“The difference between leaving Arsenal and going to Manchester is that at Arsenal the fans loved me, I think even today they love me,” – Surely Arsenal and Manchester City fans would beg to differ?
Former Manchester City and Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor has claimed that the main motivation behind his loan move to Real Madrid in January was not the chance to play under Jose Mourinho or lead the Real front line in front of 80,000 spectators. Nor was it the opportunity to attempt Champions League success when Real resume their campaign against Tottenham. Instead, the former Togo captain claims he moved as he felt unloved and underappreciated by Manchester City fans and manager Roberto Mancini alike.
“If you ask a player there is nothing more important than to feel loved”, he told The Sun. “Today here in Madrid I feel very happy because I feel loved by all the players, by the supporters, by the staff members.”
But let us not forget that this is the man who was regularly willing to risk the affections of Arsenal fans in response to transfer speculation from the likes of Milan and Barcelona. In the summer of 2008, following his most successful season at the club, he stalled on signing a contract extension as foreign suitors enquired after his services. After baulking at the £30 million asking price, however, he stayed put, albeit after agreeing a significant pay rise. The following year, he stated he was regularly in contact with Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani and that they were a ‘sexy’ club. Despite claiming “Next season, 100 per cent, I am an Arsenal footballer”, he soon left. However, it wasn’t for Spain or Italy, but instead north to Manchester City.
Admittedly the first season of his estimated £165,000 a week contract was relatively successful, scoring fourteen goals. However, he soon fell behind Carlos Tevez in the pecking order with both Mancini and Manchester City fans. Whilst Tevez led by example and was tenacious and tireless, few warmed to Adebayor’s nonchalant style and disruptive nature (in particular Kolo Toure).
But to claim such admiration at a club he has been at for barely two months having joined on loan is a strange claim. True, he has scored three goals in thirteen appearances for the club. And, perhaps Mourinho could be the man to manage his temperament and get the best out of the player as he did with Didier Drogba at Chelsea. But he joined on loan as cover for the inconsistent Karim Benzema and injured first-choice forward Gonzalo Higuaín. And, he was not even Mourinho’s number one transfer target having missed out on Hamburg’s former Real striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. Instead, it was influential club president Florentino Pérez who brought him to the Spanish Capital. Perhaps this is why he is keen to keep the rumour mill turning and is yet to rule out a return to England this Summer.
As for his claims that Arsenal fans still love him today? Adebayor clearly has an extremely overactive PR drive. True, he was popular for his goal scoring abilities at Arsenal but fans began to question his motives as far back as 2007. But when Thierry Henry left they lost an icon and a talisman and hoped Adebayor could be him. But fans grew impatient of his increasingly greedy and lazy approach and his constant courting of other clubs. His negligible taunting of Arsenal fans and his obscene over-reaction to scoring against them in September 2009 must have been the icing on the cake to any Gunners fan. It’s a good thing he never kissed the badge whilst wearing an Arsenal shirt….