Smart people in England may be debating how Three Lions-y Harry Kane is, but Tottenham’s young striker may already putting himself in a different, perhaps more impressive group of elites. After all, no Premier League player has ever posted a better scoring rate as a 21-year-old.
We went through the 23-year history of England’s “new” top tier and looked up how the league’s top scorers (anybody who’s ever finished a season in the top 10 in goals) performed as 21-year-olds. Most (like Henry, van Nistelrooy, Suárez and Agüero) weren’t even in the league at that age. Others weren’t getting any playing time. A few were just terrible.
Others, like Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and Cristiano Ronaldo, were already establishing themselves as stars. Perhaps surprisingly, Kane’s goal rate surpasses all of them.
(All players age 21 on Jan. 1 of the given season.)
Any regression to the mean likely drops Kane all the way down to Jermain Defoe and Yakubu land, but that assumes Kane’s “mean” is much lower than what we’re seeing now.
But isn’t that the heart of this story? We don’t know how good Harry Kane can be, but based on the eye test and what we’ve been told, there’s the assumption that he’s not really this good. Yet the numbers, in this context, hint Kane is not only good but possibly special.
Every player on this list was a productive player, and while there is some selection bias here, our criteria only required you to be good for one season. Every player on this list has had multiple standout seasons, with most experiencing some success on the international level. Four players on this list became outright superstars.
Is Harry Kane worthy of England? In time, we may be asking if England worthy of Harry Kane. The early numbers hint he may be just that special. Regardless, he just scored two goals to beat Arsenal.