Andre Ayew’s display on Sunday may just have got one bearded German salivating
By: Sammie Frimpong
I should have put this piece together a day or two earlier but, like every football-loving Ghanaian, my mind switched temporarily to Monday’s ‘Super Clash’ between Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak.
As the dust starts to settle on Kotoko’s 1-0 win and Hearts fans plan how to avoid persecuting taunts from those in the other camp for the remainder of the week, though, the best present for Ghanaian fans on May Day — Andre Ayew’s double against Liverpool — sinks its teeth again into consciousness. And it bites even harder.
On a weekend when he wasn’t the only Ghanaian scorer in Europe’s top leagues (his brother Jordan netted, too, as did Torino’s Afriyie Acquah), Ayew and the brace he registered — his first strikes since January which take him into double figures for the season, behind only Gylfi Sigurdsson in Swansea City’s 2015/16 scoring charts — still resounded far more heavily.
After a blistering start to life in England during which he almost single-handedly threatened to give Swansea the kind of season Leicester City have had, success dried up quickly for Ayew and his new club. The goals initially came in thick and fast, also Player of the Month prizes (awarded by Swansea and the Premier League), before things began going inexorably south for the team from South Wales, culminating in the exit of manager Garry Monk, the man who purchased Ayew in the summer.
While Ayew generally kept his own form above his teammates’ worryingly plummeting standards, his contribution to the club’s battle for survival at the turn of the year changed, not in quality, but in currency; he no longer gave goals, only graft and style. Even so, he remained one of the Swans’ top performers in a tough period, playing in all but one of the club’s league fixtures before a three-week injury earlier this year took off some more shine. Though Swansea increasingly looked likely to reach safety, it seemed, for a while, that Ayew would be robbed of the starring role he’d hitherto so remarkably auditioned for.
Until, of course, Liverpool came to town last Sunday for a game that could conclusively seal the hosts’ ticket for a sixth season in the top-flight. Ayew, unfazed by the occasion, got his cue and duly turned up to strike the contest’s first and last goals as Swansea recorded a 3-1 victory.
It wasn’t just the home fans who applauded as he celebrated scoring against a third of England’s traditional ‘Big Four’ this term; doubtlessly impressed, too, was the visiting team’s manager, Jurgen Klopp, though the bespectacled German could only express his admiration in a muted manner.
Klopp is known to be a long-time admirer of the Ghanaian, an interest that would be encouraged by the fact that Ayew, prior to settling on Swansea, declared himself a life-long fan of the Reds, the club that had been marked as his most probable destination when moving from Olympique Marseille in 2015. Young, talented and passionate, Ayew certainly fits the player template Klopp would seek in reinforcing Liverpool ahead of the next campaign, and the kind that the Kop could easily make a cult hero of.
This may merely have been Liverpool’s youngest line-up in Premier League history, while Klopp’s selection options for the date at the Liberty Stadium clearly betrayed his focus on Thursday’s decisive Europa League home leg versus Villareal, but neither fact takes the sting out of Ayew’s latest reminder to Klopp, more than anyone else.
And that’s why current Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin (assuming the Italian sorts his own future out anytime soon) would do well to give Ayew an assurance of prospects better than what his maiden season in England yielded, lest Klopp pounces and nicks a man who picked his moment to issue what may yet prove a veiled but loud come-get-me plea.