Harry Kane is showing why he is best English forward since Shearer

Tottenham Hotspur striker has it all – skill, strength, smarts and a killer instinct

It took quite a while for people to believe in Harry Kane. At the start of last season he was an afterthought, a squad player who might provide back-up for Roberto Soldado.

This homegrown youngster had displayed rather limited potential during loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City. In 65 games with those clubs, he scored 16 goals – not an embarrassing total, but equally not one that suggested this was the best English centre forward since Alan Shearer.

Because that is what he is. Wayne Rooney has a decade of sporadic excellence and the England goalscoring record, but classing him as a centre forward is a tricky business. Michael Owen was too injury-prone and did not have Kane's all-round game; Daniel Sturridge is a similar story; and Jamie Vardy is catching lightning in a bottle but let's see where that goes.

Kane scored his 23rd and 24th league goals of the season against Stoke City on Monday night, meaning he has now scored more goals than Aston Villa this season. He is also the first Englishman to break the 20-goal mark in two consecutive seasons since Shearer.


Les Ferdinand scored 20 league goals three times, Robbie Fowler did so twice, as have Rooney, Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole once, and Owen not at all. He is on course to be the first Englishman to win the Golden Boot since Kevin Phillips in 2000.

All of which is perhaps made even more remarkable when his early season form is considered. For the first few months Kane looked like a player some feared he was: a one-season wonder, possibly tired from a summer with the England under-21s, fumbling and lacking the certainty that made him so exceptional last term. He scored once in his first nine league games, but since a hat-trick against Bournemouth in October he has been a merciless machine, bagging the remaining 23 in 25 games.

Electricity of youth

Kane was not necessarily a player who immediately caught the eye in the way that Owen did or even Dele Alli does now, someone who pulses with the electricity of youth and looks like a prodigy.

He does not have a single, stand-out quality like some of his predecessors – Owen’s pace, Shearer’s traction-engine right foot, Ferdinand’s sledgehammer forehead – but does have the rather more advantageous quality of being excellent at more or less everything.

It is probably his movement that is the most impressive, being able to find half a yard of space like Fernando Torres did in his pomp and incorporating a similar sense of anticipation that made Gary Lineker such a brilliant poacher.

Kane does not stand up top and wait for the ball; like Thierry Henry, tends to drop deep and pull out to the left wing, providing space for Christian Eriksen, Alli and Erik Lamela.

His brilliant curling shot having cut in from the flank against Stoke was no accident, given that he has done it before this season, most notably against Arsenal.

That quartet (helped by Mousa Dembele's leggy and elegant forays) might not be at the level of Barcelona's front three, but they are clearly the best attacking unit in the Premier League at the moment. Manchester City might have the better collection of individuals, and maybe even more so next season depending on who Pep Guardiola recruits to augment Sergio Agüero, Kevin DeBruyne, Raheem Sterling and David Silva.

Extraordinary things

Any internet poll would probably have Arsenal fans electing Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sánchez among the toppest of the top, while obviously Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have done extraordinary things with Leicester City.

But nothing beats those four from Spurs, all with their own individual capabilities that complement each other perfectly, hounding down opposition then blowing them away. Stoke did not exactly put up a ferocious fight, but the way Spurs casually sliced through them, like an explorer making short work of some foliage with a machete, was utterly joyous.

Leicester might turn out to be the Premier League champions, but even Claudio Ranieri would struggle to argue against the idea that Spurs have been the most entertaining, and probably since around November the best team in the division.

Their defence is strong and just as important to their success, but it is the attacking four, with Kane leading them, that makes this Spurs team such a thrill to watch. Guardian Service