Everything Pep Guardiola has said about Harry Kane as transfer rumours grow
It seems to have become the default answer in every Premier League manager's vocabulary whenever speculation surrounds the future of a top player heading into the transfer window.
So it's no real surprise to see Harry Kane's reported discussion with Tottenham informing them he wants to leave has brought the predictable response from Pep Guardiola.
Manchester City have emerged as the suggested frontrunners in the race for the England captain this summer, but Guardiola typically opted to refer to type when quizzed by reporters following their defeat to Brighton on Tuesday.
"Next question. He is a Tottenham Hotspur player, please."
While not an uncommon reply, it seems Guardiola has for once been more backwards in coming forwards for a player he has had no qualms about discussing publicly in the past.
Guardiola first irked the North London club back in 2017, when he effectively labelled Tottenham a one-man team.
Speaking about the title race at the time, he said: "Of course this season has a little more problems because they [ Chelsea ] play every three days, that's always more complicated for all the teams.
"But we also have [Manchester] United, we saw again the Harry Kane team scores every day two or three goals."
Then-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino suggested the comment from his opposite number was disrespectful, but Guardiola stated he was merely pointing out Kane's prolificacy in front of goal – an undeniable fact, given he had just won the Golden Boot for two seasons running.
It was a comment Guardiola later came to regret, but it was clear from his one liner what he felt of Kane's talents.
Admitting his error the following year, Guardiola said of Spurs: “They showed me how wrong I was."
But the City boss was far less withdrawn in his praise for Tottenham's talisman just six months later.
"I have said a thousand times since I came here in England about them but of course Harry Kane who can deny [his importance].
"He is the No 9 for the international team, he is an incredible striker and he has everything, right, left, movements, he keeps the ball and sets up the ball.
"He is intelligent and when he is in the box he does everything. He is a modern striker but of course it is not just Harry Kane in Tottenham, we know and we knew it even if people didn't believe me."
Since then Kane's goalscoring exploits have continued, but his trophy cabinet has remained empty, while City's is running out of space.
It appeared for a while that Tottenham's progression under Pochettino had warded off any outside interest in their starring man, and had Kane been fully fit for the 2019 Champions League final, maybe his list of honours would look slightly different.
Even the arrival of Jose Mourinho as manager at Spurs following Pochettino's sacking pointed towards the possibility of finally landing some silverware.
Spurs were top of the table in the run-up to Christmas, and it was their performance over Man City which had many believing they were in with a title shot.
Kane was particularly impressive that day, as Guardiola conceded after the match.
"It’s my fifth season here so I was able to see him so many times. An exceptional player and everybody knows it.”
Shortly after that fixture there were reports Guardiola had 'namechecked' Kane in a list of potential targets for the end of the season.
And while Tottenham's season faded into relative insignificance, City wrapped up the title, snatched another trophy from Kane's grasp in the Carabao Cup, and made their way to the Champions League final.
All of this while playing largely without a recognised striker, with the club's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero set to leave on a free transfer in the summer.
Yet despite all City's overpowering wealth, it seems stretching to stump up the reported £150million for Kane is out of the equation.
"I don't know what is going to happen but at these prices we are not going to buy any striker," Guardiola said last month.
"It's impossible. We cannot afford it. All the clubs are struggling financially, us as well.
"Today there is more chance we will not buy a striker next season."
However, that was before Kane made his intentions clear to move on, and in the same breath Guardiola had effectively narrowed the field of potential Aguero replacements to a very small selection.
"Maybe we are going to find a new player to replace him but in terms of numbers? Impossible."
Impossible? Perhaps. Unless you're the main man in the Harry Kane team.
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