Could Emmanuel Adebayor be heading to the USA? The Togolese striker is on the outs at Tottenham Hotspur, with various ITK ("In the know") rumors suggesting that he's had a falling out with Mauricio Pochettino and is no longer in Spurs' first team plans. The Times of London, in an article unfortunately behind a paywall, has even suggested that the club is shopping the Togolese striker to clubs in Major League Soccer in order to get him off of Spurs' wage bill.
There's no question that Adebayor would thrive in MLS. While he's beginning to show wear on the tires, his performances for Spurs last Spring prove that he still has gas in the tank. Put him in MLS where the top teams are perhaps (generously) equivalent to a Burnley or a Hull City and the remainder are roughly analogous to the English Championship, and it's a pretty safe bet that he's going to score a lot of goals for fun.
But while Adebayor would be a huge hit in MLS, there's a big problem that would appear to stop this rumor right in its tracks: money. It isn't Ade's transfer fee – Spurs would probably let him go for a bacon sandwich if the opportunity presented itself – it's his wages.
While nobody's quite certain exactly how much Ade's making this season at Spurs, it's estimated to be at or above £100k/wk, making him one of the highest wage earners at Tottenham Hotspur. While at Manchester City, he made significantly more than this, to the point where in order to complete his sale to Tottenham, City agreed to subsidize a significant portion of his wages for the remainder of his contract with the club. While those subsidies have expired now, Ade's still making a pretty good living at Spurs, and so long as he's in Poche's doghouse, that's a significant anchor weighing down the club.
Adebayor's past transfers indicate that he's not just after maximum bank, though. Ade seems, at least, to want to stay in competitive leagues or else he might have already departed the EPL for a Middle Eastern country or China by now. Instead, he (or his agent) has savvily sussed out deals with EPL clubs that have maintained a high weekly wage while still staying with competitive clubs in competitive leagues. Even after his tenure at Manchester City became untenable he still managed to secure lucrative loans to Real Madrid and Spurs that maintained his wages (mostly because they were almost assuredly still being paid by Manchester City).
It's important to note here that this isn't really about Adebayor being greedy: by all accounts Ade donates a sizable portion of his salary to charitable organizations (both his own and others) in his home nation of Togo. It's certainly a reasonable to think that Ade would want to maintain his current wage level for as long as possible if he wants to maintain his current charitable giving.
Back to MLS, Kaka's recently announced $7.2m/year deal with expansion club Orlando City shattered the MLS wage record, putting his weekly wages at somewhere in the realm of £90k/wk. Kaka's wages are a humungous outlier; the next highest MLS salary is
LA Galaxy's Robbie Keane, at $4.5m/year Seattle Sounders' Clint Dempsey at $6.7m/year, not chump change by any means, but still well under what was offered to Kaka. If nothing else, though, Kaka's signing and wages show that it is at least within the realm of possibility that an MLS club could, if they wanted to, offer Adebayor as a Designated Player something close to what he has been earning at Spurs.
But even if the money isn't hypothetically impossible, there's an even bigger hurdle: Emmanuel Adebayor isn't a big enough star to warrant such an outlay by any MLS club. Kaka gets $7.2m a year because even at age 32 and despite the fact that he hasn't been very good for a few years now, he's still a bonafide Brazilian superstar footballer who has excelled at the very highest levels of international soccer. The same can't be said for Emmanuel Adebayor. Ade's got enough skill and ability to be one of the best strikers in MLS, and he could certainly be a Designated Player for any current MLS club, but he doesn't "move the needle" with American fans in the same way that someone like David Beckham, Kaka, Thierry Henry, or Steven Gerrard does. He could score 25 goals a season but he won't attract the same monetary outlay, at least not at the beginning, as a genuine, recognizable EPL superstar would: he's just not enough of a marketable, known commodity, something that MLS needs to continue to raise its global profile and grow.
The only feasible way for Adebayor to make a move to MLS would be for him to take a significant pay cut, perhaps up to half (or more) of his existing weekly wages. If Ade sees the benefit of finishing his career in America and is willing to do this, then we might just see him head to a club like Toronto, Seattle, or San Jose, all clubs that have or had ties to Tottenham. But Ade could also move to the Turkish Superliga with a club like Galatasaray or Fenerbahce, earn equivalent wages to what he could earn in MLS, and still get a chance to play in the Champions League. Or, if he wants to dominate in a lower-tier system and make huge bank, clubs in countries like Qatar or UAE would provide that as well as massive wages. Ade's still got at least a few years of high quality football in him. Both of these latter options seam more reasonable and likely than relocation to America.
The idea of seeing Ade play in MLS is appealing, not only because it would help Spurs in the short term by taking away a financial millstone around the club's neck, but also because American soccer supporters would probably really dig seeing him play. And yet unless whatever club purchases him is able to either solve the puzzle of his existing wages or convince him to take a pretty hefty pay cut, it just doesn't seem very likely that we'll be seeing Emmanuel Adebayor on American shores as anything except as a tourist. In short, these rumors simply don't add up.