IAN LADYMAN: Fumbling with Harry Kane raid could cost Manchester City in title race

IAN LADYMAN: Tampering with the Harry Kane attack could cost Manchester City in the title race… Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions still lack firepower at No. 9

  • Harry Kane now stays at Tottenham amid Manchester City’s interest in him
  • In another blow to City, Pep Guardiola revealed he will be leaving City in 2023
  • Daniel Levy has managed to hold onto Kane amid a summer of speculation
  • City have limited options in a centre-forward when they defend their title


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When it was revealed on these pages in February that Tottenham would need around £150million to even consider selling Harry Kane, chairman Daniel Levy could hardly contain his irritation.

It wasn’t the public discussion about the price tag that annoyed him, but rather the mention in the story that Manchester City – or even United – would be one of the summer’s suitors.

“I’m not selling it to either of those two in any way,” he bellowed privately that day. ‘No chance.’

Harry Kane revealed on Wednesday that he will remain at Tottenham despite Man City's interest

Harry Kane revealed on Wednesday that he will remain at Tottenham despite Man City’s interest

Spurs owner Daniel Levy has managed to hold onto his star acquisition after a summer of rumours

Spurs owner Daniel Levy has managed to hold onto his star acquisition after a summer of rumours

Spurs owner Daniel Levy has managed to hold onto his star acquisition after a summer of rumours

Levy doesn’t really do poses. He tends to say things he means. So when he reacted that way all along, it was probably always an indication of how this whole saga was going to go.

City undoubtedly believed in one of football’s oldest truths this summer, which is that money will eventually speak.

But the Premier League champions’ negotiators are seemingly underestimating the depth of Levy’s stubbornness, his abiding determination that Tottenham will not be seen as some sort of feeder club.

Wednesday turned out to be an extraordinary day for City. Coach Pep Guardiola’s decision to leave the club once his current contract expires in June 2023 was known to them.

Pep Guardiola, who will leave City in 2023, now has very limited No 9 options at the Etihad

Pep Guardiola, who will leave City in 2023, now has very limited No 9 options at the Etihad

Pep Guardiola, who will leave City in 2023, now has very limited No 9 options at the Etihad

However, his decision to reveal the news in a Brazilian TV interview just a fortnight after the current campaign will have taken them completely by surprise. Replacing Guardiola will be a job in the long run.

More directly, City remain a club without a reliable goalscorer and that is something that could undo them in the next eight months or so.

Tottenham still have Kane, Liverpool have Mo Salah and others, Chelsea now have Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United have Edinson Cavani. City have a variety of false nines and memories of last season when they somehow managed to win the title with midfielder Ilkay Gundogan as the top scorer with 13 League goals.

City will undoubtedly be productive again this season. There is too much talent for Guardiola’s team to be barren. But in the early stages of a campaign that promises new challenges, they suddenly seem unprepared.

City's attackers are weaker this season compared to their Premier League rivals

City's attackers are weaker this season compared to their Premier League rivals

City’s attackers are weaker this season compared to their Premier League rivals

After all, there is a reason why City were willing to spend so much money on the best striker in the country. It was because Guardiola felt they needed him.

Kane will be hurt by all of this and it will be interesting to see how his relationship with his club plays out. He feels he has been denied what would have been the most important moment of his career and that frustration will only increase when he learns that Levy would have been willing to sell him to a foreign club.

For Levy, £150m in the bank to either spend on team strengthening or soften some of the blows of the Covid-19 pandemic would have been quite a deal for a 28-year-old who is no stranger to injuries. But to sell Kane to City and watch him push them to the title was not appetizing.

City has never made a proper written offer for Kane as far as Levy is concerned. He believes – erroneously it seems – the champions ran out of money when they invested £100 million in Jack Grealish.

City have never put in a well-written offer for Kane, suggesting they didn't have the £150million to get him

City have never put in a well-written offer for Kane, suggesting they didn't have the £150million to get him

City have never put in a well-written offer for Kane, suggesting they didn’t have the £150million to get him

Privately, he has destroyed City’s tactics and even those in Kane’s camp who he believes have leaked details about the player’s intentions. But this is how these sagas usually play out. There is usually a residual bad feeling, blood on the floor.

Levy and Tottenham will go on and on and on endlessly in an effort to prove they are equal to clubs that routinely win trophies. There is something to admire about their refusal to transition to City power in a way that, say, Arsenal have done in the past.

It’s harder for Kane to say how and where this will end. He will most likely get his move next summer. But to where? There is no guarantee it will be City. A lot changes in a year.

As for City, it seems odd that there is no Plan B. It would be slippery to call this a disaster, but it seems strange to think they wasted so much time on something that, by all accounts, was over before it really started.

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