By Simon Evans
BURNLEY, England (Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane could end 2017 as the top calendar year goalscorer in European football after hitting his seventh hat-trick of the season in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Burnley.
His manager Mauricio Pochettino believes he can not only reach that goal but has the capacity to get even better in the coming years.
Kane’s triple means he has now scored 53 goals in all competitive games for club and country this year, leaving him just a goal behind Barcelona’s Argentine master Lionel Messi.
The England forward is level with Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Paris St Germain’s Edinson Cavani.
Unlike any of his rivals for the record, however, Kane still has a game left to play this year – a home game against Southampton on December 26.
Kane’s goals at Turf Moor also took his Premier League calendar year tally to 36, equalling Alan Shearer’s record from 1995.
“He is amazing, a fantastic player, he needs one more to be above Alan, we will see in the next game. But it is fantastic for him, “ said Pochettino.
“It’s difficult to find words to describe Harry Kane. Even during my time at Spurs I’m surprised by him. The hat-trick is nice for him but we could have scored more than three. I’m worried when you don’t create chances though,” he said.
Pochettino said Kane’s tally was just reward for the effort he has put into his game.
“During my three and a half years with Tottenham, he always surprises me —- not only with goals but his contribution, with his attitude, professional ethic, how he works across the pitch, he is a massive example for everyone.
“I am so happy for him, he needs one more to set the record over Alan and I think that is a massive individual achievement for him,” he said.
Asked whether Kane could go on to beat Shearer’s career record of 260 Premier League goals, Pochettino noted the consistency the former Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers striker showed throughout his career but said Kane had the quality to produce something similar.
“We hope for Tottenham and for him and I wish that every season (year) he will score 50 or more,” he said.
“I think he can still improve, he is 24 and the player arrives at their best 27, 28, 29 and it depends how professional you are.
“Harry Kane, if he keeps that mentality, keeps working hard every day, can play until he wants to. But for me, he can still improve in his game.”
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Rex Gowar)