Roberto Soldado has sort of flown under the radar this summer, and that’s completely understandable. With Europe’s leading strikers in Edinson Cavani, Radamel Falcao, Luis Suarez, Mario Gomez, and a handful of others dominating much of the headlines, it’s easy to forget that Roberto Soldado, while not in those players’ class, is more than good enough to jump on the striker merry-go-round of this summer’s window.
Soldado falls into that category of strikers that compatriot Alvaro Negredo finds himself in: very good, but not quite world class. The Valencia striker has the talent, the experience at the highest level and the scoring credentials to warrant a big-money move out of La Liga. The problem is, he doesn’t have that aura and wow factor that can force an upturn in morale at Arsenal, or a big enough name to be Chelsea’s leading striker in the way Cavani could have been.
But that’s all politics that take away from his ability on the field. Like Negredo – and should Soldado arrive in England, the comparisons will rightly continue – he can play a significant role at a major team challenging for honours. With Valencia in a financial mess, he’s the club’s most saleable asset, allowing them to make up plenty of the revenue that is now lost after they failed to land a Champions League place for this coming season.
So forget the marketing factor that would be lost in signing Soldado over a genuinely big-name forward this summer and question whether he can be a team’s go-to outlet over the course of a season.
Can Soldado do it in big games? Last season at the Bernabeu, Soldado wrongly had a goal waved off for offside as he sprung the offside trap from an incredibly high Real Madrid backline and rounded Iker Casillas to offer Valencia what should have been a 2-1 lead and eventual win.
Since arriving at the Mestalla in 2010, Soldado has competed in three back-to-back Champions League campaigns, scoring a combined total of 15 in 21 games.
Surely the sensible and perhaps logical line of thinking is that a striker who can score over 20 goals a season in an okay though not terrible team, as Valencia were last season, can only go on to better those numbers in a team with the attacking capabilities of Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, or even Liverpool.
Chelsea may not really need him, with Romelu Lukaku, Demba Ba and the myriad attacking options from midfield able to supplement Fernando Torres’ unpredictable output over the course of a season. Liverpool, however, could do very well to replace Luis Suarez with Soldado, though how much will a lack of Champions League football affect the Spaniard’s decision to go to Anfield, as well as them being a little further away from breaking into the top four than Tottenham?
Soldado could be a perfect fit for Arsenal, able to act as the “fox in the box” that Wenger has spent years looking for. He’s not just another Olivier Giroud, if there is some kind of negative connotation attached to the Frenchman. The former Montpellier striker arrived at Arsenal after one very good season in France, though prior to that his name was hardly up in lights. Soldado, on the other hand, is very well known across Europe and has been one of Spain’s leading marksmen for the best part of the last four years.
Yet Arsenal are a bit of a strange one. While Soldado does fit the bill for what the club need – a natural and at times lethal goal scorer – he simply does not fit the bill of that “marquee name” the club have seemingly promised supporters. Make no mistake, there is a very real chance that Arsenal will completely fluff their lines this summer and be left with a worryingly small pool of strikers with which to choose from, forcing the club to target the Valencia man. But from a football perspective, it’s no real worry. The big hammer blow and backlash will come on the PR front, where the club have once again failed to deliver. Yet Soldado, combined with an improving Giroud – who isn’t bad by any means – plus Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski, is capable of helping to turn pretenders into Champions.
Local rivals Tottenham have plenty to offer too, though again you have to bring up the debate about a lack of Champions League football, mainly because it could be on offer elsewhere for the player. Yet in a World Cup year, Tottenham would offer him a regular place in the starting XI over the other London options.
There would be no PR damage at Tottenham’s door, rather it would be greeted with huge praise that the club were able to land a forward good enough to have his name featured on the list of big-name forwards on the market this summer.
Valencia will lament the loss of such an important figure should a transfer occur, as they have done in the recent past with other forwards. But if Soldado does arrive in the Premier League, White Hart Lane would appear to be the ideal fit, for both club and player, and due to the waves others are looking to make in the market.
Which Premier League club is the ideal destination for Soldado?
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