Prior to the January 2018 arrival of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to the Emirates Stadium, it could easily be argued that Arsenal had been without a truly world class striker since the 2011/12 campaign, when Robin van Persie struck 30 times in 38 Premier League games.
Of course, at the end of that season, the prolific Dutch hitman controversially joined the Gunners’ rivals Manchester United in a £24 million deal, before promptly firing the Red Devils to the title.
Back at the Emirates Stadium, Arsene Wenger toiled to replace van Persie. Ultimately, Olivier Giroud did a very decent job for the north London club for a number of years, but he never hit the heights van Persie had. The likes of Marouane Chamakh, Park Chu Young and Yaya Sanogo all flopped.
To make things worse for the Arsenal faithful, in 2014, Harry Kane burst onto the scene at Tottenham Hotspur. The England captain has since struck 122 Premier League goals in just 175 appearances. He spent a year in the Arsenal academy as a young boy, but was let go in the early 2000s – a decision that could be considered catastrophic now.
Football FanCast’s Harry Sherlock and Will Jones have debated whether or not the Gunners’ post-van Persie woes could have been averted had Kane been kept in the red half of north London.
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Harry Kane could have filled a Robin van Persie-sized hole very nicely indeed for Arsenal.
Arsenal have lurched from one disaster to the next when it comes to buying strikers, bringing in the likes of Yaya Sanogo and Lucas Perez in an attempt to fill the gap left by the Dutchman.
It must be noted that the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, plus Theo Walcott, have done their bit to help carry the goalscoring burden but none have begun to approach the levels Kane has reached in recent seasons.
Indeed, since 2012-13, the top scorer at Arsenal in the Premier League has topped 20 goals once – Alexis in 2016-17 scored 24 times.
Kane has netted over 20 in each of the past four seasons, and has actually outscored Arsenal’s top scorers since Van Persie’s departure. When added together, Arsenal’s combined top scorers netted 100 goals exactly (not counting this season). Kane has scored 108 by himself.
He is a goalscoring phenomenon and would have eased the burden on Arsene Wenger, too, who could not find a 20-goal-a-season striker for the life of him.
Unai Emery appears to have two, now, with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Arsenal fans are right to wonder what might have been whenever they see that famed picture of Kane in an Arsenal shirt.
Kane’s emergence at White Hart Lane came as a result of a serendipitous series of events. Had, for instance, Roberto Soldado lived up to his £26 million price tag, Kane may never have been called upon.
Certainly, the English forward’s exploits across his numerous loan spells did not suggest he was on the cusp of becoming one of the top flight’s finest goalscorers. In spells with Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City, he was never able to reach double figures in terms of goals.
As it happened, Kane got a break in the first team and emphatically took that opportunity with both hands and hasn’t looked back since. It could so easily have been very different, and had he stayed at Arsenal it almost certainly would have been as Giroud would not have been so easily displaced.
Arsenal fans may well be jealous of their neighbours’ talisman but the idea that his career path would have followed the same remarkable trajectory at the Emirates Stadium is fanciful.