Daniel James analyses the Ghanaian hitman, and looks at his potential to impress this season.
The signing of Ghanaian forward, Andre Ayew on a Bosman free transfer following the end of his contract at Marseille was a clear signal of intent from Swans manager Garry Monk. Swansea beat off competition from other clubs, in particular West Ham for the versatile forward who is able to play anywhere in the attacking third.
So why are the services of Ayew in such high demand, and is his reputed £50,000 per week salary, which makes him the club’s highest earner justifiable?
Ayew has signed a 4 year deal at the Liberty, and the Ghanaian international certainly comes loaded with pedigree. He is the son of the legend Abedi Ayew, a three time African Footballer of the Year winner and FIFA 100 member.
Having debuted for Marseille in the 2007-2008 season, Ayew then departed on a series of loan spells before becoming integral to Didier Deschamps’ plans back at Marseille. He has represented Ghana in two African nations’ cups and the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups. Notably, having just turned 22, the BBC named him the African footballer of the year. Still only 25, it would appear that Ayew has a long future ahead of him in the sport.
Ayew’s first season at Marseille was enough to gain interest from clubs at big as Arsenal, who were reported to have had an offer of £5 million flatly rejected. This was despite only appearing 13 times, often as a substitute, and not scoring once. His credentials perhaps rested in the fact that at such a young age he had experienced Champions League football, and in particular gave a good account of himself against the then Porto right back Jose Bosingwa.
In the 2008-2009 campaign, Ayew played for Lorient, but was again frustrated to largely warming the bench. In 22 appearances, he scored just 3 goals; hardly a prolific strike rate given his initial promise. In 2009, he joined French ligue 2 club, Arles-Avignon. There, he was finally able to get some full games under his belt but still only managed 4 goals in 26 matches. Nevertheless, he was part of a team that were promoted to the French Ligue 1.
Ayew impressed Deschamps to the extent that he was offered promised significant playing time at Marseille in 2010, and incidentally kept out new arrival and previous Swans target Loic Remy out of the squad. He had an immense 2010-2011 season for Marseille, coming of age by being one of three candidates nominated for French Ligue 1 young player of the season, and was also voted Marseille player of the season. This is an incredible achievement given his age, and the fact that Marseille were crowned champions of France. Ayew had his best tally to date last season, scoring 10 goals in 28 league appearances, bringing his overall total to 60 goals in 202 appearances.
Garry Monk clearly rates Ayew as one of the next generation of players capable of elevating the Swans into the uppermost echelons of club football. Ayew represents a low risk purchase, having been secured free of charge. With 62 caps for Ghana, he is incredibly experienced for his age and could well be entering his prime, and having identified his time at Swansea as pivotal for defining his career he will be out to impress.
Discussing the capture of Ayew, Monk was barely able to contain his enthusiasm for the star.
“I’m extremely pleased we’ve been able to attract someone of Ayew’s quality to this football club,” Monk said in an interview.
“It highlights once again just how far this club has grown year on year, not just in Britain, but globally.
“He will add quality, experience and versatility – which I like – to the squad. The fans should be really excited about seeing him play.
“When I spoke to him recently he was very football-motivated and felt Swansea was the right club for him at the moment to develop his game and progress his career.
“We also felt he was the right fit for this club, so both parties are more than happy.”
Manager Monk’s shrewd previous signings and a first season in charge which arguably saw Swansea eclipse the previous season’s League Cup victory under Laudrup by finishing 8th place ought to be enough to raise expectation for Ayew’s arrival. With the added firepower of Eder and the resurgent Gomis, the Swans will be sure to have a front line capable of striking fear into the heart of any Premiership defence this season.
This will come as welcome news following the departure of Wilfried Bony to Man City for £30m last season. Gomis cut a lonely figure up front leading the line with Sigurdsson and Ki, both midfielders, having to venture forward into more of an attacking role. Swansea managed just 27 goals at home and only 19 goals away in the league last season, and this was likely due to their resilient defence more than any clear cut attacking prowess, especially once Bony left.
With the defensive backbone of the squad firmly in place and bolstered further by the arrival of Tabanou, the cutting edge attacking flair of Monk’s new additions make for an extremely exciting season ahead. Perhaps Swansea can push for a top 6 place or even some more cup silverware. Going from strength to strength every season, who can rule it out? Let’s hope that Ayew settles in nicely into Swansea, and that the club brings out his awesome potential, just as it so often has with players such as Bony, Sinclair and Michu.