So Emmanuel Adebayor is on his way to Aston Villa and it’s left me wondering why. Given that he has played for some big clubs and can put in some really good performances how come he struggles to hold down a first team place?
Stating his professional career at French minnows Metz the signs were bright. His return of 15 goals in just under 50 games piqued the interest of seven time Ligue 1 winners Monaco. He spent 3 years there and, whilst his goals to games ratio did tail off, he still appeared on the radar of Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger.
In 2006 the Gunners signed Adebayor for £3 million, and a young Adebayor was delighted as he could play for the same team as his hero, Nwankwo Kanu. After scoring on his debut he quietly made progress alongside club stalwarts Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie. Come the 2007-08 season and then he started to make his mark on the Premier League, in more ways than one. He was sent off, scored his first hat trick and was involved in an infamous on pitch bust-up with team-mate Nicklas Bendtner after he reputedly told Bendtner that he was sent on to save the game because Bendtner’s performance was so poor. After scoring his second hat-trick he went on the bag goals in the Champions’ League and win the BBC African Footballer of The Year. Things looked rosy for the Togo striker and then he seemed ready to move on to bigger and better things when Manchester City came knocking on the Emirates’ door.
This is where I think the downturn begins. A £25 million deal was agreed and Adebayor left North London in acrimonious circumstances, with many fans taking to Twitter and Facebook to condemn him for leaving the team that gave him his big break. Adebayor responded when playing against Arsenal by running the entire length of the pitch so he could celebrate scoring a goal in front of his old club’s fans. A special mention here for another ex-Gunner, Kolo Toure, who ran after Adebayor and dragged him back up the pitch, berating him for his lack of respect. Adebayor also received a ban for kicking Robin van Persie in the face. Further rumours of him slapping Alex Song and stamping on Cesc Fabregas surfaced but were unfounded. His poor behaviour continued as he fell down the pecking order at the Etihad, with the arrival of more and more superstar players, until he secured a loan move to the footballing mecca of the Santiago Bernabeu and Real Madrid.
Astonishingly, given the scale of the opportunity presented to him, he failed to capitalise on it though and squandered chance after chance in a number of games. He did net a hat-trick in an 8-1 mauling of Almeria, but ultimately Madrid decided not to make to move permanent.
Upon his return to Man City he refused to train and risked a huge fine before securing another loan to Tottenham Hotspur (another slap to the Arsenal fans). I found it odd at the time as the club he enjoyed scoring against the most was Arsenal’s bitterest rivals. But he seemed to settle in and a year later he secured a permanent transfer. Further altercations with Arsenal followed and he was again banned for a rash challenge on midfielder Santi Cazorla. Arsenal went on to win the game and many Spurs’ fans were unhappy with the Togo striker as they felt that they had the edge until Adebayor was sent off. A poor return from his games saw him fall out of favour under then-manager Andre Villas-Boas and he has not been a regular since.
It seems his poor attitude, lack of commitment and profligacy in front of goal is costing him what could have been a glittering career. He certainly has enough talent to score goals in any league and is gifted with incredible physical presence, but he seems content to waste his career by being unprofessional. It is a shame for a player who had such potential but hopefully, if the move to the Villans goes through, he might finally he able to settle down. Villa manager Tim Sherwood certainly likes Adebayor, he regularly played him when he was manager at Tottenham, so he is likely to get playing time.
One can only hope he makes the most of it.