Liverpool will be facing a very different Soldado tonight

Villarreal striker's game has changed since leaving Tottenham

BY Raf Diallo 15:48 Thursday 5 May 2016, 15:48 5 May 2016

Villarreal's Roberto Soldado, left, smilles during their Europa League round of 32 first leg soccer match between Villarreal and Napoli at the Madrigal stadium in Villarreal, Spain, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Harry Kane's rise to prominence has shown Tottenham exactly how important it is to have a potent goalscorer.

Prior to "One of our own's" accession to the Spurs first team, ex-Spain forward Roberto Soldado had struggled badly after his €33 million transfer from Valencia to North London.

Seven Premier League goals in two years later and Soldado was sidling back to La Liga with Villarreal as the escape route.

The Valencian club has proven to be a great spot for revitalising careers with ex-Spurs attacking midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos re-sparking his career there and Giuseppe Rossi enjoying some good years there after leaving Manchester United.

But the Soldado who returned to Villarreal for a cut-price fee is very different to the one who joined Tottenham.

When he moved to Spurs in 2013, he was a straight-forward goalscorer who had scored 81 goals in all competitions in the previous three seasons with Valencia.

Villarreal's Cedric Bakambu, left, and Roberto Soldado celebrates after scoring against Leverkusen during their Europa League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Villarreal and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the Madrigal stadium in Villarreal, Spain, Thursday, March 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

A handful of assists were thrown in but as he told The Guardian recently, his game has had to chance since moving to Villarreal.

No longer a goalscoring predator - five league goals this season attest to that - he has become an excellent foil for Villarreal's lead striker Cedric Bakambu who has plundered over 20 goals in all competitions this campaign.

"Bakambu is very powerful and loves to run in to the space, so I play the other role: you have to complement your partner," he told The Guardian's Sid Lowe.

As a result, Soldado is well into double-figures for assists this season, racking up 15 in La Liga, Copa del Rey and Europa League action.

Five of those assists in La Liga have been to Bakambu, which is the joint-fourth highest assist-to-goal-scorer stat in Spain this season and goes a long way to showing how Soldado has changed, because in the past it was he who benefited from passes.

So as Liverpool, welcome Villarreal to Anfield for the Europa League semi-final second leg, they should be wary of the ex-Tottenham man's new-found creativity.


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