Roberto Soldado's goals can bring Tottenham Champions League football.
Let me take you back to September 1st, 2008. Dimitar Berbatov had just signed for Manchester United for £30million. Meanwhile in North London, Tottenham Hotspur had just been forced to sell the most talented striker in the Premier League. Although not out of pocket, Tottenham would find it hard to replace the Hungarian. Who would have known that the search for Berbatov’s replacement would have lasted almost five years, three managers and £83million to find?
The journey begins with Juande Ramos and the signing of Roman Pavlyuchenko from Spartak Moscow for £14million. Although clearly a talented player, the Russian’s three-and-a-half seasons at Spurs were mixed and inconsistent, struggling to fill the role Berbatov left behind, scoring 42 goals in 113 appearances for Spurs.
Jermain Defoe returned to White Hart Lane in January 2009, despite only leaving Spurs the year before for Portsmouth, for almost £16million. A fan’s favourite, Defoe had a fantastic 2009/10 season, scoring a whopping 24 goals in 43 appearances, key to the Lilywhites finishing fourth place. However, similar form has alluded Defoe since then, a modest 41 goals in 111 appearances.
Robbie Keane was the second player to resign for Spurs for £12million in 2009 after an unsuccessful spell at Liverpool. Before leaving, Robbie Keane was one of Tottenham’s most liked and most consistent strikers, scoring 107 goals in 282 appearances. However on his return to the Lane, Keane only scored 14 goals in 49 appearances. He left Tottenham for good in 2012 for LA Galaxy for £1.5million.
Peter Crouch signed for Spurs in 2009 from Portsmouth for £10million. Crouch scored some very memorable goals for Spurs in his time there, including the goal against AC Milan, putting Spurs in the quarter final of the Champions League in their first attempt, and the goal that put them their in the first place against Manchester City. Crouch was never a regular scorer for Spurs, representing a serious goals problem for Spurs at the time.
Emmanuel Adebayor became Harry Redknapp’s next striker signing in 2011 on loan from Manchester City for the 2011-12. He enjoyed a great first season for Spurs, scoring 18 goals in 37 appearances, as well as 12 assists. He made the deal permanent in August 2012 under the new management of Andre Villas-Boas. AVB did not enjoy the same success with Adebayor up front, with the striker only scoring 8 goals all season, despite playing a very important forward role in the side.
I’ve had to take you through the whole plethora of Spurs strikers since 2008 so you can truly grasp how much of a struggle it has been to find Berbatov’s replacement. The main problem has been finding a striker who can score 20 goals a season whilst being consistent. As we saw with Defoe in 2009/10, if you could find that striker, you could get into the Champions League. Adebayor would have worked in 2011-12 if it weren’t for the freak accident of Chelsea’s Champions League win, denying Spurs their place. Last season, the problem was not as nearly as intensive as previous seasons due to the goal scoring record of Gareth Bale; Spurs made their highest total points tally of 72 points. Due to the impeccable form of other club, this problem still managed to cost us Champions League football.
With the signing of 28-year-old Roberto Soldado from Valencia though, I feel this problem will finally cease to exist. Already he has scored 4 times in 3 appearances for Spurs.
On top of this, the Spanish striker has scored 20 goals or more for the past three seasons in La Liga, as well as scoring 6 goals in 11 appearances for Spain. What’s more, Soldado will not need to adapt to the Premier League; the type of player he is already relies on positioning and physicality. He possesses the ability to lead the forward line, as well as beating the final man, something many strikers in the England lack. Complaints with age will be quickly put to bed when I tell you how old Robin van Persie was when he signed for United: 29. RVP’s signing won United the league.
Roberto Soldado will bring to Spurs what they have lacked since Berbatov, what would have pushed them on to bigger and better things, what would have put them with England’s elite. He will be a regular goalscorer. He will make good out of Tottenham’s fantastic midfield. He will be a game changer. My prediction is simple: should Soldado score 20 or more goals this season, Tottenham will be in the top four.
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