Can Harry Kane Still Be The Final Piece Of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City Jigsaw?
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on February 13, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

"When I see De Bruyne play, he's a special, special player. Some of the balls I have seen him put in for City are a striker's dream, if I am honest. He's an outstanding player, you see him every year, with the ball, off the ball, pressing. But his delivery is as good as I have ever seen."

Harry Kane, speaking to Gary Neville in an interview for The Overlap in 2021

Manchester City and Harry Kane. A duo that could have helped built a cheat code of a side that would rule over England over the years to come. 

A decade ago, it would have been difficult to imagine a team, who saw their greatest-ever goalscorer in Sergio Aguero depart the club at the end of a league-winning season, again take the league by storm the following campaign without a natural striker in their ranks.

This is just not a routine City side, though.

A Ship That Has Sailed?

Manchester City under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola since 2017 have been a force that has truly never been witnessed in the Premier League.

Despite the absence of an out-and-out striker in the current first-team squad, the Sky Blues will enter their league meeting with Antonio Conte's men on Saturday evening nine points clear at the top of the tree.

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The question remains, however: Following their January acquisition of Julian Alvarez from River Plate, is it worth going back for Kane in the summer or is that a ship that has now well and truly sailed for Guardiola and City?

Who needs the other more? Kane, 28, is no closer to competing for major trophies than he was 12 months ago, when he publicly expressed his desire to leave Tottenham to challenge for major trophies.

Clinical Edge

City, on the other hand, are cruise control of the Premier League title race and have one foot in the Champions League quarter-final after a mesmerising attacking display against Sporting Lisbon in midweek.

Though this is down to a series of factors working against him, Kane has scored just five times in the Premier League since August, whilst  City are the joint-leading scorers with 61 goals to their name ahead of their tie against Tottenham.

However, there is a case to be made for Kane and a potential switch to the Etihad Stadium in the summer as despite the ridiculous talent boasted by Guardiola's side in attack. 

It is something Guardiola knows as well, that though his side have made a mockery of calls for the club to sign a striker to stand a chance of retaining their league crown this season, there will always be a time when City need Harry Kane.

Against Southampton and Crystal Palace at home this season, City lacked everything but a finishing touch. Someone in the box to sense where the ball will drop to pounce and find the back of the net.

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At the Parc des Princes in the Champions League and St. Mary's in January, City did everything right but did not come away with three points on either occasion quite simply down to one reason - they could not score.

It is something City have missed since the beginning of Sergio Aguero's injury problems last season. A false-nine system can be very effective in breaking teams down, but the presence of a striker down the middle is almost invaluable to any team.

Enter Harry Kane, this summer finally?

The England captain is of the most clinical, ruthless finishers the Premier League has seen over the past decade, and he would not only get into the City starting XI, he would thrive and improve those around him.

His presence in the box, ability to drop deep and link up play and experience in the Premier League make him the perfect fit for Guardiola's side. Too little, too late, unfortunately.

The problems? Firstly, his contract. Kane's current deal at Tottenham runs until the summer of 2024, which means Spurs chief Daniel Levy is unlikely to lower his asking price for the striker by much if City do strengthen their interest in the World Cup Golden Boot winner in the coming months.

Moreover, it is doubtful if City would be willing to break the bank and surpass the £100 million fee they paid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish for a player who turns 29 in July, especially given how well they've coped so far without a centre-forward.

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Julian Alvarez will provide a different option across the frontline when he does head to Manchester, though reports have suggested that City still intend to sign a striker this summer and finally fill the void left by Aguero's departure.

Kane's injury record over the years will also factor into a decision for the Etihad hierarchy, who have been pursuing a move for 21-year-old Erling Haaland - who is expected to leave Borussia Dortmund when his £64 million release clause becomes active in the summer.

While there is a long way to go in the race for Haaland's signature, City would be missing the perfect opportunity to dominate world football in the years to follow if they rekindle their desire to land Kane instead of splashing the cash on the Norwegian sensation.

It is not like City to get involved in bidding wars, and though any deal for Haaland would ideally depend on Pep Guardiola's future at the Etihad Stadium past 2023, it could prove to be one of the most crucial deals made by the City hierarchy should they manage to secure the arrival of the Leeds-born attacker in the summer.

Too little, too late for Kane to City. Bring Haaland to Manchester, convince Guardiola to build a winning dynasty at the club and City will rule the world in the years to come.

 

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