Alex Keble looks at the impact that Harry Kane's departure to Bayern Munich will have..
Hard to put into words how to say goodbye to a club and fans who have done so much for me in my career. You will always be in my heart. Thank you Tottenham, thank you Tottenham fans. 💙 pic.twitter.com/L662cyax7p— Harry Kane (@HKane) August 12, 2023
"It's not a goodbye because you never know how things pan out in the future," Kane said in a message on Twitter.
But it is a monumental sliding doors moment – for Kane, for Spurs, and for the Premier League.
Kane has decided to pursue medals, has decided that league titles and UEFA Champions League football take priority over becoming the Premier League’s all-time record goalscorer, which he would likely have become within the next two seasons in England.
Some critics of the move have questioned whether Kane would have been better off spending the next 12 months enjoying the attacking football of the new Spurs head coach, at which point he would have had his free choice of clubs – and be able to demand higher wages.
The more prominent argument is a simpler one: that overtaking Alan Shearer’s record of 260 Premier League goals (Kane is currently on 213) is a bigger, more legacy-securing achievement than easily collecting trophies at a club that have won the last 11 Bundesliga titles in a row.
Top five all-time top scorers
But Kane can still take Shearer’s record.
Kane has signed a four-year contract at Bayern, which leaves open the possibility of a return to the Premier League two or three years from now, and although Kane has just turned 30, playing in Germany will keep him in good shape to make an English comeback still at the top of his game.
Life at Bayern will not be as draining for Kane, either physically or mentally. Alleviated of the pressure that came with being Spurs' talisman – and now at a club that has the luxury of resting him to protect those ankles – Kane will age slowly at Bayern.
That should extend his career, giving Kane the chance to return to England at 32 or 33 and chase down the 48 goals he would need to overtake Shearer. It is an attainable target, as several world-class strikers of this decade have already proven.
Post his 33rd birthday, Karim Benzema scored 72 league goals for Real Madrid, while Robert Lewandowksi has so far scored 58 league goals for Bayern and Barcelona since turning 33.
Cristiano Ronaldo, prior to moving to Saudi Arabia, racked up 143 league goals for Real Madrid, Juventus, and Manchester United after the age of 33, while Lionel Messi hit 89 for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Ronaldo and Messi are in a league of their own, but nevertheless there is more than enough evidence that, for those at Kane’s level, being in your early-to-mid-thirties is no longer an impediment to winning Golden Boots.
Moments that will live forever 🤩 pic.twitter.com/gZulgm14aI— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 12, 2023
In other words, to those Premier League fans mourning the loss of one of its greatest-ever players: you might not have seen the last of him.
How do Spurs replace Kane?
That will be no comfort to Spurs supporters, of course.
Postecoglou made no secret of his desire to keep Kane at the club and must now hastily reconstruct his plans for the season ahead, which may include spending big on a new striker.
Spurs have been linked with many players, most eye-catchingly 21-year-old Genk striker Gift Orban, who has scored 32 goals in 39 matches since his first senior appearance in 2022. But it is unlikely that Spurs will suddenly splash the cash on attempts to find a ready-made replacement.
First of all, Kane is irreplaceable. His combination of traditional centre-forward play and creativity is unique in world football, and therefore Spurs will have to avoid the trap of trying to find like-for-like.
From the Academy to our all-time record goalscorer 🤍 pic.twitter.com/gLgl4DK24r— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 12, 2023
Daniel Levy may also be wary of making the same mistakes as Spurs did in 2013, when the £85million accrued from the sale of Gareth Bale was spent on Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Erik Lamela, and Christian Eriksen.
In a sense, they have already done something similar. Back in 2013, the money was spent in advance of the Bale transfer, which only went through at the beginning of September, and it is notable this summer that Spurs have spent around £165million, their biggest ever single window outlay.
But they have not bought a striker to replace Kane – and perhaps they won’t.
Spurs are still on the up
After Richarlison's hat-trick in a friendly match against Lion City Sailors in July, Postecoglou praised the £60million signing, saying he has “got all of the attributes I look for in a striker”.
Richarlison is almost the forgotten man at Spurs. A disappointing first season, in which the Brazilian made 12 Premier League starts and scored only once, can be blamed primarily on Spurs' general malaise and the frequency with which he was pushed out wide.
With Kane gone, Richarlison can play in his favoured No 9 role, where he has scored 20 goals from 44 caps for Brazil.
Kane’s creativity is harder to replace, although James Maddison – who amassed 10 goals and nine assists for relegated Leicester City last season – was probably signed with Kane’s departure in mind, and Maddison should be able to fill the void.
There is no doubt Kane is a big loss, but with three weeks of the transfer window left and a significant amount of money to help with the rebuild, it is possible Postecoglou will come to see the sale as a blessing in disguise.
At the very least, it is good news that the saga is over and Postecoglou does not have a potential transfer disruption lurking in the background during his first season.
With Kane departed, Postecoglou’s rebuilding project is truly a fresh start for the club. It hurts now, but in the long run this might be the clean break everybody needed.
And, who knows, if the Postecolgou era catches fire, maybe a few years from now Kane will come home.