Amid Kane saga, Spurs fans should be grateful for Son
Harry Kane’s attempts to leave Spurs were incredibly shortsighted and shed new light on his character. Whichever way it can be spun, it was far from exemplary behaviour for the captain of the national team and an apparent beacon of professionalism. Despite that very standing being compromised by his actions, it has actually protected him in some ways.
As a squeaky-clean, English family man and hero, Kane has developed a popularity which acted as a shield. As a result, the way he attempted to instigate his Spurs exit has either been downplayed or completely ignored in the media by those who know and like him.
Kane is still at Tottenham because he has only now seen the bigger picture. Part of what sells his brand is the fact he is a ‘local boy done good’. He has not only epitomised hard work but loyalty too. If trophies are as important to him as they now appear, he must have known he would have had a better chance of winning them away from his boyhood club, who at the time he signed his six-year contract with no release clause. Even though, at the time, they were punching above their weight and looking like genuine contenders for the biggest prizes.
Under Mauricio Pochettino, they finished second in the Premier League and reached the Champions League final but, without the funds to compete with direct rivals, it always felt like there was a ceiling that couldn’t be broken.
Now, at the age of 28 and with three years to run on his deal, Kane’s ability to demand a transfer has been severely compromised. Especially when the man who holds the key is Daniel Levy, Spurs’ notoriously hard-nosed chairman.
Indirectly, though, something that has come out of the entire Kane saga is how under-appreciated his teammate Son Heung-min is. As soon as news of his desire to leave was made public, there was a wave of opinion suggesting Son should or would join him in pushing for a move, owing to their superb partnership which carried Spurs at times, particularly under Jose Mourinho.
Last season, they set a Premier League record for combined goals scored and assisted for one another. Kane’s early form at Euro 2020, forgotten once he scored against Germany in the last 16 to set his tournament alight, was criticised precisely because he wasn’t able to form such a prevalent relationship with a fellow England player like he does Son.
The narrative surrounding the pair away from Spurs paints Kane as the star man and Son as his able deputy. Perhaps it suits one to operate slightly under the radar more than the other but they are actually a double-act, a very dangerous package who have offered their club hope during more recent darker times, having thrived together when things were running much smoother. They are able to perform individually, too, with Son holding the fort when Kane has been injured in the past.
It has long been said that joining Spurs as a striker would be a thankless task, because there would be no way of becoming first choice. That stands to reason but something Son hasn’t perhaps gained the credit he deserves for is the way he has played centrally at times. His Premier League goals return is impressive in itself — he has hit double figures in every season but his first five years ago — but the timing and importance of them is just as noteworthy.
He can glide across the pitch, running directly with great pace and strength. You only need to remember his Puskas award-winning solo effort against Burnley a couple of seasons ago, but he balances that with incredible intelligence on the ball and an insatiable work ethic. When everyone was focussed on Kane this summer, he again made the crucial difference at the start of the season, with winning goals in home games against champions Manchester City and newly-promoted Watford.
The Spurs fans see it. Their appreciation is palpable and a huge factor in him signing a new contract this summer. Yet, the perception has run deep elsewhere. maybe he should have had more options to consider before committing his future.
While Kane was pushing for a move, Son offered the easier route to a new stellar attacking signing, albeit not as the traditional number nine Kane is with the record he brings. With his contract running down, there would have been a better price on his head and, as the modern forward who can play across the front and perform well in a number of different roles, it is difficult to argue that he would not improve most teams in the world. Perhaps, like Kane, his age has proven undesirable. He is hitting his peak now and is unlikely to improve.
Whether he moves or not in the future, and that seems unlikely at this point, Son needs to be recognised as the world class, versatile and effective footballer that he is. Now Kane is staying, they can pick up where they left off. However, one half of the Spurs duo deserves more respect from the outside. His consistency without his partner in crime proves as much.
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