A new beginning for Tamudo
The English Premier League looks to be calling for Raúl Tamudo as he departs his formerly beloved Espanyol via the backdoor. The 32-year-old striker is now free to start up a new chapter in his career and up to four English clubs are reportedly interested in hiring the veteran Catalan's services.
He made his official Primera División debut on the 23rd March 1997 against Hércules and scored his first goal that very afternoon. It is remembered as a vital one for the eternally struggling in avoiding dropping down to Segunda División. That was Tamudo's first page in his legendary history at the club before going on to write his name in silver lining. Two seasons later, another of his goals awarded Espanyol its first Copa Del Rey in 50 years; his cheekiness stealing the ball from the hands of the Atlético Madrid keeper's hands to make it 1-0 in the final in 2000.
In 2006 came the club's second Copa. Zaragoza were the victims this time with Raúl scoring one of the four goals. On the 28th October that year, the captain scored his 100th goal in Primera División with the club. On the 9th June 2007 he became the top scorer in the blanquiazules' history, not only catching up with Rafa Marañón's 111 goals, but also doing it in the best of styles: scoring two goals at the Camp Nou against the fiercest of rivals, FC Barcelona, who ended up not winning the league title after their draw with Espanyol.
But that same season, as well as spoiling the azulgrana party, Tamudo went on to become the player with most games for the club and is now on 336 Primera División games and 129 goals in 13 seasons.
But all those statistics don't seem to have stopped the captain falling from grace. The first sign of his loss of power within the club came on the 18th July 2009 when coach Mauricio Pochettino announced he would no longer be the team captain in favour of Dani Jarque. When, mere weeks later, Jarque died from a heart-attack, Iván De La Peña was handed the armband. For years, Raúl had been the strong man within the dressing room and was accused of having too much influence over the rest of the squad and interfering with the coaching staff decisions. But his power slowly reduced as the club directors' impatience with the striker grew to the point that he has now agreed to terminate his contract at Espanyol.
It was last month when a full-blown argument between the player's agent and the club president hastened his farewell. Tamudo had accused the club of closing him out of the team and not allowing him to study other offers because his buy-out-clause was too high. Tamudo's accusations were answered back by the club president, Daniel Sánchez Llibre, when, with documents to prove it, he revealed that it had been the player and his agent who forced the club the previous summer to reduce his buy-out-clause so he could leave.
By this time, Tamudo's reputation was in a bad way. Out of the team and savouring the bitterness of his downfall, the striker tends to his club duties with a sullen face, hoping for a new break far away from his boyhood club.
And that break could arrive soon for the former Spanish international. Up to four English clubs have allegedly shown an interest in signing him during the winter transfer window. Roberto Martínez's Wigan, Harry Redknapp's Tottenham, Paul Hart's Portsmouth and Newcastle United could be possible destinations.
One of those clubs could be the new home for the controversial Catalan as from January. Wigan need a new striker after Marlon King was sentenced to jail. In Tamudo's favour, there would be no language barrier with fellow countryman Roberto Martínez in charge. Tottenham are a very attractive option for the Spaniard but against him is the worry that he wouldn't get many chances to play under so much competition for places.
Portsmouth is seeking out reinforcements for their attack since the club will lose Aruna Dindane and Nwanko Kanu to the African Cup of Nations. On the downside, chances could again be slight after the tournament. Newcastle would be the less appealing option for Tamudo, not being in the Premier League, but then the Espanyol forward would reunite with former Primera División colleagues Fabricio Coloccini, José Enrique and Jonás Gutiérrez.
January will be vital to his future as his career desperately needs a new challenge. But will a veteran one-club man find it easy to start from scratch again on foreign land?