Harry Kane to Manchester United? Striker upgrade could turn Erik ten Hag’s improving team into title contenders – Trevor Steven
Erik ten Hag has brought the good times back to Manchester United but the signing of Harry Kane would make them serious Premier League title contenders, says Trevor Steven.
If the hallmark of a good manager is improving your players then I have to take my hat off to what Erik ten Hag has accomplished at Manchester United.
Marcus Rashford, who is playing at a level that nobody thought he would get near, is the most obvious example but the new Carabao Cup holders are stacked with them.
Luke Shaw is one of the best English full-backs around but Ten Hag saw something else in him, using him at centre-back, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is looking more like the right-back United signed in 2019.
David de Gea is back to his best, Raphael Varane is showing what a classy centre-back he is, Jadon Sancho’s swagger has returned after Ten Hag took him out of the spotlight, and even Fred is performing like a £50m player.
The jewel in the crown has been Casemiro. When he arrived last summer Graeme Souness likened him to an ordinary player who’d been lucky to be at Real Madrid while plenty of other pundits didn’t rate him either, but he has proved them all wrong.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing. Ten Hag was doubted at first, depicted as another Ralf Rangnick who couldn’t get to grips with English football after a shaky start, but he has engineered a dramatic turnaround.
The key was the winter break for the World Cup, which gave United time to offload Cristiano Ronaldo. Since then United have gone from strength to strength and Rashford in particular is a changed man.
Another huge factor has been the signing of Lisandro Martinez. I don’t know how many managers would have stuck to their guns and kept leaving out club captain Harry Maguire but it shows the trust Ten Hag has in his players.
Take Wout Weghorst. The 6ft 6ins journeyman centre-forward is far from your typical United player but Ten Hag knows what he wants from him and, in its own way, it works.
Perhaps his biggest achievement has been restoring a winning mentality and hunger for silverware. Sunday’s win over Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final doesn’t feel like a one-off and they could yet finish the season with a couple of trophies.
Why Harry Kane would be perfect for Ten Hag’s United
They are not the finished article, however, and if there is one position that I think they will want to upgrade in the long-term then it is probably striker.
Harry Kane is the sort of old-fashioned centre-forward who I think would do well in Ten Hag’s United. He doesn’t stand still for long so would be a good fit for their fluid front line.
Tottenham look no closer to winning major honours so Kane could be tempted to leave in the summer for a team that can offer the lure of trophies. With just a year left on his contract, Spurs could be tempted to cash in too.
Kane already has a good understanding with United’s Christian Eriksen from his days at Tottenham, while playing alongside Rashford would also make sense for the national team, where they look set to link up for the next few years at least.
While United’s good form has seen them crop up in conversations about the title race, if they want to do what Arsenal have done and lay down the gauntlet to the rest of the Premier League then they need to build on what they’ve done this season.
Kane would be ideal and immediately make United title contenders.
Uncertainty around the club’s ownership must be a distraction and the players deserve credit for putting that to one side.
Ending their six-year wait for a trophy might have put the price tag up a few million pounds but I don’t think it will have changed the Glazers’ minds about selling either way.
As a neutral, though, selling United when they are back on the up would allow them to leave with minimal hostility and might be the best solution all round.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who played at two World Cups and two European Championships. @TrevorSteven63.