Ghana, like many African nations, have possessed an abundance of midfield talent in recent years. Stephen Appiah and Sulley Muntari have both starred for top Italian clubs Juventus and Inter, respectively, while ChelseaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Michael Essien can currently claim to be one of the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best enforcers.
Going further back, Karim Abdul Razak was one of AfricaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s premier midfielders during the 1980s, whereas former Marseille and Torino playmaker Abedi Pele, the Ã¢â‚¬ËœAfrican MaradonaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, is an undisputed legend of the game.
Could another great Ghanaian midfielder be just about to emerge?
Until a few months ago, Kwadwo Asamoah was a virtual unknown. The 20-year-old had moved to Torino on loan in January 2008 from Swiss side Bellinzona, and then on loan again to Udinese last summer. Until January of this year, Asamoah had yet to make his Serie A debut, and anyone dedicated enough to study squad rosters would probably have written off the youngster as a nonentity.
Asamoah finally made his bow on January 11, as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 home draw with Sampdoria. He has since been a virtual ever-present, starting 13 matches, and scoring one goal Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a superb effort during the 3-1 win over Fiorentina a fortnight ago.
In the space of just three months, AsamoahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s transfer value has risen from a five-figure sum to at least Ã¢â€šÂ¬15 million. Every major Italian club, particularly Inter and Juventus, are said to be interested in signing the starlet, while it is surely only a matter of time before ArsenalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Arsene Wenger
, and other Premier League giants, start passing over a few admiring glances.
In many ways, Asamoah is the complete modern midfielder. He has explosive pace, everlasting stamina, bull-like strength, and moves tirelessly from box-to-box. Yet, unlike your Essien or Muntari, he also possesses some exciting technical skills. Asamoah dribbles and surges past opponents, passes the ball well, has good awareness, and possesses a sweet left foot. If you had to compare him to a player, you would say he is a mix between Edgar Davids and Manchester UnitedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Anderson, only less robust and defensive-minded than the former, and not as tactical as the latter.
Juventus and Inter both desperately need a top-class midfielder this summer, and they could do a lot worse than Asamoah. He may only have three months’ top-class experience under his belt, but there is no replacement for raw talent, and Asamoah certainly has the makings of a really special player. He is also very versatile, as he is so complete and supple, and could probably fit into any tactical system.
At next summerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s World Cup, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has already vowed that an African nation can make it to the semi-finals. Ivory Coast are perhaps the best equipped to fulfil this prophecy, but one should not rule out Ghana. The Black Stars may be lacking a bit of quality in defence and attack, but in a yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time their midfield will be able to hold its own against most teams. Essien, Muntari and Asamoah have the potential to form a fearsome trident. Were Mario Balotelli to follow Anthony BaffoeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s advice and pledge his allegiance too, then Ghana really could cause a stir in South Africa.
What are your views on this topic? Is Kwadwo Asamoah GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s next great midfielder? Will he join a big club this summer? Will he help Ghana achieve great things in South Africa? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think
Carlo Garganese, Goal.com