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TROPHY HUNT

Harry Kane’s move to Bayern might finally put silverware within his grasp

Harry Kane’s move to Bayern might finally put silverware within his grasp
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane in action during an English Premier League match against Swansea City in London on 28 February 2016. Spurs won 2-1. (Photo: EPA / Hannah McKay)

Harry Kane has toppled records, but scoring goals has not led to any silverware. With his move to Germany, this may change.

Over the years, the game of soccer has produced a plethora of prolific poachers, players such as Hungarian Ferenc Puskás, Germany’s Gerd Müller and Dutchman Marco van Basten. 

Who can forget Alan Shearer, who tore up the English Premier League in the 1990s. More recently, there has been Brazilian Ronaldo Luís Nazário, Frenchman Thierry Henry, former Liverpool and Barcelona striker Luis Suárez, Real Madrid punisher Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowksi, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Harry Kane.

What Kane lacks from the rest, though, is that they have the silverware to back up any claim anyone might make on their behalf to say they are the greatest in their position.  

For all his record-breaking feats, Kane has yet to win a major trophy. The Englishman spent just under two decades at Tottenham Hotspur.

During that time, his goals – as many as they were – were not enough to end Spurs’ lengthy silverware drought, which dates to 2008.

That year, Spurs clinched the Carabao Cup after beating Chelsea 2-1. Kane was still a youth player at the time, putting the world on notice of his future goal-scoring exploits.

Harry Kane

Harry Kane of FC Bayern Munchen runs with the ball during a Bundesliga match against FC Heidenheim 1846 at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, on 11 November 2023. (Photo: Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images)

In pursuit of greener pastures

Since Kane’s ascension to the English club’s marquee player a decade ago, however, trophies have been elusive. This in spite of proven winners such as Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte each holding the managerial reins at one point, and despite Kane averaging more than 15 goals every season since 2014/15.

So, as much as the lanky and lethal finisher loved his boyhood club, he knew that if he wanted to truly cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats, he had to leave London.

When Bayern came calling during the most recent transfer window, with a Bundes­liga record fee of €100-million (about R1.9-billion), the 30-year-old grabbed the opportunity to add some silverware to his individual goal-scoring exploits.

Read more in Daily Maverick: The success of Harry Kane is a striking example of mindset over matter

“Bayern is one of the biggest clubs in the world. And I’ve always said that I want to compete and prove myself at the highest level during my career. This club is defined by its winning mentality – it feels very good to be here,” Kane said upon signing on the dotted line in August.

One of his accomplishments includes second place on the Premier League’s all-time scorers list. Kane managed 213 goals in 320 appearances in England’s top flight. Had he remained at Spurs he might have surpassed Shearer’s record of 260 goals in 441 games. He chose trophies instead.

He is also England’s all-time top scorer, with more than 60 goals to his name. But even at international level, cups have been elusive. In 2021, England came close to winning the Covid-delayed 2020 European Championships, but were edged 3-2 on penalties by Italy, inflicting more pain on Kane.

Bayern have won the Bundesliga for 11 seasons in a row. They won it last season without a proven poacher after Lewandowski’s departure for Barcelona.

With Kane spearheading the attack this season, it’s difficult to see them not making it 12 on the trot, even though they are currently two points behind Bayer Leverkusen, leading the pack with 31 points after 11 games. In the Uefa Champions League, Bayern are perennially counted among the favourites to win the trophy. This season is no different. Kane’s presence just further boosts their odds.

Following other countrymen

Kane is not the first Englishman to play in the German top flight. In recent seasons, youngsters such as Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho lit up the Bundesliga in the colours of Borussia Dortmund before moving to other leagues. For 10 years, Owen Hargreaves was a mainstay in the heart of Munich’s midfield as the Englishman made more than 140 appearances.

There’s always a lot that goes into the transfer, on and off the field. So… there’s al­ways a bit more pressure and expectation.

The first player from England to make the move to Germany was former Liverpool forward Kevin Keegan. The Ballon d’Or winner donned the colours of Hamburg between 1977 and 1980, scoring 32 goals in 90 appearances for the club.

Kane, already on 21 goals from 16 games in all competitions, is on course to blow away Keegan’s scoring feat in Germany. In spite of being seen as one of the few remaining traditional N0 9s in the game, Kane also has seven assists to his name this season, further demonstrating just how well rounded he is as a footballer. His 17 league goals to date, scored after 11 matches, are the most anyone has had to date at this point of a Bundesliga season.

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Bayern’s former talisman, Lewandowski, was the holder of the previous record, with 16 after 11 games.

With his 17 Bundesliga goals, Kane has already overtaken last season’s top scorers after just 11 matchdays. Last season, Niclas Füllkrug and Christopher Nkunku shared the top scorer’s gong with 16 strikes apiece. “Absolutely fantastic,” said Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen on Kane’s start to life in Germany.

Harry Kane

Harry Kane celebrates after scoring the 1-0 goal for England against North Macedonia in a Uefa Euro 2024 qualification match in Manchester, Britain, on 19 June 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Adam Vaughan)

Kane said: “There’s always a lot that goes into the transfer, on and off the field. So… there’s al­ways a bit more pressure and expectation. But I’ve been delighted with the start.”

There were doubts about whether Kane would be able to maintain his brilliance in Germany. English players are not known for being particularly adventurous and leaving home. When they do, it sometimes ends in underwhelming fashion. Think of Michael Owen’s stint at Real Madrid, which he left after one season despite scoring 13 goals in 20 appearances.

Having already broken one of Lewandowksi’s records, Kane is on course to obliterate another come the end of the season. Bayern legend Müller was the benchmark for almost 50 years after netting 40 league goals during the 1971/72 season. Many great scorers tried and failed to topple his impressive haul.

Lewandowski finally broke Müller’s record when he scored his 41st goal of the season in 2020/21.

However, considering Kane’s flying start to the season, Lewandowksi’s benchmark haul might not stand as long as Müller’s did.

Of course, with complications such as injuries and dips in form a reality, there are no guarantees Kane will maintain his current form throughout the season.

If he does, he may even dance close to the 50-goal mark, which will add further glitter to his career.

Whether he breaks the record or not will have little impact on his legacy as a prolific poacher. What he needs are trophies. At Bayern, he is in the right place to win his first piece of silverware. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

Page 1. Front page DM168. 18 November 2023

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