When Sir Alex Ferguson was manager of Manchester United the club routinely signed the best Premier League players, poaching the likes of Roy Keane, Andrew Cole, Dwight Yorke, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov from would-be rivals over the years.
Those players helped the club stay on top in the Premier League and took them to the highest levels in Europe. But in the years since Fergie retired those types of signings have been tougher to achieve. Not only have United fallen away from their elite level, supercharged television revenues have made other sides richer and better able to persuade their players to stay put.
In 2021, Tottenham striker Harry Kane is the embodiment of an old school Fergie signing. He is one of the best players in the Premier League but his club have so far been unable to deliver the success he craves and he is increasingly rumoured to be frustrated at Spurs.
Kane clearly has the right mentality and desire to win, and it is that which will drive any efforts he makes to leave his boyhood club over the coming months.
United are still on their way back to the top, but they are significantly closer to challenging for the Premier League title than Tottenham currently are and Kane doesn’t have time to waste. He will be 28 before the start of next season and if he wants to win trophies at his peak the time to go is now.
The impact that a goalscorer like Kane could have on a developing team like United would be huge and fairly instant. Anthony Martial has flirted with the role at times, but he has had a poor season in 2020/21 and they have lacked a proper ‘number nine’ since Romelu Lukaku left, while no United striker has scored 30 goals in a given season since Robin van Persie in 2012/13.
Not only would Kane bring his own quality, his experience and presence as a senior voice would be another major boost. Think of the way that Bruno Fernandes has brought leadership to a squad that was previously lacking in it, in addition to his own on-field quality. Kane would be similar.
But as perfect for United as Kane may be, the problem for them and indeed any club interested in the England captain, including Real Madrid and Manchester City, is Tottenham.
That Kane signed a long-term contract in 2018 that still has another three years to run puts Spurs in a strong position to rebuff any suitors. It has been rumoured that they will flat out refuse to sell to another English club and will demand a prohibitive £175m from any foreign clubs.
Indeed, the only way Kane could leave Spurs for United or any other Premier League club would be to push from the inside – and push hard. How far he would be willing to take it to secure a move, risking his relationship with the club and the fans, only he can decide.