Is this the end for Soldado?
Signed as part of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ in the summer of 2013, £26 million-man Roberto Soldado was expected to replace the goals of talisman Gareth Bale. Tottenham had previously lacked a proper penalty box striker since the days of Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane. Soldado was bought to fill that void, but has failed miserably. The club’s reliance on Bale, coupled with the Welshman’s inevitable departure, meant there would be an incredible amount of pressure on the Spain international as Tottenham looked to break into the top four rankings.
Record signing Erik Lamela was another unfortunate victim in this regard. From the seven, Lamela was Bale’s most inherent replacement; a wide forward renowned for cutting innside onto his left foot and providing goals and assists. But Lamela was young and immature, and to a certain extent still is. Goals were not immediately expected from the Argentine. From seasoned striker Soldado, on the other hand, goals were assured. Or so everyone was convinced.
It simply hasn’t happened for the Spaniard. The established No. 9 who volleyed in goal after goal for Valencia, at least on YouTube, appears to be a shell of his former self, totally devoid of confidence. This was ultimately evident when Soldado, through on goal against Fiorentina, attempted and misplaced a pass to a teammate instead of going for glory, arguably ending any chance of Spurs qualifying for the next round of the Europa League.
Keeping the faith
The Tottenham faithful had previously been incredibly patient with Soldado, almost unusually so. Never has a striker been so remarkably admired at White Hart Lane despite disappointing on such a huge scale. On the extremely rare occasion the 29-year-old has managed to find the net, Spurs fans have seemingly enjoyed his goals more than they would those of, say, Emmanuel Adebayor.
There is a degree of logic here. Adebayor’s maverick-like tendencies have turned much of the crowd against him. Soldado, on the other hand, has always at least attempted to contribute, and has always been willing to be part of a collective team effort regardless of his inability to put the ball in the net.
Damningly, his miss in Florence saw much of the patience drain away. While he will presumably never be actively disliked by the Tottenham support, a tear won’t be shed when he is allowed to leave in the summer, probably for far less than he was signed for.
The incredible rise of Harry Kane has only emphasised Soldado’s disappointing time in North London. Kane scored his 25th and 26th goals of the season against QPR last weekend; Soldado has netted just one league goal for Spurs this term.
Kane’s second strike at Loftus road was the antithesis of Soldado. The 21-year-old could have easily squared to Nacer Chadli on his right, but the young England hopeful had the poise, the confidence, to round Robert Green with ease and slot into an empty net.
Furthermore, Kane and Soldado could not have more opposing stories in terms of their respective emergences into the team. Soldado: a big money signing, tipped for glory from the get go. Kane: a local lad, determined to play for his club after a number of fruitless loan spells. The latter is now lauded. The former? Abject, on the brink of being disowned.
Without the failures of the seven players acquired by Tottenham that summer, the new blood may never have emerged. Never has such a substantial waste of money been so beneficial, particularly at Spurs.
The future indeed looks bright for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. But irrespective of what is to come, many will look back in pity for Roberto Soldado – a footballer, it seems, in the wrong place at the wrong time.