40 the new 30 as Kane and company close on Ronaldo landmark
Harry Kane’s prolific goalscoring has made comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo commonplace, and he now stands on the brink of a feat not seen in English football since the Portuguese departed for Real Madrid a decade ago.
Ronaldo was the last player to score 40 goals in a season for an English club when he hit 42 on his way to winning the Ballon d’Or and a league and Champions League double for Manchester United in 2007/08.
Kane is yet to win such illustrious honours, but is on course for a third straight Premier League golden boot after netting his 35th goal of the campaign late on to win a vital three points for Tottenham at Crystal Palace last weekend.
Next in his firing line are Huddersfield at Wembley on Saturday before another chance to further his burgeoning reputation on the continent in Wednesday’s massive Champions League last 16, second leg against Juventus.
“I know I’m in good form,” Kane said after scoring his 11th goal in 10 games in 2018.
“I set myself little targets and I’m going quicker than I expected to this season. I’ve got 35 now, so I just have to keep scoring goals.”
However, Kane is not alone in the race to follow Ronaldo into the 40-goal club.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has already matched Luis Suarez’s best ever tally at Anfield with 31 goals in all competitions and is just one behind Kane’s 24 in the race to be the league’s top scorer.
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has 30 in all competitions and outstrips Kane and Salah for goals per minute in the Premier League for his 21.
Kane carries greatest burden
The fact all three surpassed the 30-goal mark before March points to a trend of a more unbalanced top flight than the norm in England.
A chasm of 25 points separate Spurs in fourth and Huddersfield in 14th.
Indeed, the gulf between the top six and the rest is symbolised by Burnley still sitting in seventh despite not having won in 11 matches stretching back to December 12.
That shouldn’t diminish the scale of the achievement, though, particularly in the case of Kane, who has had to carry a greater burden than his rivals for the golden boot.
Salah was part of Liverpool’s “fab four” before Philippe Coutinho’s January departure and is still backed up ably by Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane in a front three that have combined for 66 goals this season.
Aguero has even had to fight for his place in the side ahead of Gabriel Jesus such is the competition for places in a free-scoring City side with the League Cup already in the bag and the Premier League almost certain to follow.
After Kane only Son Heung-Min has got into double figures for Spurs this season as Dele Alli’s form has dipped, whilst until his FA Cup hat-trick against third-tier Rochdale on Wednesday, Fernando Llorente had scored just two goals as Kane’s deputy up front.
When City boss Pep Guardiola called Spurs “the Harry Kane” team earlier in the campaign, Mauricio Pochettino reacted angrily.
However, it is hard to overestimate the influence of his 17 goals in Tottenham’s 16-game unbeaten run since being thrashed at the hands of City in December.
Thanks to Kane, Pochettino’s men have hit top form at the right time in their quest to qualify for next season’s Champions League and reach the last eight of this year’s competition.
Another victory on Saturday would crucially open up a five-point lead on fifth-placed Chelsea, who face a daunting trip to City on Sunday.
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