Roberto Soldado arrived at White Hart Lane in the summer with a big reputation having scored 24 league goals the previous season for Valencia. Tottenham shelled out a then club record £26m for the Spaniard in a bid to bolster their striking options and yet, only 5 league goals and seven months later, there are talks of him being shipped back to Spain. What has gone wrong with a move that looked like the perfect fit?
Since his arrival in North London, the Spaniard has been below par. He managed to find the net in the opening two games of the season, scoring both the goals from the penalty spot as Tottenham scrapped their way to crucial 1-0 wins. However, since then, he failed to score in the next five games, scored two in the next two, again had a drought of seven games. His last league goal was in the 3-0 win over Stoke in the end of December and has since failed to find the back of the net in five subsequent appearances.
The most surprising bit of the entire goal drought has been the fact that he has been able to find the back of the net from open play on only occasion- the 2-0 away win over Aston Villa in late October. It is almost unthinkable that a top striker has scored just once from open play in 22 league appearances. Factor in the £26m price-tag and the pressure is undoubtedly going to mount.
Soldado has been unfortunate in that his transition to English football hasn’t been the smoothest possible. Changing countries, changing language and changing lifestyle are never easy and problems in his personal life made it difficult to focus on the task at hand following a difficult start. However, he has soldiered on with a brave face and even scored a hat trick in the Europa League against Anzhi in mid-December.
However, the goals have been hard to come by. No matter how much of an effort a striker puts in, his performance is always measured by the one thing- the number of times he has put the ball in the back of the net. The sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas hasn’t helped his cause much as new manager Tim Sherwood has preferred to start with Emanuel Adebayor over Soldado, and the Togolese striker has been scoring consistently to ensure that Soldado is now left warming the bench.
Although he averages a goal every 324 minutes, Soldado has been a good presence in the final third for Tottenham. He is fifth in the list of Tottenham players in terms of creating chances, having created 26 chances and averages better than the likes of likes of Aaron Lennon and Paulinho in this regard. In fact he has provided the most assists among all Tottenham players with 4 assists.
The main problem for Soldado has been hitting the target on a consistent basis. He has attempted 43 shots so far with only 14 of them being on target, i.e. 33% accuracy. Compare this to last season season when he was so prolific and the difference is clear-he was hitting the target more often, i.e. 51% of the time, resulting in the higher goal return.
In fact, he missed a sitter in the Europa League away leg last week when he sent the ball ballooning over the top of the gaping goalmouth from inside the six yard box despite being unmarked. Soldado took to Instagram to apologize for his shocker against Dnipro:
“Many thanks for the messages of support. I am sure that if I had scored my chance we would have won the game.
“I know that the people expect a lot from me and they still haven’t seen it yet.
I will keep working hard for those people and I will get there.
“Best wishes to the people of Ukraine.”
This shows that the Spaniard cares for the fans who have embraced him warmly since his arrival, but that warmth will soon be gone if his goal drought continues much longer. The talks of Tottenham sending min back to Spain may or may not be true but the player has enough ability and attitude to make this move work.
It will be in Tottenham’s best interests to keep their faith in the misfiring Spaniard and give him a chance to start afresh next season. There are not many players available who would be an upgrade on the 28 year old, especially considering the fact that the money from the Gareth Bale transfer is long gone. Soldado has now spent time in the Premier League, and it’s about time he started yielding some return on the huge invest that Spurs have made in him.
Stats via Squawka