There will be a lot of discussion about who should be crowned the PFA Player of the Year over the coming weeks. There are a number of candidates. As Manchester City romp to the title in a comfortably fashion, Ruben Dias and Ilkay Gundogan will be in the discussion for personal honours. Bruno Fernandes and Jack Grealish have been the talisman for their respective teams, with both emerging as two of the best players in the league. Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah is the current top scorer in the league, despite Liverpool’s struggles.
However, for this writer, the overwhelming candidate has to be Tottenham forward Harry Kane. There were doubts about whether he was on the decline, due to the injuries he has suffered in the last couple of years. The negative football regularly employed by Jose Mourinho should have hampered Kane’s ability to get goals and assists. At times, the tactical approach has had a negative impact on results, but Spurs’ number ten has still managed to regularly contribute in the final third.
Following the win over Crystal Palace, Kane has contributed 16 goals and 13 assists in the Premier League, averaging a goal involvement every 75.4 minutes. Only Robert Lewandowski (31 goals and six assists) has more goal involvements in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
There is no doubting that Lewandowski is the continent’s best striker, but Kane is now in the same bracket and he is developing his game to be a dual threat in the final third. The England captain has always been a predator in the penalty box, while his long range shooting has been another long-term strength of his.
This season, he has become the main creator for Tottenham, filling the void left by Christian Eriksen. Kane is averaging 3.38 shot creating actions per ninety minutes. During the last campaign, he averaged 1.88 shot creating actions. This sharp increase underlines his new role in the team. He is currently leading the league in assists and he has an outside chance of beating the joint-record of 20 set by Thierry Henry and Kevin de Bruyne.
His best season in the Premier League to date came in 2016/17, when Kane scored 29 and assisted seven. During this campaign under Mauricio Pochettino, his success was predicated on his goal-scoring prowess. Even if he doesn’t surpass 29 goals scored, this season should be seen as a more successful one.
Nobody can argue against his importance to Tottenham. It has long been thought that he was the talisman for Spurs, but this season, that has been evident for all to see. In the two matches that he missed in the Premier League, Spurs failed to score against Brighton and Chelsea. Further to their failure to score, they created just 0.94 xG, highlighting their reliance on Kane to create clear cut chances.
In seasons past, the narrative has been that Tottenham are reliant on Kane to score goals. That reliance has increased further and the Spurs’ number ten has grown with that responsibility.
Although Tottenham’s position in the league table may work against Harry Kane when it comes to individual awards, he does deserve to be a leading candidate for this award. Since his emergence in the first team, he has won the PFA Young Player of the Year award, but he hasn’t won the main award. It is clear that Kane will go on to become an all-time Premier League great. There is still a good chance that he could become the league’s all-time top goal-scorer, surpassing Alan Shearer’s record of 260 goals.
For a player with his incredible record, this is shaping up to be his finest individual season. It would be fitting if that was recognised with the PFA Player of the Year award in the summer.
Stats taken from Whoscored and FB Ref (powered by Statsbomb)