Over in Manchester, discussions over whether a certain 35 year old Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be given a new contract extension continue in the wake of the injury he picked up against Anderlecht last Thursday. While the fight for his services, injured or otherwise, continues, a 36-year-old Robbie Keane remains without a club.
A year older but no less prolific, will Keane return to the game next season or is his time really up as far as professional football is concerned?
Loss to the game
The former Spurs, Liverpool, Celtic and LA Galaxy man retired from international football last year and while it’s obvious that the gruelling circuit must be an issue for any ageing player, Ireland could still use his services. Martin O’Neill’s men are second favourites to qualify from Group D and are a strong tip to make it to Russia but with just seven goals in five qualifiers, it’s clear where their issues lie.
If Keane can still offer something at international level, surely a club will come looking for the striker in the summer transfer window but where are his likely destination?
It was suggested that Robbie Keane would be signing for Championship side Preston North End at the tail-end of the winter window but nothing materialised at that stage. Fulham and a former loan club – Aston Villa – were also mentioned while back in his native Ireland, the veteran front man was reported to be training with Shamrock Rovers.
All of this tends to suggest that Keane’s level is that of a second tier English side and you therefore have to ask why none of these deals landed. Did the player and his agent hold out in the hope that a Premiership outfit would come along?
Ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, newly promoted sides Brighton and Newcastle may be interested in a proven goal scorer and although they may only get one season out of the player, there can be a direct comparison with Keane’s old team mate at Spurs. Jermain Defoe’s form at Sunderland saw a recall to the England squad as the striker proved his value in a struggling side.
Aside from their age, can we really compare Robbie Keane to Zlatan Ibrahimovic? The Irishman has 317 career goals as opposed to the Swede’s 420 but the issue is that while Zlatan continues to play at the top level, the best clubs in Europe won’t take too much notice of Robbie’s record in MLS soccer with LA Galaxy.
The player himself has made it clear that he wants to carry on, saying he has “one more adventure” in him and that he will play abroad before settling in Ireland. Perhaps Keane will have to wait until the summer when the window opens, trading begins and clubs know for certain what leagues they will be playing in and what players they need.
Without any competitive football for more than a year, teams will naturally be wary of taking on Robbie Keane but by the same argument, the striker will be nice and rested following a busy 2016. At the age of 36, clearly this is going to be a gamble for any side but when you consider that overall scoring record, surely someone will take a punt on Ireland’s record breaking centre forward.