Harry Kane may cast envious eye at Romelu Lukaku in battle of the hotshots

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 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

There is a strong argument to say the biggest winners from the Harry Kane transfer saga this summer were Chelsea.

In truth, any team with ambitions of dethroning Premier League champions Manchester City benefited from their failure to add the country’s deadliest striker to a squad that was streets ahead of everyone else last season. But no one looks better placed to take their crown than Chelsea, who did succeed in adding a world-class goal-scorer to their ranks in Romelu Lukaku.

So while Tottenham celebrated resisting Pep Guardiola’s attempts to lure Kane to the Etihad, they unwittingly did their West London rivals a huge favour in the process.

Chelsea, like Manchester United and Liverpool, may well think Kane remaining at Spurs is the best outcome all round. Other than recruiting him themselves, that is.

The England captain can continue to plunder goals at an industrious rate without doing too much damage to their own ambitions, given how far off the pace Tottenham have fallen.

Put him in the City team, however, and Guardiola’s side may have been untouchable.

Chelsea had their own designs on Kane — as well as Erling Haaland — but were agile enough to switch their attentions to Lukaku when their other options proved out of reach. That was how vital they considered a new No9 to be, even after winning the Champions League without one to Thomas Tuchel’s liking.

City, meanwhile, desperately misread Daniel Levy’s resolve to keep hold of Kane and the player’s ability to push through the move he craved. While they stood still, Chelsea pivoted and that may just be the difference in this season’s title race.

And what of Kane’s part in all of this? He could be forgiven for casting envious glances in the direction of Lukaku when Spurs host Chelsea on Sunday.

Having set his heart on a move that he believed would see him regularly challenge for the biggest prizes, he was instead playing in the Europa Conference League last night.

Last Saturday he failed to have a single shot or touch in the opposition box in defeat to Crystal Palace.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Compare that with Lukaku, who has four goals in as many appearances for Chelsea since his £97.5million move from Inter Milan and on Tuesday got their Champions League defence off to a flying start with the winner against Zenit St Petersburg.

Lukaku’s goals will make Chelsea challengers for everything this season. Kane must be wondering whether his ambitions will be limited to personal accolades having missed out on City.

Sunday has the potential to be a brutal reminder to him of just how far off Tottenham are.

Given the early stage of the season it is actually just a point that separates the rivals going into the game. Victory for Spurs would see them leapfrog Chelsea, but these feel like two teams on very different trajectories.

Tuchel’s side are built to win right now. The addition of Lukaku has provided the cutting edge they lacked and it is hard to identify a weakness in Chelsea’s make-up.

Nuno Espirito Santo, meanwhile, is embarking on a rebuild and banking on Kane to provide some sort of momentum in the meantime.

It is safe to say this is not what Kane had planned. He has watched Spurs go from the Champions League Final to the (European) Conference.

 (AP)
(AP)

He could have been to City what Lukaku is to Chelsea. The perfect fit to the glaring hole in their attack. If they could score five or more goals in three of their past four games without him, just imagine how deadly they would be with Kane leading the line.

That thought must be eating away at him inside — and how he handles the disappointment of failing to secure his exit will be critical to Spurs’s ambitions.

The visit of Chelsea is the perfect occasion for Kane to produce one of his statement performances — and the threat posed by the home side was no better demonstrated than in victory against City in their opening game of the season when Kane was not involved.

That was the first of three straight wins to start the campaign — yet last week’s 3-0 defeat by Palace felt more instructive as to where Spurs are in their evolution.

Chelsea will be coming to consolidate their position as joint leaders of the table, or even move clear at the top if other results go their way.

Even a Spurs win would not dampen the expectation at Stamford Bridge that this season will bring a first title in five years. So even if Kane does manage to bloody the nose of one of the big boys, it is not the vision of the future he would have drawn up in his mind’s eye.

Lukaku, on the other hand, is living out his dreams. And possibly Kane’s too.

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