This could have been one of the great seasons for Andre Ayew. At the turn of the year his club, Olympique Marseille, stood top of Ligue 1 ahead of the moneyed Paris Saint-Germain.
Then his country, Ghana, reached the final of the African Cup of Nations and watched their opponents, Ivory Coast, miss their first two penalties. Suddenly it seemed Ayew, slated to shoot fifth, would not even be needed.
Then Ghana began missing kicks and when Ayew stepped up he had to score to stave off defeat. He did but, after one of the epic shoot-outs, Ghana lost 9-8 following 22 penalties.
Back in France, Marseille began crumbling too, and twice led but lost 3-2 at home to PSG, with Ayew sent off in injury time. It was the first of four defeats that leave them now reduced to contesting the consolation of a Champions League place with Monaco, who they meet at the Stade Vélodrome on Sunday.
It may prove one of Ayew’s last matches for OM. Reportedly pursued by Liverpool – his boyhood idols – in addition to Tottenham, Arsenal, Newcastle and Swansea, the 25-year-old is considering leaving the club who have been his home since he was 15. The Premier League is his most likely destination.
“My dream come true was to play for Marseille. Now I have a dream to become a better player, to try and do what I did in France in another league, maybe in England,” he said.
“In the Premier League there is a lot of intensity. It is very tough physically with a lot of running, a lot of intelligent players, a league where there is a lot of goals.
“You can show your best because you are playing with very good players and very good teams. It is a league where I feel if I am fully fit, and everything [is] OK, I can do what I have to do – which is show myself in one of the biggest leagues in the world.
“I don’t know yet what my future is,” Ayew continued. “I will sit down with the president in the next few weeks. I am discussing with the club what are the possibilities for the next years to come.
“For years now I have had different clubs, from the big ones to the smaller ones, asking, but Marseille was a great place. We used to play for the Champions League and for Ligue 1. The club had money so we could bring in good players from outside.
“Today is a different situation financially and with players. We try and bring in young players but it is difficult because there is a lot of pressure here. So there is a possibility that I move, but there is a possibility that I can stay.”
If he does decide to cross the Channel, Ayew is likely to ask advice from his national coach.
Avram Grant was a shock choice to take over the Black Stars ahead of the African Cup of Nations but he calmed the passions produced by a stormy World Cup campaign, and Ayew is full of praise for the former Chelsea, Portsmouth and West Ham manager.
“I think the gaffer has done a great job since he came in. He has brought a lot to the team and can bring a lot for the future,” he said. “He is learning the African style. He is also a very good person. From what I have seen I am very impressed. We can progress under him.”
For now, though, Ayew’s focus is on tomorrow’s match against Monaco – and Marseille’s Champions League fate could be decisive in Ayew’s future. There may be a few Premier League managers hoping the Monegasques win.
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