Spurs win battle, but may lose war to keep Kane: Neil Humphreys
Toothless City know they must sign the striker now
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1
(Son Heung-min 55)
MANCHESTER CITY 0
Son Heung-min has probably confirmed the departure of his old friend.
In scoring a stunning winner for Tottenham Hotspur this morning (Singapore time), the South Korean has almost certainly lost Harry Kane to Manchester City.
The English Premier League champions need the striker now.
Both teams do. But Spurs' unexpected 1-0 triumph over Pep Guardiola's men will fuel the sense of urgency in the City boardroom.
They have Jack Grealish, but he's a luxury item and arguably one for the future. Kane is the missing link in the short term. His rare skills are required now, a point underlined by City's tepid display in front of goal.
Sixty thousand fans all reached the same conclusion, blue or white, home or away. Kane has to be their man. The ghost of an absent striker loomed large.
According to reports, he was inside the gleaming north London venue, watching his team toil against Tottenham.
Bad jokes aside, there's nothing particularly funny about City's relentless intent and financial ambition. They covet all domestic and continental silverware this season, whatever the cost. And it'll cost £150 million (S$282m) to get Kane.
Guardiola may consider that a small price to pay, considering his attack's stuttering display. Sergio Aguero has gone and Grealish now owns the No. 10 shirt, but the void remains.
Grealish started on the left side of Pep Guardiola's 4-3-3, supporting Raheem Sterling and occasionally cutting inside to earn a breather from Japhet Tanganga's studs.
Tottenham's right-back and City's new £100m signing enjoyed more intimate contact than most married couples. And when Tanganga needed a break, Oliver Skipp stepped in to add to Grealish's collection of shin bruises.
Grealish wriggled free a couple of times, taking advantage of his quick feet and trunk-like calves to shake off opponents, but when he looked up, he did not see the man he spent a month with during Euro 2020.
Grealish and Kane are clearly made for each other. Throw in Raheem Sterling and City may potentially end up with England's golden triumvirate for the next three or four years.
Of course, Son and Kane are already in a long and fruitful relationship. With the England captain not fully fit, the South Korean played the nominal front man.
But on the few occasions that the hosts broke free in the first half, the forward found himself in the surreal position of looking up in search of himself.
He missed his partner. He missed his regular focal point. He missed his friend.
He should probably get used to it. His outstanding goal showed Guardiola what City are missing.
Tottenham really picked the wrong game to demonstrate City's urgent need for a striker, but succeeded in doing so anyway.
In the 55th minute, Son cut inside the outclassed Nathan Ake and whipped a smart strike past the unsighted Ederson and inside the far post.
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium erupted. Son used his fingers to make a heart for the fans. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy probably used his fingers to calculate the millions coming his way.
Guardiola could've used his fingers to count the misses.
Sterling, Grealish, Joao Cancelo and Ferran Torres all spurned opportunities or failed to reach tempting crosses. Guardiola was presumably running through the same internal monologue as everyone else inside the stadium.
Imagine what Kane would've done in those positions? How many would he have put away? What else can Guardiola do at this point?
That particular answer was self-evident. Nothing much. When he threw on a half-fit Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus in a series of increasingly panicky substitutions, nothing much changed.
City boasted a bench worth over £300m, but not enough where it matters, in front of goal.
Tottenham won a memorable battle in front of a raucous crowd, but they'll presumably lose the war to keep their unsettled striker.