31. Harry Kane
“One season wonder. Again, and again.” When Harry Kane tweeted this, he knew what he was responding to. The man whom many had tagged a “one-season wonder” had, yet again, scored 20+ goals in the English Premier League. It was the third time in a row. Perhaps more remarkable was the fact he had just won a second consecutive PL Golden Boot. He had beaten the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Alexis Sánchez, Sergio Agüero, Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku. This one probably meant more to him than the previous year’s.
The manner in which Harry Kane came from behind to finish top scorer was memorable. When he got injured in March, stuck level at the top on 19 goals with Romelu Lukaku, and the talk was about how his season was probably over, it certainly looked unlikely. With 3 games to go, Kane was three goals behind top scorer Lukaku. He ended the season four goals clear, thanks largely to the eight goals he scored in those final three games. 29 goals, 7 assists in 30 appearances, truly remarkable. As far as the Premier League is concerned, Harry Kane can no longer be questioned. His credentials are solid; he has made his case. The “one season wonder” tag has been banished forever.
So, what is it about Harry Kane that is so special? How has he scored 30+ goals in all competitions in 2 of 3 seasons?
Harry Kane’s most important quality is his positioning. He knows where and when to be. He does it so nonchalantly that you may not even notice. This makes up for his lack of pace. He’s always in and around the penalty area waiting for an opportunity to pounce. More often than not, he gets that opportunity and punishes opponents. Great positioning is so integral to his game and is the reason he has been able to score so many. If you watch most of his goals, you will notice how the ball always falls to him in dangerous areas. It’s no coincidence. It’s all down to his positioning and excellent reading of the game.
Another useful quality Harry Kane possesses is his technique. The manner in which he strikes the ball means he’s able to hit the target often. It also means that he hits it at a speed many goalkeepers cannot quickly react to. He had a 65% shot accuracy last season. For someone who took 38% of his shots from outside the 18-yard area, that is great accuracy. His lack of pace, mentioned earlier, isn’t too much of a problem because he strikes the ball as soon as he gets it. Quick one time shots, which are very likely to be on target, once he has a sniff of an opportunity means he doesn’t need to rely on pace to get rid of his marker.
More than anything, Harry Kane is relentless. He is always looking to score; a valuable trait for a striker. He is always buzzing in and around the penalty area looking for an opportunity to score, using his strength to good effect. His anticipation and movement are also very valuable as he is able to free himself in time to shoot and likely score.
All in all, in 2016/2017, Harry Kane finally put all doubts about him fading to rest as he became the fourth player in Premier League history to achieve 20 goals in three consecutive seasons, after Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy. However, his form in the Champions league left a lot to be desired. He wasn’t his usual influential self as he watched Spurs crash out in the group stage. As a result, question marks still hang over him and what he can do on the biggest stages outside the Premier League. He was abysmal during Euro 2016 and that happened again during Spurs’ short Champions League campaign.
Harry Kane is knocking on the door of world class status. Without translating his form to the biggest European competition where all the elite players are gathered, however, he will always be at a disadvantage when placed with them. He has all the qualities to finally break through and answer the questions which remain and still follow him about. 2017/2018 will prove to be very key.
By: Astorre Cerebronè, @Cerebrone