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Is Adebayor the answer to Real's problems?

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Phil Minshull | 17:54 UK time, Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho have finally got their man, although not many expected that man to be Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

In recent weeks, numerous players have been touted as possible stand-ins for Gonzalo Higuain, who has been sidelined since the start of December with a back injury and could be out until the end of the season.

Some of them had clearly been suggested by Real sources and included the likes of Bayern Munich duo Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez, Lyon's Lisandro Lopez, Mainz's Hungarian international Adam Szalai and Anderlecht's Romelu Lukaku.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy's return to the Santiago Bernabeu, an idea that the Dutch striker himself seemed to relish following interviews given to the Spanish media last week, looked like a distinct possibility for several days until Hamburg turned down Real's rather derisory offer of 2m euros and a friendly between the two sides.

Now Mourinho, the 'Special One', has made Adebayor his 'Chosen One' - until the end of the season at least, when Real will decide whether to sign him permanently.

adebayor_blog_afp.jpgAdebayor joined Man City from Arsenal in a £25m deal. Photo: AFP

His signing was widely described in Spain as a birthday present to Mourinho from Real president Florentino Perez, the coach having turned 47 on Wednesday.

Perez apparently authorised executive director Jose Angel Sanchez - the man who was primarily responsible for sealing David Beckham's move to the Bernabeu - to secure Adebayor's loan signing following the club's regular Monday night meeting of directors.

That's despite the fact that Real had told City a fortnight ago that Adebayor's weekly wage of £165,000 made it difficult to do a deal.

The question now is: Will Adebayor solve Real Madrid's problems up front?

"What problems?" you might ask. A glance at the current standings for the Pichichi, the trophy awarded by Spanish sports newspaper Marca to the top goalscorer in the top flight, tells you that Cristiano Ronaldo is top of the table with 22 goals.

Yet it has become abundantly apparent that the Portuguese superstar cannot always be guaranteed to win games on his own.

What of Karim Benzema, who cost Real 35m euros in July 2009? He clearly does not have the full confidence of Mourinho.

The Frenchman was left on the bench until late in the game as Real drew 1-1 at relegation-threatened Almeria on 16 January, Mourinho opting to experiment with a formation that did not include a conventional target man.

The lacklustre stalement in Andalucia meant Real dropped four points behind Barcelona in the chase for the La Liga title, prompting a front-page headline in Marca that read 'To 4 and without a 9' above a picture of a prostrate and crestfallen Benzema.

The Spanish Cup quarter-final match at local rivals Atletico Madrid last week could have - and should have - ended with a cricket score in Real's favour. Mourinho's side had to settle for a 1-0 win in the end, although they already led 3-1 following the first leg.

In the Vicente Calderon and with Mourinho continuing to show a lack of faith in Benzema, Ronaldo was given the duty of playing squarely in front of goal rather than being allowed to do what he does best - and that is dance down the wings.

Despite getting the only goal of the game, Ronaldo found himself out of position on occasions, sometimes looking bewildered by his new role.

A few days later, on a bitterly cold Sunday night, the chants echoing around the Santiago Bernabeu were not for Ronaldo but for Van Nistelrooy as Real managed a hard-fought and arguably ill-deserved 1-0 win over Mallorca.

On the bright side, the much-maligned Benzema got his first goal in the league since September. On the other hand, the sparkling 6-1 home wins over Deportivo La Coruna and Racing Santander seem very distant memories.

Karim Benzema and Jose MourinhoBenzema has failed to capture the form he showed at Lyon. Photo: AFP

In theory, Adebayor could be the perfect antidote to the recent goal drought. Yet his arrival in the Spanish capital might create more problems than solutions.

First, it is difficult to see how a player of Adebayor's strident personality is going to slot in comfortably in the Real dressing room. The words "square pegs", "round holes" and "Nicolas Anelka" spring to mind.

Second, Adebayor's wages could be a big issue, given that it appears City have persuaded Real to write the majority of his cheque.

The jokes doing the rounds, at least among non-Real fans on Wednesday, was that a bit of natural justice was being done after Real had pocketed 42.5m euros (£32.5mn) of City's cash when they sent Robinho in the other direction on 1 September, 2008.

Adebayor becomes Real's third-highest paid player after Ronaldo and Kaka, while his acquisition comes at a time when several other of the club's players are putting in demands for contract changes.

There are also concerns about the former Africa Player of the Year's commitment given he is only on loan until the end of the season, although Real apparently have first option to sign the player for 17m euros in the summer, a deal that could also rise by 4m euros.

On his return to Madrid last Thursday, Higuain said he was optimistic that he could return to action before the end of the season, perhaps as early as mid-April.

If that happens, will Adebayor end up playing second fiddle in Mourinho's orchestra?

Mid-April could certainly be a crucial time for Real.

They face Barcelona in El Clasico on 17 April, while the two teams could meet again in the final of the Spanish Cup, the Copa del Rey, three days later, as well as the quarter-finals of the Champions League, which take place on 5/6 and 12/13 April.

As for Adebayor, his signing may be big news but he was vying for top billing with the TV commercial produced by Sevilla ahead of their Copa del Rey semi-final against Real.

Many people here think that the war paint and primal screams are taking things a bit too far even in Spain. Any thoughts?


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