Manchester City are closing in on the capture of Harry Kane, and the Tottenham Hotspur forward can be utilised in many different ways by Pep Guardiola.
With less than two weeks before the Premier League season gets underway, one of the biggest transfer saga in England this summer remains unresolved as Tottenham Hotspur continue to fight to keep hold of star player Harry Kane, amid interest from Manchester City.
However, the shackles are surely falling off as the Lilywhites slowly line up potential targets that can directly replace the English international. The speculations have been further fueled by Kane recently failing to report in time for team training at Tottenham ahead of the new season.
The action signals a statement of intent from the star forward, who is reportedly waiting for Man City to come up with an official bid. His current contract in north London expires in 2024, meaning his club are under no pressure to cash in.
The Citizens, meanwhile, are looking to finally add some reinforcements in the attacking department after losing Sergio Aguero to FC Barcelona earlier this summer on a Bosman transfer.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at three different ways Pep Guardiola can utilise the qualities of Harry Kane in the coming season in an attempt to help Manchester City retain their dominance in English football.
A direct replacement for Sergio Aguero
The best possible guess for anyone when it comes to integrating Kane into the Manchester City setup is the vacant number nine slot left behind by Aguero. The Argentine’s move to Barcelona has ushered in a change of an era for the successful English club as they look to reach new heights after securing four titles in three years.
And Kane, Guardiola may find, is an ideal target man to lead the club forward. At the age of 28, the English international is currently at the peak of his powers and has a stellar record in the Premier League, with 166 goals in 245 matches. He is, in fact, only 18 goals shy of overtaking Aguero’s record of 184 league goals.
It is quite realistic to expect him to beat the Argentine’s record in the coming season, and perhaps also fair to point out that he may receive even better service than he did at Tottenham, thus further increasing the striker’s chances of reaching the 30 goal barrier for only the second time in his career.
Kane could indeed thrive alongside Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, and perhaps even Jack Grealish, all of whom are his teammates in the England national team. Not to mention, Manchester City boast the services of the mercurial Kevin De Bruyne, with Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva adding more firepower in the creative department.
As such, it would make a world of sense to employ the 28-year-old as a direct replacement for Sergio Aguero in the upcoming campaign. He has the experience of working as an out and out number nine and should thrive alongside the world-class creative unit of Man City.
The Julian Nagelsmann method?
While any manager wants to employ Harry Kane in the lone attacking role, Pep Guardiola is not just any manager. In recent times, the Catalan has adopted a more flexible shape that echoes the tactical scheme of Julian Nagelsmann, especially during the 2020/21 campaign when his Leipzig operated without a centre forward at times.
The very essence of this is to eliminate the traditional notion of positional roles. Instead, the offensive players are usually given more situational roles by positioning themselves in an area that can be most advantageous to the team.
It is why players like Marcel Sabitzer or Tyler Adams were often seen switching between a defensive midfield and an attacking midfield role.
Kane can be accommodated in such a system that may still see him operate in a centre-forward position but with a greater degree of flexibility. It largely eliminates the effect of opposition marking, giving the Englishman more freedom to run around the final third, even drift out in a wider role, if necessary.
It should allow more open spaces for other attackers like De Bruyne, Sterling and Foden, whilst improving Manchester City’s first line of press. The system might be extremely effective when dealing with a top team, especially in the UEFA Champions League, where the club has often faltered, ever under Guardiola.
A potential rebirth of Gabriel Jesus?
The arrival of someone like Harry Kane would naturally entail danger for Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian has already had his difficulties getting regular game-time at Etihad, and things could take a turn for the worse after the signing of the Tottenham forward.
But on the flip side, Gabriel, considering his style of play, is best fitted to operate alongside Kane, should Guardiola opt for a two-man attacking setup. It is quite similar to the one Nagelsmann used during the 2019/20 campaign, drawing Timo Werner alongside a more robust Yussuf Poulsen, with the German eventually scoring 25 goals and earning a big-money move to Chelsea.
Most importantly, it is the system that worked best for Kane, who improved his overall game considerably under the leadership of Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese tactician, now coaching AS Roma, used him and Son Heung-Min in a typical 4-2-3-1 formation but with the emphasis of utilising the South Korean international as a runner.
Gabriel could be deployed in a similar role as he has the speed to get past the opposition lines. He can thus offer Kane the target to pick passes in behind the backline, ultimately helping Guardiola unleash the best out of the Englishman’s creative prowess that has significantly improved over the past 12 months.
In fact, Kane ended the 2020/21 campaign as Premier League’s top scorer and the leading assist maker. His ability to pick out long passes can be far more effective in a Manchester City camp that boasts productive attackers like Sterling, Gabriel and Foden.