If Adebayor really does play for contracts, Spurs may see the best of him in the remainder of the season. Illustration by Richard Swarbrick.
What is it about Emmanuel Adebayor? He came on after an hour of Saturday's game with Sunderland and was greeted by boos from the home fans. Not all of them, but enough for the sound to be audible to everyone present. I can't remember a Tottenham sub taking to the field to boos before. Not even David Bentley.
Adebayor has been out of the team for nine weeks because of a combination of personal problems and injuries. It's also widely thought that after his previous appearance, the home defeat by Stoke on November 9th, he was involved in a row with some of the other players that involved finger pointing and the liberal apportioning of blame.
This has been the latest prolonged absence in Adebayor's Spurs career that has had wise old heads among the fans muttering sagely: 'we'll not see him in a Spurs shirt again'. Well we have now. And he's making noises about staying and playing a full part in the team's busy schedule for the rest of the season: 'At the moment I have a contract with Tottenham, I am committed to the club and I will always give my best to my club, which is Tottenham.'
In any case the chances of moving Adebayor on in this window are slim because no other club is likely to come in and match the £100,000 per week he is reputedly being paid by Spurs. Some fans say he should take a pay cut to clear off although they don't explain why he, or anyone else in any other business for that matter, would do something that foolish. Others say Levy should take a hit and somehow subsidise his exit - perhaps, for example, give him a free transfer - to get him off the wage bill.
Not many are talking about the possible benefits of his staying and playing. But Adebayor is 30, an age where most footballers are still hoping to get one more big contract. He's not going to get that by sulkily refusing to play football to the best of his ability. We saw last season that he can be hugely effective when he is motivated and the prospect of one last big pay day - almost certainly not at Spurs but somewhere - may be stimulation enough to get him close to the kind of unplayable form that made him a multimillionaire in the first place.
'Obviously a lot of people always say I always play for contracts' he said at the weekend, 'at the end of the day, we are all footballers. This is what I choose to do. This is my life, this is my work, this is what I do to feed my family.'
Adebayor grew up in the outskirts of Lome in Togo and has overcome many obstacles to make a lucrative career for himself through the natural gifts he has and no little application. To expect him to put the business interests of Daniel Levy and Tottenham Hotspur ahead of his own is unrealistic.
But sometimes business interests and footballing interests coincide. That's why, broadly speaking, Daniel Levy has been good for Tottenham. And that's why Emmanuel Adebayor may also be good for Tottenham in a season where the depth of the squad is going to be tested more and more. Booing him is not going to help.