Gareth Southgate believes Harry Kane’s Bayern move is boost for England

  • Striker will not have off-field distractions at Euro 2024
  • ‘It’s good for Harry – he’s been at one club for so long’

Gareth Southgate believes Harry Kane’s move to Bayern Munich will benefit England and stop the striker being unsettled by questions over his club future during next summer’s European Championship. England’s head coach is excited about the effect joining the German champions will have on his captain, especially as the former Tottenham forward had to deal with off-field distractions at Euro 2020. Kane went into that tournament having made it clear he wanted to leave Spurs, who refused to sell him to Manchester City, and he struggled during the group stage.

Southgate thinks the mood around the 30-year-old will be different at Euro 2024. There had been the prospect of Kane, who had a year left on his contract before leaving Spurs last month, staying put and departing on a free transfer next summer. But Bayern secured their man, ensuring the season will not be dominated by speculation over Kane’s next move, and Southgate hopes that will guarantee England’s record goalscorer is focused on firing his country to glory.

“From a selfish England perspective, it’s good that his future is settled now for the next few years,” he said. “Potentially that can be a distraction for players. But also it’s good for him that he’s got to go and perform at a new club now. He’s been at one club for so long.

“To have a change means you’ve got to impress new teammates, new staff, new fans and also there’s the life experience of adjusting to a new country. There’s a lot of positives there.”

Southgate considered whether Kane will be in even better shape if he wins the first major trophy of his career at Bayern this season. “I’m sure for his own belief that would be brilliant,” he said. “I’m not sure he’s going to become a better player but there might be other aspects of the mentality this move will help him with. They’re probably, as you get older, the only bits you can improve upon.”

There was no concern over Kane moving away from the pace and power of the Premier League. “The Bundesliga is a bit different to some of the other leagues we’ve talked about, a bit more transitional,” Southgate said. “There is an intensity to that. We’ll have all the data on that from training sessions and matches, so we’re able to track that really closely.

Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate (right) says he isn’t sure Harry Kane ‘will become a better player … but there might be other aspects of the mentality this will help with.’ Photograph: Antonio Calanni/AP

“The big difference for Harry this year will be that there’s going to be a lot of games where they’re very dominant and in the opposition third of the pitch, so there will be a lot more play for him in the penalty box than he had in the last couple of seasons.”

England face Ukraine in a Euro 2024 qualifier next Saturday and visit Scotland for a friendly on 12 September. Southgate has made some difficult selection calls and faced criticism for picking the Manchester United defender Harry Maguire and the Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips. Maguire and Phillips are out of favour at their clubs and Southgate’s plans have been complicated by the duo’s reluctance to join new teams this summer.

“I have to accept whatever decisions clubs make with their players, whether they’re playing them or not or if they get injured with their clubs or whether they decide to move or stay,” Southgate said. “In the end, we have to work around those things, we can’t affect or influence them. We will just have to work within the parameters we’ve got.”

Southgate moved on to whether he sees Trent Alexander-Arnold featuring as a midfielder for England. The Liverpool right-back starred in midfield during the wins over Malta and North Macedonia in June. “He’s obviously a very important player at Liverpool in the position they’re using him,” Southgate said. “It’s slightly different for us, he came as cover full-back for us, but we’re really excited by what he did in midfield for us in the summer and that’s something we’d like to build on with him.”

Southgate added that he did not speak to Ben White before once again overlooking the Arsenal defender. White has not been in a squad since leaving the World Cup early.


Jacob Steinberg

The GuardianTramp

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