By Jon Fisher
Young footballing talents are common these days, but 'exciting starlet' is a moniker which befits young AS Monaco FC forward Emmanuel Adebayor.
The 20-year-old Togolese international, who made his international debut when he was 18, caused a bidding war last summer with Juventus FC, AS Roma, Arsenal FC, VfB Stuttgart and Southampton FC all rumoured to be trying to prise him away from FC Metz, where he played last season.
His first taste of the big time came in 2002 when he was selected for his country's African Cup of Nations squad. But his impact was limited due to being played out of position, and Togo failed to progress beyond the group stages.
Adebayor's big break came when he was spotted by Metz playing for Togo in a youth tournament in Sweden as a 15-year-old. The French club were attracted by his skilful use of the ball despite his height, and he made his Ligue 1 debut during the 2001/02 season.
He made an immediate impression, appearing ten times that season and bagging two goals despite the club's relegation from the top flight, and was in even more impressive form the following season, scoring 13 times in 34 games as Metz won promotion at the first attempt.
Cool finishing and dazzling running with the ball helped Adebayor make a name for himself, and some of Europe's major clubs were rumoured to be sniffing around. Premiership club Southampton were reportedly closest to signing him, with a deal agreed until Monaco boss Didier Deschamps stepped in at the last minute to take the 1.91m-tall striker to the Principality for €3.2m euros.
Controversy surrounded Adebayor's first full season in France last year, after a number of rows with Metz coach Jean Fernandez made the headlines. A strained relationship between player and manager began when Adebayor reported back late from international duty, much to Fernandez's displeasure.
However, he has enjoyed an impressive start at Monaco, helping Deschamps' side reach the top of the table with a number of inspirational performances earlier in the season. Last month Adebayor scored a hat-trick to inspire Monaco to a 4-0 demolition of Montpellier Hérault SC, a game which was a good example of a profitable partnership which has been formed between Adebayor and striker partners Fernando Morientes, on loan from Real Madrid CF, and Dado Pršo.
He currently lies joint-13th in the French goalscoring charts on eight, behind team-mates Morientes and captain Ludovic Giuly who have nine and eleven league goals respectively. But Adebayor contributes much more than goals to the side, supplying the 'bullets' for those around him to fire.
Despite making 18 starts for Monaco this season, he has also been on the substitutes bench 13 times as Deschamps rotates him and Croatian striker Pršo alongside regular No9 Morientes.
The Monte Carlo fans are currently looking to the players to pick themselves up after losing their lead at the top of Ligue 1, allowing Olympique Lyonnais to take top spot on goal difference even though the two sides are level on points.
With no rows blighting his relationship with current coach Deschamps, perhaps Adebayor has found the maturity he needed to make himself a more complete player. For him, it is only the beginning of a career which promises to blossom even further in the coming years.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.