The news that Harry Kane wants to leave Tottenham Hotspur came as something of a surprise.
The 27-year-old is England‘s first-choice striker and the star man at a club that consistently finishes in the top six of the Premier League and has played in the Champions League in four of the last five seasons, reaching the final in 2019.
At first glance, it’s hard to see where Kane can go from here, although the desire to win trophies is understandable.
For all his and the club’s consistency, three runners-up medals are all the Englishman has to show for his Tottenham career to date.
On the other hand, is being an icon at a major club and one of the national team’s most important players not enough?
Kane will turn 28 years old this summer, so there is a sense of now or never if he is to make a step up and join an elite club who can promise to truly challenge for a league title or the Champions League.
The trouble is, at his age, the striker doesn’t necessarily represent great value for any potentially interested parties, especially as he still has three years to run on his Spurs contract.
With the finances likely to involved, along with the player’s desire to challenge for trophies and preference to remain in England, the options are few and obvious.
Of course, for any of the super wealthy clubs looking for a forward, Kane might not be their first choice.
The dream transfer right now for any of Europe’s elite clubs – the English ones being no exception – would be either Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe.
Kane might come in cheaper than either of them, but probably not much, and given the ages of all three, the Englishman offers less long-term value and almost no potential to recoup the money at a later date.
Any club buying Kane, then, is going all in for short-term success, with the England captain realistically having one contract’s worth of top-level football left at his best.
Of the English clubs who could afford him, Manchester United appears to make the most sense for a number of reasons.
Tactically, Kane would fit in United’s system, taking the place of Edinson Cavani, whereas he is arguably not the type of striker that Liverpool or Manchester City play with, while Spurs would be loath to sell to city rivals Chelsea.
Cavani may be staying at United another year, but he is 34-years-old now and his minutes may need to be managed in any case, whether or not Kane arrives.
Kane would not only give them an instant replacement, but a first-choice striker for the next five years and possibly beyond.
It would also be a sign of ambition from Manchester United, who haven’t made a serious challenge for the Premier League title since they last won it in 2013 when Sir Alex Ferguson was still at the reins.
Signing the best English striker and one of the top players in the Premier League be a real statement of intent that next season they aim to go one better than this campaign’s second place finish.
Players like Harry Kane don’t come on the market often and one advantage that he presents for, say, Manchester United is that he knows the league inside out and shouldn’t take long to settle.
Time to settle is something Kane doesn’t really have, either, and that is why a move to a team with a good tactical fit also makes more sense from his perspective, than joining a side like City or Liverpool where his role might be different to what he is used to.
Kane is taking a gamble in wanting to leave Spurs, where he has it pretty good, and if he doesn’t win a major trophy within the next few years at his new club then it might start to look like he made the wrong call.
There’s no doubt that leaving now will forever alter the way he goes down in Tottenham’s history and it needs to be worth his while putting his legacy on the line.
That’s why Manchester United offer the safest bet and the best platform for success.
As this year’s runners-up the leap they need to make next season is smaller than those required for Liverpool or Chelsea, while Kane should be a good fit in their system.
The Red Devils have gone far too long, by their own standards, without challenging for the league title or making a decent run in the Champions League.
They seem to be on the up, however, and adding a player like Kane to their ranks could give them the push they need.
It would be a risk for both parties, but it might be the best bet for all concerned.