Tottenham 5-1 Newcastle: Has Harry Kane been given a dilemma by Antonio Conte’s side?

There were times this season when things looked bleak for Tottenham.

A prolonged and almost embarrassing managerial search in the summer saw Nuno Espirito Santo eventually appointed, but the former Wolves boss lasted just fourth months.

Star man Harry Kane wanted out too, with champions Manchester City keen to sign him, but the England skipper ended up staying.

There were suggestions he had downed tools at the north London club, seemingly disinterested and taking until mid-October to score his first Premier League goal of the campaign.

But after a rocky start under current manager Antonio Conte, the signs are looking much brighter for Tottenham – and Kane is now facing a dilemma about his future.

‘My team is improving in many aspects’

On 30 October, Tottenham were eighth in the table, two points adrift of a Champions League spot following a humiliating 3-0 home defeat by Manchester United.

It cost Espirito Santo his job, sacked just two days later.

Former Chelsea boss Conte was appointed as his replacement and the situation got worse as recently as 23 February, slipping seven points behind the top four following a poor 1-0 defeat by Burnley.

After that game, Conte suggested if he was the problem at the club he was “ready to go”, but the comment has acted as a galvanising effect for the side.

Spurs have since gone on a run of five wins and a loss in their last six games, including Sunday’s 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle , to propel them into a Champions League spot.

On Friday, Conte said his side would need a “miracle” to play in Europe’s elite club competition and, after beating the Magpies, he told BBC Sport: “This league is very difficult to try to be in the race for the Champions League. We want to stay there until the end.

“We have to try to continue to play this way with intensity and accuracy. My team is improving in many aspects.”

Spurs are above Arsenal on goal difference, but their north London rivals have two games in hand and the two sides meet in a crucial clash before the end of the season.

Conte added: “We know we have eight final games. Arsenal has a good advantage. We have to try to stay in the race and give our best, to make our fans happy.

“If we give everything, then we’ll see what we can reach.”

‘Kane is like the new Diego Maradona now’

Had Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy entered into negotiations with City in the summer, Kane could well have been challenging for the title rather than a top-four spot.

But Levy refused an exit and the England captain eventually said he was “100% focused on helping the team achieve success”.

Kane had a slow start to the season, scoring his first league goal on 17 October at Newcastle, and he then went on a run of just two goals in his next 11 club games.

Although he didn’t score against Newcastle on Sunday, Kane provided the cross for Matt Doherty’s goal and was named man of the match as Spurs stormed to success.

“They have got their mojo back,” said former Premier League footballer Clinton Morrison on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“A lot of people doubted Harry Kane when he didn’t get his move, but I didn’t because he is one of the best strikers in Europe, in the world.”

Former Tottenham winger David Ginola told Sky Sports: “Spurs are looking very confident. They are relying on their assets and the finishing up front is amazing.

“The new playmaker at Spurs is Harry Kane. He is like the new Diego Maradona now – long passes, short passes, he has it all.”

Harry Kane

Kane’s return to form has seen him score eight goals and provide five assists in the league in 2022 – his 13 goal involvements more than any other top-flight player.

Conte said: “He played an amazing game. He made passes and assists, he has to continue this way.

“We are talking about a talented player. Many times players with great talent do not want to work hard. Not that they want to work less, but sometimes they can be lazy.

“He was an example from the first day I arrived here. We’re talking about a world-class striker. He’s enjoying playing in this way.”

Ex-Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe added on Sky Sports: “He’s a complete footballer. A few months ago I was not worried about Harry because I knew things would change.

“When you have someone like Harry Kane chasing down records, every game he wants to score.”

‘Does he stay or go?’

During the international break, Kane moved joint-second on England’s list of highest goalscorers – just four short of equalling Wayne Rooney’s record of 53.

His 178 Premier League goals puts him fifth on that all-time list as he looks to close in on Alan Shearer’s record of 260.

However, Kane’s individual accolades are not matched by his trophy cabinet as the 28-year-old is yet to lift any silverware.

The closest he came was losing in the 2019 Champions League final and twice a runner-up in the EFL Cup final, as well as at the European Championship with England last summer.

“We don’t know what Harry and the football club have agreed,” said Graeme Souness on Sky Sports. “Harry will have a real dilemma. They have a proper coach and they will be a real strength.

“He has won nothing yet. It’s OK having records but you want to show your grandkid your medals. The dilemma is does he stay or go.

“If I was Conte my first thing would be ‘for me to stay, Harry Kane has to stay’.

“Not the signings he will be getting – it has to be all about Kane. It puts Levy and the board under huge pressure. They have to keep the manager and the player.

“If Erling Haaland is going to Man City, who else could afford Kane?”

Frenchman Ginola, who won the League Cup in 1999 during a three-year spell at Spurs, added: “If Spurs rely so much on Harry Kane, they need to sign him for a few more years. It is a crucial question for Spurs because they can’t replace him.

“Kane has the choice to go anywhere. I think about my age, what do I want to be remembered for? He wants to win trophies.

“For a player of his calibre, just to be in the top four, it’s not enough.”

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