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Kane and Unable

22 May | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Kane and Unable

Why Soldado has been one of the saddest aspects of Spurs' failed transfer spree

HE CAME on in the final minute for Harry Kane last Saturday in a substitution that summed up his season.

Those final few minutes for Roberto Soldado were surely his last-ever in a Tottenham shirt at White Hart Lane.

The decline of the 29-year-old, signed for £26million two years ago, has been among the saddest aspects of that now-infamous, failed, £100million transfer spree.

Soldado started this season rivalling Emmanuel Adebayor for the role of Mauricio Pochettino’s no.1 striker.

Both men ended up being overtaken by kid Kane, set to keep his role as first choice next season.

It wasn’t as if they didn’t have a head start. Tottenham’s academy prospect did not play his first full Premier League game until November.

But while Kane made himself the first striker to score 30 goals since Gary Lineker in 1992, Soldado’s confidence is so shot to pieces that he will not be able to leave London quickly enough this summer.

(Adebayor’s personal life appears far more seriously shattered with his remarkable, public war of words with his family set to be the final chapter of his troubled career in north London.)

Last season Soldado netted just 11 times in all competitions. This time around it has been even worse with only five goals over the last ten months.

It was all so different when he arrived. Tottenham were delighted that they’d landed a top marksman who had played at the highest level.

He’d arrived having won the Spanish title. He smashed 24 league goals for Valencia in his final season before his transfer.

He’d featured for his country at the 2013 Confederations Cup. He seemed to be the marksman that Spurs had been crying out for to shoot their way into the top four.

On his debut that summer he set pulses racing with the winner in the Premier League at Crystal Palace.

In his next game – a Europa League tie at Dinamo Tbilisi, he hit another two. They he hit the winner at Swansea.

Every Spurs fan, from chairman Daniel Levy downwards, must have been rubbing their hands with glee.

A five-game gap without goals followed before Soldado netted in successive wins over Aston Villa and Hull. Five games after that he hit a hat-trick against Anzhi.

Sadly, however, he revealed after that match that his wife had suffered a miscarriage two weeks previously. He considered it unrelated to his lack of goals.

He insisted he was “able to concentrate solely on football matters”.

We will never know whether he had been more deeply affected by it than even he had thought. He managed just two more goals over the subsequent six months.

A horror miss in the Europa League – Soldado sending the ball wide from four yards with the goal gaping against Dnipro in February 2014 – didn’t help his confidence.

But even then you could have written off his first year in England as a bedding-in period. A chance for him to get his feet under the Premier League table.

When Pochettino arrived last summer, the feeling was that the former Southampton boss would reconfigure the side to get the best out of Tottenham’s most expensive striker ever.

He did try. But Soldado could manage just three goals over the first four months of the campaign. To increase the pressure on him, Kane was on fire in the cup competitions.

The Spurs fans were demanding the inclusion of the Under-21 marksman as the main man in the Premier League. Eventually Pochettino gave in and the rest is history.

Soldado should have carved his name into White Hart Lane legend with his prowess in front of goal. Instead he did so with his misses.

He found the bar instead of an open goal from just five yards out in Tottenham’s 4-2 FA Cup Third Round win over Burnley in January.

The came the second leg of the club’s Europa League tie against Fiorentina. With the game in the balance at 0-0, Soldado was clean through with team-mate Nacer Chadli alongside him.

He should have gone for goal himself. Instead, incredibly, he tried a weak pass to Chadli. Goalkeeper Norberto Neto nipped in to claim the ball and Fiorentina went on to put Spurs out of the competition.

Lineker tweeted afterwards: “Not sure I’ve ever seen a player as bereft of confidence as Soldado. Poor b*****r!”

It is hard to know specifically where it all went wrong for the marksman. His record at Valencia – 81 goals in 141 appearances over three seasons – stacked up.

At Getafe before that he hit 33 goals in 66 appearances over two seasons. Yes, he didn’t get a look in at Real Madrid with their galaxy of stars but he clearly knew where the goal was.

Sometimes, however, a player can pull up trees elsewhere but just not fit at your club. Chelsea found out as much with Torres, Shevchenko and a whole host of strikers. Diego Forlan is another such example at Manchester United. Spurs have been here before with Sergei Rebrov. Arsenal with Jose Antonio Reyes.

Newcastle found out to their cost with Albert Luque and Aston Villa with Bosko Balaban.

Spurs will have to take a hit on Soldado. They’ve got little to no choice. Neither do they have any chance of getting their money back after two seasons both they and the Spaniard will want to forget.

It is the reason why, however, they will be even more careful this time around about the reinforcements in whom they place their faith this summer.