Florentino Pérez isn’t what you’d call a diplomat. Real Madrid’s president – who has smashed the record transfer fee four times during his tenure – knows what he wants and usually gets it. Even he, however, was at pains to dispel the latest transfer rumours emanating from the Bernabéu on Tuesday.
“Signing Harry Kane has not passed through my head” he insisted during an interview with the radio station Cadena Cope.
The reality is, however, that Kane will be a Real Madrid player. His form is just too good, his skills just too spectacular, for him to remain at Tottenham for much longer. It’s a truth that Spurs fans have grown wearily acquainted with, having seen fellow superstars Luka Modric and Gareth Bale make a similar move in recent years.
For all his ability, though, Kane should not be regarded as the best striker in the world right now. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo aside, here are the three players keeping Kane from the top spot.
1 Luis Suárez
Diego Forlán may consider himself lucky. As the 2015/16 season got underway, the Uruguayan was the last striker to win Spain’s Pichichi trophy who was not part of the unyielding demigods of Real and Barcelona.
Suárez had just completed an astonishing first year in Spanish football, but he was very much the supporting artist in Barcelona’s coveted ‘MSN’. Still, 25 goals and 20 assists was not to be sniffed at.
In 2015, however, he eclipsed even Lionel Messi to become his club’s most important striker. 'Hurricane Suárez' as he was christened by Marca, swept through La Liga defences, scoring and assisting with abandon to top both charts by season’s end.
This year, he has been in and out of form as Barcelona make their home at the summit of the Spanish league. But on his day he is a more complete striker than the young Englishman.
2 Robert Lewandowski
Kane isn’t the only predatory striker to be linked with a switch to Spain. Robert Lewandowski has scored more than Cristiano Ronaldo in 2017 and the Pole has started this season in similarly impressive fashion, fashioning 13 goals in 14 matches for Bayern Munich.
That he has remained so prolific in spite of the unrest at the German club speaks volumes about his professionalism. His fitness is the stuff of legend. “Lewi has the most incredibly body” marvelled his former teammate Nuri Sahin in 2013. “It is just pure muscles. It stuns the other players in the changing room”.
More importantly, however, Lewandowski is a proven winner, securing the Bundesliga with two different clubs. Harry Kane, meanwhile, has a League Cup runner’s up medal from 2015.
3 Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema is the most controversial addition to this list, but arguably the most deserving. When he arrived in Madrid in the summer of 2009, his transfer was overshadowed by the world-record capture of Cristiano Ronaldo.
This theme has recurred every season since with the Frenchman relegated to a supporting role alongside the Portuguese striker's imperious talent. It would be wrong, however, to suggest that he is anything but proven world class. In 249 appearances for Los Merengues, Benzema has scored 123 goals and made over 100 assists.
But Real Madrid is not just any club. Benzema hasn’t always been popular with his own fans, who lament his scoring record and tendency to go missing in certain games.
Those fans, however, miss the symbiosis of his relationship with the teams’ greatest star. No player has provided more assists for Cristiano Ronaldo than the Frenchman and no player has perhaps subjugated his own interests in favour of the team. Until Harry Kane can do that, Benzema will always be regarded as the superior player.
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