high anyway, but would prefer to welcome him in the summer rather than mid-season.

This does not make Barcelona any less keen on Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, a deferred move that at some point in 2018 is likely to put the capture of Van Dijk into perspective, but though Atlético would not object to United hijacking Barcelona’s move for Griezmann, or at least entering into a bidding war with the Catalans, the noises coming out of Old Trafford indicate the player is no longer their No1 target, if indeed he ever was.

Supposition has long had it that United would move heaven and earth to capture Gareth Bale but, though Real Madrid now seem willing to part with a player who has made only half a dozen league appearances this season, Chelsea are also keen on the former Tottenham winger. While Bale would be a welcome addition to the Premier League’s roster of eye-catching entertainers, even with his well-documented injury problems, to an extent he is a fading force, if not quite yesterday’s man. Bale is 28 and unlikely to match in England what he has achieved in Spain.

Real Madrid have enjoyed his best seasons and are attempting to recoup some money on a player who has become close to peripheral at the Bernabéu. It would be galling in the extreme were the Spanish giants to take money from an English club to help finance a bid for Harry Kane.

The Tottenham striker, as he has just proved with his record-breaking 39 goals in 36 games in 2017, is undoubtedly the real deal. As good at putting the ball in the net as anyone in Europe and a completely English product, there can be no more questions about him. Since his breakthrough season in 2014-15 he has improved year on year and, at 24 and operating at Champions League level, he is red-hot property even before Tottenham’s famously modest pay scale and unimpressive trophy record are taken into account.

Sean Dyche, the seventh of eight opposing managers to witness a Kane hat-trick in 2017, merely stated the obvious this month when he said any club in the world would love to have him. That must include Manchester City as well as Manchester United. Tottenham may not be prepared to sell him to a Premier League rival, but there is an opportunity here for United or Chelsea to do something other than moan about City’s clear superiority, or for City to make the most decisive move yet to ensure its continuation.

Real Madrid are thought to value Kane at around £180m and plan to make a move in the summer, but why should Spanish clubs be considered the only ones capable of blowing rivals out of the water with a bid Tottenham cannot possibly refuse? Are English clubs not richer than ever, and are there not still five of them in the Champions League?

Even if Kane has expressed a preference for staying where he is, and even if Spurs are willing to double his money, that is not the way football generally works. It will be a surprise if Kane is still at the same club in a year’s time, and in fact people are betting against it already. No one expects a move mid-season, though the first window of opportunity is about to open, the target is clear and anyone truly ambitious ought to be ready. To dare is to do, as Spurs may have heard. The gun can be jumped.

The Guardian Sport



Steve Cooper Named Manager of Premier League Leicester City

Steve Cooper was sacked by Nottingham Forest last December but returns to the Premier League as Leicester manager. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Steve Cooper was sacked by Nottingham Forest last December but returns to the Premier League as Leicester manager. Paul ELLIS / AFP
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Steve Cooper Named Manager of Premier League Leicester City

Steve Cooper was sacked by Nottingham Forest last December but returns to the Premier League as Leicester manager. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Steve Cooper was sacked by Nottingham Forest last December but returns to the Premier League as Leicester manager. Paul ELLIS / AFP

Leicester City have appointed former Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper as their new manager, the newly promoted Premier League club said on Thursday.
"Leicester City Football Club can today confirm the appointment of Steve Cooper as our new First Team Manager ahead of the 2024/25 Premier League season. Steve, 44, has agreed a three-year contract," the club said in a statement.
Cooper fills the vacuum left by Enzo Maresca, who left for the vacant post at Chelsea earlier this month, AFP said.
Maresca, 44, had steered 2016 Premier League champions Leicester back to the Premier League after just one season in the Championship.
"We are delighted to welcome Steve to Leicester City," said Leicester City Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha in a statement.
"His vision for the team, including his ability to develop players and implement a dynamic style of play, is very much aligned with our aspirations for the Club.
"As a leader, he has the ability to build on the strong relationship that has been forged between our fans and our team, strengthening a bond that will be vital to us re-establishing the Club in the Premier League."
Cooper guided Forest to promotion in 2022 but was fired in December 2023 with the club deep in relegation trouble. They eventually remained in the Premier League under new boss Nuno Espirito Santo.
"I am really excited and proud to be appointed Leicester City's First Team Manager," said Welshman Cooper.
"This is a fantastic club with a rich history and passionate supporters.
"I am excited to work with such a talented squad and I'm looking forward to the challenge of achieving our shared ambitions in the Premier League."