When Roberto Soldado joined us two years ago from Valencia for a potential fee totalling £26 million, our fans were absolutely ecstatic. A world-class striker on our books at last! Well, at least that is what it looked like on paper. 60 goals in 101 appearances at Valencia, which included 16 goals in 23 appearances in European competitions was the evidence that hopefully we had signed a striker that could take us to the elite level, we had long been searching for. However, two years and seven league goals later, and we find ourselves in a position where Soldado has joined mid-table Spanish side, Villareal, on a cut-price £10 million deal, much to the joy of our fans. So, what went wrong?
On the one hand there is a clear argument that Soldado never really fit into the system that we have played in the last few years. In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Soldado never looked comfortable as the lone striker. At his previous club, Valencia, he had always had a partner. There was limited chances for him to play with a strike partner at Spurs. A combination of Soldado with Emmanuel Adebayor was tested by Tim Sherwood, but it was a short-lasting experiment. Part of the problem was also that the service that Soldado received at Spurs was very different to what he was used to at Valencia. In Spain, he was renowned for being a penalty-box poacher, feeding off the constant crosses delivered into the box. At Tottenham, there were limited crosses into the box, with a more intricate (pedestrian) build-up play that required more movement outside of the penalty area. That was something Soldado never seemed to adapt to. Or was it that we never adapted to him?
In truth Soldado was the wrong fit for our system. A club which doesn’t put many crosses into the box signing a penalty-box poacher doesn’t make too much sense. Instead at the time the Club needed an all-rounded lone striker capable of being a target man, capable of pressing defenders and capable of linking up with our trio of attacking midfielders. Soldado’s career was further hampered by the managerial merry-go-round at White Hart Lane that took place during his time at the Club. In two years he had three managers, and the one that signed him was sacked just six months after Soldado joined. That was never going to help the Spaniard’s settling process.
Some players just aren’t the right fit for some clubs and their systems, and Soldado and Tottenham are a prime example of this. Hopefully, this sort of mistake can be avoided in the future with a more thorough scouting process. However, if there is one positive from his failure, it is the emergence of Harry Kane. Think on the bright side, you have to as a Spurs fan!
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