During his time at Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Kane has turned himself into one of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers – 148 goals before the age of 28 tells its own story. This is a man who has been remarkably consistent in being the main source of goals for his side. Yet another thought remained – how can Kane improve? How can he go up a level, not just as a goalscorer, but as an attacker in general?
The answer has become clear this season. Under manager Jose Mourinho, Kane has been deployed in a role that is not unfamiliar to him but one that has not given him the reputation that he has today. The England captain is sitting deeper, with Mourinho keen to utilise his other skillsets in addition to his lethal goalscoring ability.
Harry Kane is Thriving in Dual Role Under Jose Mourinho
Kane the New Creator
The move is already paying off. Kane has filled the role left by previous chief creator Christian Eriksen, providing seven assists in the Premier League this season – three more than the next best (4), over double the tally of anyone thereafter and his joint-best season in this metric already. He also ranks top for big chances created, outshining the league’s leading creative midfielders.
Two games particularly emphasise how well Kane is adapting to the role. The first of which, the 5-2 win at Southampton last month, saw the 27-year old provide four assists for Son Heung-min, who exploited the freedom to run in behind as a result of his teammate dropping deeper.
The other was Spurs’ recent 3-3 home draw with West Ham. The home side collapsed towards the end, conceding three goals in the last ten minutes, but Kane was outstanding, scoring twice and notching another assist for Son with a superb flighted ball over the top from a deep position inside his own half.
On Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Jamie Carragher was quick to praise the Englishman, saying: “He’s a lovely player who can switch play and hold the ball up, I think [against Southampton], we saw a glimpse of what Harry Kane will become – maybe even this season. I look at Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool when he was a centre-forward and then dropped back when Ian Rush came in. I look at Wayne Rooney, who played both roles equally well. That could be something we see going forward with Kane and I think it’s a mouth-watering prospect for Tottenham.”
Positive Influence on Others
Kane’s new role is also having a more positive effect on Son. While the captain is maintaining his goalscoring exploits, Son has been able to be operable in narrower positions further up the pitch, as opposed to a wide birth where he received the ball in deeper areas. As a result, the South Korean has already scored seven times in the Premier League this season and is averaging more goals per game (1.67) than in 2019/20 (0.4), by quite a distance.
While more is expected of Son, the more established Premier League player, similar success could be on the horizon for fellow wide forwards, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn, as well as new striker Carlos Vinicius, who, Mourinho believes, can also benefit from Kane.
What is even more impressive about Kane’s performances in the No. 10 role is that his prolific goalscoring has not waned. In fact, he is having more freedom in attack. In addition to his five goals, Kane is averaging 4.8 shots, 2.5 efforts on target and 5.6 touches in the opposition box per game in the Premier League this season, according to WhoScored.com. This is a stark comparison to 2.8, 1.3, and 4.4 respectively in these metrics in 2019/20. The combination with his improving creative statistics is proving lethal.
“I don’t see Kane as more creator than goalscorer now, because what he does will depend on what is happening in each game,” said BBC Sport’s Danny Murphy. “We know he can manipulate play from deep but sometimes he will be up there holding the ball up, and he can also get in the box and get on the end of headers.
“Rather than consciously thinking that he needs to do more of one thing – like making chances, for example – I just think he is getting better and better at all of those different parts of his game as he matures, and also at knowing how he can manipulate the game best.”
Although Tottenham’s form remains inconsistent, Mourinho seems to have found a more effective way of maximising Kane’s ability.
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