By Sean M. Hartnett
Robbie Keane (photo) was once considered one of the English football’s hottest properties in his younger days with Wolves and Coventry. He’s had a good amount of success in his Premier League career and at 11th sits just outside the top 10 all-time EPL scorers, soon to pass Dwight Yorke. Strangely, clubs haven’t been knocking down Harry Redknapp’s door with offers for the Irishman who isn’t considered vital in Tottenham plans.
Keane’s reputation was so highly regarded that Inter manager Marcello Lippi splashed out £13m for the striker in the summer of 2000. Lippi was sacked shortly into the season and his replacement, Marco Tardelli relegated Keane to the bench before loaning him to Leeds United that December.
Robbie went on to score an impressive 9 goals in 18 Premier League matches during his loan spell and Leeds manager David O’Leary snapped him permanently for £12m. He again found himself on the bench often as Robbie Fowler was signed to alongside Mark Viduka.
Keane then joined Tottenham Hotspur shortly into the following season and finally found a club where he was regarded as a main piece of the puzzle and had some terrific seasons in his first stint at White Hart Lane. He became one of the most consistent goal-scorers in the EPL over these six years which eventually led his dream switch to Liverpool in July 2008.
The move soon became a nightmare for Ireland’s captain as he had trouble tactically fitting into Liverpool’s starting eleven and found himself again resigned to the bench. Keane had trouble coping with the pressure of playing for his boyhood favorites and justifying the massive £19m fee. Once he started to find his form in January 2009, Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez decided to drop him ahead of a crucial match against Everton and it became clear that the Spaniard favored young French striker David N’Gog.
A month later, Keane re-joined Spurs for an initial fee of £12m. Since his return, he’s had varying degrees of success but began to fall down the pecking order especially as Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch formed a terrific partnership. Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko was also ahead of Keane in Redknapp’s plans and Celtic made their interest known in the Irishman during the winter transfer window.
Keane agreed to join another club he supported as a boy in Celtic in February 2010. Unlike his time at Liverpool, he quickly became a key player. His time at Parkhead seemed to re-ignite his career as he went on to score 12 goals in 16 appearances. Once his loan expired, Keane looked sharp in Tottenham’s preseason matches and in his first leg substitute appearances against Young Boys in the Europa League.
For a man that clubs have a paid a combined £75m and who has scored a total of 121 Premier League goals, it is strange that he is unable to find a club this summer. Celtic boss Neil Lennon would love to have him back at Celtic but the Scottish giants have been tight with their transfer budget. Aston Villa was considered a strong possibility under Martin O’Neill but the manager walked out on the club recently. Fulham, Sunderland and Wolves are said to have an interest but none have come up with a firm offer.
Keane again find himself stuck between a rock and a hard place as he would prefer to stay at Spurs and fight for his place but Redknapp would like to use his sale to bring in a younger striker. Some media outlets have reported that he has been told he’s unwanted by Redknapp and he will be on the move again.
It is unclear which club will emerge ready to give his career a lifeline but it’s certainly perplexing that he isn’t highly sought-after. Robbie may have lost a bit of pace but he’s proven to a reliable goal-scorer who has a knack for creativity and link-up play. He’s deserving of a chance to finally be given consistent playing time and the chance to work under a manager who believes in his talents.