There will be tears at Tottenham today.
Emotions will be stark. There will be anger, despair, confusion, devastation, exhaustion, perhaps even some relief that it’s over one way or the other, especially after yesterday, when waiting for Caesar’s thumb to turn will have felt like purgatory.
It will take days, weeks, months, maybe years for some to truly get over it. Seeing Harry Kane sporting the colours of another club will never be normalised.
There will be a palpable sense of shock, even grief, at one of their own choosing to play for someone else, but given the protracted summer of will-he-won’t-he negotiations, there won’t be surprise. To many, this day will have felt inevitable, which says more about Spurs than it does about Kane. He had outgrown them a long time ago and Spurs just never caught up.
He stayed for love, he listened to his heart for years. This summer he listened to his head and decided to join Bayern Munich: barring any unexpected late hitches, he will become their player in the coming hours.
The timing of it all, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s August 11, two days before Spurs kick off their Premier League campaign. Ange Postecoglou must be wondering what on earth he’s signed up to.
That is not particularly Kane’s fault given the jostling, jousting and posturing of those negotiating the deal, albeit he could have set his personal deadline for a couple of weeks earlier rather than the eve of the season.
No one can blame him for leaving. OK, Bayern are a step below the wholly palatable landing zones of Barcelona or Real Madrid for any player furthering their career ambitions and play at the very, very top level, but they’re a gigantic club, six-time European champions, a global footballing institution who will offer a stage fit for Kane’s mastery.
He’ll thrive there, he’ll win the first trophies of his career, who knows he may even win a Champions League. And he can still return to the Premier League down the line and have a crack at Alan Shearer’s record, career completed.
But what about Spurs? How do they move forward from here? How do you replace the irreplaceable? Well, you don’t. Not only will there never be another Harry Kane at Spurs, but it’s hard to imagine finding a player even of similar attributes and capabilities… and then you’ve got to ask him to move to a team that isn’t even playing in Europe. It won’t happen.
No player meant more to a team that Kane did last season – he scored 30 of Spurs’ 70 league goals, 43 per cent, the highest ratio of anyone in the Premier League. His winning and equalising goals earned Spurs 24 points. It was an extraordinary effort in a listless team. It was also Kane’s final straw.
If, on a personal level, he could enjoy the joint-best league season of his incredible career and the team still finished as low as eighth, then you cannot blame him for being disillusioned and wanting to try something new.
Postecoglou may be a gregarious and excellent coach who will serve up football that Kane would feast off, but the gap to the trophy winners like Manchester City is cavernous. Spurs might win an EFL Cup next season. But they probably won’t (it would certainly be ironic if they did now). Kane enjoyed a fun pre-season, but it was too late. Too many previous dawns have been false.
From Spurs and Daniel Levy’s point of view, removing all emotion from the equation, they took a safe bet on the money. They looked at the possibility of their most valuable asset leaving for nothing next summer and said no. They negotiated a bit and drove the price up to a level that could be stomached and shook hands.
Your average fan who doesn’t play Football Manager can’t relate to that. Football isn’t about money, it’s about glory, about emotion, about heroes. Some will say Kane was pushed out, his hand forced by the acceptance of a bid.
And so you have further discord between boardroom and terrace. They chanted vociferously for Levy to go last season. Then the matchday ticket prices went up (there will be protests about that next weekend). Now the player they adore, the player who’s almost felt more important or more cherished than the club itself in recent years has been sold.
Lose to Brentford this weekend and you can only imagine how that atmosphere could turn against Manchester United a week from now. Happy new season.
And then from a practical point of view, Spurs have 21 days to spend the Kane money, if they haven’t forked out a chunk of it already by pre-empting the sale and splashing up to £43million on Micky van de Ven.
They have Brazil’s No 9 to step up, but the most league goals Richarlison has ever managed in a single campaign is 13. What if Son Heung-min can’t rediscover his goalscoring levels of two years ago? What if goals become a problem for an attack-minded team who will leave yawning gaps at the back?
They may very well beat Brentford on Sunday, Richarlison may step up, they may sign another striker worthy of lacing Kane’s boots, there may be a recruitment masterplan ready to enact and you cannot help but be enthused by Postecoglou’s exuberant approach on and off the field. He’s trying something new and it looks genuinely thrilling, a perfect antidote to last year.
Or they may take years, no exaggeration, to recover. Kane’s goals, his determination, his creativity, his staunch will to win, his leadership from the front on so many levels dug Spurs out of so many holes.
But this is about more than some football results, or some replacements in the transfer market.
Last season Kane gave everything – and was given nothing. The fact that Spurs felt they couldn’t keep him, they felt there was no realistic possibility of him signing a new contract to stay with the club he loves and adores, feels pretty damning on themselves.
As is needing or desiring to take the offer of more than €100million that was accepted on Thursday instead of one more year at least. They paid almost that much for Tanguy Ndombele and Sergio Reguilon. Maybe it’s best not to think about it.
They nurtured Kane, they gave him his chance, he repaid them and gave so, so much, but then they could no longer keep up with the objectives and aspirations of one of their own. Their greatest.
His legacy to them is secured, it may never be surpassed, but theirs to him was never met.
(Top photo: Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)