• Europa League

Why isn't Adebayor playing for Spurs away in Europe?

Michael Beattie
November 6, 2014
Emmanuel Adebayor has not figured heavily in Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino's Europa League plans © PA Photos

You have to go back to the April 2013 for Emmanuel Adebayor's last appearance for Tottenham in a European away tie - the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final exit against Basel, which ended with the striker missing the crucial penalty in the shootout.

In the two seasons that have followed, Adebayor has not played a minute of European football on the road with Spurs. He has travelled with the side just once in that time. All of which begs the question: why?

Adebayor's missed Europa away days

  • 2013-14
    Dinamo Tblisi 0-5 Tottenham - not selected
    Anzhi 0-2 Tottenham - not selected
    FC Sheriff 0-2 Tottenham - unused substitute
    Tromso 0-2 Tottenham - not selected
    Dnipro 1-0 Tottenham - not selected
    Benfica 2-2 Tottenham - not selected
  • 2014-15
    Limassol 1-2 Tottenham - not selected
    Partizan 0-0 Tottenham - not selected
    Asteras v Tottenham - did not travel with squad

"Aaron Lennon is not here, Kyle Naughton is not here, Younes Kaboul is not here," manager Maurico Pochettino fired back when asked why Adebayor was not in the squad to face Asteras. "It is the same situation.

"I decide the list for those coming to Greece and the players here are the players in the squad that will play.

"Okay, yes, it is a reality that Adebayor has not travelled in three games from England, to Limassol, Partizan Belgrade and here.

"For every single mission, for every single trip, we have our organisation and selections. We are ready."

So, has Adebayor always gone missing in Europe?

Adebayor has not featured in a European away match in the past two seasons, so this is nothing new - but prior to that, the former Arsenal and Manchester City forward regularly played on the continent.

After making his loan deal from City permanent in 2012, Adebayor was a key member of Tottenham's Europa League quarter-final run, too. But since taking a considerable amount of flak for his nonchalant penalty miss he hasn't been seen on the road in Europe.

Is there a rift with the manager?

It wouldn't be the first time. In Febraury Adebayor opened up about the clash with Andre Villas-Boas that led to his exile from the Tottenham first team, a year after the Portuguese coach left the club.

Mauricio Pochettino has options in attack among Emmanuel Adebayor, Harry Kane and Roberto Soldado © Getty Images

"He brought his ideas and I told him they would not help the team," Adebayor told The Times. "I have had a chance to play for a lot of top clubs in my career and I know how it is supposed to be."

But do not confuse Pochettino with Andre Villas-Boas. "I believe in Emmanuel Adebayor," The Argentinian said after dropping the striker for Tottenham's game against Besiktas last month. "It is true that he knows he needs to score because a striker always lives to score, but I believe in him and have no problem."

Adebayor's absence from Pochettino's Europa League away games might suggest otherwise, but the manager has indeed shown faith in his front man - who has started nine of the 10 Premier League games so far, scoring twice.

Is travel an issue?

It is only four months since Adebayor was advised not to travel to the United States and Canada for Spurs' pre-season tour after being diagnosed with a mild bout of malaria, but outside of pre-season absences and his banishment by Villas-Boas the striker has had no Bergkamp-esque problems with hitting the road.

Does Adebayor fit Spurs' Europa plans?

More likely, as Pochettino insists, this is simply a trend arising for footballing reasons. Tottenham have options up front, leaving the manager with the all too thankless task of squad rotation. To date, Adebayor, Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane have scored a combined 13 goals in all competitions - with Kane laying claim to nine.

Nevertheless, the Spurs boss has used 21-year-old Kane sparingly in the league while turning to Soldado as the main man in Europe. Adebayor is yet to play a cumulative 90 minutes of Europa League football this season, having made two appearances to date…

What matters more to Tottenham?

… which is not necessarily a bad thing. Fighting on four fronts means picking your battles, and for Spurs priority number one is a top-four finish in the Premier League. Tottenham are chasing Champions League football, and while the Europa League offers one route to next year's competition to the eventual champions, the tried-and-tested formula remains a strong domestic season.

Is it working?

Tough to say. With two goals in 11 appearances to date and an insipid 58 minutes against Aston Villa on Sunday, Adebayor has hardly fired Tottenham's season to greater heights.

Spurs are currently eighth in the Premier League, three points off the Champions League places and 12 behind leaders Chelsea, while two draws and a win in Europa League Group C leaves Pochettino's side with work to do to reach the knockout stages.

But it is early days in both competitions. It remains to be seen if Pochettino's decision to rest Adebayor pays dividends should the striker remain fresh later in the season, while the emergence of an in-form Kane has given the manager options in attack.

Harry Kane scored a hat-trick - and played in goal - against Asteras, staking a claim for a regular starting role in the Spurs attack © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close