AFCON 2019: Jordan Ayew, The Stagnation Of A One-Time Ghana Prodigy
After a turbulent spell in England resulting in relegation with two different clubs, former Ghana prodigy Jordan Ayew will attempt to relaunch his stuttering career at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Since leaving France in 2015, little has gone to plan for the son of Marseille great Abedi Pele, the three-time African footballer of the year.
Following his move from Lorient to Aston Villa, the forward enjoyed a relatively successful debut season with seven Premier League goals although the 1982 European champions were relegated and Ayew's own form has taken on a similar trajectory.
He spent a season in the second tier before Swansea signed him to play alongside his elder brother, Andre. It took Jordan six months to break into the first team, but the following season was again largely productive with 11 goals in all competitions. However, it too ended in relegation.
It was then that things took a downward spiral. Loaned to Crystal Palace this past season, the ex-Marseille product failed to make an impact at Selhurst Park and netted just twice in 25 total appearances.
At the time it looked a shrewd move with scant competition from an underperforming Christian Benteke, the misfiring Alexander Sorloth and injury-prone Connor Wickham, but Ayew struggled to impose himself.
REDEMPTION IN EGYPT?
Benteke, Sorloth and Wickham provided just one goal between them, but the Palace hierarchy lost confidence in the Ghanaian and brought in Michy Batshuayi on loan for the second half of the season.
A torrid 2018-19 campaign leaves Ayew in a tricky situation. Swansea, who are going through a rebuilding process, have made no secret of their desire to offload the forward, his salary a considerable burden for a Championship club. Andre, also still on the books at the Liberty Stadium, is in a similar position after a difficult time with Turkish giants Fenerbahce.
"With the Swans still battling to make ends meet, the comparatively high-earning Ayew brothers' continuing presence on the wage bill has become a real albatross around the club's neck," the WalesOnline website wrote recently.
"Jordan is only 27 and should be in the prime of his career so again he shouldn't be satisfied with the current situation and should be doing everything he can to engineer a move."
With that in mind, the Cup of Nations arrives just at the right time. While their club performances have not hit the expected heights, the Ayew brothers have often delivered for their country.
Jordan, who has 13 international goals, and Andre, on 14, were both part of the Black Stars team that lost the 2015 final on penalties to the Ivory Coast. Against Benin on Tuesday, Ghana will need another top display from the attacking duo, and those in Accra, as well as Swansea, will be watching on keenly.