By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 31st May 2019
Harry Kane has offered Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino a huge boost ahead of their Champions League final with Liverpool by announcing himself ready to play.
Kane has been unavailable since suffering ankle ligament damage in the first leg of the Lilywhites’ UCL quarter final win against Manchester City, during which time Spurs have won just three of their nine outings.
However, Pochettino has stated that while the striker’s return is cause for celebration, he will “prioritise the team”.
Could that mean starting Son Heung-min at centre-forward instead of the England captain?
Why Son as centre-forward may make better sense against Liverpool
If @HKane IS fit, he starts. Simple.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 27, 2019
While it may seem simple to Kane’s fellow Lilywhites goal-getting colossus, there are reasons to suspect Spurs may pose the Reds more of a threat if the South Korean is allotted the central berth.
First, some admittedly basic numbers. With the England man in the XI Spurs have won 58% of their games and lost 33% of them this term. Without him in the XI they’ve won 57% and lost 33%.
The same approach with Son sees a more pronounced difference. Tottenham have won 62% of the games he’s started in 2018/19 and lost 30%. In games where the South Korean has been absent from starting line-up his team have won just 50% of their games and lost 40%.
So far, so vague, but Son, available at Enhanced Odds of 7/1 to score in a win for his side, was also the difference maker against arguably the best team Spurs have played all season, Manchester City, in the Champions League quarters (soz Barcelona).
With Kane off injured, he struck the first-leg winner and bagged two vital early goals in the return fixture in the Etihad, terrifying the City defence with the sheer pace and directness of his running.
Perhaps more pertinently still, the former Bayer Leverkusen man has yet to start against Liverpool this season, whereas his Lilywhites colleague started at centre forward in both 2-1 losses.
Virgil van Dijk was imperious against Kane home and away in Premier League action, denying him a goal in either clash.
It must be tempting for Pochettino to see how the towering Dutchman deals with an even more mobile and pacey alternative.
The prospect of the South Korean driving into the space in between VvD and the gone-galavanting Andy Robertson is certainly an exciting one for those of a Lilywhite persuasion.