Spurs striker is frustrating - but Harry can’t find anyone better
Harry Redknapp admits that he is constantly frustrated by the inconsistency of Roman Pavlyuchenko, but insists he is yet to see a better striker in any of his scouting missions abroad.
Pavlyuchenko started on the bench against Birmingham on Sunday but came on to score two second-half strikes, taking his final tally to 14 in all competitions, ahead of Peter Crouch (11), Gareth Bale (11) and Jermain Defoe (nine).
The Russian finished the season just one goal behind Spurs’ top scorer Rafael van der Vaart, who netted 15 times in a highly impressive first season for Tottenham.
Redknapp admits that he is desperate to get the very best out of the lackadaisical 29-year-old, and has even asked Guus Hiddink, the former Russia manager, for advice.
However, the Spurs boss is also acutely aware of Pavlyuchenko’s qualities, stating that none of the strikers on his radar have looked as good as the man who is already in his squad.
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“Pav has so much ability. You watch him in training every day and his movement, his finishing, he’s top-class,” said Redknapp. “Some weeks he looks top drawer and some weeks he isn’t. You don’t know what to do really, it’s a difficult one.
“I’ve been speaking to Guus Hiddink about him. He came here to the training ground and I said: ‘I’ve cuddled him, shouted at him, I’ve tried everything’. He said: ‘You won’t ever change him.’
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“Pav’s a great guy, a smashing boy. He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body, he comes in and trains hard every day. He’s just so laid back. Some days he’s at it and some days he’s not. When he is, he’s fantastic.
“He’s a mood player. He has dynamite in his boots, you could see that on Sunday. He can do that, 25 yards out – bang. He has that ability and he’s a clever mover.
“I’ve been to France three times and I’m looking at these players and thinking ‘they’re not as good as Pav is’. They are very hard to find, people who are better than what you’ve already got – unless you’re going to pay massive money.
“I think he’ll stay next year, he has so much ability. I’ve had no problems with him, I’ve played him regularly – I played him up on his own at Chelsea. He got the nod over most of the other strikers towards the end of the year.”
While Redknapp has repeatedly stated that he is looking for a new striker this summer, the Tottenham manager insists he has not written off Robbie Keane, who will return to Spurs after his loan spell with relegated West Ham.
“I haven’t written off Robbie at all,” said Redknapp. “He is a top-class professional who has played over 100 times for his country. He has to come back here and play in the team.”
However, Keane is not so positive about his prospects of returning to his pomp at White Hart Lane.
“I have only got one year left there [at Tottenham] so I am sure they will probably want to do business on me,” he said.
“The chances in the Premier League for me are fairly slim. For me it is about enjoying my football and playing as much as I can – maybe going to a team where I can help the younger players that are coming through.
“I am not getting any younger but I will go back and see what happens. I am a Tottenham player and I am sure they will want to get a bit of money for me.
“Whether a Championship team would pay that, that’s another problem, but I want to play in the Premier League for the next couple of years.”