The elephant in the room at White Hart Lane is becoming a serious cause for concern for Tottenham Hotspur. Their lack of depth up front is threatening to undermine their start to the new Premier League season and the arduous sub-plot to the acquisition of Emmanuel Adebayor has become an energy-sapping nightmare.
But the truth is that Adebayor should have signed on the dotted line for Spurs ages ago. The big Togolese striker will not get a better footballing option than what is on offer at N17. He’s done so much to change what was a relatively damaged public perception. But events over the past few weeks have cast a real cloud over Adebayor. The omens do not feel good.
Emmanuel Adebayor’s initial loan switch to Spurs was greeted with more than a touch of scepticism at White Hart Lane. He has always appeared to be something of a controversial figure in the Premier League, but for many it was simply impossible to look past his time with the red half of North London.
Adebayor’s spell with Arsenal saw him well and truly vilified by Spurs supporters – so much so that only four months before he signed, the club had to appeal to fans to stop their malicious abuse of the forward, after controversial chants were aimed during their Champions League encounter with Real Madrid. Genuine bad blood had existed.
But on a purely footballing basis, Spurs fans knew just as well as anyone what he was capable of. Adebayor put Tottenham to bed in the Champions League with his two superb headers in 2011. During his time at Arsenal, the Togolese hitman continuously haunted his North London rivals, nailing eight against the Lilywhites during his time at the Emirates. Anyone who was at White Hart Lane in 2007 will remember his goal of the season for Arsenal in a comprehensive 3-1 win.
But more than anything, he represents a rare breed of Premier League striker, who has been proven to produce the goods. Adebayor took time to settle into English football, but when he did, he quickly became one the league’s more formidable target men. His ability to combine both physicality and astute hold up play with a neat finish and smattering of skill, represents the sort of striker who is sought after in the modern game – especially within the Premier League. His landmark of 24 goals for Arsenal in the 07-08 proved he can pull out a real goal scoring shift.
Adebayor’s ability, however, has never been in doubt. What has been called into question, on more than one occasion, is the striker’s persona and character. A fiery character, Adebayor isn’t quite of the mould of what one would perceive an ‘archetypal’ footballer to be like. He speaks both articulately and passionately and in his one season at White Hart Lane, he certainly seemed to be adored by his teammates. But that burning passion has often skewed his decision-making on the pitch.
The now infamously distasteful knee slide against Arsenal when playing for Manchester City, is probably the zenith in the controversial career of Adebayor. But incidents such as stamping on Robin van Persie’s head, a training ground scrap with Kolo Toure and the public feud with Nicklas Bendtner that even turned physical on the pitch, have left a controversial watermark over Adebayor’s resume.
Some fans will allege that Adebayor can be a poisonous influence in a dressing room and before his move to Spurs, it felt as if he was running out of friends in the Premier League, fast. But despite the grievances of some Tottenham fans, Adebayor’s loan spell was more or less an overwhelming success. Football will always be a fickle game and if you put the ball in the back of the net 17 times, as Adebayor did for Spurs in the league, then much will be forgotten.
But there is the feeling that after giving Adebayor the platform to breathe life back into his Premier League career, that Spurs could be about to be bitten on the backside. It’s true that Tottenham arguably needed Adebayor as much as he needed them last term. But there was the feeling that a permanent deal was something of a formality at the back end of last season. It should have been, in footballing terms, anyway. As it stands, Spurs now look to be staring down the barrel and starting next season with only one recognised striker.
From whatever reports you wish to gauge, Adebayor has been offered a highly lucrative financial package at White Hart Lane, but for various reasons, he has still not signed. The current line is that Adebayor wants his transfer fee reimbursed back to his charity, which is all very well. No one is denying that his work back in Africa isn’t to be applauded and backed to the hilt – but to drag that into his protracted transfer is missing the point.
Adebayor was offered a once-in-a-lifetime contract at Manchester City. However fluctuated the market was, he was not and still is not worth wages of £170,000 a week. To perceive that as otherwise is completely warped. The fee Adebayor reportedly wishes to claim for his charity is based on the concept that he must be compensated for a loss in earnings he will undertake by going to Spurs.
But City don’t owe Adebayor anything. A contract is a contract, but the concept of the Togolese refusing to leave City because they won’t donate £50,000 a week to his foundation seems absurd. If he feels that strongly about it, why doesn’t he donate his rumored £6 million signing on fee that he’d get at Spurs to the cause? Bringing the name of his charity into the argument does not vindicate his stance or give it any sense of morality.
Because ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding. If he doesn’t move to Tottenham Hotspur, than we will discover where his true motivations lie. He will not get a better purely footballing offer than what’s been offered at Spurs. He has no future at City, United and Chelsea have little need for him and there’s no point even mentioning Arsenal. He’s won over most Spurs fans and he’d still be made the club’s record earner after earning a mammoth signing-on fee.
Yet still, Adebayor hasn’t signed on the dotted line. Of course we don’t know the intricacies of the deal, but something feels wrong. Spurs are willing to make Adebayor a wealthy man and give him a footballing platform he won’t receive elsewhere. But if the big Togolese still doesn’t think that’s enough, then the writing may already be on the wall. Either way, Spurs must find the resolution to this soon – they have to sign a striker.
Are you sick of hearing Adebayor’s demands or do you feel that Tottenham now have to sign him? Let me know what you think, get involved in the Spurs talk on Twitter – follow @samuel_antrobus and bat me your views.