Pavlyuchenko facing another tough season at Spurs?

Roman Pavlyuchenko faces another tough season at Spurs

While the loan signing of Togolese frontman Emmanuel Adebayor will meet with controversy and acclaim in equal parts among Tottenham fans in the coming days, there is one man closer to the Spurs camp who will be mightily displeased with the deal.

Roman Pavlyuchenko has rarely seemed perfectly content at White Hart Lane. The Russian is entering his fourth year in London and made his 101st appearance in Thursday night’s draw with Hearts, which saw Tottenham progress to the group stages of the Europa League.

In the past, Pavlyuchenko has shone in spells – all-too-brief spells, mind – but has too often failed to produce when depended on. As a result, he has spent the bulk of the past three years buried on the Tottenham bench as Darren Bent, Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe have been more regular selections.

This has never been a situation with which Pavlyuchenko has expressed anything but unease and discomfort. Picked as one of the few experienced players on Thursday, when manager Harry Redknapp blooded a number of Spurs’ rising hot prospects in the first team, Pavlyuchenko was mostly out-performed by his strike partner, 18-year-old debutant Harry Kane.

 At times the Russian looked uninterested; television cameras caught him seemingly mocking teammate Vedran Corluka at one point when the Croatian took exception to Pavlyuchenko’s wasteful decision making. Throughout the game, the striker’s body language was uninspiring; he wandered from side to side while youngster Kane rushed all around him trying to get involved.

Pavlyuchenko has certainly made an impact in his three seasons at White Hart Lane. His statistics page at the club’s official website, www.tottenhamhotspur.com, states that Pavlyuchenko has scored 37 goals in his 101 appearances, with 13 in 18 last season. That is a decent return for a man who gets most of his appearances as a substitute, and thus gets rather fewer shots on goal than his more prodigious strike partners.

At the same time, Redknapp is more than justified in searching for another striker. Right now, Spurs have just three senior players who primarily play up front, although Rafael van der Vaart will contribute goals from attacking midfield too. And Pavlyuchenko is hardly a deadly striker when it comes to league games. He has scored just 19 goals in 74 league appearances, with his other 18 goals coming in an impressive 26 cup and European games.

Redknapp, then, needs another option. Adebayor is a significant physical presence for Tottenham’s array of talented wingers to aim their crosses at, and a proven Premier League goalscorer. It is not difficult to see him being plugged into the Spurs set-up quickly and replacing Pavlyuchenko as the third-choice striker.

Although Redknapp is unlikely to want to lose the Russian, a move which would again severely limit his forward options, keeping Pavlyuchenko happy as the fourth-choice striker will be difficult. Pavlyuchenko has twice pleaded to be sold as a result of sitting on the sidelines. Spurs were forced to name a price for him in late 2009, and as recently as March, Pavlyuchenko again stated a desire to leave, telling Russian newspaper Daily Sport-Express that “the manager just doesn’t trust me and it doesn’t matter if I play well, score goals or try my best in training — nothing will make him change his mind about me.”

Fortunately for Spurs, Adebayor was not eligible for the team’s game against his parent club, Manchester City, on Sunday. That means the transfer window will likely have closed by the time the Togolese almost inevitably replaces Pavlyuchenko in the pecking order. But the problems won’t end there – Pavlyuchenko is out of contract at the end of this season, and without a decent run in the side, Redknapp and club chairman Daniel Levy will face an uphill battle to prevent their one-time £13.6m signing from leaving on a free transfer.

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