Emmanuel Adebayor: Good business, good riddance or both?
SOMETHING strange is afoot when a club sells one of its leading players and not a single fan is disappointed by it. That was the level to which Emmanuel Adebayor s reputation had sunk at Arsenal. His sale to Manchester City at the weekend, for a reported
SOMETHING strange is afoot when a club sells one of its leading players and not a single fan is disappointed by it. That was the level to which Emmanuel Adebayor's reputation had sunk at Arsenal.
His sale to Manchester City at the weekend, for a reported fee of �25m, would usually incur some gnashing of teeth and wails of a lack of ambition at the Emirates. But it did not.
Try as you might, you will not find anybody who does not think that this was an amazing piece of business for Arsenal, who bought Adebayor for less than �7m in January 2006.
City have money to burn and a desire to make 'marquee signings' from the clubs they wish to emulate - hence also needling Alex Ferguson by tempting away Carlos Tevez, annoying Liverpool for Gareth Barry and outraging Chelsea with their pursuit of captain John Terry.
But Arsenal are neither needled, annoyed nor outraged by losing Adebayor. Privately they must be over the moon to receive such a sum for a player who had fallen out of love with the club, and the feeling was mutual.
Looking back, the striker signed his own exit note a year ago when he asked for more money and questioned the direction of the club after the loss of Mathieu Flamini to Milan and Alexander Hleb to Barcelona.
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Arsenal fans could perhaps accept that from a player like Thierry Henry, who had broken records and won trophies in eight years at the club.
They could even accept it from a younger man like Cesc Fabregas, a player whose very presence at the club signifies Arsenal's continued standing in the top tier of the European game.
But not from Adebayor. Not from a player who, after all, had arrived as a complete unknown just two-and-a-half years earlier and was soon transformed into a global star after being given his chance at Arsenal.
When deals to take him to Camp Nou or San Siro failed to materialise last August, a frustrated and de-motivated player was left behind. Adebayor had agitated for a move and thought he had got it. He wasn't ready for another year in north London.
It wasn't always like this, and Adebayor's demise is yet another chapter in the ever-widening tome of greed and fame getting inside the head of a modern football player.
He arrived almost humbly from Monaco in early 2006, and training alongside the likes of Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Fabregas the beanpole striker from Togo was pinching himself on a daily basis.
Arriving at the same time as the then 16-year-old prodigy Theo Walcott, Adebayor slipped into Highbury a little under the radar.
"I know I will have to work hard at this club to prove myself to the players here," he said in an early interview with this newspaper as, cup-tied in the Champions League, he ended his first season watching from the stands at the Stade de France as Arsenal lost to Barcelona in the final in Paris.
Already he had proved useful that season, scoring on his debut in a 2-0 win at Birmingham and adding a total of four goals in 10 games as the Gunners pipped Spurs to fourth place on the season's final day in the last game at Highbury against Wigan.
The following year saw Bergkamp retire, Jose Antonio Reyes leave and Robin van Persie get injured. Suddenly Adebayor was playing alongside Henry and the partnership was starting to gel.
When Henry left at the end of that season, Adebayor stepped up to the plate and, in the following campaign of 2007-08, scored 30 goals to announce himself as a Premier League force.
The first sign of a problem with Adebayor was his bust-up with team-mate Nicklas Bendtner during the Carling Cup semi-final defeat at White Hart Lane in January 2008.
Some at the club felt that moment, rather than the hissy-fit from captain William Gallas at Birmingham a few weeks later, was when the wheels started to come off the Gunners' title challenge.
Adebayor had always been such an affable and popular player around the training ground that this seemed to be completely out of character. Clearly all was not well.
Six months later and with Hleb having followed Henry to Barcelona, Adebayor was telling journalists at a Puma event in Vienna why he should earn as much as Arsenal's fabled No14. Having already lost key players, Wenger could not afford to let Adebayor leave too, and the club reluctantly increased his wages.
However, it was soon clear that Adebayor was not going to be quite the same. He looked disinterested at the start of the season, and after two invisible displays in the Champions League semi-final with Manchester United in early May, most Arsenal fans had seen enough.
And now they have their wish and he is gone. A fee of �25m after such an indifferent season was an undoubted bargain. However, this was a player who scored almost 50 goals for Arsenal in the last two years - he will need replacing.
And Arsenal could, of course, be on the receiving end of City's new-found wealth, and not just when the two sides meet at Eastlands in September.
City's new army of expensive talent is ready to take on the established elite in the Premier League and, on last season's evidence, Arsenal are the weak link who could be sucked back into the pack.
Adebayor has, unquestionably, had his head turned by money. But he also knows an opportunity when he sees one. The chance to be well-paid and successful at City was too good to turn down.
After more than three years without a medal at Arsenal, Gunners fans will not want to watch if he finds success with his extravagant new employers.