Could £2.5m Jordan Ayew be the bargain of the summer?

Fri, 26 Jul 2019 Source: goal.com

Crystal Palace announced the signing of Jordan Ayew on Thursday, bringing the Ghana international to Selhurst Park on a permanent deal.

The Black Stars international moved to South London from Swansea City on loan last term, and the Eagles have now secured his signature on a permanent basis.

While Jordan hardly set the world alight at Palace last term, his signing for a paltry £2.5 million represents a bargain for Palace, and could represent one of the deals of the summer.

The West African hasn’t enjoyed the best time since moving to Aston Villa from FC Lorient in 2015.

By that point, he was already a former Ligue 1 champion, having won the French title from Olympique de Marseille, but that success had represented the high watermark of his career.

After 12 goals in 31 outings for Les Merlus in 2014-15, Ayew secured a move to Villa as part of a significant summer overhaul by Tim Sherwood.

The Villains’ rebuild didn’t work out, and the club were relegated at the end of the 2015-16 season with a miserable points tally of 17.

While Jordan hadn’t bombed quite like some of Villa’s other signings, and ended that maiden campaign as the club’s top scorer, that early failure set the tone for a disappointing campaign in England.

He returned to the top flight after six months in the Championship with the Midlanders by signing for Swansea City in January 2017, and after a slow start, he helped the club avoid relegation with a series of hard-working displays.

The next season was meant to be one of consolidation and growth, but again, despite being united at the Liberty Stadium with brother Andre, Jordan was relegated, scoring seven goals in 36 league games as the Swans dropped into the second tier.

Three seasons in English football, and two relegations; this wasn’t how things were supposed to pan out…

The forward engineered a move away from south Wales at the start of the 2017-18, seemingly unwilling to bide his time in the Championship again, and to the chagrin of manager Graham Potter, refused to train until a departure had been sanctioned.

An unsavoury tactic, perhaps, but it had the desired effect, and Jordan duly moved to Crystal Palace on a season-long loan.

It wasn’t an overwhelmingly successful campaign for the Eagles, who started the campaign slowly before pulling away from the dropzone, although the Ghanaian will surely have been relieved to have avoided putting another relegation on his CV.

However, this was Ayew’s least productive campaign of his senior career. In 20 league appearances—of which only 14 were from the start—he managed just one PL goal (against Wolverhampton Wanderers in January), and struggled to establish himself in Roy Hodgson’s starting XI.

While the Eagles’ season pivoted midway through—they’d won just two of their 13 matches played before December—Ayew wasn’t one of the players who enjoyed a significant upturn in fortunes.

He wasn’t able to cure the club’s goal drought in late 2018, and watched on while the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Jeffrey Schlupp grew into the campaign in the New Year.

Last term was a massive opportunity for Jordan to prove himself in the Premier League, alongside talented attacking players, yet Hodgson turned to Michy Batshuayi in the January transfer window, with the Chelsea loanee representing an instant upgrade.

Against this background, it’s a surprise that the club moved to bring Jordan back to the club permanently, even if the transfer represents only a minor outlay at £2.5 million.

Hodgson has clearly seen something in the 27-year-old which has convinced him that he’s worth another punt.

Having been given a three-year contract, Ayew now has the platform, the opportunity, and surely, the incentive, to prove that he can realise the potential of his youth.

The attacker has the talent to demonstrate that he doesn’t represent a lack of ambition for the Eagles, and evidenced his goalscoring quality with a series of encouraging showings at the Africa Cup of Nations, notably with strikes against Benin and Guinea-Bissau.

Despite top scoring for Villa, and saving Swansea—once—Jordan hasn’t come close to realising the promise that he demonstrated as a youngster.

At £2.5 million—an almost inconsequential fee in today’s market—he’s a useful option as a backup striker, particularly if he can match the seven-goal tally he managed for Villa and Swansea in two of his four full seasons in the United Kingdom.

If he comes close to matching that tally, and does enough to help Palace keep their heads above water in the top flight, they he could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer.

Source: goal.com
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