Harry Kane is an admitted follower of Cristiano Ronaldo’s stratospheric stats as he pursues the Portuguese’s status as the best in the world, but for once it is Ronaldo who trails in the race to be the Champions League’s top marksman.
An inspired Kane has transformed Tottenham Hotspur’s European form from last season’s failure to a flying start with five of Spurs’ six goals in victories over Borussia Dortmund and Apoel Nicosia.
The acid test for Kane and his teammates comes at the Santiago Bernabeu Tuesday night where holders Real Madrid and Ronaldo lie in wait having dismissed Dortmund and APOEL themselves thanks to four goals from the reigning world player of the year.
“For sure it is a chance to measure ourselves. We are facing the best team in the world,” Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino told Spanish radio station COPE this week.
“We are a young team with many internationals, but not so much experience of playing these type of games. It is a fundamental test.”
Pochettino has fallen head over heels for Kane, conceding his wife was jealous of his repeated declarations of “love” for the English international.
“He is one of the most in-form strikers in the world for sure. The numbers speak for themselves,” added Pochettino.
The figures are so good they’ve drawn comparisons with the two men that have taken goalscoring to previously unseen levels in the past decade – Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Kane’s 13-goal haul in September matched the best ever goalscoring month by Messi or Ronaldo.
“I want to be one of the best players in the world, so when people put stuff up and I see I am close to those players it is a great incentive to get even closer and go to the next step,” Kane said after netting his sixth hat-trick of the season to slay Apoel in Cyprus.
At just 24, Kane has time on his side but far more to prove not only to reach the heights set by Ronaldo and Messi, but also the consistency they have shown in sharing the last nine Ballon d’Or awards.
“Staying consistent at the top level is what it’s all about,” added Kane.
Comparisons with Ronaldo have been derived not only from Kane’s goalscoring, but his drive to constantly improve.
“He is a great professional who is always looking to get better,” added Pochettino.
“In the next 10 years he is going to be among the best strikers in the world because he has that determination on top of his quality.”
Despite Spurs’ rise in recent seasons under Pochettino, consistency has been a shortcoming that has so far starved them of silverware.
Spurs fans proudly declare Kane as “one of their own”, but doubts remain over how long he will persist with Pochettino’s project if trophies aren’t forthcoming.
Tottenham know very well how tempting the lure of Real’s riches and prestige can be having lost Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to the Bernabeu in recent years.
And with Real having failed to replace the departed Alvaro Morata with Kylian Mbappe, who instead headed to Paris Saint-Germain in August, Kane has emerged as a prime target.
“I donâ€™t know what will be of Kaneâ€™s future, but I can talk about the here and now,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane said on Monday, refusing to quash speculation.
“Heâ€™s a fundamental player for Spurs. Heâ€™s very good at everything, but what he does is score goals.
“He’s not a static player, he always finds space and is quick. He’s a complete player.”
Maribor v Liverpool
Sâ€™ Moscow v Sevilla
Feyenoord v Shakhtar
Man City v Napoli
Monaco v Besiktas
RB Leipzig v Porto
APOEL v Dortmund
Râ€™Madrid v Tottenham