“A little step every season.”
That’s how Mauricio Pochettino envisions Tottenham‘s gradual integration into the elite grade of teams in Europe.
It was a comment made ahead of Juventus‘ trip to Wembley for the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 clash, one that Spurs are in the driving seat for with the away goals rule rendering their 2-2 draw in Turin a success.
However, should Spurs finish the Italian job back on home soil, they could well be making a giant stride this season.
Given their steady progress under the Argentine, the signs are reassuring but their slow-and-steady approach hardly makes headlines, attracts investors or indeed the finest talents in world football.
Meanwhile, Pochettino’s master plan of gradually and systematically making headway towards their goal of becoming a European powerhouse, won’t have Harry Kane leaping out of his chair. It’s more likely to prompt the striker to get on the phone with his agent, unless of course the carefully engineered strategy begins to deliver returns.
It’s no secret that at 24, Kane is one of the most sought of players in the world, with Real Madrid seemingly front-runners for his signature.
The striker is happy to remain a loyal servant to Spurs – after all, he is one of their own as fans remind him every matchday – but at some point, the club must match his ambition.
Kane has featured at the top of the goal-scoring charts for the last two seasons and cherishes his back-to-back Golden Boots but being the competitor that he is, even a third on the trot – should he win the race with Mohamed Salah this season – will not compensate for winning silverware.
As such, Spurs cannot afford to let this advantage over Juventus slip. Not only do they risk losing Kane and take on a pain-staking process of trying to replace him in the process – much like their chaotic operation in the aftermath of Gareth Bale’s departure – they will also further their current status of a team just on the brink of joining the big guns but always on the outside looking in.
Kane, like everyone else, will no doubt recognise and appreciate the progress Spurs have made. Over the last three seasons, they’ve arguably been the best team in the Premier League but crucially haven’t been able to translate that into trophies.
They’ve almost arrived at the right formula, and did well to hold on to their star players last summer, but until they can make that leap from being ‘in the mix’ to genuine contenders on a consistent basis, they remain in danger of having Kane poached from them.
No one is asking that Spurs go on to claim Europe’s top prize right away, but beating the finalists from three of the last four editions and making it into the final stages of the competition will speak volumes and reverberate across the continent.
For their sake, hopefully that resonates with Kane as well.
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