IAN LADYMAN: Bungling the Harry Kane raid may cost Man City this term

IAN LADYMAN: Bungling the Harry Kane raid may cost Manchester City in the title race… Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions still lack firepower in the No 9 position

  • Harry Kane will now stay at Tottenham amid Manchester City’s interest in him
  • In another blow for City, Pep Guardiola revealed he is leaving City in 2023 
  • Daniel Levy has managed to hold on to Kane amid a summer of speculation
  • City have limited options in a centre-forward position as they defend their title 

When it was revealed in these pages back in February that Tottenham would require in the region of £150million to even think about selling Harry Kane, chairman Daniel Levy could barely contain his irritation.

It wasn’t the public discussion of the price tag that annoyed him, rather the mention in the story that Manchester City — or indeed United — would be among the summer’s suitors.

‘There is no way I am selling him to one of those two,’ he seethed privately that day. ‘No chance.’ 

Harry Kane revealed on Wednesday he will be staying at Tottenham despite Man City interest

Spurs owner Daniel Levy has managed to hold onto his star asset after a summer of rumours

Levy doesn’t really do posturing. He tends to say things he means. So when he reacted in that way all that time ago, it was always likely to be indicative of how this whole saga would play out.

City doubtless placed their faith this summer in one of football’s oldest truths, namely that money will talk in the end.

But the Premier League champions’ negotiators seemingly under-estimated the depth of Levy’s stubbornness, his enduring determination that Tottenham will not be seen as some kind of feeder club.

Wednesday transpired to be an extraordinary day for City. Coach Pep Guardiola’s decision to leave the club once his current contract expires in June 2023 was known to them.

Pep Guardiola, who will leave City in 2023, now has very limited No 9 options at the Etihad

However, his decision to reveal the news in a Brazilian TV interview just a fortnight into the current campaign will have blindsided them completely. Replacing Guardiola will be some task in the long term.

More immediately, City remain a club without a reliable goalscorer and that is something that could feasibly undo them over the next eight months or so.

Tottenham still have Kane, Liverpool have Mo Salah and others, Chelsea now have Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United have Edinson Cavani. City have a variety of false nines and memories of last season when they somehow managed to win the title with midfielder Ilkay Gundogan top scoring with 13 League goals.

City will doubtless be productive again this season. There is too much talent for Guardiola’s team to be barren. But in the early stages of a campaign that promises renewed challenges, they suddenly look under-prepared.  

City’s forward options are weaker compared to their Premier League title rivals this season

There is a reason, after all, why City were prepared to spend so much money on the best centre forward in the country. It was because Guardiola felt they needed him.

Kane will be wounded by all this and it will be interesting to see how his relationship with his club plays out. He feels he has been denied what would have been the most significant moment of his career and that frustration will only deepen when he learns that Levy would have been prepared to sell him to a foreign club.

To Levy, £150m in the bank to either spend on squad strengthening or soften some of the blows landed by the Covid-19 pandemic would have represented decent business for a 28-year-old who is not a stranger to injuries. But to sell Kane to City and watch him power them to the title was not palatable.

As far as Levy is concerned, City never made a proper, written bid for Kane. He believes — incorrectly it seems — the champions didn’t have the money once they had invested £100m in Jack Grealish.

City never made a proper, written bid for Kane – hinting they didn’t have the £150m to get him

Privately, he has been scathing of City’s tactics and indeed of those in Kane’s camp he feels have leaked details of the player’s intentions. But this is the way these sagas usually play out. There is usually residual bad feeling, blood left on the floor.

Levy and Tottenham will roll on, punching endlessly upwards in a bid to prove themselves equal to clubs that routinely win trophies. There is something to admire about their refusal to roll over to City’s might in a way that, say, Arsenal have done in the past.

For Kane it is harder to say how and where this ends. He will get his move next summer, in all likelihood. But to where? There is no guarantee it will be City. Much changes in a year.

As for City, it seems strange there is no Plan B. It would be glib to call this a disaster but it does seem strange to think they wasted so much time on something that was, to all intents and purposes, over before it had really begun.

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