Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor couldn’t buy a goal right now – even if he were to pay off Wojciech Szczesny to put in a below-par performance ahead of this weekend’s North London derby (which probably wouldn’t arouse much suspicion anyway, considering the Arsenal keeper’s had a rather sloppy season) the Togo forward would still probably manage to keep himself off the score-sheet with some comical errors in front of goal.
His performance against West Ham was truly disturbing. In other fixtures, the lanky frontman could be accused of going AWOL, disappearing from the game and putting in the minimum required effort. But against the Hammers, Adebayor seemed to be more often than not at least giving the opposition defence something to think about in terms of movement, and furthermore appeared to be trying to work himself into the right positions to score.
The alarming bit however was his shocking miss which could soon find itself on a Christmas 2013 football bloopers DVD – with Jussi Jaaskelainen lying on the floor after making a tremendous save, Adebayor closed in on the rebounding opportunity, with the goal at his mercy, only to head the ball directly downwards and into the hands of the grounded West Ham keeper.
So with the Tottenham forward in such a poor vein of form, which has been in no way helped by Adebayor’s participation in the exaughsting African Cup of Nations, is it time for Andre Villas-Boas to cash-in on him in the summer? Should he be sold to the scrap yard for whatever he’s worth at his most basic value? Or does he still have a role to play at White Hart Lane?
Some say ‘you’re only as good as your last game’ but I disagree; It would be unfair to judge a player who has a record of 80 goals and 35 assists in 187 Premier League appearances to his name, and has also played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Manchester City, Arsenal and Real Madrid in such a simplistic manner. There is no doubt the striker is a considerable talent ; he is still as physical and powerful as ever, and despite what the Fernando Torres saga may have you believe, it is impossible for any player, especially one of Adebayor’s quality, to lose his footballing abilities overnight.
So if you shouldn’t judge a footballer on his last performance, should he be judged over the course of a season? If so, it unfortunately still doesn’t look too good for Adebayor. This current campaign is his worst to date since arriving in England, with two goals and no assists in 16 league appearances, including ten starts.
Similarly, off the field, the striker has reverted back to his bad boy ways, reporting late from the African Cup of Nations and costing his club a huge transport expense in the process. But what is more concerning about the incident, and provides a further insight into the Togolese international’s psyche, is that it happened whilst Andre Villas-Boas, the club and the fans needed him most.
With Jermain Defoe, who has been outclassing Adebayor all season (leading to weekly shots of him on Match of the Day looking rather moody on the Spurs bench) sidelined through injury, they required the forward’s presence up front, as the club currently has no other senior strikers on their books. But alas, Adebayor was a no-show, and subsequently fined for his lack of team ethic.
What Tottenham fans probably find most confusing about Adebayor’s 2012/2013 season is that it’s such a sharp contrast to the year previous, where he finished up with 17 goals and 11 assists. Perhaps it’s the age-old phenomena of signing a player on a permanent basis after a successful loan spell, only for that player to lose his drive and determination, and furthermore his form that earned him the transfer.
But looking at Adebayor’s stats from over the years, a familiar pattern emerges. Every good season is followed by a slump the following year. For example, his 24 goals for Arsenal in the 2007/2008 campaign was followed by just 10 goals the season after. Similarly, he netted 14 times during his first season with Manchester City, only to record just one goal in eight appearances during his second season.
What does this tell us about Adebayor’s future? Well, he could quite easily go on to rediscover his old form after the summer and go on to have a blistering campaign next season; but his attitude will never change. The fact that the Togo international is quite simply not a team player has undermined a career that showed unbelievable potential during the early years, and although Adebayor has gone on to become one of the top strikers in the Premier League, his regular inconsistency, selfishness and lack of team ethic has stopped him from becoming a world-beater, which is arguably why he was unable to make his loan move to the Bernabeu a permanent deal.
But does that mean he should necessarily be scrapped in the summer? I would argue that seeing as the ultimate decision will be AVB’s, and Adebayor has hardly impressed since the Portuguese gaffer arrived at White Hart Lane, it’s a very likely possibility. However, as mentioned previously, there’s a serious striker shortage in Tottenham’s roster, and therefore losing further personel in the attacking department would surely be a bit of an organisational faux pas.
Similarly, at least Adebayor is a proven Premier League striker, with a solid track record and a proven pedigree. Bringing in a fresh face always has an element of risk to it, especially when replacing a top-flight footballer with an unproven import, which would be the most likely scenario.
But then again, Adebayor’s presence at every club, at least while in England has always felt like it comes with a sell-by date. Although none of his managers would ever deny his talent, he seems unable to stay in one place for too long without rubbing his team-mates and bosses up the wrong way. Therefore, he’s a transfer that can never be viewed as a long-term investment. So if the opportunity came in the summer to sell on the moody forward for a respectable fee, I believe Villas-Boas would and should take it with both hands.