Harry Kane has 14 goals in 15 appearances for club and country across all competitions this season. A remarkable return for a player yet to catch the eye in the new campaign. Yet talk of the Tottenham Hotspur No.10’s demise continues to rage on.
The 26-year-old doesn’t look as fearsome as he once did and he’s by no means as prolific. Of those 14 goals he’s scored, six have come from the penalty spot. His return of eight open-play goals from 15 matches isn’t quite as impressive.
There’s a feeling that his reputation means he’s being shoehorned into the starting XI for both Spurs and for England. Having seen how both managed without him during his spell on the sidelines last season, there’s an argument to be made that his inclusion limits both.
The ability is there for all to see. He can be a game-changer and a match-winner on his day. He’s reliable from the penalty spot and that is an invaluable trait to have. But forwards need to be much more than goalscorers these days. Kane is far from a one-trick pony, he’s brilliant in the number 10 space and can act as a playmaker on occasion.
The problem is, however, both Spurs and England have built their attacks around him. While this, in theory at least, gets the best out of the forward, it also means they’re reliant on him and when he has an off day it can derail the entire team.
Kane relies on volume.
His best Premier League season was during the 2017/18 campaign when he netted 30 goals. During that year, the England international averaged 5.32 shots per 90. Due to the number of goals he scores, Kane is often described as clinical when he’s anything but that. He’s not a one shot one goal kind of striker, and he never has been.
Kane’s is getting into dangerous areas on a regular basis. But when the opposition find a way to prevent the ball from getting to him and limit the chances the 26-year-old has, his influence on proceedings can wane.
Last season, injuries meant Kane could only appear in just over 2,400 minutes in the Premier League. His goal return dropped from 30 to 17 and his expected goals average per 90 dropped by 0.20. This drop coincided with the Spurs man taking fewer shots. The 5.32 dropped to 3.77. Still a high average but over the course of a season, he’d be taking close to 60 fewer shots.
So far in the 2019/20 campaign, Kane is averaging just three shots. For context, that is the same number as Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn. In England’s recent defeat to the Czech Republic, Gareth Southgate’s No.9 had four shots but only three in open-play.
Neither Spurs nor the Three Lions are creating as many chances for Kane and his output is suffering because of it. Kane isn’t as dynamic as he once was but he’s still managed to add value to his efforts, as evidenced by his post-shot expected goals numbers.
This stat looks at where the shots lands on target and not just where it was taken from. His expected goals average this term is 0.30, his post-shot expected goals average is 0.47. The 26-year-old is picking out the corners with his efforts like elite strikers tend to do. He’s just not being afforded as many chances so he can’t impact proceedings as he once did.
If teams can’t supply him with the ammunition he needs, he may have to tweak his style and redesign what he brings to the table. This could see his goal involvement decrease but his overall play and the team performance take an upward turn. He may have to sacrifice his individual accolades for team honours.