For many players, a move to a club that has struggled to avoid relegation for two straight seasons would be considered the beginning of the end, but for Asamoah Gyan, the move to Turkish side Kayserispor is about proving the opposite.
If you are the Ghana stalwart, who has taken that path to return to European club football, it is effectively an attempt to prove he is not all about the money.
The Ghana captain and leading international goal scorer has agreed a two-year deal with the Turkey Super Lig side. It marks his return to Europe after six years in the Middle East and China, where he scored a lot of goals at club level and earned a hefty chunk of money.
They were also six of the most difficult years in his career, with accusations that he had shunned more complex sporting challenges for bigger pay cheques and an easy life.
He has disputed that, though at no point has Gyan denied that money is a strong motivation in his career. The motive may be the subject of regular debate but his quality has never been in doubt, and in that regard Kayserispor is getting a proven goal scorer.
In his last spell in Europe, Gyan scored 10 goals in 22 matches for Sunderland between 2010 and 2012. He then bagged an incredible 95 goals in 83 matches for Al Ain over a three-year period. The goals have dried up since, with seven in 20 matches for Shanghai SIPG in China and five in 14 matches on loan at Al Ahli in Dubai.
At international level, one of the biggest concerns was that by moving to the Middle East and then China, Gyan would become ineffective for Ghana. That has not happened. Instead, in the last six years he has become the leading goal scorer for Africa in the history of the World Cup, and the record goal scorer for Ghana in international football, with 51 goals.
Still, the idea persists that without ever proving himself consistently in Europe, he would not be considered a true great. Consider the other big goal scoring names in African football.
Samuel Eto’o was a phenomenal goal scoring talent for Barcelona in La Liga and the Champions League, and Didier Drogba had great success with Chelsea. Gyan’s countryman Anthony Yeboah made his name by proving himself in the top leagues of Germany and England.
Playing in Turkey will not directly answer all those questions, but in a league considered more challenging in a sporting sense than the UAE, where Gyan thrived, he could at least address a few. And that is what he is determined to do.
“People have enjoyed saying a lot of negative things about me but when I am fit I will score goals, and I hope to do that in Turkey too,” he told local radio station Hot FM.
“The club has a project to return to Europe and it looks serious for next season. It puts pressure on players like myself but I like that sort of pressure so long as I stay fit and prove to everyone I am a competent player,” he added.
Gyan arrived at his new club to a massive reception, happily relaying all that via his social media accounts. “The reception was amazing,” he said.
The Turkish fans will expect to see amazing displays from the 31-year-old, too. There will be a curious audience in Ghana observing it all.
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