With so much built around his reliability and quality, Ayew’s fresh injury isn’t really the best news for anyone
By: Sammie Frimpong
Andre Ayew winced. He fell, winced some more, and was taken off. In just the 34th minute of his West Ham United debut — away to Chelsea — the Ghanaian had pulled up with a thigh strain.
It was bad enough to truncate his experience at a ground where he scored on his bow for Swansea City this time last year shortly after arriving on the British Isles from France, but it didn’t seem like it could keep him out more than a handful of days, with reports even suggesting he’d be fit for the Hammers‘ first Premier League home game at the Olympic Stadium over the weekend versus Bournemouth.
Less than 72 hours later, though, the injury may have proved a lot worse than it initially appeared. A tweet by West Ham co-chairman David Gold on Thursday revealed that Ayew is due surgery and could be out for up to four months. That’s over a dozen missed domestic games, a couple of Europa League fixtures, too, and barely enough time between full recovery and the start of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations his country has qualified for.
Ayew’s manager, Slaven Bilic, would certainly lose sleep over losing the services of his club’s record signing during such a critical stretch. The Croat, shortly after overseeing Ayew’s move to London from Swansea, stated that he expected an ‘instant impact’ from the Ghanaian and was surely anticipating a replication of the blistering form which characterized the player’s first few months in the league early last term.
Ayew, unarguably the pick of a number of signings West Ham made in the summer, was brought in to provide that extra bite with which the club could build on a strong first season under Bilic, hence the discomfort and agony his prolonged absence would trigger. Still, Bilic remains optimistic.
“The time will pass and he’s a good healer,” Bilic said of Ayew. “He is very professional and he’s going to be back later on this year, we hope.
“It’s not the first time for us and we’ll show character and that’s what makes us such a good team.”
Bilic, though, would be troubled over this latest development, and he wouldn’t be alone; Ghana head coach Avram Grant, himself a former West Ham boss, would, too. In the absence of regular Black Stars skipper Asamoah Gyan — another victim of poor health in recent months — deputy Ayew had stepped up and led Ghana’s successful charge for a ticket to Afcon 2017 and, with Gyan’s form and fitness still patchy, the 26-year-old’s influence was always going to be telling. And while Ayew might just return in time to marshall the Stars for a tournament they’re widely expected to win, he’d almost certainly miss the start of Ghana’s 2018 Fifa World Cup qualification campaign, including a potentially crucial visit by Egypt.
In all, the picture isn’t very pretty — for Ayew, for West Ham, and for Ghana. It could get better, of course, but, till the concluding weeks of 2016, things don’t look too good.