x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

All about history for Adebayor

With AC Milan and Chelsea chasing the Togan striker this summer, he surprised many by signing for Manchester City.

Adebayor has his sights set on Champions League football next season with big-spending Manchester City.
Adebayor has his sights set on Champions League football next season with big-spending Manchester City.

With AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea chasing the Togan striker this summer, he surprised many by signing for Manchester City. He tells Alam Khan that the chance to become a club legend motivated his choice After a spending spree nearing the £100 million (Dh605m) mark, Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has put himself under great pressure to be the first to break into the Premier League's established big four of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in several years.

And, with the majority of that money going on new forwards, it is through goals - at home and away - where he hopes a season will unfold that will satisfy chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak and owner Sheikh Mansour. Spearheading the attacking line-up will be Emmanuel Adebayor, a £25m acquisition from Arsenal who, fearing his career may stall without Champions League football, took his time before giving the go-ahead for his arrival as a goalscorer with a proven track record in the Premier League.

The 25-year-old Togan has been seen by some as a player only after the fattest contract on offer as he could easily have been starting the season in the colours of Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan or Chelsea. But he is convinced City are the club to be at right now and there will be greater satisfaction if he were able to help them to major success for the first time since a League Cup triumph back in 1976.

"In football we all dream of making history," he says. "I want to make my name bigger than it is today. "If I can help this team win things after so long I will be happy because I will go into the history of the club. Most of our players think like this collectively. Every player can tell you he dreams of winning the trophies. When you see the players on the pitch with a cup at the end of the season, you can see it's a relief for them. I hope one day we have the chance to do this."

Surprisingly, Adebayor, the African Player of the Year in 2008, has yet to win anything for club or country. That hurts when close friends like Patrice Evra, the Manchester United full-back, are enjoying the opposite. But he adds: "I'm not jealous. If your friends have the chance to be where they are today you have to be happy for them. "That's what I always tell Evra. I played with him in Monaco and today he's playing for Manchester United and he's had the chance to win a lot of things; big competitions like the league, FA Cup, Carling Cup and Champions League.

"The journey to get there was so long and he is where he is because he worked hard and deserved it. But for sure I want to be like that; the guy with the winners' medals." Arsenal are widely considered to be the team under most pressure from a City side who have taken Adebayor and Kolo Toure from the Emirates Stadium in trying to become contenders. The prize of a place in the Champions League is huge and the impact profound for both clubs.

For City, achieving their target will be step one in the long-term plans drawn up in Abu Dhabi and Manchester. For Arsenal, missing out could prove dreadful with the likelihood they will be forced to sell their captain Cesc Fabregas. Adebayor, who picked up a groin injury on international duty with Togo and is a doubt for tomorrow's season opener at Blackburn, says he was sold for £25m because the Gunners needed the money and warned: "I think it's possible they could lose Cesc if they don't get into the Champions League. Since he was 16 he has enjoyed this, so for him it will be a blow, and there is a chance Cesc or the other big players will leave.

"But he's got an affection for Arsenal and he's an intelligent person and at the right moment, he will make the right decision. "He's a very good player. I have played with Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, but I would go for Cesc as the best I have played with. He has good vision and in one pass he can change the game." He added: "In football, you need such talented players, you need players who are ready to fight, and at Arsenal we had everything, but we didn't manage to win trophies.

"I feel sorry for the club and hope they will still have a chance to win things. "All my friends are there; Cesc, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue and Alex Song. We all keep in touch on the messenger. When the season starts we will have a bit more to talk about how we are doing. "But the most important thing for me is to achieve things with Manchester City. What I have done with Arsenal is already behind me. I will be following their results because today Arsenal become a rival. I'm now in a team who will fight them for the fourth place and to qualify for the Champions League."

Playing in Europe's elite club competition is clearly the target for Adebayor, yet he will force himself to look away once the main event begins this year. Having looked on as both his former clubs, Monaco and Arsenal, lost finals, the Togo striker says he will not torture himself by watching and thinking what might have been. "For me, my focus is over the weekend and how I can help my team to win things," he reveals. "I am not bothered about the Champions League this season. I don't care who will win, the best team will win it, and I will not watch until the semi-final or final. I feel this is my stage, but I am not there right now so it's better to think about other things. If you are watching a game like the Champions League you want to be involved, you want to be on the pitch. I don't want to give myself this frustration, this non-satisfaction. It's like I want something which I know I cannot have now, so it's better not to think about it."

@Email:akhan@thenational.ae