Tottenham Hotspur

Harry Kane: Tottenham player of 2023 despite spending half the year at Bayern Munich?

Debate: Our writers make the case for and against Spurs’ former star striker being their top performer of the year – despite leaving in the summer

Under Ange Postecoglou, Tottenham is ending 2023 on a high note, buoyant and rapidly ascending, and they are in the running for a top-four finish.

For the most part, the first half of the year was dismal for Spurs fans as the team’s awkward partnership with Antonio Conte ended and interim managers Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason saw out a dismal 2022–23 season.

It is consequently difficult to evaluate Spurs’s calendar year as a whole, especially when determining who was their finest player during that time.

Harry Kane was undoubtedly Spurs’ best player in the second half of the previous campaign, but his summertime departure to Bayern Munich prevented him from participating in Postecoglou’s revolution.

Some players from the team from the previous season, such Heung-min Son, Pedro Porro, and Dejan Kulusevski, have performed exceptionally well this year after struggling during the first half of the campaign.

Therefore, should Kane have a chance to win the award for Spurs’ player of the year if it existed?

When Spurs got worse, Kane got better

Spurs supporters may find the argument for Kane unsettling, but it is clear-cut.

As Conte’s team tore apart the second half of the previous season, not a single player on Tottenham’s roster exceeded expectations or improved their reputation in the slightest, and no player in their promising start to this season has been as excellent as Kane was from January to May.

With 19 more games played than Son, the England captain has only scored one less goal than Son in 2023 (18 goals for Spurs).

Son has a good argument, to be sure, but he has acknowledged that he wasn’t at his best the previous season, partly because of a hernia issue (as well as Conte’s restrictive tactics).

On the other hand, Kane was exceptional, and it is greatly commendable that he continued to perform well even while the squad disintegrated around him.

Had he given himself more time to get over the disappointment of his part in England’s World Cup quarterfinal loss to France in December, or even reined it in when the team faltered and his thoughts shifted to a summer move, it would have made sense.

Conversely, Kane stepped up more the worse things became for Spurs. In the last twelve games of the season, he scored twelve goals, five of which were against struggling teams Southampton and Everton and one tie. He even scored in the humiliating 6-1 loss against Newcastle.

Even though he only played half of the games in 2023, Kane was still the team’s best performance, thus his departure from Spurs shouldn’t be overlooked.

Son has answered Spurs call in their hour of need

The counterargument is based on the fact that Kane spent just five months of the year in North London; hence, for him to be deemed Tottenham’s greatest player in 2023 based only on that time, there has to have been a more substantial component.

Even though Kane was very talented at that period—the specifics are mentioned above—it was insufficient to propel Spurs into Europe or provide his extraordinary legacy the one item it still lacks: a championship. Declan Rice, for example, has a greater case to be named West Ham’s player of 2023 given that he finished by leading the team to European success.

Naturally, you will then need to provide a substitute, and using the same reasoning, I have rendered the several newcomers who have flourished since coming this summer—Guglielmo Vicario, James Maddison, and Destiny Udogie, to mention a few—ineligible. However, Son has a player whose brilliance was evident in both campaigns.

While the Korean’s whole campaign with Tottenham was perhaps the least successful he has ever had, his form did significantly improve after the World Cup, as seen by the fact that nine of his 14 goals across all competitions came after the year’s start.

With three games remaining until the year ends, the forward needs just one more goal to reach 20 goals in 2023. Since the start of the new season, he has added another 10 goals and four assists.

The most significant thing, though, is the part Son has played in helping Spurs move on from Kane so quickly. With Postecoglou in charge, the team appears to be headed for a return to Europe and maybe trophy hunting in the years to come. Son is both the team’s leader and captain.

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