Nuno Espírito Santo said he expects Harry Kane to “get ready and help the team” after the Tottenham striker sat out their victory against Manchester City.
Kane, strongly admired by the Premier League champions, was left out of the Spurs squad after returning to group training only on Friday and in his absence Son Heung-min struck a fine winner, leading Nuno to praise his killer instincts on an afternoon when Pep Guardiola bemoaned his side’s profligacy.
City are thought to be ready to pay €150m (£127m) for Kane if they believe Tottenham are open to a deal. Spurs maintain Kane is not for sale despite the striker’s desire to depart and have already turned down a £100m offer from City.
Kane trained at Spurs on Sunday morning and was reportedly in attendance at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the game. The Spurs manager said he expected the England captain to join his squad when ready.
“Harry is one of the best players in the world, so we are very lucky to have him,” Nuno said. “He has to get ready and help the team. We still have to go to Portugal [to play Pacos Ferreira in the Europa League on Thursday] and then we think about Wolves [on Sunday]. Harry worked this morning, is preparing himself and when he is ready he will join the group and help the team.”
Son arrowed in the only goal of the game after 55 minutes and City departed empty-handed despite 18 shots, four on target. Victory for Spurs brought another triumph for Nuno against Guardiola, with the former Wolves manager earning his third league victory against his City team, the joint-most of any coach. Asked whether City’s toothless display intensified the need to buy a striker, Guardiola replied: “We have the same people [squad] as last season. Sergio [Agüero] has gone – unfortunately, last season we could not use him much – and then came Jack [Grealish]. We are the same people. We won the Premier League and we made very good things. It is the same people as last season and we scored lots of goals. We arrive in the final third many times but we could not be clinical enough. We have now a long week to prepare for Norwich and hopefully the players can come back step by step.”
The Tottenham academy graduates Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp, who spent last season on loan at Norwich, impressed defensively and, without Kane, Son starred centrally in attack for Spurs.
“Sonny and the talent that he has is amazing,” said Nuno. “I truly believe that he is versatile enough to play and develop the tasks in all of the positions up front. He is dynamic, he has speed and he knows the game. Sonny can find the gaps, the spaces and he is a killer. I believe he will do better in the future.”
Ilkay Gündogan sustained a shoulder injury late on, which Guardiola said City would assess on Monday. Only one club in Premier League history have lost their opening game of a season and gone on to win the title – Manchester United on three occasions (1992-93, 1995-96 and 2012‑13) – but Guardiola refused to be too downbeat and admitted Grealish’s full debut was a major positive.
“His personality, influence – he got three fouls in the first minute –and immediately he woke up and showed [his quality],” Guardiola said. “He is a player that is so dangerous close to the box. He made an incredible game and had an incredible debut. I congratulated him for the personality to play and to try and try until the end.”