In what may well be the most surprising move of the season, Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan has moved from Sunderland to United Arab Emirate’s Al Ain on a season long loan.
According to Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, this move was always coming especially after Ghana played England at Wembley earlier this year. “Certainly since the England game, when he played at Wembley so well on the night, something has been troubling him. It’s very difficult, the constant speculation no matter what you try to quash or quell, and the people around him, the people who want to make a fast buck, shall we say, and it affects him in the end.”
But many Gyan fans are not sure why a young, supposedly in-form striker will move from Italy to France to England to The Emirates in three seasons? While his fans are perturbed about the repressiveness of his journeyman career, Gyan does not seem to see his last move as a big deal: “I will continue to wear my favourite No.3 jersey at Al Ain as I begin a new adventure but with Sunderland still en-grained on my heart.”
Bruce, though reluctant to admit, has acknowledge that Gyan is unfocused and needs some playing time outside Sunderland: “Anyone who has seen Asamoah play will know that he hasn’t been himself in recent months. This option suits all parties at the present time and the club is well-protected in the deal. Asamoah has three years remaining on his contract and of course my wish would be that he finds his spark again and we see him in red and white stripes next season in the form that first attracted us to him.” Bruce also told the media before the commencement of the Chelsea-Sunderland game that: “It has been disappointing the whole saga but he [Gyan] got his wish and now we [Sunderland] move on.”
Still, others believe Sunderland feared the five weeks absence of Gyan during the Africa Cup of Nations could affect their chances of staying in the Premiership this season. Hence, they loaned out Gyan to allow other attackers at Sunderland to flourish.
While the Africa nations Cup explanation simply begs the question, the real disturbing issue is – why United Arab Emirates of all places? Why not another English Premiership club or a club in other more competitive leagues? The allure of money has been cited by many as Gyan’s topmost consideration. They say this because if Gyan really wanted to focus and improve as a player, The Emirates would have been the last destination of choice.
Gyan will rake almost US$ 3 million after this loan deal, making him the highest paid Ghanaian footballer in history. There are very few Ghanaian footballers who will turn their backs to this temptation given that most footballers of the past who chose fame and form over cash have ended up paupers and beggars on the streets of Accra.
Whatever his reasons may be, Gyan’s decision obviously did not consider several tangential issues. For instance, he does not seem to have thought through the full effects of this move to Al Ain on his own personal [career] development. Unless of course, he believes he has peaked. If that is the case, then it is rather unfortunate as Gyan has not scored more than 15 league goals per season in his entire career as a striker. Now, that is not something to be proud of! Gyan has also recklessly torn the hearts of several fans who wish him well into pieces with this move.
Sometimes, when some of these players are making decisions, one wonders what informs their decision making process and who advises them. The way it looks now, Gyan has clearly gambled with his career and one can only hope he comes out the winner. To reap positive payoff from this career-threatening risk, Gyan must score a whole lot of goals playing this lowly team in this backwater league. Otherwise, too many doubts will be raised about his own future.
Sure, Gyan will make a lot of money in the Emirates, but, will he score as many goals? Will he improve? Will he get his focus back? Will he win back his fans? Will the TV cameras follow him to Dubai?