Harry Kane adds commitment to Tottenham goals to banish turbulent start to season

Harry Kane on the pitch after Tottenham defeat Burnley

The season started at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with and without Harry Kane. He was referenced if not seen. It ended with him on the ball; fittingly, looking for Son Heung-min on the counter-attack as the final whistle blew.

There is a tradition of fine double acts at Spurs but they have shown more longevity and potency than Teddy Sheringham and Jurgen Klinsmann, than Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov. They have a blend of the homegrown and the exotic that, in their own ways, Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle lacked, as, for other reasons, did Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa.

The paradox in the partnership is that the loyalist is not the local. When Kane was contemplating career opportunities in August, Son took the opportunity to score the winner against Manchester City. “Are you watching, Harry Kane?” the Spurs faithful asked. Nine months later and an aborted move to City later, they watched him see out a victory built on his fourth goal in three May games at home but completed by his commitment. He showed an aptitude for the right-back role to block a Dwight McNeil shot. He popped up as an ersatz left-back to thrash a clearance. Burnley were beaten.

The subsequent lap of honour came to a backdrop of a season video featuring Nuno Espirito Santo, Bryan Gil and Tanguy Ndombele. It was a glimpse of an alternative reality. Each is long gone while Kane has stayed.

His has been a season of various parts and two managers. There was only one league goal for Nuno, 15 for Antonio Conte. It was why, when Spurs crowned their player of the year, Son was a fitting winner. He has delivered throughout. “Look how happy I am, it is incredible to be here,” the Korean said. “I am the happiest guy in the world playing in this stadium.”

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Harry Kane celebrates his penalty against Burnley with strike partner Son Heung-min

They are not words Kane could have voiced with a straight face last summer. Son, the unassuming superstar, called it “a dream come true” to win Tottenham’s annual award. Kane dreamed of more.

Each might get a return to the Champions League. Each has been pivotal. Beating Burnley 1-0 almost served as statistical underachievement, by their standards.

Kane scored but over the season he has 16 goals and eight assists, Son has 21 and seven respectively.

That amounts to 52 direct goal involvements and if, given their propensity to combine for goals – five of Kane’s assists are for Son – means that is not the same as 52 goals, it still puts them second and third only to Mohamed Salah.

Tottenham have not won a league game where neither scored since New Year’s Day at Watford. They have not even had a score draw without either finding the net in the league this season.

With Tottenham’s campaign concluding against Norwich, 52 could become rather more: for Kane, two behind Sergio Aguero’s total of 184 Premier League goals, it may be a chance to draw level.

Son Heung-Min smiles as he chats with Harry Kane and his family

His persistence threatened to bring him closer against Burnley. Even on a relatively unproductive day, it required an excellent, improvised goal-line clearance from Nathan Collins to deny Kane another and a wonderfully dextrous save from Nick Pope to keep out Son.

Collins enhanced his reputation with a defiant display against Kane, but the England captain still had six attempts at goal.

Perhaps Conte has got him refocused, rejuvenated, reinvigorated. Certainly the lap of honour after the final home game this season did not seem to have a finality.

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In part that is because Tottenham’s destiny will be decided at Carrow Road on Sunday. It may reflect the reality that City have moved on: Erling Haaland will be City’s new striker. He had a release clause, not a gentleman’s agreement with Daniel Levy. A deal was concluded in May, not still on the agenda in August.

But a season that threatened to be a write-off for Spurs may yet conclude with them in the Champions League. It should seem a natural habitat for players of the calibre of Kane and Son. Now it feels both belong again at Tottenham. Nine months ago, only one thought he did.

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