Nuno Espirito Santo REFUSES to consider if he would swap Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku – but try as he might, the Tottenham boss cannot ignore the Belgian’s impact at their London rivals
- Nuno Espirito Santo flat-out refused to discuss whether he would swap the pair
- But he must recognise Romelu Lukaku has red-hot form for Thomas Tuchel’s side
- Harry Kane has 198 minutes, two shots, and no goals in the league this season
- Chelsea were reportedly interested in bringing Kane to the club this summer
- German manager Tuchel insisted they never had a wanted list with his name on it
- And the former Paris Saint-Germain boss will be happy he ended up with Lukaku
Nuno Espirito Santo was in no mood to take the bait. After Thursday’s punishing night in Rennes, when familiar issues resurfaced and two more players went lame, this was not the time for easy headlines or fantasy football.
‘Harry is an amazing player. I will only speak about my players,’ said the Tottenham boss when quizzed on Sunday’s battle between Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku.
But would he swap them if he could? ‘I don’t even consider that option,’ replied Nuno. ‘Because, for me, it doesn’t make sense.’
Nuno Espirito Santo refused to be drawn on if he would swap Harry Kane for Romelu Lukaku
The Tottenham manager spoke after their 2-2 Europa Conference League draw against Rennes
One for everyone else to ponder then. Try as he might to turn down the noise, Nuno cannot ignore the difference Lukaku has already made to Thomas Tuchel’s side.
He cannot pretend Kane won’t be judged on days like Sunday.
The striker’s commitment to stay, that two-goal homecoming against Pacos de Ferreira, have long disappeared from the rear-view mirror, replaced by early warning signs and broken bodies.
No time for panic stations yet but what an opportunity for Kane to turn a swelling tide.
He has gone three Tottenham games without scoring but more concerning is that his Premier League record this season reads: 198 minutes, two shots, no goals.
Nuno admitted Kane has to improve after a 3-0 defeat against Crystal Palace last weekend
On the other hand, Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku (pictured) is in red-hot goalscoring form
Against Crystal Palace, Kane had neither a shot nor a touch in the opposition box in 90 minutes — a first in his top-flight career. Rennes was a similarly fruitless trip, even if Kane’s through-ball created Spurs’ opener in a 2-2 draw. Lukaku, in contrast, has been relentless.
‘Harry has to improve,’ admitted Nuno. ‘We are in that process of trying to find the best levels of fitness. His dedication has been huge.’
Spurs players have been dropping like flies. Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn limped off in Rennes, Son Heung-min has been out too. Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Davinson Sanchez return from quarantine in Croatia today following international duty — and could be thrown straight in. Where would Spurs be had Kane left after all?
There were some whispers that the idea of joining Chelsea held some appeal for the England captain.
The £98million summer signing scored as Chelsea beat Zenit 1-0 in the Champions League
He could have stayed in London while winning silverware. But it was a non-starter — too big a risk for Kane and his legacy, too much for Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to even consider.
Bad blood between the two boardrooms is well-established and has already impacted on deals involving the likes of Luka Modric, Willian and Antonio Rudiger.
Tuchel said: ‘We never had a list with his name on it and I never went to Marina Granovskaia (club director) to tell her to buy him. But the club sorted out the situation.
‘We had some information… but it was never that close that we had to experience the rivalry. We know about the rivalry but I had a feeling that it was never that far.’
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel was reportedly keen on Kane but the club eventually signed Lukaku
And Tuchel will have no complaints about which striker ended up at Stamford Bridge in the end
Tuchel spoke about the differences — Lukaku operates higher up the pitch and is more physical — and similarities between the two.
‘These guys are born to score goals and if they do not score they are not happy,’ he said. ‘I am pretty sure they both started showing this mindset when they started playing football at five, six, seven years old.’
But with Lukaku a ‘reference point’ for his attack and already a hugely influential dressing room figure, Tuchel will have no complaints about which striker ended up at Stamford Bridge.
‘Romelu is the same (a team player like Kane) he is here to help us win titles. That is what big players do.’