2014 World Cup: One to watch: Andre Ayew – Ghana
Andre Ayew was just 20 when Ghana threatened to go all the way in South Africa. The Marseille winger, who had just spent a formative season on loan with Arles-Avignon, missed the Uruguay game through suspension but had already made his mark on their campaign, starting and impressing in each of the team’s previous four games.
With that experience under his belt, Ayew looks sure to play a prominent role this time around and to continue making his father, Abedi Pele, proud. Abedi, who also played for Marseille, is considered to be one of the best African footballers of all time but never reached a World Cup with the Black Stars. Andre’s brother, Jordan, also plays for Marseille and Ghana but has not made the cut this summer.
Ayew has been with Marseille since 2005. Born in France, he had initially learned his trade at Nania in Ghana. Blisteringly quick and able to play wide or centrally, he developed quickly enough to make a first-team debut against Valenciennes on August 15, 2007, while still 17. It was the beginning of a remarkable week for Ayew, who made his full international debut against Senegal six days later.
Consecutive seasons loaned out to Lorient and Arles-Avignon followed, with Ayew making waves internationally in the meantime – captaining Ghana at the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup and scoring his first goal at senior level against Burkina Faso at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.
His stock has steadily grown since Ghana’s near miss in South Africa. He currently stands one goal short of 50 for Marseille, with the 2013/14 season being the first for four years in which he has not hit double figures. He has been heavily linked with a move to England – Liverpool apparently being among his suitors – and a successful World Cup would do his cause little harm.
Ayew will probably start wide on the right for a pacy, counter-attacking Ghana side, and his eye for goal could prove decisive in what looks a tough, tight Group G.