TRUE LOVE: BADU SMITTEN BY UDINESE

The Ghana international has found a warm home at Udinese and, with a renewed deal and improved terms, his impact at the club could only be greater

By: Sammie Frimpong

Udinese should be the European club of choice for every Ghanaian football fan, really.

The Serie A side has had quite a number of Ghana internationals — the likes of Mohammed Gargo, Asamoah Gyan, Stephen Appiah, Kwadwo Asamoah, Mohammed Rabiu, Sulley Muntari and Agyemang Badu readily come to mind — on its books over the years.

None, though, could claim to be as intricately woven into the club’s fabric as Badu (the only one of the lot presently at the Dacia Arena); well, perhaps Gargo, distinctly a former Udinese skipper, still is to a slightly greater extent but, at the rate the 25-year-old Badu is going, the former Real Tamale United star would be eclipsed before long.

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Badu, on Friday, consented to a deal which extends his stay at Udinese to 2020, by which time he’d have spent a full decade at the club — a year more than Gargo lasted, in fact. With that new contract comes improved terms, yes, and speculation is rife that Badu’s salary was nearly doubled to seal the deal.

Moving to Udine in 2010, Badu took some time to establish himself, steadily working his way up the pecking order but not nailing a regular starting spot till a few years later. The great turning point came in 2012/13 and, needless to say, Badu hasn’t looked back since. He’s featured in upwards of 20 games for the Zebrette every season since his breakthrough campaign (the current excluded), notching a peak of 33 — all but three of them starts — even during the underwhelming term Udinese endured in 2015/16.

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Just when rumour had began to grow particularly intense about Badu seeking an exit after six years at the club, with England being suggested as the likeliest destination, the 2009 Fifa U-20 World Cup winner‘s obvious value has seen him secured by new Udinese boss Giuseppe Iachini for the long-term. It’s the biggest indication yet that Badu, more than anything else, wishes to remain a part of the outfit’s rich folklore. And while staying with Udinese wouldn’t bring to Badu some of the rewards his countrymen departed the north-eastern Italian city in quest of — the club narrowly escaped relegation at the end of the last Serie A season and kicked off the championship’s latest edition with an embarrassing 4-0 loss to AS Roma — the midfield battler is only too keen to reach the century of league starts in Udinese’s stripes he’s only seven games away from.

And, of course, the story wouldn’t end there. No romance — certainly not one like this which is still only blossoming — ever did.

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