Enormous news: Harry Kane announced this morning that he intends to stay with Tottenham Hotspur. AKA “The Heung-Min Son Team.”
Harry’s announcement via tweet this morning made the England captain sound about as excited to still be “one of our own” as Aaron Rodgers is to return for one more season at Green Bay. (Now, watch for Randall Cobb to arrive at Tottenham before the transfer window shuts):
The key part of the tweet for Tottenham fans to parse are these words: “This Summer.” A whole movie could be written about those two words. Is Kane hinting he hopes to leave in the next transfer window, when big deals are notoriously hard to push through? Or will he be around for the entire season? If that is the case, will he knuckle down in the professional way we normally associate with Harry Kane, or will he ruminate like the Dark Knight over the way his brother-agent Charlie was naively outgunned and outmaneuvered by Spurs chairman Dan Levy. The notoriously hard-negotiating bald suit knew his player had 3 years left on his contract and, inexplicably, no buyout clause. Big love to GFOP @vincent404 who suggested Levy negotiates in the same style as Paulie from Goodfellas: “F*$k You, Pay Me.”
There will be lots of post-mortems now written about how Kane would not have fit in at City anyway -- how he shoots on sight, whereas Pep wants high-percentage opportunities. This morning though, my thoughts are with Harry Kane. I cannot imagine the emotional turmoil and confusion the striker is experiencing. A man who loves his childhood club, made the internal decision to leave and break with it, which must have been grueling in its own right as he made peace with the fact that to win trophies, he had to leave. Only to be stranded and have to remain. I was really struck last week by Romelu Lukaku’s explanation of why he returned to Chelsea: “Scoring goals is beautiful but winning trophies sets you apart.” Harry Kane will now have months to wrestle with that yearning while staring at an empty team trophy case.
And what for Manchester City? Good to see Pep feels his team have enough powder in that squad to defend the Carabao Cup. Ultimately, they clearly wanted Harry Kane, but not enough to pay $250M for a 28-year-old. The question is now whether they would be willing to do the same for a 29-year-old? Especially in a market that will include Haaland and his $90M release clause, possibly Mbappe, and the lingering floatee Ronaldo. For what it's worth, I agree with Gary Neville. Harry Kane always seems more like a Manchester United player to me, moving around the same age as Robin van Persie with the same yearning to savor title glory.
We are living in an insane footballing reality where the number of options for massive players on massive, massive wages has been narrowed down to so few: Essentially Chelsea, PSG, and the 2 Manchester clubs (with Real Madrid’s links to Mbappe ultimately a litmus test of whether they belong in this group). And there are surplus massive players. Hence City’s inability to purge their squad of the Bernado Silvas and Aymeric Laportes. Elite Football has become like the VIP Room inside the VIP Room inside the Club. And Harry Kane is not, for the time being, in it. Selfishly, I am thrilled. The more quasi-competitive teams there are in the Premier League, the better off we all are. For now, Dreams of Spurs Invincible Season live on.
One last note: Maybe, just maybe Harry was persuaded to stay because of the rumor of the arrival of Weston McKennie. Well known fact: It was Harry Kane’s childhood dream to play football with Weston McKennie.
Across North London, Arsenal wobble into the weekend bracing for their visit to Manchester City (Saturday, 7.30 AM ET). I talked at length in this week’s podcast how little pleasure I take from watching Arsenal’s long-term decline. This is a team that have given the world sublime footballing memories crafted by the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, and Liam Brady. To watch this freefall towards mediocrity has been galling. Miguel Delaney wrote an excellent piece this morning analyzing the cultural challenges the club is grappling with having granted Arteta absolute power -- hence the haphazard recruitment and half-baked tactical communication:
"This is one thing that may surprise those outside the club who have visions of everything falling apart. It might also be a reason things are going badly, mind. Arteta has almost total authority. That’s with the squad, and with the staff. Some have even taken to calling him 'mini Arsene', such is the extent of his control."
How long do you give him? After City at the weekend, Arsenal will face Norwich, Burnley, then Tottenham at the end of September. (Well played Premier League scriptwriters, well played. Lose that game and…
Finally, big love to David Moyes. 8 goals in 2 wins to start the season like a clenched fist. To watch Dirty Dancing aficionado Michail Antonio is to witness joy for life itself. This West Ham of Soucek, Rice (for now) and the ever-improving Said Benrahma are possibly the finest squad the Hammers have unfurled in Premier League history and I could not be happier for David Moyes. A man who ground his way to the top flight of football. Who paid his dues at Everton, then failed publicly and humiliatingly at Manchester United. To watch him rebound from the freefall that ensued and re-assert himself is life-affirming in a way that transcends sports. May we all grapple with failure in our lives with a fraction of the tenacity David Moyes has displayed. Godspeed to him and all Hammers fans.