Should Tottenham be alienating him like this?

Emmanuel Adebayor

It’s safe to say Emmanuel Adebayor isn’t the most popular figure at White Hart Lane, or for that matter at any Premier League ground. The Togo international has a knack for rubbing people up the wrong way, having failed to make a home for himself at Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid and now Tottenham.

Last season’s penalty miss in the Europa League semi-final is probably the image that lives most in the memory for Lilywhites fans, and Adebayor’s efforts last season, or rather lack of effort, eradicated the popularity he received for his 17 goal-haul in his first campaign with Spurs, whilst he was still on loan from City.

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The poor showings last term lead to Andre Villas-Boas and Daniel Levy souring various potential suitors for the striker’s services over the summer, but with Adebayor refusing to leave his dwellings in North London, he now finds himself as an excluded member of the first team sent away to train with Tottenham’s development squad after returning from his native Togo on compassionate leave last week.

But should AVB be so wilfully exiling Adebayor in such an ungracious and humiliating fashion? Granted, the Togo forward’s attitude has never been what you’d call exceptionally professional, but he could still have a role to play at White Hart Lane.

Spurs splashed out a whopping £28million on Roberto Soldado this summer in a record-breaking deal for the Lilywhites, and the Spaniard has so far this season featured in all four Premier League fixtures, netting twice in the process. But even so, the strike force is still Tottenham’s weakest department in terms of depth, especially without Adebayor.

Jermain Defoe has proved time and time again in his career that he’s capable of netting around ten goals a season, whether off the bench or as a regular starter. But if both Soldado and Defoe were to suffer serious injury, then Tottenham’s striking hopes in the final third would depend upon youngsters Harry Kane and John Obika, or else winger-forwards Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela will have to be utilised in less familiar striking roles.

It’s hardly what you’d call Champions League material, especially whilst Liverpool can boast Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, and the two Manchester clubs have four strikers all of whom would probably be starting on a regular basis at any other Premier League club. Moreover, a lack of options up front was Tottenham’s biggest flaw last season – if they’d had another in-form striker in the books, that cutting edge could have eclipsed the one point gap between Spurs and local rivals Arsenal.

Additionally, regardless of last season, there’s no doubt that Adebayor is a high quality player. He’s plied his trade at one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs in Real Madrid, and two Premier League title-winning outfits in Arsenal and Manchester City. His time in England has brought a decent record of 83 goals and 37 assists in 196 league outings, and the season before last he finished up with an astonishing 17 goals and 11 assists in 33 games from his partnership with Jermain Defoe.

And the England striker agrees that Tottenham are better with Adebayor’s influence than without it, telling reporters two days ago; “I don’t think it [Adebayor’s exclusion] helps the team, to be honest. Someone like Mani, he’s a great player and has played for some of the top clubs in the world and is someone that we’re going to need. We will need his goals and what he brings to the team. He’s keeping himself fit, he’s a happy guy, he loves his football, and hopefully he’ll be back soon with the team.”

But of course, the issue with Adebayor has always been his poor attitude rather than his talent. He’s made it quite clear more than once in his career that securing his next pay cheque is his sole motivation, and his decision to not leave Tottenham in the summer was undoubtedly influenced by his inability to receive a parallel level of pay at another club.

So AVB’s thinking of excluding Adebayor from the first team is more than understandable, considering after moving permanently to Spurs from Manchester City his effort levels tanked completely. Rather than giving an overpaid has-been another shot he doesn’t deserve, the 29 year-old’s third choice striking role could go to one of Tottenham’s hot young prospects, such as Harry Kane who briefly impressed on loan to Leicester last season.

However, is it that inconceivable that at some point in the coming year Spurs will need Adebayor’s influence? Whether he’s utilised as a substitute or a starter, he undoubtedly possesses the quality to find the net, whilst his height, power and ability to protect the ball also provides a vital variation from the styles of Jermain Defoe and Roberto Soldado, which could be an incredibly useful tool for Spurs if used on the right occasion in the right way – namely when the Lilywhites are chasing a last minute goal and have to pump the ball into the box.

Getting the best out of the Togo striker has always been a question of the right motivation, but it will be a lot harder for Villas-Boas to get a positive reaction out of Adebayor now that the Spurs management have made it clear that he’s an unwanted member of the White Hart Lane roster.

I’m not suggesting Adebayor should be taking Roberto Soldado’s place in the first team any time soon, or even Jermain Defoe’s on the subs bench. But at some point in the season, just as with last season, there will be a point where Spurs will end up relying upon their unwanted striker. It could be for ten minutes, a full 90 minutes or ten games. And it does neither the player, the rest of the team or Andre Villas-Boas any favours by exiling him in the reserves.

Should the Tottenham management be alienating Emmanuel Adebayor?

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