With a successful penalty against Colombia on Tuesday, Harry Kane took his goal tally at the 2018 World Cup to six. This ties the record for the highest number of goals by an Englishman at the tournament. Gary Lineker got six back in 1986, the only year in which an English player won the Golden Boot at the tournament. Kane is on course to break that number, with England facing Sweden in the quarter-finals on Saturday. They made hard work of their round of 16 clash, conceding a last minute equalizer to the South Americans who were without their star man James Rodriguez. But, they scraped through on penalties, marking the first time ever that England had prevailed in a shootout at the World Cup, having lost their previous three.
Kane has been England’s star man at the tournament, and has silenced all his detractors, who claimed that the pressure of captaincy would be too much to handle for the Spurs man. But Gareth Southgate kept faith with the relatively inexperienced 24 year-old, and that trust has paid handsome dividends so far. Kane scored both goals in a 2-1 opening round victory over Tunisia, including a last-minute winner. He followed this up with a hattrick against Panama, before finding the back of the net again yesterday.
The closest active competitor to the Golden Boot is Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku, who has four goals. Cristiano Ronaldo, who also had four, is out after Portugal lost to Uruguay in the round of 16. Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani, Russia’s duo of Dennis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba and France’s Kylian Mbappe are all on three.
There is no doubt that Kane’s market value will skyrocket if he manages to win the award for the highest goalscorer. England also have a relatively simple route to the final, even though unpredictability has been the defining feature of the tournament so far. The Three Lions take on Sweden on Saturday, and will play either Croatia or Russia if they make it through. If Kane can guide his team to the final, he is going to be the undoubted star of this competition.
He has proven it in the Premier League, scoring 20 or more goals in each of the last four campaigns (at an improving rate every year). Last season, he netted 41 times in all competitions. However, Spurs’ lack of silverware has arguably not given him enough limelight on the world stage. Now, that is changing. With consistent performances at the World Cup, Kane is showing why he is considered to be one of the best strikers in the world at the moment. Even though he is just 24, he has over 100 Premier League goals to his name, and 19 in just 27 caps for England.
It remains to be seen if one of the truly big European names come calling asking for his signature. It wouldn’t surprise at all if Real Madrid are top of that list. Not only have the La Liga signed breakout stars from the last couple of World Cups at an alarming frequency, they are also currently in need of a freely-scoring centre forward. Karim Benzema’s career at the Santiago Bernabeu has well and truly tanked, as the Frenchman only scored five league goals last season. Even though he is contracted to be at the club until 2021, Madrid will not say no to an improvement, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club uncertain as well.
If Spurs do manage to hold on to their prized asset for another season, they will need to make sure that they challenge for the Premier League and also win at least one trophy. It won’t be long before Kane’s ambitions for success tempt him to look elsewhere.
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