Some see the January transfer window as one of opportunity; however many of the transfers conducted this year have more than a hint of desperation about them. Some, like Robinho and McCarthy, have lingering ambitions to play in the World Cup. Some simply feel they merit more than their current predicament suggests. But January has also seen one of the most enigmatic players in recent times return to English football, Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Read Gudjohnsen’s honours list and it stands up to even the most decorated players in football; he has collected league titles in the Netherlands (PSV), England (Chelsea, twice) and Spain, where he appeared in more than 30 games as Barcelona cleaned up last season. Furthermore, he has achieved all of this without the help of a decent national team. Iceland has never qualified for a major international competition, traditionally the catalyst for players to showcase themselves. Gudjohnsen also has a knack for the spectacular, when watching him play it is clear he is extremely technically gifted.
Yet despite all of this, Eidur has just never quite done it. He has flirted with success; pre-Abramovich he was able to form a fruitful partnership with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, and has contributed significantly in ‘big’ games for all of his clubs. Most fans however will remember him as a periphery figure in the game, a best supporting actor role at both Barcelona and Chelsea. Gudjohnsen was only a starter for Chelsea when they weren’t harbouring title ambitions, and his first team opportunities were limited as Chelsea’s success grew. At Barcelona he was also used sparingly; when the business end of the season approached, the best he could hope for was a substitute appearance.
Based on this, it seems entirely rationale for Gudjohnsen to join Tottenham. He is widely seen as Roman Pavlyuchenko’s replacement, and will doubtless start off this way with Defoe, Keane and Crouch all having successful seasons. Yet I can’t understand the logic in this move. Assuming all players want to play football, why move to yet another club where opportunities are limited? Is the point of moving to a different club not to develop your talent further?
If so Gudjohsen has certainly not made the right decision. He would have been much more suited at West Ham, where a deal had already been agreed and Gudjohnsen had completed a medical. With West Ham languishing near the bottom of the table, Gudjohnsen would almost certainly have been starting every week. To determine why he did choose Tottenham over West Ham would be speculating; human beings are irrational and Gudjohnsen may cite other factors that influenced his decision beyond the realms of football. However we can decipher this; Gudjohnsen has chosen the club that will give him less playing time, and it is once again inhibiting his development as a player.
He can be forgiven for not leaving Chelsea and Barcelona sooner than he did, as any player would like the chance to test their abilities at the highest level. Gudjohnsen is no spring chicken anymore though, and I would imagine he would want to maximise the remainder of his career by playing as much as possible considering he has not been a first team player for a number of year. Moving to Tottenham as fourth choice striker only enforces the belief that Gudjohnsen has never quite done it. Given Gudjohnsen’s fantastic technical ability, if this is to be the enduring image about his career then it will be frustrating. He had the chance to carve out a successful loan spell at West Ham, possibly helping the club to survive relegation. Instead he will start on the bench for Spurs, a role he has played too often in his career in reflection of his ability.
Gudjohnsen is perfectly capable of making a conscious decision over what he sees as important in this stage of his career, but I believe he has made the wrong one, and it will be to the detriment of his development.
Window of Opportunity? I don’t think so.
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