These articles are dual-focused, analysing a player’s role within their club from a footballing perspective before considering whether that information translates into them being a viable consideration for our FPL teams. Today’s instalment discusses Tottenham talisman and English captain Harry Kane.
Despite being Tottenham’s vice-captain to Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane is the club’s talisman by all intents and purposes. Mauricio Pochettino’s use of Kane for the entirety of the Champions League Final, his first appearance in nearly two months, demonstrates what an indispensable asset he is. When on form, his leadership, link-play between midfield and attack and obvious goalscoring nous comprise a complete forward, aside from a lack of blistering pace which is made up for by Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son.
But 2018/19 was arguably his most disappointing since becoming a regular starter in the Premier League. In a season hampered by injury, he played fewer minutes (2423) and scored fewer goals (17) than in any previous season.
However, Kane has been able to follow a spell on the sidelines with a period of ruthless, unplayable form in previous seasons. Eight goals in the final week of 2016/17 is the perfect illustration of this and it helped him manage 12 more goals than in the season just gone, despite only playing an additional 100 minutes. That was the last time he claimed the Golden Boot, with Mohamed Salah seemingly taking over as the league’s most effective marksman.
Kane’s lack of minutes have to be taken into consideration in that regard. Salah only has seven more goals across the last two seasons despite playing the equivalent of over seven more full games. However, Salah has been more accurate in front of goal, shown by Kane having a higher shot volume in 2017/18, whilst the two players finished tied on 3.79 per 90 minutes in 2018/19.
What is more concerning is that Kane’s attempts per 90 appear to drop when not playing week in week out, with 3.92 per 90 in 2016/17 rising to an astonishing 5.39 in 2017/18 before dropping to 3.79 in 2018/19. It was in both 2016/17 and 2018/19 that Kane missed a combined 18 Premier League matches. But despite maintaining a fairly similar shot volume compared to 2016/17, Kane recently endured a much tougher season in front of goal.
Decreases in shot volume and accuracy as well as ongoing ankle issues are concerning for Tottenham, if they become trends. Fewer shots resulted in his lowest xG in five years, whilst a reduction in his shot accuracy led to his smallest xG over-performance during that period, as indicated by Understat. Therefore, a return to his old form in 2019/20 by scoring over 25 goals is not a foregone conclusion.
However, one underwhelming season does not define a player. It is simply a case of putting the aforementioned injury and shooting troubles behind him. If Kane can do so, hope will be renewed amongst two sets of fans. Firstly England supporters who rightly feel that there is an outside chance of glory at Euro 2020 and secondly Fantasy Premier League managers. As discussed in the recent FPL player value article, combined with the data above and a points per match over one fewer than Salah or Sterling, the price drop from £12.5m to £11.0m is certainly justified.
What needs to happen for those two somewhat concordant groups to be pleased? The simple answer is that Kane has to do more than he did in 2018/19 in every aspect of his game, be it more shots, more goals, more minutes or otherwise. Given his track record in the four seasons prior, it would be wrong to write him off from doing so and suggest anything other than last season being merely a blip. For that reason, but with the caveat that only if fully fit, Harry Kane should have no problem with being back near the summit of the Premier League goalscoring standings in ten months time.