LONDON • Arsene Wenger has admitted he did not know whether to laugh or cry when he discovered last season that Harry Kane had been on Arsenal's books as an eight-year-old.
The Gunners manager said he found out via the newspapers, having been unaware at the time. And he promptly asked questions behind the scenes as to how Kane could have got away to join Tottenham Hotspur, whom his club host in today's derby.
"I didn't know, I read it in the papers," Wenger said. "I found it quite funny, you know, and you are always a bit angry as well because I asked: 'Why did he go?' But at that age, boys can move here and there.
"I haven't spoken to Kane about it. I don't know who you could compare him with but I think he can be a top player."
Kane spent a year at the Arsenal academy before they let him go and he was also rejected by Spurs before they took him on at 11.
His rise through their ranks to his explosive breakthrough year last season has been well documented.
Arguably, the highlight was his two-goal performance in a 2-1 triumph over Arsenal - including a dramatic 86th-minute winner - at White Hart Lane in February.
After that game, pictures of Kane as a 10-year-old with dyed red hair at the Gunners' Invincibles title parade emerged.
Now, the back-in-form 22-year-old is looking to rain on Arsenal's parade in the derby.
Kane has five goals in his last three games for Spurs and his haul of 21 in the Premier League this calendar year is three more than any other player.
"We made a good statement against Manchester City (in a recent 4-1 win) and followed that up pretty well with wins so we face Arsenal on Sunday going for the win, and we're full of confidence and know we can win," said the England international, whom this weekend 12 months ago made his first Premier League start under Mauricio Pochettino.
However, Kane is also wary of a potential Arsenal backlash following the Gunners' 1-5 defeat at Bayern Munich.
"They took a bit of a hiding in midweek and they are going to want to put that right," he said.
"It is going to be a great battle and everyone is looking forward to it. We want to go there, set a high tempo and play well."