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Kane struggling alongside Sterling and Foden for England - so would £100m move to Man City be a success?

11:00 AM GMT+4 23/06/2021
Harry Kane England Manchester City GFX
The Tottenham striker has failed to score at Euro 2020, despite starting alongside his possible future City team-mates in the Three Lions' attack

Harry Kane is set to be at the centre of the transfer saga of the summer, with Manchester City’s £100 million ($139m) bid for the striker expected to be initially turned down by Tottenham.

And the reasons for City chasing the England striker and why he would want to come to the Etihad Stadium would seem obvious.

Pep Guardiola wants a replacement for the club's record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, following his free transfer to Barcelona, and only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has scored more Premier League goals than Kane in the past four seasons. 

For Kane, who turns 28 in July, there is the promise of silverware after a career that has, so far, not earned him a single winners' medal.

He could follow in the footsteps of England team-mate Kyle Walker, who made exactly the same move at exactly the same age and has now won three Premier League titles and five domestic cup competitions with City.

Walker’s game has also improved under the tutelage and settled strategy of one of the greatest coaches in world football in Guardiola, while at Tottenham, uncertainty surrounds their next manager as they continue to seek a replacement for Jose Mourinho following his sacking back in April.

But is the England captain a good fit for City? Watching Gareth Southgate’s team - built with Kane as the central focal point and City forwards Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling close to him - has left some question marks.

All three players started the opening two games of Euro 2020, with Foden rested for Tuesday's 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic, but England have struggled for creativity.

Sterling scored the 57th-minute winner against Croatia on matchday one but it was one of only two shots on target for the Three Lions. There was only one on target in a miserable goalless draw against Scotland.

None of these three attempts on target came from Kane, who has so far looked stale and a long way short of his best in the three group games.

He has not been helped by a cautious approach from Southgate; the flair players who have lit up the Premier League and Bundesliga have been held back so far.

Kane did play in a largely defensive set-up under Mourinho and revelled in it alongside Son Heung-min as he finished the season top of both the Premier League's goalscoring and assist-making charts.

However, that success generally came on the counterattack. England have mostly controlled possession, but offered little threat.

Southgate was a little more courageous in the final group game against the Czechs, and Kane offered more - denied his first goal of the tournament by a good save from Tomas Vaclik in the first half.

Sterling, however, was alongside him, and a square pass could have led to the one of the familiar tap-ins that has become something of a signature goal for the ex-Liverpool winger at City in Guardiola’s well-drilled attacking line-up.

It was a similar situation in the World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia three years ago when, leading 1-0, Kane blasted a shot at Danijel Subasic rather than playing a simple pass to Sterling.

While the City winger has two goals at Euro 2020, talisman Kane is still searching for his first, and he has looked frustrated.

It would be no surprise if he was tired after a punishing season, with the schedule squashed over a shorter timeframe, and with some of Europe’s best players also fatigued.

The final group game was his 61st appearance since September, and he would have played even more but for ankle injuries. 

Performances could also be affected by the continuing transfer speculation, although Kane says he is focused and fighting fit.

“All my focus is on how I can help this team and how we can be successful in this tournament,” he insisted ahead of the final group game.

“I understand from a media point of view there is speculation but I am fully focused on the job here.”

More likely it is England’s approach and unadventurous opponents that are contributing to his early tournament slump.

Southgate has refused to ditch his system of playing two defensive midfielders and, against countries content to play for a draw from Wembley, it has resulted in a drab group stage overall.

That system should be more effective in the last 16, with heavyweights France, Germany or Portugal set to be the Three Lions' opponents.

But that will be completely different at the Etihad, where Guardiola is far more attacking irrespective of the quality of opponents - playing with one holding midfielder and high up the pitch while controlling possession.

Perhaps to get a better picture of how Kane would fair at City it might be better to look to Belgium, where Romelu Lukaku thrives in a more exciting system under Roberto Martinez.

Kevin De Bruyne returned from his broken nose to set up chances for the Inter striker against Denmark and Finland, with one assist and another goal ruled out by a narrow VAR offside call.

“When I watch De Bruyne play he's a special, special player and some of the balls I see him put in for City are just a striker's dream if I'm honest," Kane told Sky Sports in the build-up to the Euros.  

"He's an outstanding player with the ball, off the ball, pressing, but his delivery is as good as I've ever seen."

Kane might look off the pace for England, but a couple of killer passes from De Bruyne would quickly get him firing again.