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Sports News Wed, 18 May 2022

Is it time for KP Boateng to bow out?

From limited playing time, injuries, fallout with the manager, to staring relegation, the 2021-22 football season is unarguably Kevin-Prince Boateng's worst football time in recent years, perhaps an indication that the time has come for the Hertha Berlin midfielder to consider a different contribution to the beautiful game.

In June last year, the 35-year-old returned to boyhood club Hertha in what was considered the perfect homecoming. Hertha was not just where he started his professional career but Berlin was also the city where he was born.

For many, the move in itself suggested that the 'Ghetto Kid' was probably considering calling time on his playing career.

However, the Hertha return appears far from what he may have envisaged, and possibly never the type of goodbye he would like at a club he holds dearly in his heart.

In all, Boateng made 18 Bundesliga appearances, his limited match time largely due to fitness concerns, which took away steam from his game and plunged him into a loss of form.

But there is even more to the story.

In October, Boateng fell out with then club coach Pal Dardai after both men had a spat in training. Interestingly, they played together as teammates during the latter's first Hertha spell. Although they made up shortly after their altercation, things were never quite the same as Boateng spent more time on the bench than before, making no further Bundesliga starts under Dardai until April this year under new boss Felix Magath.

It was not only a tough time for the former Ghana international on a personal note but also at team level as Hertha battled relegation, ultimately failing to secure top-flight status at the end of the season.

However, it was not the worst possible situation as The Old Lady got themselves a lifeline by finishing third from bottom and securing an upcoming relegation play-off clash with Hamburg.

In summary, the midfielder played just about half (18) the total number of matches of the Bundesliga season, starting a paltry eight games, the lowest number of starts accumulated over the course of a full season since his 2015-16 campaign.

Also, he was an unused substitute in seven games, missed six matches due to injury and a further one due to suspension, in addition to inexplicably being missing from the matchday squad on two occasions.

Worst, he ended the season without a goal nor an assist, his first time hitting such an unfortunate stat since the 2008-09 term.

So, after time on the books of some of the glamourous clubs in the world, including Milan, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, and Tottenham Hotspur, and at international level gracing the World Cup on two occasions, is it perhaps the right time for Boateng to reconsider his playing career?

"I want to pull on the Hertha shirt at the Olympiastadion one more time. I don't know how long it'll last, but it'll be enough for me. It's definitely my last club," Boateng said last July after rejoining Hertha.

It is clear the attacker was not oblivious of the challenges ahead when he returned to The Old Lady. If he, at any point in time during the course of the season considered playing on, his present stats suggest it may perhaps be a bad idea.

Should Hertha beat Hamburg in the relegation play-off to retain their place in Bundesliga, then for all the bad that has happened, the big win might just be the right opportunity to bow out on a high.
Source: goal.com