Adebayor has rubbished claims that he was ever looking for a way out of Tottenham in the summer and has postulated that eventually he will become Tottenham’s number one choice striker.
Both claims have an air of unlikelihood to them. Adebayor has played for four different clubs since 2009 – Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Real Madrid – and has struggled to hold down a regular first team spot since, wherever he has been. Moreover there was talk of a fallout between Andre Villas-Boas and Adebayor, that led him being linked to a variety of other clubs during the summer, all this whilst training with the reserves during pre-season.
He has now explained his absence from the first team; a family bereavement, the death of his brother. He said training with the reserves was simply a way of regaining his football mentality and moral. A direct question about whether he was training with the reserves as a punishments led him to say:
[quote]“I’m not at a training centre to get punished by my coach. There has been no argument; I did not hit him either so I do not see why he will punish me. I decided with my manager, even before the start of the transfer window that I would not leave Tottenham and that’s what I did. I have never thought of leaving the Spurs. I am here, my family feels great here and I do not see myself in another city.”[/quote]
Well, as he says, he is still at Tottenham but it is hard to believe that he and the club were not exploring options for a transfer, regularly linked as he was to Schalke and Besiktas. After all it is not uncommon for a player to backtrack after failing to obtain the move that he desired; even Fabio Coentrao changed his tune – from making regular public statements that he was desperate to leave Real Madrid, to stating that he never wanted to leave, but only once his move to Manchester United collapsed.
Could Adebayor ever lead the line again?
The player himself certainly seems to think he can. In the same interview, Adebayor commented:
[quote]“Today I will not tell you that I‘m stronger than Soldado or Defoe or Lamela. We now have four in the attack. I do not know who ranks first, second or third but I know at the end I will be the first and it is the most important.”[/quote]
This ambitious claim was the most interesting extract from his interview, since it has made his intentions over the next year public for the first time. Whether Spurs fans want him at the club or not, he proposes to fight his way back into the mix with the eventual aim of being number one in the pecking order.
Is he capable of this? In fact, has he ever played at a level in recent memory that would make him capable of this?
Well at the moment he would do well to make the Tottenham bench. That said he has shown form in the past with Spurs which would at least put him in with a fighting chance of selection.
In 2011-2012, which was only the season before last, he had a clear-cut chance conversion of 41% and a shooting accuracy of 53%, leading him to manage 17 goals in 32 appearances. This gave him a minutes per goal stat of 167 and that season he was joint fourth top goal scorer in the league behind three big names: Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, and Sergio Aguero.
He also proved to be somewhat of a creative entity with 11 assists over the season, 10 of those from open play. Indeed, any player who reaches double figures in both goals and assists over the course of a season will have done extremely well, no matter what their position. Overall it meant that he was directly involved in a goal every 101.46 minutes.
However, 2011-12 was the only time in his career that he has reached this level. Sometimes it is just the case that players will go through an unusually good period of form that they fail to rediscover, Florent Malouda and Papise Cisse being good examples.
Moreover, whilst this was a good season, it was not an outstanding, world-class, 38-game performance. With Spurs pushing to finish higher and higher up the table each season it is something that they are looking for, especially after losing Gareth Bale. Adebayor is not that now, nor has he ever been in truth.
It is not necessarily the case that Roberto Soldado has been playing at a world-class level either, but he has been far more consistent and prolific over the course of his career. Last season he scored 24 goals with 4 assists in 33 starts, and is respected as an extremely cool finisher.
Erik Lamela will also stand in Adebayors way as a young and upcoming striker and right winger. He likes to operate from wide positions but that doesn’t stop him scoring and at the age of 21, Villas-Boas will want to use him as much as possible so that he will develop into the player they need him to be. With 15 goals and 5 assists from 30 appearances last season, he is already playing at a very high level, and the odds are that he will only get better.
So given that Jermain Defoe has regularly been ahead of Adebayor in the pecking order, and also that Andre Villas-Boas will have brought in Soldado and Lamela with the intention of playing them, I would doubt that Adebayor’s prophecy of becoming Tottenham’s number one striker will ever come true.