When Harry Kane announced he was staying at Tottenham after Manchester City had failed to sign him, it seemed like the closing of a chapter.
Approaching 30, the fact Spurs managed to hold off Pep Guardiola’s interest and keep their talisman even after he’d taken the step of making it clear he’d like to leave naturally led to the assumption that City would not try again.
With Erling Haaland – who would represent far more of a long-term investment – available the following summer, moving for Kane just did not seem like a possibility. The chance had gone. Brother and agent Charlie had been widely mocked.
That, however, is without taking into account the England captain’s ability to morph into a different kind of footballer.
Now, Kane operating as a deep-lying playmaker of sorts is nothing new. Last season, no one produced as many assists in the Premier League, even while the Spurs star was busy scoring a league-high number of goals too.
After struggling at the start of this season amid the awful cocktail of the botched City transfer, emotional release of making the Euro 2020 final with England and a lack of a pre-season, Kane is back to his best.
Crucially, he looks to be getting better with age. Never a striker renowned for his pace, it’s difficult to imagine Kane’s body breaking down in the way Wayne Rooney’s did, for example.
Paired up front with pace, as he is at Spurs with Heung-min Son and Dejan Kulusevksi either side of him, and Kane could keep going like this for a number of years. With England, there is a myriad of such options.
Of course, that is both good and bad news for Spurs. The better he plays, the more chance Tottenham have of returning to the Champions League. As that happens, however, more suitors will surely emerge, if that is even possible at this stage.
Indeed, Teddy Sheringham left Tottenham at 31 and went on to win it all at Manchester United. A player to whom Kane is often compared, there appears to be little reason as to why he can’t do something similar.
Alan Shearer, another frequently mentioned alongside Kane, remained one of the Premier League’s most prolific forwards up until his final days at Newcastle. Generally seen as a combination of both of those players, it’s difficult to see a way in which Kane suddenly stops being an elite-level striker.
By the end of his contract, Kane will be 31. Like Sheringham, there is a chance he could leave his boyhood club on favourable terms before moving elsewhere if Tottenham are not in a position to challenge for the biggest trophies.
An Indian summer could well await. Henrik Larsson and Luis Suarez are yet more proof that forwards can continue to operate at a high level even past the age of 30 and, arguably, Kane has more to his game than both.
As Rooney aged, there was a huge debate as to whether or not he should be played in midfield. Largely, it didn’t work as the Manchester United and England legend remained as eager to cover as much ground as possible as ever even after his body had let him down.
With Kane, there shouldn’t be any such issue. Perhaps not as naturally gifted as Rooney, Kane offers so much more in the way of control. That’s not to suggest he will become a midfielder but the question as to whether or not he can play deeper has already been answered in the most emphatic of terms.
We are not approaching Kane’s end-game. There’s a lot more to give Tottenham, England or any other team lucky enough to have him.