For those that like their full-backs to have big hair, bigger personalities and occasional suicidal tendencies within their own penalty area, the chances are that recent reports linking our very own Benoit Assou-Ekotto with a move away from Tottenham Hotspur are likely to have you dismayed.
Indeed, while we are at pains to remind one and all that the Daily Mirror’s ‘scoop’ – one first broke by the faultless journalistic institution that is the Sunday People – is hardly the word of gospel, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Disco Benny’s name linked with a move away from the club.
Where as first it was Chelsea and now it seems Monaco, while it usually feels all too easy to sniff out the classic traits of rumour mill fabrication, you can’t help but feel there might be something in this story. For as loved as he may be, an ‘Assou-Ekotto LOLs his way to tax-haven-heaven’ isn’t really worth the same levels of fabrication a ‘Bale-out to Real Madrid’ headline is likely to earn a newspaper.
Again, just a hunch, but we’ve heard enough reports suggesting that AVB isn’t particularly keen on BAE to suggest this might not be complete and utter BS.
But enough on the acronyms and more on the realities of a potential departure.
Because if the feeling towards a potential Assou-Ekotto departure was one of complete horror amongst the majority of us earlier on in the season, since his return back into first-team affairs, the sentiments are perhaps something of a mixed-bag as we head in towards the summer.
On one-side, you have the army of Benny’s admirers; usually armed with a ten-point guide as to how refreshing he is as an individual and how classy he is on the ball, any counter-arguments suggesting he might be a bit flaky are usually greeted with a “yeah but he’s cool as f*** though, aint he?”
And in the other corner, you have the more pragmatic section of support; suspicious of his distribution and loathsome towards his Tweeting, his current dip in form following injury have given the doubters the perfect opportunity to champion his exit from the club.
So what to do about Disco Benny?
In an idea world, he stays and battles it out with another specialist left-back for a spot in the first-team. Other than his initial breakthrough at the club at which point Gareth Bale was still pretending to be a full-back, Assou-Ekotto has had little-to-nothing in terms of competition at the club and in terms of eking the most out of him, perhaps his downturn in performances are to be expected in the knowledge that he’s likely to waltz into the first-team.
But if Villas-Boas wants another top-class left back this summer, regardless of what lies in store for Danny Rose this summer, the reality is he’s going to have to flog Assou-Ekotto and use whatever funds he gets for the Cameroon international to try and find an upgrade.
For some of course, this is likely to go down like a lead balloon. But looking past the LOL’s, the zany haircuts and the cultured feints in the penalty area, in terms of offering Spurs a solid and consistent defensive outlet, Assou-Ekotto hasn’t felt quite so box-office since his return to the team.
Yes he’s offered balance and yes, he plays the game as we all want to see it played but far from offering Villas-Boas the solution we’d all long assumed he’d offer upon returning to first team affairs, BAE has done little more than offer another layer of uncertainty to a defense that has looked increasingly fragile as the season has gone on.
At 29-years-old, this is pretty much there or thereabouts as good as it’s going to get for Benny. On his day, he truly is a fine, fine footballer but perhaps this season more than most we’ve realized that for as stylish as the former Lens man is on his day, it’s never going to be a substitute for substance and consistency.
If he does stay, it has to be alongside another left back that is likely to give him a serious kick up the backside and run for his money in the first-team. But as seems increasingly likely, while it would be sad to see him leave, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he rode off into the sunset.
Only time will tell, but if it’s stick or twist with BAE this summer, what would you do? The Hotspur Way says twist…with bells on.