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Real Madrid doubt Kane's Galactico credentials ahead of UCL showdown

The ESPN FC crew discuss Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola's war of words over Harry Kane.
The ESPN FC crew discuss Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola's war of words over Harry Kane.
The ESPN FC crew discuss Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola's war of words over Harry Kane.

Harry Kane is in the spotlight as Tottenham visit Real Madrid for Tuesday's Champions League Group H clash, with fans and pundits around the Bernabeu eager to see if the England centre-forward can justify the hype.

There's speculation that Madrid president Florentino Perez and his advisers have been impressed by Kane's outstanding form for club and country, and added him to their list of targets.

Jorge Calabres, director of popular fan website ElBernabeu.com, told ESPN FC that Kane's 15 goals in 14 games so far in 2017-18 (including five in two in the Champions League) had not gone unnoticed in the Spanish capital.

"If Kane keeps up his level, then of course Madrid will be interested," Calabres said.

"He is the big sensation of the season so far. I see him as one of Madrid's big targets for next summer, although it will be awkward due to his price and the difficulties of getting players out of Tottenham. I would like him for Real Madrid, no doubt about that. Zinedine Zidane's team are missing his type of player."

Madrid socio Isaac Morillas maintains that Kane, 24, has done well for Tottenham so far but still has a way to go before being seen as true Galactico class.

"Kane is still pretty unknown," Morillas says. "His name has been mentioned, but personally I see him as a good forward who stands out in a middle-ranked team, outside the European elite.

"The majority of people I've talked to think that way too. Nobody doubts he is a good player, but there is big gap from there to being world class. And for the price being talked about, he would have to be a world class star."

Jaime Rodriguez covers Madrid for Spain's El Mundo newspaper, and he says that Tuesday's game and the return at Wembley on Nov. 1 gives Kane a chance to properly introduce himself to Madrid supporters and decision-makers.

"I believe Madrid fans do not yet know him well," Rodriguez says.

"These two games will be key. If he shines, he will join the list of possible forwards who Madrid could be interested in. For the moment, the club has made no movement for him."

Harry Kane is in blistering form for club and country, scoring 15 in 14 so far this season.

Morillas reckons that showing the attributes of a traditional English No. 9 would not be enough to interest the Bernabeu.

"Kane would have to show a goal-scoring instinct, strength and pace," he says. "But also that he is good on the ball and understands the play. If he is [just] a classic English No.9, I doubt that his signing would really be considered by Madrid.

"Being English helps him. We know how the British market has interested the club with Jonathan Woodgate, David Beckham, Michael Owen and Gareth Bale.

"But it is difficult to see Madrid paying up to €100 million for him. That would be the price Tottenham would ask for sure, they are always a tough negotiator. Although if he shone at the World Cup next summer, anything is possible."

Should Kane keep up his impressive goal-scoring rate, and stand out in Russia next summer, his price-tag will keep increasing. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy using the record sum of £198 million which Paris Saint-Germain paid for Neymar last summer as a benchmark looks likely.

Calabres recalls that Perez has declined to get involved in auctions in past summers, looking on as Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe joined Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.

"The transfer policy at Madrid is to not get into battles for astronomical sums with teams from the Premier League or PSG," he said.

"That makes it very difficult, given Kane's price-tag. The decision of the player himself also counts a lot, although Levy has already shown he does not see that as a reason to sanction a sale."

Benzema Bale and Ronaldo
With the long-term future of Madrid's BBC in doubt, Tottenham's main man has been linked with a move to the Bernabeu.

This would leave Madrid potentially raising money by finally breaking up their "BBC" strike force of Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, a possibility which Perez reportedly considered closely last summer.

With Isco and Marco Asensio taking on increasingly prominent roles in the team already, Morillas says that change is coming.

"I believe that the BBC's days are over now," Morillas said. "I would not be surprised if next year there were big changes and not just one leaves, but two of the three."

All of which means there will be plenty of interest as Kane takes to the field on Bernabeu on Tuesday.

The feeling in Spain is that he has not yet quite done enough to be seen as a future Galactico. But a lot could change between now and next summer.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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