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Analysis: Harry Kane’s lack of involvement is an exaggerated problem at Bayern Munich

A hot topic among Bayern Munich fans, but is there any reason to worry about Harry Kane?

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1. FSV Mainz 05 v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Harry Kane has hit the ground running at Bayern Munich, scoring ten and assisting five in ten competitive games. Despite Kane’s strong start to life in Bavaria, fans have been left unsatisfied with the England captain’s lack of involvement. This has left many a fan baffled as to why the club spent 95 million euros on a player who is barely involved. While this may be slightly worrying, there is no need to fret.

Where Kane is supposedly falling behind in involvement, he is excelling in goal scoring, currently producing a 0.95 expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga. At Bayern, Kane is also surrounded by capable creators in Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala and Thomas Müller, who were all in the 90th percentile (per their respective positions) for shot creating actions (SCA) in the Bundesliga last season, thus easing his creative responsibilities. Lastly, while Kane’s shot creating action numbers are down compared to seasons past, he is currently providing 0.52 assists per 90, proving he is still a capable creator when it matters.

Kane was brought in to score goals and that is exactly what he is doing

FC Bayern München Training Session And Press Conference - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
Harry Kane is putting up numbers at Bayern Munich.
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Since the departure of Robert Lewandowski, Bayern has needed a world class striker capable of scoring goals. The solution: Harry Kane. As far as solutions go, this one has proved highly effective.

The former Spurs man has tallied ten goals in as many appearances for Die Roten, while averaging 30 touches per 90 minutes across all competitions. Thus lies the problem. Or does it?

Touches indicate how involved a player is in any given game. The higher the amount of touches, the more involved the player is. So does this mean the more involved a striker is, the more impactful they are? Absolutely not.

If touches do not portray how effective a striker is, then what does? Goals. Let’s take a look at Harry Kane’s most prolific goal scoring season, the 17/18 season. The Englishman managed a total of 41 goals across all competitions. An impressive tally; no surprises there. What may surprise some people though, is his involvement across that season. Kane averaged only 31 touches per 90, only one more than he is currently averaging for Bayern.

Another good example of a striker’s impact compared to involvement is, arguably the worlds best striker, Erling Haaland. The former Dortmund man capped a phenomenal debut Premier League season, scoring 36 goals. But how involved was Haaland? In a 36 goal season, the most ever recorded in a single Premier League season, the Norwegian was only averaging 25 touches per 90. In a Manchester City team that averaged 65.2% possession and 787 touches per 90; 25 touches every 90 minutes was enough to make Haaland City’s player of the season.

In the Bundesliga, Kane is operating at a 0.95 expected goals (xG) per 90. This is 0.3 more than he averaged in the 17/18 Premier League season, his best ever goalscoring season. In reality, Kane has 9 goals in 8 matches, a rate of 1.18 goals per 90, a very good ratio. At this point, it is important to consider that penalties may skew this data slightly. Kane’s non penalty expected goals (npxG) in the 17/18 Premier League season was 0.65. In the Bundesliga he has 0.63npxG. This means Kane has penalties to thank for his high xG. But taking penalties out the picture, he is still just about matching the npxG of his best ever goalscoring season in the Premier League.

So what does this all mean? In summary, touches are good marker for involvement, but it doesn’t dictate how impactful a player, in particular a striker, is for their team. The metric we need to look at for strikers is goals, and this is something Harry Kane is excelling at so far at Bayern Munich.

Relax Harry, we’ll take the creative responsibilities from here

1. FSV Mainz 05 v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga
Harry Kane is assimilating to life on the pitch at Bayern Munich just fine.
Photo by Ralf Ibing - firo sportphoto/Getty Images

There is currently no one metric that can measure a players overall creativity. A good place to start though is shot creating actions (SCA). This metric measures the two offensive actions that take place in the direct lead up to a shot.

Let’s take a look at Spurs’ main creative contingent in the Premier League last season. Harry Kane, produced 3.46 SCA per 90 minutes, Ivan Perisic (3.2) and Pedro Porro (3.26). This ranks them all in the 90th percentile for their respective positions. Decent, however, not as good as Bayern’s top creators.

In the 22/23 Bundesliga season Bayern had five players in the 90th percentile for SCA per 90 minutes in their respective positions. This includes Jamal Musiala (4.91), Joshua Kimmich (4.55), Kingsley Coman (5.43), Thomas Müller (4.65) and Alphonso Davies (3.88). Not only that, excluding Alphonso Davies, these players all registered at least one more shot creating action than Harry Kane last season, Spurs’ most active creator.

Does this mean that Harry Kane has suddenly become a poor creator? No. Spurs were bad last season? Well, yes, but not quite the point. The fact is that Bayern has more creators, and of a higher quality than Harry Kane’s Spurs. This naturally means that Kane will not be required to be the creative outlet like he was at Spurs, but rather, the end product for Bayern’s creators. Which again, is exactly what is playing out on the pitch

Harry Kane is still creating when it matters most

Since joining Bayern, Harry Kane has seen his SCA take a knock. At Spurs last season, he was averaging 3.47 SCA per 90, which was mostly maintained or bettered throughout his time in London. At Bayern, Kane’s SCA per 90 is down to 2.5. This may concern some, but it can mostly be explained by the previous segment. It could also be interpreted that Kane has lost his creative touch but this is not the case at all.

Kane is scoring goals, this is no secret, but what is perhaps being overlooked is the fact that he has already racked up five assists in ten games. In the Bundesliga alone, Kane has registered four assists. That’s one more than Kane managed over the course of the entire 22/23 Premier League season.

Admittedly, this does have to do with the fact that Bayern as a team is a much better creative outlet with stronger finishers than Spurs last season. However, recording 0.52 assists per 90, above even his most prolific assisting seasons in a Spurs jersey, proves that Kane is still capable of creating when it matters most.

Taking everything into account, there is no reason for Bayern fans to worry about Harry Kane’s lack of involvement. The Englishman is scoring goals despite fewer touches, while being supported by a plethora of creative talent and even though he is not creating fewer shots, he is still bagging assists at an impressive rate.

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