European clubs scramble for Adre Ayew; son of Ghanaian soccer legend Abedi Pele

Photo: Getty Images. Ayew celebrates after scoring against South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015

Even since Andre Ayew announced the end of his decade-long association with Olympique Marseille back in May, there has been quite a scramble to secure his services.

The Ghanaian winger has been linked to a host of Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and Newcastle United, as well as European heavyweights such as Roma, Borussia Dortmund and Galatasaray.

It leaves the 25-year-old with plenty of options to ponder, but what is it about Ayew that makes him so desirable?

The main attraction is that Ayew represents a low risk purchase given his contract has just expired at Marseille and he is available for nothing.

Yet this is a player who, despite his relatively young age, has a wealth of experience playing in a leading European league and the Champions League, not to mention 62 caps for Ghana.

Ayew has clearly identified the present time as a crucial juncture in his career and wants a new challenge for what should be his prime years.

He has always expressed a desire to play Premier League football, preferably for Liverpool, the club he supported growing up.

Ayew told Sportsmail back in April: ‘It’s true I’d like to play in England. I grew up watching English football and I support Liverpool.

‘I’m 25 now and it is a good age for me to take the next step in my career. I have offers from England, Italy and Germany but it would be unfair to say who from.

‘I speak to my friends such as Morgan Amalfitano at West Ham and Joey Barton at QPR and they always talk well about the league and the atmosphere.

‘I have been fortunate to experience Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford in the Champions League but I want to play at Anfield and other grounds.’

That wish could be about to come true though if Liverpool do have a genuine interest in him, they may have to act fast to see off the competition.

It’s fair to say that Ayew inherited some strong football genes. His father is Abedi Pele, the Ghana international of 66 caps who was part of the Marseille team that won the Champions League in 1993.

Abedi Pele was African Footballer of the Year on three occasions and Andre is one of three brothers who play football – Ibrahim plays for Ghanaian side Asante Kotoko and Jordan plays in France for Lorient. All three have represented their country.

Andre’s football journey started at Nania, a club in the Ghanaian captial Accra of which his father is chairman. Such was his talent, Ayew was promoted to the first-team squad at just 14, playing professionally for two seasons before joining Marseille’s academy.

Given his father’s links with the south France club, there were high hopes for his progeny and he made his first-team debut against Valenciennes in August 2007 aged just 17.

Despite playing in just 15 games during his debut season, there were reports of a £5m bid from Arsenal, something sternly denied by Marseille.

With a surfeit of attacking options, Marseille decided to farm the teenager out on loan, firstly to Lorient and then to Arles-Avignon, where he gained valuable minutes.

Manager Didier Deschamps kept a watchful eye on his progress and when he returned to the Stade Velodrome in 2010, he was rewarded with a three-year contract extension and thrown into the first team.

With Marseille in and around the top positions in Ligue 1, Ayew played regularly in the Champions League and he played the full 90 in both legs of the 2011 last 16 tie with Manchester United, who beat them 2-1 on aggregate.

This campaign gave Ayew his first medal, too, as Marseille won the Coupe de la Ligue, and a first personal award as he was chosen as the club’s player of the season.

The following season saw Marseille retain the League Cup but their form was otherwise disappointing. He did, however, score a vital last minute winner to beat Inter Milan in the Champions League last 16.

Since then, he has been a regular in the team, scoring 60 goals in 202 outings overall, proving to his suitors that he can chip in with goals as well.

Having been born in France, Ayew was eligible for both them and Ghana. Claude Le Roy called him up to the Ghana squad for the first time in August 2007 and the decision was made.

He experienced tournament success in his early career, helping Ghana to the African Youth Championship and the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2009.

But there has been heartbreak, too, including the 1-0 loss to Egypt in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations a suspension that kept him out of Ghana’s controversial loss to Uruguay at the World Cup that same year.

He was also in the Ghana team beaten by the Ivory Coast in a marathon penalty shoot-out in the final of this year’s AFCON.

But his stock rose highest during last summer’s World Cup with goals against the United States and Germany in the group phase.

And that only looks set to continue should Ayew fulfil his ambition and come to the Premier League.

 

Source: Adam Shergold

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