The Harry Kane team? Guardiola's last Barcelona side was more dependent on Messi


Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has strongly refuted Mauricio Pochettino's allegation that he disrespected Tottenham by calling them "the Harry Kane team".

The disagreement came about after Guardiola made the comment following City's 1-0 away win over champions Chelsea in the final fixture before the international break.

When assessing the strength of City's title rivals, the former Barcelona boss said: "We're in September. Chelsea won 13 games in a row last season. We have [Manchester] United and the Harry Kane team, who scores every game two or three goals."

Pochettino responded: "I know Pep, when he's excited after an amazing win he struggles to keep his position and be a gentleman," he said. "It was disrespectful for many. When he was at Barca I never said, 'the Messi team'.

Guardiola has now insisted he was simply lost in translation and that he knows Spurs are more than just Kane, but what do the Opta numbers, analysing the league performances of Guardiola's famous Barca side, say?

Barcelona were more reliant on Lionel Messi

Guardiola spent four seasons at Barcelona and Opta statistics show his side became more dependent on Messi in every year.

In his first season (2008-09), Messi was responsible for either a goal or assist in 32.4 per cent of Barca's total. That is fewer than Kane in Pochettino's first year with Spurs, when Kane's 21 goals and four assists were 43.1% of his side's total (25 from 58).

But the trend changes from there.

While Kane's contribution to Spurs' goals has stayed relatively steady at 43.1%, 37.7%, 41.9% and 42.9% this season, Pep's Barca lent on their superstar more and more.

From 32.4% in year one, Messi is then involved in 44.9% the following season, putting him above Kane in Pochettino's second campaign.

The gap then becomes more marked, with the Argentina international involved in 51.6% of Barca's LaLiga goals in season three for Guardiola.

By Guardiola's final season in 2011-12, Messi was involved in an astonishing 57.9% of his side's league strikes, with 50 goals and 16 assists from their total of 114.

What about the Premier League?

While Spurs' reliance on Kane may not compare with Pep's need for Messi to create and score goals at Camp Nou, it is still way higher than the majority of their domestic rivals.

Indeed, since the start of 2014-15, Opta's stats show their dependence on Kane has been the second highest of any team to play in England's top flight.

He has 81 of Tottenham's 227 team goals in that period, which is 35.7 per cent, putting him second only to Queens Park Rangers and Charlie Austin, when the now-Southampton striker scored 42.9% of their strikes over 18 months in the Premier League with the club (18 from 42).

Once you factor in assists too, Kane and Spurs rank third of any team since Pochettino took charge. 

Austin stays top given he was involved in 54.8% of QPR's goals (23 total goals and assists from 42), while Alvaro Negredo had nine goals and four assists to be involved in 13 from Middlesbrough's 27 last season (48.1%).

Kane only has 12 assists to go with his 81 goals, putting his total involvement at 41%, but the dependence is higher than other significant recent examples such as Everton's need for Romelu Lukaku, Swansea City's with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Leicester City's dependence on Jamie Vardy.