Ange Postecoglou stopped short of giving a hard deadline, but he was clear in how keen he was for a swift resolution to the Harry Kane saga.
“I think, for everyone concerned, we don’t want to be doing it for too long,” he said. “I don’t think that is good for anyone. I don’t think it is good for Harry, I don’t think it is good for the club.”
That was coming up to two weeks ago, so one can imagine how the Tottenham head coach is feeling now, after a day in which Bayern Munich executives flew over for talks with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.
The two parties were still around £25million ($32m; €29.2m) apart in price and discussions are set to continue.
Postecoglou has been good at making light of the Kane situation, joking in press conferences about how quickly he’s been asked about an update on the England captain. But if most people associated with Spurs are finding it extremely tedious, what must Postecoglou be thinking?
He’s been in the game long enough to know these kinds of things are part of football, and as was pointed out to Postecoglou a couple of weeks ago he inherited a comparable situation with Odsonne Edouard at Celtic. But it’s impossible to shake off the feeling that Spurs are stuck in a state of stasis until they know what’s happening with Kane.
Tottenham begin their Premier League season a week on Sunday (August 13) away at Brentford. That was the deadline Postecoglou didn’t want to set, though as The Athletic has reported previously there is a sense within football that Spurs and Kane want a resolution by then. But even that could mean another week or so of incremental negotiations, of Spurs still not knowing whether they will have their talisman this season or whether they need to embark on the mother of all rebuilds.
And there are less than three weeks between the start of the season and the transfer window closing. Spurs have naturally been making contingency plans in case Kane does leave but, as we’ve seen with the club’s centre-back search, having plans and finalising deals are two very different things. Especially as, should Kane leave, then every selling club will know Spurs are both desperate for reinforcements and fresh from a massive cash injection.
That post-Kane process would not be easy whenever it happens, but it has to be preferable to the current position of not knowing. Everything is on hold until that is resolved. Tottenham’s interest in Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson, for instance — how can they possibly push on with that until they know if Kane is staying?
To be fair to Tottenham, there’s only so much they can do in this situation.
Unless Bayern offer what they deem to be satisfactory, they are not going to be moved. And that’s understandable — being bounced into a decision would be unpalatable in the short term, and have the longer-term effect of telling the rest of the market that Spurs can be pushed around when it comes to selling their best players. Generally the opposite has been true of Spurs, and as it stands, Bayern aren’t even close to offering what they want.
It’s just that what we’re seeing now is so deeply unsatisfactory for everyone involved, and there can’t be a situation where negotiations carry on until the end of the window. Even if continuing to negotiate means a slightly better fee for Kane, that has to be weighed up against the damaging effects of this dragging on.
Returning to Postecoglou, the new head coach has a lot of goodwill after an assured start to the job — mainly at this point because of how he’s carried himself and handled the difficulties thrown at him, such as the Kane situation and the lack of any new centre-backs. It feels so frustrating that he’s having to start life at Spurs with effectively one hand tied behind his back.
You hope the Tottenham hierarchy is aware of it, but every day that passes without the issue being resolved is another in which Postecoglou and the team don’t yet fully know the direction of travel.
One way or another, everyone at Spurs desperately needs that clarity.
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