WHY DID KANE END UP IN MUNICH NOT MANCHESTER?
Kane wanted United and Ten Hag wanted Kane, so...
By Chris Wheeler
ANY day now, it is said that Harry Kane will move out of his luxury suite at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Munich and take up permanent residence in a palatial villa in Baierbrunn, a wealthy suburb south of the city, close to the Isar river.
This is a well-known property that was once home to Bayern Munich defender Lucas Hernandez and has hosted some rather memorable parties. Mehmet Scholl was another notable inhabitant. Actor and film director Matthias Schweighoefer is said to have filmed one of his movies there.
Bayern used to be known as FC Hollywood in Germany and this would be a fitting place for Kane to call home with his wife Kate and their four children — Ivy, Vivienne, Louis and Henry — after so long living on his own in a hotel.
The England captain is set to become the most famous resident of them all, having gained superstar status since moving to Bayern from Tottenham in August in a deal worth up to £120million.
A total of 22 goals and seven assists in 18 games going into yesterday’s game at Eintracht Frankfurt is a sizeable repayment on Bayern’s investment.
Eighteen of those goals have come in the Bundesliga, putting ‘King Kane’ on course to score 51 for the season, which would comfortably eclipse the 41 set by predecessor Robert Lewandowski and 40 by Bayern legend Gerd Muller in 1972.
Records are falling by the week and, as he returns to England tomorrow for Tuesday’s Champions League tie at Old Trafford, Manchester United fans could be forgiven for wishing Kane was wearing a different shade of red this season, with Bayern runaway leaders of Group A and United’s hopes of progressing to the knockout stages hanging by a thread.
Ultimately it was Bayern who got their man and are now reaping the rewards. This is the story of how Kane ended up in Munich and not Manchester.
ERIK TEN HAG wanted to sign Harry Kane and Kane wanted to sign for United, simple as that. It was a match made in heaven and one that made total sense. Sometimes the planets do not quite align, however, and for that United would blame Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.
Levy was under pressure from Spurs owner Joe Lewis to sell Kane, who only had a year left on his contract and was making it clear he was not going to sign a new one.
Levy told United he would not sell Tottenham’s crown jewel to a Premier League rival and they had every reason to take him seriously. United feared Levy might string them along throughout the summer until the last days of the transfer window, then pull the plug, leaving them high and dry.
In a world without Financial Fair
Play rules, they might have risked it. But with a restricted budget, they could not hold off on deals for Mason Mount and Andre Onana while entering into protracted negotiations with Levy.
Having signed Casemiro and Antony late in Ten Hag’s first window in charge a year earlier, United wanted their key signings in early. They felt Mount was a now-or-never deal as he entered the final year of his contract at Chelsea.
Onana was a necessity after Ten Hag made the bold decision to jettison David de Gea. Buying a new goalkeeper also ended any thoughts of signing two strikers, after United considered bidding for Kane and Brighton youngster Evan Ferguson.
Then there was the issue of Kane’s wages. ‘It was Cristiano Ronaldo money,’ says one source close to the deal. It is understood Kane’s salary in Munich is £500,000-a-week, as well as a signing on fee and bonuses. United considered it a lot of money for a player who turned 30 in the summer.
Could they have tried harder? Called Levy’s bluff? Hoped for Kane to agitate for a move to Old Trafford? Maybe. But the decision was made quite early in the window to kill their interest and the possibility of a bid for Kane was never revisited.
He had even been willing to see out the remaining year of his contract at Spurs so he could join United next summer. But the moment United signed Rasmus Hojlund, Kane knew Bayern were the only club for him. He moved to Bavaria a week later.
United wanted to act quickly and, ironically, Spurs were emerging as rivals to sign Hojlund using the £100m-plus they were expecting to bank for Kane.
Paris Saint-Germain, having expressed an interest in Kane and Hojlund, had already moved on to Randal Kolo Muani, who was next on United’s list.
While Kane had instant ‘plug and play’ appeal, 20-year-old Hojlund was at the other of the scale, with the best years of his career in front of him. He had time and potential on his side, even though his eventual fee of £72m was uncomfortably close to the Kane price.
United sources insist there are no regrets over their decision. While Kane has scored 18 goals in the Bundesliga for Bayern, Hojlund has yet to get off the mark in the Premier League.
AT LEAST the Dane has outgunned his rival 5-4 in the Champions League, although Kane’s goal and assist helped Bayern to a 4-3 win over United in September that has smoothed their passage to the knockout stages, while United are clinging on for dear life at the bottom of Group A.
Bayern identified Kane as the ideal replacement for Lewandowski last year, once it became clear Erling Haaland wanted to join Manchester City.
Chief executive Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic made contact with Charlie Kane, the player’s agent and brother, but both men were sacked on the final day of last season.
Bayern had to start again, with club executives KarlHeinz Rummenigge, Uli Hoeness and Jan-Christian Dreesen teaming up with new coach Thomas Tuchel to form a taskforce to persuade Kane to move to Bavaria.
Rummenigge spoke to Kane almost on a daily basis after first making contact with the player while he was on holiday in the Bahamas in the summer.
‘I texted him telling him that I would like to talk to him on the phone and he answered within two minutes, which is not the norm in the WhatsApp world,’ says Rummenigge.
Once Kane knew United were out of the question, Bayern were his No1 choice, driven by a desire for a new challenge and to win trophies. The personal touch was key. Rummenigge kept calling and Tuchel flew to London to explain how he would build the team around him.
Dreesen had the task of dealing with Levy and made two trips to the UK. On the second occasion, Rummenigge instructed him: ‘Paying £10m to the left or right should not stop this transfer.’
Even then, the private jet carrying Kane to Germany on August 11 was grounded at Luton Airport while Levy squeezed the last pips out of the deal. But it has been well worth the effort so far.
dmg media (UK)