Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says there can be no doubt about Harry Kane’s level of ambition and has backed the striker to play well into his 30s.
Kane scored both goals on Thursday as Spurs won 2-0 in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie with Dinamo Zagreb.
The England international has managed 26 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions this season, more than any other Premier League player. Impressively, he has also registered 16 assists, the most of anyone from England’s top flight alongside team-mate Son Heung-min and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
Having already surpassed the 24 goals he scored in each of the past two seasons, Kane, who turns 28 in July, is on track for his most prolific campaign despite a mixed period overall for Spurs.
While they are in the EFL Cup final and on track for the last eight of the Europa League, Mourinho’s side were knocked out of the FA Cup in the fifth round by Everton and head into Sunday’s derby with Arsenal in seventh place in the table, five points off the top four with a game in hand.
Mourinho can certainly perceive a desire for greater things in Kane, seeing in the striker a will to win comparable to previous star players in a coaching career that has yielded multiple league titles across four countries, two Champions Leagues and an historic treble with Inter in 2009-10.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with players with great ambitions,” he said. “It’s not possible to have a career like mine without players with ambition. He has that, no doubt he has that, no doubt that of course he wants to win matches, win trophies, score goals.
“[He is] totally committed to the club, totally committed to the national team. He’s a very good example of a top professional, not just a top player because sometimes top players are not top professionals, and vice-versa.
“He’s a top player, top professional and a great example for everybody.”
25 – Harry Kane has now scored 25 goals for Spurs in all competitions this season, already surpassing his goal tally from each of his previous two seasons (24 in 2019-20 and 2018-19). Dynamite. pic.twitter.com/QjKzsiZxz4
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 11, 2021
Mourinho also believes Kane could adapt his game to play for many more years to come, with some even tipping the 27-year-old to reach Alan Shearer’s Premier League record of 260 goals.
“You have to ask him,” said Mourinho when asked if Kane could play for another decade. “It depends on what he wants to do. I think it’s too early for him to think about that.
“He enjoys his football. When a striker is just that kind of goalscorer that can only play in that position, it’s more difficult, because when they lose that intensity of younger people, it’s more difficult for them because then they have nothing.
“But for this kind of player, I think they get better with time, with experience, with understanding of the game. In this moment, you see Harry, you see [Karim] Benzema, who is 33, this kind of striker. They are very intelligent, they drop back, they assist, so they can transform their game and later in their career, instead of being the number nine target, they become the nine and a half, between a nine and a 10, and they have football until they want. But  is too early to think about that.”
Arsenal have likewise had a difficult league season, sitting 10th in the table and seven points behind their neighbours, but Mourinho was not prepared to discuss the state of the balance of power in north London.
“I want to be respectful. I don’t want to go in that direction,” he said. “I am very proud to be at Tottenham, I have the feeling every day that I work at a big club, but in spite of the rivalry between us and Arsenal, I want to be respectful.
“Arsenal is a big club with a big history. A little bit like us, they are trying to build a better future. I have total respect for them.
“I look up; I don’t look down. If Arsenal were seven points ahead of us, I would look at them, but because we have seven points more, I don’t look down, I look up.
“At the same time, we look always to the next match and if instead of Arsenal it was [Aston] Villa or Newcastle United, the next matches we’re going to play, it would be the same feeling. We feel we are better than the position that we have in the table. We want to improve that position, so we need points for that.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a London derby. It’s a Premier League match: three points are there to fight for, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”