Harry Kane has had a strange year. He finished 2017/18 with his highest Premier League goal tally, 30 from 37 appearances, won the World Cup’s Golden Boot over the summer, and even managed to start scoring in August when the new season began.
And yet the perception is of a down year, a jaded player struggling on for the sake of a Tottenham team that still don’t have an adequate alternative.
It’s perhaps an indication of the levels Kane has reached that such a contradiction can exist: he may have been prolific, he might have also averaged almost a goal a game in both the Champions League and the FA Cup, but it also might have been better.
Had Kane not suffered an ankle injury at Bournemouth in the spring (and been rushed back into Mauricio Pochettino’s side), then his game would likely not have developed the sluggish quality it has possessed ever since. In particular, who knows how far England might have gone in Russia 2018 had their captain not been running on fumes throughout the knockout stages?
But then, a legitimate measure of Kane’s success is also what he inspires in the teams he leads. England, of course, rode his goals in Russia, and Tottenham managed a third successive Champions League qualification. This season they are in the last 16 for the second year running.
At the time of writing, they’re very well placed to finish in the top four for the fourth season in a row, having managed their best-ever points tally at this stage of a Premier League season. Only two players, Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, have scored more league goals than Kane.
His instruction of that progress isn’t just linked to his goals either, because 2018 has brought great strides in his all-round play too: his long-range passing is a decisive facet of Spurs’ attacking game, while Gareth Southgate has derived great benefit from his maturing hold-up play.
Ultimately, the headlines are difficult to argue with. While Kane’s early career was littered with artificial asterisks and rather forced concerns about his ability to contribute at the very highest level, he has spent the last 12 months defeating those arguments.
How he has scored his goals is less important than the act itself; Kane remains as prolific as ever in the Premier League and in 2018 he extended that form magnificently.
A 10th-place finish in the Ballon d’Or voting confirmed what should already be obvious: Kane is a heavyweight of the game now, an apex predator in every competition he takes part.
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