Bayern Munich an enticing option for Harry Kane but it can be a double-edged sword
Of all the teams in the top five leagues in Europe last season, Bayern Munich averaged the highest number of shots at goal per game. No other side recorded more than their 18.
Only Manchester City exceeded Bayern’s 92 league goals across the campaign, and because the Premier League is a 20-team competition, and the Bundesliga only 18-strong, Bayern’s 92 goals in 34 outings means they averaged more potency, overall than City, on 94 goals from 38 matches.
Dig down into the statistics and the data analysts at whoscored.com would also inform you that Bayern, with their fleet of wingers, and sprinting crossers from full-back, collectively outdribbled all their elite-division peers, including the Real Madrid of tearaway Vinicius Junior.
There’s more from the 2022-23 statsbank. All those Bayern crosses, when aimed high, could count on reliable targets: they had the best ratio for winning aerial duels of all the clubs across the Bundesliga, Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Liga and French Ligue 1.
Yet this was all clocked up in what, by Bayern’s standards, was a poor, nervous and inconsistent season, where they won the German title – for the 11th time in succession – by an uncharacteristically small margin, and only because, with the taut duel against Borussia Dortmund decided on the last afternoon, Dortmund could only draw, gifting Bayern the crown on goal difference.
Bayern had already sacked head coach Julian Nagelsmann in March. Within minutes of the final whistle being blown on match day 34, they announced the departures of chief executive Oliver Kahn and sports director Hasan Salihamidzic.
All of this weighs on Harry Kane, perhaps the most accomplished all-round centre-forward still active in European football, as Bayern make it ever more clear how much they would like the England captain to be the focus of their attack from the start of the coming season, and to give them fresh leadership.
The lure for Kane, who turns 30 this month, is huge. He is a studious footballer and in his mind’s eye sees the angles, the combinations and the likely success that a clever central striker like him would enjoy with Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry making runs either side of him, from the overlaps created and exploited by the speed of Alphonso Davies, from the spaces expertly conjured up by Thomas Muller’s savvy movement, from the chances made by the precise delivery of Joshua Kimmich.
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“Harry Kane would fit in very well with us,” said Jamal Musiala, the Bayern and Germany attacking midfielder, speaking this week at an awards ceremony where he was honoured for providing more assists last season for Bayern goals than even Muller, Gnabry, Kimmich, Sane, Coman and Davies.
Musiala’s remark followed up on the enthusiasm communicated, privately, to Kane by Thomas Tuchel, Nagelsmann’s successor, and on the back of the series of bids, the latest of over €80 million plus add-ons, by Bayern to Tottenham Hotspur, where Kane has been on the staff throughout his senior career and where he has one year left on his current contract. The offers have so far been rejected by Spurs, who anticipate Bayern increasing their bid to closer to €100 million.
Kane’s loyalty to Spurs, severely tested two summers ago when Manchester City sought to tempt him away, is finite, and Tottenham’s negotiating position with their figurehead player is far more compromised now than then.
He could leave them for free next summer unless they sign him up to a new deal; Spurs cannot offer Champions League football next season; the long wait for any sort of silverware at the club is stretching into a 16th year. Since Spurs won their last trophy, the English League Cup in 2008, Bayern have gone only three seasons without a major prize and have won the Champions League twice.
But proximity to silverware does not guarantee contentment, and the cautionary tale presented to Kane is that of Sadio Mane. When Bayern sought a world-class striker to make up the gap left by Robert Lewandowski last summer – the Pole moved to Barcelona after eight record-breaking seasons as Bayern’s centre-forward – they prised Mane away from Liverpool.
The switch from Premier League to Bundesliga proved anything but smooth. Mane started almost one in three matches on the bench. His patchy year is perhaps most remembered for a fiery and much-publicised confrontation with Sane in the dressing-room that led to an internal suspension.
Bayern’s can be a tough dressing-room to enter. Or to manage. Tuchel is the seventh different appointment as head coach in the seven years since Pep Guardiola left Munich for City. That must be part of Kane’s calculations too.
As Spurs begin their pre-season on Wednesday under a fifth different manager, Ange Postecoglu, in five years, Kane may reflect he is accustomed to such a high turnover. But the difference is that at Spurs he has known for a very long time he is the most important, most valued employee.
Updated: July 12, 2023, 5:09 AM