Sports Features of Fri, 23 Feb 20187

Andre Ayew: A masterful artist of positional evolution

Ghana international Andre Ayew joined Premier league Strugglers Swansea City on deadline day from West Ham United and made his debut for the Welsh side as a substitute in Swansea’s 1-0 win over Burnley two weeks ago.

Citi Sports Daniel Koranteng looks at the 28 year old’s positional evolution and discusses why his return and potential partnership with his brother Jordan could be exactly what Swansea needs in their quest for survival.

Ayew’s positional change

On 6 November, 2010 a year after leading Ghana to U-20 World Cup glory, Andre Ayew made his UEFA Champions League debut for Marseille against Portuguese champions Porto at the Estádio do Dragão, playing on the left wing in place of Dutch winger Bolo Zenden. The then 20 year old played 77 minutes before being substituted out as Marseille were defeated 2–1.

Ayew earned praise from the media and many pundits especially for keeping in form Porto right back José Bosingwa quiet on the night. Ayew went on to cement himself as a regular in the side making 37 appearances in his debut season. Although he was deployed in the wider positions in his first season, Ayew showed his good eye for goal and incredible movement in the box scoring 11 goals in his debut season.

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This prompted then Marseille manager Didier Dechamps to grant the Ghana international more positional freedom which resulted in Ayew scoring 30 goals for the side in the next 3 seasons.

Perhaps Ayew’s best season for the French side came in his final season where he was part of a powerful front 3 along with Dimitri Payet and Andre Pierre Gignac. He finished the season as the clubs second highest goal scorer with 9 goals, featuring as the team’s main central attacking threat on some occasions in the absence of Gignac.

The winger was slowly beginning to evolve into an out and out forward. Ayew’s move to Swansea in 2015 was marked the death of his career as a winger. Then Swansea manager Gary Monk operated him as a second striker, partnering up with Frenchman Bafetimbi Gomis in the Swansea attack. He excelled in that role and finished the campaign as the team’s highest scorer with 12 goals, which included strikes against Manchester United and Chelsea.

Ayew had slowly morphed into a central attacking menace. After his move to West Ham the following season, Hammers boss Slaven Bilic reverted to deploying him down the wings and this backfired with Ayew failing to deliver. He was no longer that quick, energetic teenager who burst onto the global scene some six years before. Ayew later that season – after the AFCON – was deployed in a center forward position and he returned with an impressive 6 goals and 3 assists in just 16 starts.

Swansea’s lack of goals

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Swansea have a clear problem this season and that is their inability to score enough goals. The Swans have managed just 20 goals all season; meaning Tottenham’s Harry Kane has managed more goals than the entire Swansea side this season. Swansea have lacked a focal point in their attack this season with early season injuries to Tammy Abraham and Wilfred Bony. Andre’s brother, Jordan, who is Swansea’s leading scorer so far this season with 8 goals, has shown that he isn’t your typical penalty box forward as the heat map of his average movement this season show he is hardly ever in the opposition box.

Andre Ayew is a second striker and poacher of the first order. The purchase of Andre means Swansea will have a player who will be a constant threat in the opposition box due to his incredible movement and exceptional anticipation and finishing ability. Andre playing as a poacher alongside his workaholic younger brother Jordan is a match made in heaven and exactly what Swansea needs.

Their devastating partnership can be likened to Manchester United’s attacking duo of 2005/2006 which had Wayne Rooney doing all the dirty work by drawing defenders away and Ruud van Nistelrooy as the prolific poacher whose simple job was just to finish off chances.

The added bonus for the Swans is that they have signed a player who understands the situation the club is in, having been in a similar pickle before with the same club, coupled with the fact that the team is peaking at a perfect time with the team unbeaten in their last five league games, which have come with successive wins against Liverpool and Arsenal.

Only positives can be seen in Swansea’s purchase of Andre Ayew and it’s very clear he, alongside Jordan are destined to save the Welsh side from the drop.

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