Harry Kane’s goal at the Hawthorns on Sunday marked his 150th in the Premier League. At the age of 27, he’s the youngest player ever to reach that landmark.
And yet, there is a genuine argument that Harry Kane remains under-appreciated. Not only by fans generally, but even by Spurs fans who are by now used to his greatness.
Many theories have been put forth as to why this might be. Some, have pointed to the fact that in marketing terms Kane is as no-frills as it gets. Sporting a conservative haircut and showing disdain for any interests outside of football and golf, he’s hardly an ‘Instagram ready’ sports star.
Likewise, some turn to his on-field talents for an explanation. He’s never had a rapid turn of pace but is no slouch. He’s also never been one for jaw-dropping skills but can nutmeg or feint his way out of any situation.
For me, the answer is more counter-intuitive. Kane goes under the radar because he scores with such an efficiency that it can border on the banal. Even when not playing particularly well, as against West Brom, he is able to score at any moment. It might not always be pretty, but it’s like clockwork.
Maybe it’s because Tottenham fans know what he is capable of; that he is a player in perpetual evolution, always capable of finding a new gear to shift to or adding a string to his bow. Some in the media have referred to Kane’s new penchant for assists and goals as ‘Harry Kane 2.0’, any Spurs fan will tell you that this is more like the 3rd or 4th iteration of Kane.
First, there was a typical number 9. A Harry Kane with a fraction more pace who was hell-bent on scoring goals. Then, as Kane adjusted to an increasingly rupturing ankle, he became a 9.5, dropping deeper and aiding in building attacks, albeit still leaving the bulk of creative duties to Christian Eriksen.
Eriksen’s departure led to the Kane of today. Simultaneously Spurs’ hub of creativity and finishing. He plays both the role of a number 9 and 10 perfectly. It’s what has led to arguably the biggest media-appreciation of Kane since he first broke through, which is a nice change.
Sunday’s performance broke with this pattern. West Brom dropped too deep to allow Kane’s passing to flourish. Like a chameleon, he was back to that old number 9 role. Just the goal this time. It was a reminder that beneath the sprayed passes and nutmegs, that ruthless forward remains. It’s time we all celebrated him a little more.