Roberto Soldado is in danger of finding himself marginalised in Spain and England if he doesn't start performing
Roberto Soldado’s move to Tottenham Hotspur last summer was supposed to confirm their status as Champions League contenders.
The striker’s transfer from Valencia gave the fans of the club a new sense of optimism that they could breach the gap to the top four and finally finish ahead of their bitter rivals Arsenal.
Soldado had been a regular scorer in La Liga and was considered one of the best players in the world in his position, after netting 24 times in his final season in Spain.
However, a year later, he is no longer wanted at his current club or back in his native country.
Soldado’s first campaign in English football could hardly have gone worse for him. Not only were Spurs regularly shown up to be well short of the quality required to break into the Champions League qualification spots in the Premier League, but he looked a shadow of his former self.
Brought in for a club-record fee of £26 million, the hope was that Soldado would replicate his scoring form in La Liga and add genuine quality in a position that Spurs have been lacking in for a considerable amount of time.
However, by the end of the year he had slipped down from being the main-man at White Hart Lane to falling below Harry Kane in the pecking order.
Soldado is not the first front-man to struggle to adapt to the Premier League, but for a man who has made a living out of being a predator in front of goal, he looked woefully short of confidence when put into goalscoring positions.
Granted, Spurs’ play often left him feeding off scraps, but when chances were presented to Soldado they were regularly spurned and he could only manage six goals during the course of the season.
It was thought that his misery may be ended when Atletico Madrid were linked with him – after they indentified the out-of-form man as their ideal replacement for the outgoing Diego Costa.
But it caused a backlash in Spain's capital. Atleti’s fans did not want Soldado to replace a man who spearheaded their title winning campaign.
In 2013 he may have been considered a viable purchase, but such is the battering his reputation has taken he is no longer considered good enough to play at the top level in England or Spain.
It leaves him with a dilemma. He has seen his place taken away from him by the aforementioned Kane and the highly experienced Emmanuel Adebayor and, with the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs are likely to seek even more additions in the striking role.
The Argentine’s arrival, though, may be just what Soldado needs. Pochettino’s sides are famed for the creativity and there can be no doubting his finishing prowess – even after a poor year.
Soldado has arguably never faced a more pivotal season in his career. He still has time to turn things around at White Hart Lane, although it won’t be easy to convince supporters to keep the faith in him.
Next season he must start to find the form that made him one of the most prolific hit-men in Europe, otherwise he risks destroying a career which looked so promising just 12 months ago.