Antonio Conte hints he will sign ‘another No 10’ to aid ‘born striker’ Harry Kane

In an ideal world Antonio Conte would like to have both versions of Harry Kane in his Tottenham team.

The one that is the prolific goalscorer, lethal in front of goal, and intent on breaking Alan Shearer’s Premier League scoring record, and the other whose creative instincts and passing range when dropping deep into the second forward role have contributed to so many of his side’s goals this season.

The Harry Kane that Conte does possess has been doing both of those and is arguably the standout player in the league right now as his goals and assists have propelled Spurs into the top-four reckoning.

Kane has transformed the way Tottenham play and has contributed to Son Heung-min, Dejan Kulusevski, Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura posing even more of a threat. But the Italian’s plan is for the England captain to become primarily a centre-forward, the focal point of his side’s attack, and then bring in another number 10 to complement Kane.

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“Harry, he was born a striker,” Conte said. “But he has the talent and quality to play like a number 10 with another striker in front of him. But I like to have him as a striker and then eventually another number 10.

“Honestly I prefer Harry like [a] number nine, because when he stays into the box or the edge of the box he has great quality, right, left, also with a header, he has great potential.

“But sometimes when he goes back and creates space for Sonny, and Bergwijn, and Kulusevski, and also the wing-backs, it’s important to have different options, otherwise you are predictable. And in modern football your team has to be unpredictable.”

Kane again orchestrated his side’s attacking play as Spurs fired five goals past Newcastle last weekend, prompting former Spurs winger turned television pundit David Ginola to compare him to Diego Maradona.

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Conte distanced himself from the comparision but he did not pass up the chance to tell a story about when he came up against the Argentinian in Serie A.

“Two different players, honestly. Maradona was a number 10, not a number nine,” he said. “I tell you one thing that is very curious. When I was playing with Lecce and [Zbigniew] Boniek was the manager, my role was to man-mark the number 10.

“I was lucky, or maybe not lucky, to mark Maradona when Napoli played Lecce. 3-2. And I scored! My first goal in Serie A. When I was only 19 years old! It was the last season for Diego in Naples but for sure this game is impressed in my mind because I marked him and I scored. I was very happy, despite the defeat.”

Kane’s form since the turn of the year has helped Spurs become the leading goalscorers of 2022 in the Premier League with 30.

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“We must be pleased. The stats are not so important, but the stats speak very clear,” Conte added. “I think that now we are a team that scores a lot of goals and we create many chances to score. We are improving our stats and when you improve your stats it means your position, your level, is going up.

“For this reason now, we are in fourth place because we are scoring a lot of goals and defensively we are showing solidity.

“But at the same time we know very well we have to improve a lot. There is space for improvement, we have to continue in this way, not be presumptuous and to think that now everything is OK because it’s not in this way.

“We are in a good way but we have to continue to work very hard and show improvement.

“To score the most goals in this league from 1 January, it means we are working well and there is satisfaction for this.”

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