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On ditching Roberto Soldado

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Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

Tottenham Hotspur have a pretty extensive history of transfer flops, but Roberto Soldado is pretty close to being cemented as the worst ever. His hefty price tag of £26m makes him the club's second-biggest signing ever, and the biggest -- Erik Lamela -- will now clearly not flop through any fault of his or the club's. Soldado is already guaranteed to not live up to his price tag, and he's got a lot of work to do in order to look like something better than embarrassing.

He's not likely to get that opportunity unless Emmanuel Adebayor and Harry Kane both pick up serious injuries at the same time. It's become very clear that Mauricio Pochettino sees him as third choice, and for very good reason. He's done almost nothing with his opportunities. The "if he just scores one, he'll find his form again" story has been told over and over with Soldado; each time he scores, he goes right back to terrible form immediately.

This makes him a clear candidate for a sale, but there isn't a team on earth willing to pay a significant transfer fee for him. And given his wages, it'll probably be hard to find a team willing to take him at all. If we want someone to take on all his wages, we'll have to let him go on loan with no loan fee. If we want a team to take him on permanently, we'll have to sell him for a tiny fee and subsidize part of his wages until the end of his contract, ala Manchester City when they sold us Adebayor.

Daniel Levy is notoriously stingy and never likes to take a loss on a player, but even he likely accepts that Soldado will not fetch a fee that's even half of what Spurs originally paid for him. And at 29 years old, it's unlikely that a run in the first team and a 15-goal season is going to change that. We overpaid for a player who was never going to be worth what he was in that window ever again, taking a calculated risk that he was the player to fix what ailed Tottenham Hotspur, and that his complete lack of resale value and extremely high wages wouldn't be an issue when he scored 20 goals and Spurs qualified for the Champions League.

And while this now looks very, very dumb, it wasn't an insane risk at the time. In fact, Soldado looked like the surest of sure bets. He was one of the most efficient strikers in La Liga for five years running, excellent in cameos for the Spanish national team, and if nothing else, he could finish. Maybe he didn't have the right skillset to be a star in the Premier League, but he'd finish chances that came to him. Except, inexplicably, finishing has eluded him. He has the yips. And apparently, he hasn't done enough on the training pitch to prove to Pochettino that they're going away.

If that's the case, Spurs should probably do whatever they can to get rid of Soldado now. His wages are the highest on the team, and paying them for the next three and a half seasons prohibits them from paying (or buying) a superior player. That £26m is a sunk cost and it's never getting recouped. But what can be recouped is the money spent on his wages. There's always a team dumb enough to talk themselves into paying a player like Soldado as long as they don't have to pay a transfer fee (Inter Milan).

We've made this point here before, and we're going to make it again: Roberto Soldado has no transfer value and the transfer fee Spurs paid for him shouldn't play into their thinking at all. They screwed up. Signing him was a bad decision. Keeping him on the books because we're too proud to admit that we screwed up is really stupid business. If Poche still doesn't rate him after a few run-outs and months of training, he never will, and we should offload him to anyone that will take him.

If Spurs can find a taker for Soldado at literally any fee, then bring in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for a tiny fee and the same wages, they should do it. Substitute in "then bring in a younger striker for an average fee and smaller wages" for the Huntelaar part of that sentence and it's still true. Let's admit our mistake and move on.