By George Ankers
If you’d asked Arsenal and Manchester City fans whether Emmanuel Adebayor would ever be the sort to drag a team by the scruff of its neck towards goal, they probably would have laughed.
However, there was no denying the striker’s impact as he tore around Stamford Bridge on Saturday, tracking back, chasing the ball down and setting attacks in motion from all over the pitch, doing everything short of physically pushing his team-mates towards the Chelsea penalty box. He came within a brilliant Gary Cahill goal-line clearance and a slightly over-hit header of breaking the deadline himself.
In his 28th appearance in a Tottenham shirt, Adebayor was making his case to play quite a few more.
The Togolese’s situation is a curious one. Having moved to White Hart Lane on loan from City in the summer, his temporary boss, Harry Redknapp, has been open about his desire to make the transfer a permanent one at the end of the season, but money is a clear stumbling block.
|WHO'S THE MANU
| PLAYER RATING
|8.0||Outstanding example of how to lead the line in a difficult away fixture. Held the ball up well with his back to goal and carried it forwards with power and urgency.|
Redknapp cannot hope to match the £175,000-a-week salary that the 28-year-old enjoys on the City books, but Saturday’s game may be proof that the Spurs boss should be offering as close to it as possible in order to keep Adebayor around.
The team’s form may have dipped of late but the striker has been a central aspect to their blistering performances through most of the season, uniting aerial and technical ability in front of goal and providing a pivot for all of Tottenham’s attacking movements. The improvement on Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch is profound.
Who else would be able to offer a similar package on a more palatable budget? Not many. Long-time target Fernando Llorente would probably be alternative No. 1, but he has only just signed a big new contract with Athletic Bilbao, so Spurs would have to pay out to a similar excess as they would with Adebayor.
Redknapp is a known admirer of Marseille hitman Loic Remy, but the Frenchman is a different striker of the pacy, equally-comfortable-out-wide mould who is more realistically an upgrade on Jermain Defoe and potential partner for Adebayor.
Villarreal’s Giuseppe Rossi is another name frequently linked with White Hart Lane but, even putting aside fears over how this season’s cruciate ligament injury might affect him long-term, he, again, is not the same proposition. Most comfortable playing off the defender’s shoulder, running onto passes rather than holding the ball up, Rossi would be another who could potentially combine well with the Togo international, but could hardly directly replace him.
Are there any other realistic alternatives of similar proven quality? You start to wonder what would be more costly – Tottenham paying through the nose for Adebayor or losing that dimension of their play altogether? It would surely set them and their lofty ambitions back by at least a year.
Redknapp is clearly delighted by the forward’s impact, gushing after the match about his display in leading the line. If the 65-year-old remains in the White Hart Lane hotseat past this season, you would expect him to push to keep hold of his man.
|You start to wonder what would be more costly - Tottenham paying through the nose for Adebayor or losing that dimension of their play altogether? It would surely set them back by at least a year
There is, of course, caution to be exercised. It is true that we have seen this all before from Adebayor. The frontman has a history of strong starts at clubs that tail off as soon as he secures a lucrative long-term contract as reward for his efforts. There is a reason why he is not still playing in a City shirt, after all.
But this case feels different. Adebayor himself has emphasised the liberation that he has felt at Spurs. “It’s always special to have a manager who gives you confidence and gives you your life back, telling you before every game to have confidence, to just enjoy your football,” he has said.
“I’ve got my life back, I’ve got my confidence back. That’s why even when I can’t score, I try and help the team defensively.”
Those sound the words of a man who has found his place. If Tottenham think that they have finally tamed the frustrating lion, then why pass up the chance to unleash him upon their enemies?
If Spurs are serious about maintaining their upward trajectory, they need to do what it takes to keep hold of vital players like Adebayor – and, ideally, they need to keep Redknapp around to inspire him.
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