Kameni can cut it

Published : Nov 07, 2009 00:00 IST

The Cameroon goalkeeper’s decision to stay back at Estadi RCDE until 2013 seems to have paid off, writes Tom White.

Amid Espanyol’s inconsistent start to the Primera Liga campaign, their defensive unit has seen them to a mid-table position. With no Blanquiazul player scoring more than once this season, a solid rearguard effort has been required to secure a return of two wins, two draws and two defeats, leaving them 10th.

Key to that has been the summer decision of goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to end speculation over his future and sign a new contract with the Barcelona-based club. The Cameroon international looked set to depart for pastures new during the close season. A training-ground bust-up in January with a fan who questioned his form had left his future in doubt and Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and, prior to their relegation, Newcastle were all rumoured to be interested in offering Kameni a route into the English Premier League, a suggestion to which the 25-year-old responded enthusiastically.

“To play in the Premier League will be fantastic for me and my career,” he claimed in February. “I have tested myself in La Liga. The Premier League has got good strikers, I want to face as well and show that I am a good keeper.”

The former Le Havre star was also linked with their French Ligue 1 rivals Bordeaux and Paris Saint-Germain as well as German Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Turkey’s Galatasaray.

“I will take any offers from other clubs seriously,” he said in April. “Bordeaux? They are a good team and a return to France is possible. I am open to offers. I am a free agent and I will think carefully before choosing my next club.”

That careful thought, however, ended with a deal to extend his stay at Estadi RCDE until 2013. “I never saw myself leaving Espanyol, although I certainly had good offers before rejecting them in the end,” he was quoted as saying, somewhat at odds with his previous proclamations on the matter.

Regardless of the wrangling required to get to that position, however, that piece of business ranks as one of the club’s most important in a summer which also saw them bring in former Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura and ex-Deportivo La Coruna midfielder Joan Verdu. The Perico were struggling after beginning the season with two defeats, the second a 0-3 rout away to Real Madrid — but that accounts for almost half the goals conceded by Kameni in his six appearances.

They responded by beating Deportivo and Malaga — the latter’s goal coming via a deflection which beat Kameni — before he and his defensive colleagues thwarted Xerez and Villarreal in goalless draws. Though Xerez showed little ambition, Kameni was the focus of a Yellow Submarine onslaught after the early sending-off of defender Juan Forlin.

His impressive form having been key to his side’s resurgence, coach Mauricio Pochettino and his side will hope there is more to come yet from their African star.

© PA Sport, 2009, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.

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