Louis Saha believes Emmanuel Adebayor must put his off-field problems behind him in order to get back to becoming the unstoppable striker he thinks the striker can still be on his day.
Adebayor, who reportedly turned down the chance to join Aston Villa in the summer due to a sign from God, was released from his contract at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday by mutual agreement, following his omission from Spurs’ 25-man squad this season.
Saha – who played alongside the estranged Togo international at White Hart Lane in 2012 – has sympathy for the former Arsenal and Manchester City frontman, insisting that once he manages to overcome issues that have derailed his career in recent years, he can get back to enjoying his football.
‘There has been a lot of issues with Ade that have got in the way of him becoming a top player, consistently,’ Saha said. ‘I’ve always been a big fan of his because on his day, there’s no-one quite like him.
‘He can take the mic out of any defender, he really can be an amazing player. But for him it’s all about containing issues away from the football pitch, that I believe he gets distracted by.
‘I’m sure that he can still do a good job somewhere, but I think it’s really up to him.’
Adebayor – whose 18 goals for Spurs in the 2011-12 season earned him a permanent move the following campaign – found himself unfancied by Mauricio Pochettino over the past year, in the same way that he was overlooked by Andre Villas-Boas prior to a brief resurgence under Tim Sherwood.
Now 31, and without a club, the 2008 African Player of the Year is at a major crossroads in his career.
His problems at home have been well-documented if not precisely understood, and while it has been rumoured that disputes over his wage demands have stood in the way of previous exits from north London, his message of thanks to Spurs fans on Sunday reflected the good relationship he built with them over the past four years.
Saha – who left Tottenham for Sunderland in the summer of 2012 following the departure of Harry Redknapp – believes the Togolese striker still has the hunger to achieve great things in the game, feeling that he can act as an example to younger players aspiring to reach the top of the profession.
‘It’s about him getting opportunities to reach another level, and he has shown me that he’s got the commitment when he goes to the training pitch, every morning, and he works really hard. That’s not an issue.
‘He’s the type of player who when his eyes are on a certain project, and he decides what he wants to do, he will succeed for sure.’
Adebayor initially rejected Tottenham’s offer to cancel his £100,000 a week deal as the player reportedly wanted the length of his remaining contract paid to him in full.
In a bizarre but not unsurprising twist, the controversial striker then signed the pay-off agreement only to have a change of heart, opting to stay with the Lillywhites irrespective of the club’s wishes to terminate his contract.
Despite Spurs being seemingly short on centre forwards, Adebayor’s subsequent omission from the Premier League squad made it palpably clear he would never play for the club again, but with his severance package signed, he will now not be able to play for another club until January.