Harry Kane needs to step up again for his own sake

Ezri Konsa. Trevoh Chalobah. Rico Henry. Marc Guehi. Ben Mee. Divock Origi. Cucho Hernandez. Alexis Mac Allister. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

This isn’t a random list of footballers – these are all players who have outscored reigning Golden Boot winner Harry Kane in the Premier League this season.

With one goal and one assist in 13 games so far, Kane has as many goal involvements as he does yellow cards in the league this campaign, with his sole strike coming at struggling Newcastle United.

If it weren’t for his ridiculous form for England at the expense of minnows, then there would probably be a brighter spotlight on Kane’s slowest start to a season since he broke into the Spurs first team. Talk of surpassing Wayne Rooney as the all-time scorer for the Three Lions has trumped that of his shocking Premier League malaise.

Tottenham have recovered from their early season setbacks under Nuno Espirito Santo to win three of their first four league games under Antonio Conte. The Italian tactician is already beginning to work wonders with players who were on the periphery of the squad – but Kane’s slump has continued.

Unlike other dips in form over his Spurs career, this one has been harder to pinpoint the reason behind. Kane, who has struggled with ankle injuries on several occasions, doesn’t necessarily look unfit or out of shape.

It doesn’t seem like a matter of sharpness, though the rest of the team are thriving under Conte’s tactics and Kane hardly looks like scoring nowadays. He’s admitted to subscribing to Jermain Defoe’s xG-adjacent school of thought that if you miss a chance, you’re more likely to score the next – but he’s not even creating those chances for himself when even Ben Davies is looking like a goal threat.

It would be a little premature to suggest that Kane is already on a sharp decline, but there are plenty of miles on his body and it’s hard to imagine him breaking the 20-goal mark this season, way below his lofty standards. Sometimes elite footballers just hit a barrier at some point in career and are never quite the same, but it takes a while for fans to catch on (Rooney is ironically a good example of this).

After the prolonged saga regarding a potential exit in the summer, some Spurs fans are already viewing Kane in a different light – Son Heung-min has got the loudest cheer when the teams are read out before kick off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in recent matches.

Harry Kane, Brandon WilliamsHarry Kane, Brandon Williams

Kane looks sharp on the pitch but not in front of goal / Craig Mercer/MB Media/GettyImages

90min understands that Spurs are keen on Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic, who is the only player besides Robert Lewandowski to have scored 30 or more goals domestically in 2021. Tottenham are primed and ready to pounce should Kane try and leave again, but there could be another spanner in the works.

The only strikers who are either playing for or being coveted by Europe’s top sides are the unquestionably elite forwards who bring a guarantee of goals – Lewandowski, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

But other sides are making do without. Chelsea have found their best form in the absence of star striker Romelu Lukaku (with Timo Werner also failing on that front). Liverpool don’t play with an out-and-out nine. Manchester City are making do with wide players in the central role.

Europe’s top sides are evolving beyond the need for an old-fashioned centre forward, and with one goal in 13 Premier League games, Kane is well off that pace. Unless you’re the best of the best or ‘world class’ (90min will have more on that in the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled), then it’s going to be hard to force such a move.

What’s in Kane’s favour is he still carries the aura of a superstar and has one of the strongest mentalities in the game. But he can’t keep drawing blanks and just hoping for better in the next game forever.

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