Closing in on 26, Wakaso’s having a hard time convincing the world he’s the real deal
By: Sammie Frimpong
Really, who didn’t think Mubarak Wakaso, when he broke through only a few years ago in Spain with Villareal, was going to be the new Sulley Muntari (without those demons)?
Well, I did — and most likely you shared that popular conviction. The build wasn’t too different, the left foot was just as fierce, and Wakaso bristled with Muntari-esque energy levels in midfield. And when he learnt to whip in shots from range and strike set-pieces with the sort of precision Muntari, in his prime, became known for — at a time when the latter’s days with the Black Stars had grown numbered — Wakaso’s role as the 2010 Uefa Champions League winner’s heir apparent seemed clinched. He’d waltzed through the audition and had claimed the role; now the performance.
While he’s done just fine for the national team, things haven’t gone so smoothly in Wakaso’s club career.
A series of poor transfers — he’s enjoyed just 41 top-flight games for three clubs (permanently and on loan) since a somewhat ill-advised move from Spain in 2013 — has him on the periphery of the European game at just 25. . . an age by which Muntari, who Wakaso himself has openly named his idol, was on his way to a memorable treble under Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.
And this summer, after a brief revival of sorts when temporarily back in the Spanish Primera Division with lowly Las Palmas, Wakaso has landed himself one more move which takes him a little farther from the heights he’d appeared destined for only very recently. The Ghana international has been recruited by Greece’s Panathinaikos on a three-year deal, a club legendary countryman Michael Essien only signed for when he was all spent and frail — and that comes not very long after he almost joined Muntari at Saudi side Al Ittihad Jeddah.
It’s hard to admit, but increasingly impossible to ignore, that Wakaso’s market value may be quickly waning. Depending on how well his Greek adventures prove, he could stage a return to the brighter lights of European football (think England, Italy or his beloved Spain, not Russia or Scotland) or, you know, China could come calling.
Either way, he’s now set to take the hard route — or no route at all — towards matching up to Muntari.