Tottenham’s Harry Kane bagged his third hat-trick of 2017 at the weekend, and although some (mainly Arsenal fans) are still clinging to the idea that he could just be be a one… err, three-season wonder, most of us are beginning to come round to the idea that the lad might be a bit special.
The scepticism around Kane’s rapid ascent to the top of the Premier League striker tree is based on the fact that he’s a young, homegrown player, of which there are very few consistently putting in the sort of top class performances you associate with the very best footballers. Couple that with his apparent inability to do the business in Europe – Kane’s goals-to-game ratio is significantly worse on the continental stage (and, so far, for England) – and it’s understandable that some are reluctant to jump on the bandwagon.
Let’s be clear about one thing, though: in the Premier League, Kane is king. The gangly striker became the first English player in more than fifteen years to win the Golden Boot, last year, and the goals have continued to flow during the first-half of this season. At 23, local lad Kane is already shouldering most of the point-winning burden at White Hart Lane – particularly while misfiring under-study Vincent Janssen continues to (try and) find his feet outside of the Netherlands.
Kane has invited many comparisons during the two years or so since he began to find the net on a regular basis, but Alan Shearer – Newcastle legend and Match of the Day’s resident joyless, cliche-merchant – is one of the most apposite. Like Shearer, the Tottenham forward is neither the quickest nor most skilful among the list of great Premier League number nines – he just has an uncanny knack of finding the net, from almost anywhere inside the box.
Most goals scored in Europe's top 5 leagues in 2017:
Harry Kane (9)
Gonzalo Higuaín (8)
Alexandre Lacazette (8)
Lionel Messi (8) pic.twitter.com/Ykj9KzUlhQ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 27, 2017
A barn-storming start to the calendar year has put Kane on 66 Premier League goals – 194 shy of Shearer’s record haul. Does Harry have a realistic shot at taking his crown? (Let’s just go ahead and assume that Rooney’s chances are well and truly dead and buried, unless we master time travel in our lifetimes).
One thing Kane definitely has going for him (incidentally, one thing that Rooney definitely didn’t) is that he keeps a low profile off the pitch. In practice, that means he’s far more likely to stay in shape into his late twenties and early thirties. Shearer was just shy of 36 when he hung up his boots, and those last few seasons were crucial to opening up his lead at the top of the scoring ranks.
As such, let’s say that Kane has, conservatively, around a decade of Premier League football left in him (that’s provided he doesn’t catch the eye of Real Madrid, of course). That gives him a little shy of 400 games in which to find the 195 goals he needs to topple Shearer (and that figure is reduced considerably when you factor in the odd niggly injury he’s bound to pick up along the way – even if he’s managed to steer clear of any major health scares so far).
It’s a huge ask, especially when there’s no telling how the Premier League landscape will change in the years ahead. Mauricio Pochettino has been all-important to Kane’s emergence as a top class centre-forward, while playmakers Eriksen and Alli have laid on a huge number of assists. If these three leave, and Spurs go back to being, you know, Spurs, he may find opportunities inside the box are a little harder to come by.
The smart money is on Shearer’s record staying in tact. The former Newcastle striker enjoys god-like status at St James’ Park, but he was most prolific at Blackburn, where he hit some 112 goals in 138 games in his four seasons at the club. In two of those seasons, he played more than 40 games (this was back when the league had 22 teams), and that meant he had already passed the century mark before his 26th birthday.
Kane is two-and-a-half years off that landmark, and matching those kinds of numbers would be some feat (good thing for him, Dele Alli is blossoming into a prolific winner of dubious penalties).
Here’s what the last lot that won a trophy for Spurs are up to now, can Kane end Tottenham’s wait for a trophy?