Adebayor plays down competition


MADRID, January 27 – Real Madrid's new striker Emmanuel Adebayor, signed from Manchester City, Thursday rejected suggestions he has come to the club to replace the out-of-favour Karim Benzema.

"I’m not here to compete with him (Benzema) or with anyone else. What I want is that all the Real players give their best," he told a news conference as he was officially unveiled as a Real player at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

"Karim is a great player, whom I know very well. We’re friends and I respect him. We are now at the same club and I have not come here to replace him," he said.

The 26-year-old Togo forward has been brought in to add urgently needed firepower after Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain suffered a slipped disc that is expected to keep him out of action for the rest of the season.

France striker Benzema has filled in. But while he scored the only goal in last Sunday’s win over Real Mallorca he has rarely convinced, leaving Real Madrid to look elsewhere to fill the gap.

Spanish media said Adebayor was coach Jose Mourinho’s first choice as replacement for Higuain after a bid to re-sign Ruud Van Nistelrooy from Hamburg collapsed.

Adebayor said playing for Real was an "opportunity that I have always dreamed about.

"This is going to be a huge challenge and I know fans here expect a lot, so I am going to be myself on the pitch and try to help restore confidence to the club and the supporters.

"I cannot ask for anything more. I want to win titles with Madrid at the end of the season, which is all that really matters to me. I spoke to Mourinho today during training and I am very happy to belong to Real Madrid.

"I am here to help. I had the chance of playing with Benzema in the past and he is a great player who is doing great things right now. I have a lot of respect for him."

Adebayor will be available to play in the Champions League as well as La Liga, the Spanish top flight, and should his loan spell go well at the Bernabeu, the player could sign permanently for Real.

The 2008 African Player of the Year joined Manchester City from Arsenal before the start of the 2009/10 season, having been at the Gunners from 2006 when he signed from French side Monaco.

He scored 14 goals in his first season with the club and has five goals in 12 matches played during the current campaign.

Real, currently second in Spain’s top-flight Primera Liga, four points behind rivals Barcelona, face 17th-placed Osasuna on Sunday.