Wow. Bayern Munich have done something incredible. They have made Daniel Levy an offer that was too good to turn down. After having a bid accepted for Harry Kane on Thursday, it appears that Spurs’ all-time highest goalscorer and arguably the greatest player the club has ever had has decided to take the plunge and move to the Bundesliga champions.
Kane has decided to leave the Premier League – and with it, much of his hopes of hunting down Alan Shearer’s goal record – for a Bundesliga title every season and a genuine chance of winning the UEFA Champions League.
So, what does the move mean for all involved? How will Spurs adjust to life after Kane? What does it mean for Shearer’s Premier League goals record? What can Kane achieve in Germany? Here, we try to answer those very questions.
How Will Spurs Cope Without Kane?
Life without Kane will feel immensely daunting for many Spurs fans. He is arguably their greatest ever player, a youth product who broke through late but quickly became the deadliest striker in the Premier League and one of the best ever. Losing him will be a catastrophe on many levels, even if they are reportedly going to receive more than €100 million for him (history tells us that Tottenham aren’t the best when it comes to spending big money to replace an important departing player).
Kane scored 30 goals last season for a team that ended up finishing eighth. It was a truly remarkable showing in a side that played some terrible football; he became the first player to score more than 25 goals for a team that finished as low as eighth in the table. Pep Guardiola once called Spurs “the Harry Kane team” and that statement has never rung so true.
Kane scored a higher proportion of his team’s goals last season than any other player in the Premier League (42.9%). He started every one of their 38 games, played more minutes (3,408) than any other teammate and was integral to just about everything they did.
But life moves on, and if Kane goes, Tottenham are going to have to adapt, and fast.
The good news for Spurs is that they are learning a very new way of playing under Ange Postecoglou, in a very different system. They would have had to do that with or without Kane, and Postecoglou will have wanted the team to be less reliant on Kane even if he had decided to stay.
In the 3-4-3 shape that Spurs played in under Antonio Conte, with only two central midfielders, Kane dropping into midfield to receive helped create overloads in the middle of the pitch. Finding Kane’s feet often dragged a centre-back out of position and created space higher up the pitch for Son Heung-min to run into. They developed into a devastating combination, with their partnership the most deadly the Premier League has ever seen. Son and Kane have combined for a record 47 goals, which is 11 more than any other pair in the Premier League era (ahead of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba on 36).
But while Son has relied on Kane for much of his best service, he has also had some of his best days in Spurs colours when Kane was missing. The latter part of the run to the 2019 Champions League final came when Kane was injured. Son has previously stepped up in Kane’s absence (though it’s worth saying Kane has started 109 of Tottenham’s 114 Premier League games in the last three seasons, so it has been a little while since Son has needed to do so) and he could well do so again.
One big difference in how Postecoglou likes his team to play is in how he creates central overloads. The midfield three are joined by an inverted full-back to create a box of four. Although the striker is free to move around the pitch to get on the ball, Postecoglou largely wants his number nine to stay high up the pitch and provide a penalty-box presence.
Kane could obviously learn to do that – he did it to devastating effect in scoring four goals in last week’s 5-1 friendly win over Shakhtar Donetsk – but the point here is rather that this number-nine role might suit someone less technical like, say, Richarlison, more than the role Kane played under Conte.
Richarlison has never truly convinced as a number nine at club level, but Tite loves him and has enjoyed success with him as Brazil’s starting centre-forward, so at least Spurs don’t have to go out and spend the Kane money on a replacement straight away.
As well as Son, they will need greater goal output from midfield. Rodrigo Bentancur was Spurs’ top scorer aside from Son and Kane last season, with five Premier League goals, with Dele Alli the last midfielder to get more than five league goals for Spurs in a season, with his eight in 2019-20.
Postecoglou likes his number eights to break into the box (as an aside, peak Alli feels like he’d be perfect for this team) and provide added goal threat. So, when Bentancur returns from injury, he, James Maddison and Oliver Skipp will need to step up. Replacing Kane like-for-like is impossible; Spurs will need to become a better collective after his departure.
Is Kane Willing to Give Up on the Premier League Goal Record?
Kane wants to achieve great things and win trophies, so it’s understandable that he would consider leaving Spurs. There isn’t a great deal of hope that they can challenge for honours right now, anyway.
The one last hope for Spurs was that chasing down Alan Shearer as the all-time record goalscorer in the Premier League would mean so much to Kane that he chose to stay in England. It seems even that wasn’t enough for him, though.
Kane is on 213 Premier League goals, 47 behind Shearer, who holds the record with 260. Based on Kane’s goalscoring in recent seasons, he would have stood a decent chance of hunting Shearer down in two more seasons.
At 30, doesn’t have many years left at his peak, so it’s a big decision to give up the next two or three years of his career to chase trophies with Bayern? Doing so makes it very difficult indeed for him to overtake Shearer.
Kane could, however, still aim to return to the Premier League in 2025 or 2026 and spend his mid-to-late 30s back in England chasing down Shearer’s record, having gone to Germany and filled his trophy cabinet.
If he did this and returned after three years, he would be 33 on his return. Teddy Sheringham (60 goals) is the only player to have scored more than the 47 Premier League goals Kane needs to catch Shearer after turning 33, with no other player having managed more than 39 (Shearer and Jamie Vardy scored 39). Kane would be leaving himself a real challenge if he was to stay away for the next three years.
If he came back after two years, though, history suggests he’d have a much better chance of catching Shearer. Six players (Vardy, Sheringham, Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Ian Wright and Frank Lampard) all scored at least 48 goals after turning 32. Kane would surely back himself to follow in those players’ footsteps.
What Can Kane Achieve at Bayern?
Bayern Munich have won 11 Bundesliga titles in a row, so the expectation would be that Kane would guarantee himself a trophy a season in Germany. He would also be playing for a genuine contender to win the Champions League every season.
However, Borussia Dortmund pushed Bayern very close indeed last season and, according to our predictions, the Bundesliga is no foregone conclusion. Our supercomputer played out 2023-24 in each of the top five European leagues 10,000 times to find out what the most likely outcome was in each league, and it turned out that the Premier League was far more likely to be won by Manchester City than the Bundesliga was by Bayern.
After Kane’s dream of moving to City was dashed, his chances of winning the Premier League were very nearly ended, so who could blame him for moving to Bayern where he might actually win the title? He might even enjoy a more competitive title race than we’re likely to see in England (though him moving to Bayern would give them an even better chance of winning the title).
On a personal level, he will be expected to score a lot of goals. He’ll certainly have his eye on Uwe Seeler’s records for the most goals scored in a debut Bundesliga season (30) and fewest appearances to reach 30 Bundesliga goals (30). He set those records 60 years ago, back in 1963-64, so it is about time they were broken.
Even Erling Haaland failed to break them, taking 32 games to reach 30 goals, but you’d imagine Kane would back himself to beat both playing for Thomas Tuchel’s dominant Bayern side.
Robert Lewandowski’s record of 41 for the most goals scored in a Bundesliga season, set in 2020-21, would be another record that Kane would hope to challenge. That would be an immense achievement were he to do it but, again, the England striker will believe he can do it.
Many will see a move to Bayern as the “easy way out” for Kane; he’ll be sure of domestic trophies and will no longer have to drag a team of lesser beings up the Premier League table almost single-handedly. In some senses it is an easier option.
But there would be plenty to play for in Germany, and getting back into the Champions League right away would understandably be a priority for him. He is one of the best players on the planet and should be playing on the biggest stage every week, after all. On both a personal and a team level, the move makes a lot of sense for Kane.