Son Heung-min Is Now a Better Player Than Harry Kane

90min Staff
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Premier League / Harriet Lander/Copa/GettyImages

If there's one thing Tottenham fans don't like (after Arsenal, Sol Campbell, Chelsea, Wembley and Ben Foster's time wasting), it's criticism/doubting of Harry Kane.

Any club's supporters would feel aggrieved when one of their own is talked down, but this isn't all about him, so put the pitchforks and torches down for a second hear out the following - Son Heung-min has now surpassed Kane.

The pitchforks and torches are back up, then. At least listen to the reasoning, alright? Good.

Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Son's brace in Spurs' 3-2 win at Aston Villa on Sunday means he's scored 21 non-penalty goals in 43 Premier League starts since the start of the 2018/19 season, while Kane has 22 in 47. You can cry 'they all count' all you want, but a striker as esteemed as Andy Cole insisted as recently as last week to the Evening Standard that open play goals should mean more to a forward.

While Sunday's match was the first time Son and co proved to be a cohesive unit up top in Kane's absence, he's always been the one looking dangerous when the rest of Spurs' attacking options faltered - bemoan his whacky dribbling and decision making all you want but he still has six goals in his last five games.

When asked about Son's consistent yet somehow streaky nature, Mourinho replied: “The problem with Son and Lucas, the problem with especially these two guys is they have to play 90 minutes every game.

Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League / Michael Regan/GettyImages

"That’s the problem and if they run out of fuel then we are in trouble, but their quality as players is fantastic, their attitude towards the team is absolutely incredible and I am so, so pleased for them."

Son's issue is that he's too reliable and consistent to depend on for his own good sometimes - it's the same problem Christian Eriksen had in his last full season at Spurs, giving his all at 60% all of the time instead of at 90% for some of the time.

In the age of pressing and the need for full fitness, when marginal gains are everything in the game, Son succeeds where Kane fails - the South Korean has missed just six games through injury since joining Tottenham in 2015, and none since his debut season. The England captain, on the other hand, has been suffering from long-term knocks and setbacks almost as frequently as he's scoring.

That's not necessarily all his fault, though his eagerness to always return too soon most certainly is, but being fit is an important trait for an athlete - Neymar's been widely panned for continually missing the knockout stages of the Champions League with PSG/games around his and his sister's birthday. Kane obviously isn't worse than every striker who manages to stay injury-free, but the comparison and contrast with Son is too hard to ignore.

Southampton FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Southampton FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League / Michael Steele/GettyImages

Kane remains one of the world's best strikers, but there was a time when he was the best striker, when he scored the more goals than even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in a calendar year, when he was taking 763 shots a game.

Finishing is the biggest variable in this sport, and the sign of the best forwards are how their bad games are viewed, whether they're overly wasteful or just quiet. Son's stinkers are the former, but Kane's were becoming the latter.

There was a lot of hype heading into this season that Kane was on the warpath for his third Premier League golden boot after having the summer off for once, but his body has failed him again and it's having an impact on his game - he's not shooting as much as he used to, he's not scoring as much as he used to, he's not available as much as he used to be.

Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League / Visionhaus/GettyImages

But there has to be two trajectories for this argument to work. Son used to be the fourth most-important member of the Spurs attack, but over the last two seasons he's stepped up to become the main man - he's Thanos reaching into the Infinity Gauntlet and saying 'fine, I'll do it myself', not too dissimilar to Gareth Bale's final season at White Hart Lane.

One of the remaining holds Kane has over Son is his gravity in making the players around him better - perhaps demonstrated better with England than at club level - as evidenced by Spurs' struggles to look cohesive in his absence, though they were struggling even before then. And if Tottenham can replicate their attacking showing at Villa Park, then it's another mark against Kane.

Upon his return from injury, he will become the centrepiece of the Spurs attack again because of the influence he has on the club and his teammates, but again a little weaker and again a little slower - it's Son who will continue to bear more of the load.

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