Logic and football rarely go hand in hand.
The 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar, Stuart Pearce couldn’t motivate a Nottingham Forest squad and Greece won the 2004 European Championships. It’s a crazy business.
But occasionally in life, the jigsaw pieces come together, a picture appears and it all makes sense.
For me, this happened when I realised Harry Kane will transfer to Manchester United.
Like any other team in world football, the Old Trafford club can be subjected to negative accusations, including their enormous debt, overspending and monopolizing players. But one of their strong beliefs remains in promoting home-grown footballers and building a team around a British core.
The famous Busby Babes from the ‘50s begun the model before the renowned Class of ’92 and the likes of Beckham, Scholes and the Neville brothers. Manchester United’s traditional values remain to the present day and despite the last of the triumphant ’92 boys, Ryan Giggs, hanging up his boots at the end of the 2013/14 season, the club directors are eager to maintain the standard.
United have snapped up defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in recent years, with both centre-backs fast-tracked into the first team before advancing to the senior national team under Roy Hodgson.
Following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement two seasons ago, United have been forced to undergo a serious transition. The disastrous David Moyes campaign, in which the club finished outside the European qualification places for the first time in the history of the Premier League, had a knock-on affect.
Incoming boss Louis Van Gaal was tasked with returning the Red Devils to the promise-land of the Champions League and challenging for the domestic title. To do so, the Dutchman assessed that the squad required real investment, mainly from abroad.
Money was spent on Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera, Angel Di Maria and others, whilst youth-team graduate Danny Welbeck was sold and the only Englishman brought in was Luke Shaw.
But things have changed. They say a week is a long time in football, and Van Gaal has had 12 months to watch the emergence of Tottenham Hotspur youngster Harry Kane.
The 21-year-old, who made his full England debut against Italy in March, has scored an astonishing 29 goals in 43 games this season in all competitions and is widely expected to lift the Young Player of the Year award at the end of the season.
Radamel Falcao’s ludicrously priced loan deal from Monaco has ultimately been unsuccessful, with the Colombian netting on just four occasions and the 29-year-old will return to his parent club at the end of the season. Meanwhile, the hero of the 2012/13 campaign, Robin Van Persie, has aged considerably in recent years and has increasingly struggled with injuries.
With club captain Wayne Rooney dropping deeper into midfield and only rookie James Wilson as back-up, United will be on the lookout for a prolific, commanding, confident, high-profile signing who the fans can relate to. Who better than England’s new number nine?
The Manchester club has experienced a similar situation in the past under former boss Alex Ferguson. The Scottish boss twice missed out on Alan Shearer, in 1992 and in 1996, before Shearer moved to Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United respectively.
The Gosforth-born striker went on to become the all-time Premier League goal scorer, winning 63 caps for England before retiring in 2006.
United cannot make the same mistake again and with Ferguson still a commanding voice in the boardroom, Van Gaal will be urged by the former team leader to make Kane a number one transfer target.
In fact, Tottenham youth team coach Clive Allen has backed Kane to eclipse Shearer’s Premier League record of 260 goals, insisting:
“I have no doubt Harry has his eye on it and he is being compared to players like Alan Shearer at the moment. He is the best goal scorer the Premier League has ever seen and his record is there to be shot at. ‘Why not have a go at it?’ – that’s what I’d say to him”.
One stumbling block in this fantasy-move would be Spurs’ reluctance to allow their prize asset to leave the club.
A move this summer looks unlikely – United have other British targets to look at – but a transfer in 2016 can be foreseen.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will be readying himself to brush off incoming bids (Real Madrid have reportedly scouted the forward on more than one occasion) and the inevitable interest will surely have already begun.
And he’s certainly got good reason to drive a hard bargain. English players traditionally move between PL clubs at a premium, Kane is now a fully-fledged England international, he’s still only 21-years-old and he has the power to completely alter games with his goals.
Levy will also be able to point to Luis Suarez’s transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona last summer as a reference to any potential fee. The Uruguayan was the team’s most important player and his departure from the club had a substantial affect at Anfield, both on and off the field.
It may seem premature and the vast majority of transfer talk is gossip, hearsay or simply untrue. Clubs buy the wrong players and make bad decisions in the transfer market every season but on this occasion, it feels different.
Kane to United could transform the club and their fortunes on the pitch. For me it is almost certainly when, rather than if.