EPL 2016/17: ASSESSING GHANA’S REPS

The 2016/17 edition of the English Premier League kicked off on Saturday, and though it features the exact number of Ghanaian participants as started the previous campaign, the faces aren’t all the same, while some of the old guys would be turning out for new clubs. Baba Rahman has been moved by Chelsea on loan to Germany’s Schalke 04, Jordan Ayew’s Aston Villa succumbed tamely to relegation, Andre Ayew has switched Swansea City for West Ham United, while — from Bournemouth via Malaga — Christian Atsu has returned to his parent club, Chelsea.

With all members of the present quintet ready for the new season, then, KickerGH‘s writers assess each man’s prospects of success.

DANIEL AMARTEY – LEICESTER CITY

Amartey joined Leicester City’s title-winning party late last season, only playing just enough games to earn a Premier League winners’ medal in the end. The Ghanaian, surely one of the Foxes‘ hardest workers in pre-season in a bid to ensure his first full term at the King Power Stadium gets off to the best possible start, does have his work cut out for him as he seeks to speedily rise through the pecking order and establish himself as a regular to enjoy a big slice of the fun Leicester’s championship defence could ultimately prove.

CHRISTIAN ATSU – CHELSEA(?)

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Christian Atsu

It’s still uncertain what new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte wishes to do with Atsu. The winger hasn’t played a single competitive game for the dethroned league champions since signing from FC Porto in summer of 2013, instead being sent on loan deals to rival Premier League clubs as well as in the top-flights of Netherlands and Spain. For much of the present window, Atsu’s fate seemed likely to be spelt by another loan stint, but Conte’s retention of the youngster thus far suggests he might have some role — albeit a minor one — in Chelsea’s redemption mission. But, of course, transfer activity in England doesn’t end till September 1 hence Atsu could still find a temporary, if not permanent, haven elsewhere before then.

JEFFREY SCHLUPP – LEICESTER CITY

515635180Schlupp suffered a hamstring injury that ruled him out for over four weeks in the latter half of last season and yet came back strongly to boost Leicester’s quest to upset the bookmakers in making football history, eventually picking the club’s Player’s Player of the Year for the second season running. It’s a mark of the dominant force the Hamburg-born has steadily become, and he could only get better should he improve on his scoring record — which saw him net just once in 2015/16 — as the season goes along.

ANDRE AYEW – WEST HAM UNITED

andre-ayewIn only his second season in England, Ayew has switched clubs. More than anything else, though, it is a testament to his worth and success in the brief while he’s been on the British Isles. Ayew copped a Premier League Player of the Month gong early last season and went on to top Swansea City’s scoring charts with a dozen strikes. Those feats, as well as his overall fine output, has landed him a move to Europa League campaigners West Ham worth a club-record fee and, as Hammers‘ boss Slaven Bilic recently stated, he expects ‘Ayew to make an instant impact’. It’s really not too much to ask from one in

whom so much faith has been reposed.

ALBERT ADOMAH – MIDDLESBROUGH

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As understated and unremarkable off the pitch as he could be on it, Adomah is not a character that easily grabs headlines. The truth, though, is that this extremely efficient wide-man could very well have a huge say in whether or not Middlesbrough manage to stave off a quick return to the Championship when the season’s all over. Blessed with pace and good crossing ability, Adomah will look to provide at least similar figures to his personal haul of six goals and five assists recorded last season in England’s second-tier. Eye-catching he may not be, but he’d definitely prove worth watching.

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