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Sports News of Monday, 7 June 2021

Source: goal.com

Africa’s 50 biggest disappointments of 2020-21 season

Legon Cities striker Asamoah Gyan Legon Cities striker Asamoah Gyan

#1 Eddie Nketiah

A season of regression at Arsenal, the Anglo-Ghanaian youngster was underused by Mikel Arteta, starting just four league games and netting just two Premier League goals.

He needs a move away—Leeds United are reportedly keen—to reignite his career.

#2 Jean-Philippe Mateta

Netted seven in 15 during the first part of the season with Mainz, but failed to replicate this form on loan at Crystal Palace, struggled to unseat Christian Benteke and didn’t do enough to make his move permanent.

At least he did score one of the goals of the season with a magical backheel against Brighton & Hove Albion.

#3 Christian Kouame

Fiorentina looked to have pulled off a canny move when they signed Kouame from Genoa, even knowing that he would be on the long-term injury list after damaging his ACL at the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.

However, fit again this term, he struggled to return to his best, and netted just once for the Viola across 33 league outings (as many as he managed for them in seven outings the season before).

#4 Jordan Ayew

Sticking with Palace, Ayew took his name to new heights last term with nine Prem goals—the best of his career—but scored just once all term for the Eagles this season.

It simply isn’t good enough for a player who, at 29, should be in his prime.

#5 Kwadwo Asamoah

Made just nine appearances (only one start) for Cagliari after joining on a short-term deal from Internazionale in February, and has a job to do to prove he’s not finished at this level.

#6 Moussa Djenepo

One goal involvement all season was much less than was expected as Djenepo appeared to suffer second-season syndrome.

Fenerbahce could save him from his Southampton misery.

#7 Christian Atsu

An absolutely disastrous year for Atsu; the wideman was sidelined all season by Newcastle United, and has been allowed to leave the club as his contract comes to an end.

It’s now time for him to salvage what’s still left of his career.

#8 Majeed Waris

Another Ghana star who, at 29, should be in his prime, Waris managed just one goal all season for Strasbourg—even fewer than he managed during a miserable 2019-20.

Muscle injuries doubtless played their part in the Black Star’s struggles.

#9 Percy Tau

Arrived at parent club Brighton midway through the campaign as Brexit rules changed the work permit regulations, but didn’t live up to the hype.

The Seagulls survived the drop, but Tau managed just 102 minutes across three Prem appearances and it remains to be seen if he still has a future on the south coast.

#10 Eric Bailly

More fitness issues, more unconvincing displays, defeat in the Europa League final…but at least Bailly got a new contract at Manchester United.

#11 Faouzi Ghoulam

Still just 30, but Ghoulam is a shadow of his former self, with injuries ravaging his progress in recent years.

Once Africa’s pre-eminent left-back, he ruptured his ACL in March, having managed just three starts for Napoli all season.

#12 Daniel Amartey

An FA Cup winner, but Amartey’s main contribution to Leicester City’s season was courting controversy when he was seen throwing away Chelsea’s pennant in a disrespectful act in the aftermath of that final success.

He remains a peripheral figure at Leicester, having played just 722 out of over 3420 possible minutes of Premier League action.

#13 Amadou Diawara

Only seven league starts all season, and now reportedly being considered as a makeweight in deal to take Granit Xhaka to AS Roma.

#14 Alex Iwobi

Despite optimism that Iwobi would turn the corner under Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, he still remains far short of the player the Toffees surely hoped they were signing when they parted with an initial £28 million to sign him from Arsenal.

Three goal involvements all season, while better than last term, is still nowhere near good enough.

#15 Jean Seri

2020-21 should have been the bounce-back season for Jean Seri, as he returned to French football with Girondins de Bordeaux, hoping to put the misery of his Fulham spell behind him.

Ultimately, he failed to rediscover the form he showed at OGC Nice, with the talent that once tempted Barcelona largely absent as he failed to register an assist in any of his 10 appearances.

#16 Naby Keita

Every season we hope Keita will finally deliver on his promise at Anfield, but he seems to be moving further away from the player who lit up the Bundesliga with RasenBallsport Leipzig.

Made just 10 league appearances out of a possible 38 for Liverpool, starting just seven.

#17 Mohammed Salisu

Encouraging signs from Salisu during the final months of the season, but the Ghanaian was made to wait until February to make his Southampton debut after moving from Spanish football.

He was involved in some poor defensive displays—5-2 against Manchester City, 3-0 against West Ham United—but did have to adapt to an unfamiliar left-back role at times.

#18 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Moments of excellence, again, and he did end the season with 10 league goals, but this was Aubameyang’s worst year in a decade.

He appeared to suffer a lull in form after signing a new contract with Arsenal, and then endured a disjointed first-half of 2021 as he stepped away to attend to his sick mother.

Terminal decline, or just a season to forget?

#19 Isaac Success

Part of the Watford team that were promoted to the top flight, but Success played a minimal role in that triumph.

He scored just once, having started just three of his 10 outings.

#20 Jean-Philippe Gbamin

His return to action following a long-term injury nightmare was celebrated, but Gbamin’s comeback ultimately lasted only 11 minutes as he was once again ruled out with another long-term injury.

The Ivory Coast international made just one appearance for Everton all term.

#27 Nabil Bentaleb

Another season where Bentaleb had the opportunity to turn around his flagging career, but yet again, things took a twist for the worst.

He made just nine appearances for the Bundesliga’s bottom club Schalke 04 as they crashed into the second tier, and he was released at the season’s end.

#28 Benjamin Stambouli

Another Algerian who endured a miserable year at Schalke, Stambouli at least played—making 24 Bundesliga outings—but also finds himself without a contract now.

#29 Hamza Mendyl

Completing the trio of Schalke underperformers, Mendyl’s injury problems compounded a miserable year in which he played just 94 minutes of Bundesliga action and was relegated to the second division.

#30 Youcef Atal

The momentum appears to be moving away from Atal as he finds himself firmly in his mid-20s, with the right-back making just 18 league outings for OGC Nice this term.

Regular injuries have slowed his progress, with critics suggesting a bad lifestyle may be contributing to the wideman’s malaise.

#31 Joseph Aidoo

Played half as many minutes for Celta Vigo this season as he did last term, and it was quite bizarre to see the centre-back linked with Bayern Munich midway through the campaign.

#32 Lyle Foster

One of the bright young talents of the South African game, but 119 minutes of league action with Vitoria Guimaraes is a poor return.

#33 Kevin Malcuit

Moved to Fiorentina midway through the season in search of more playing time, having managed just 32 minutes during the first half of the campaign with Napoli.

He fared little better with La Viola, managing just two Serie A starts all campaign.

#34 Britt Assombalonga

A big earner at Middlesbrough, but Assombalonga registered just five goals all term, and ended the season by being cut by Boro.

At 28, he should still be able to tempt one of the Championship’s big boys.

#35 Emmanuel Dennis

Caught the eye with Club Brugges on occasion during the 2019-20 season, but moved on from the club midway through last season after a spectacular fall out having been dropped from the side after complaining that his spot on the team bus was sat in by somebody else.

A move to Mainz followed, but what could have been a step up has been a disappointment so far—nine appearances, no goals, 475 listless minutes in the Bundesliga.

#36 Ishak Belfodil

Astonishingly, after scoring 16 Bundesliga goals in the 2018-19 season, he’s now gone two consecutive campaigns without finding the net in the top flight.

West Bromwich Albion dodged a bullet when they missed out on signing Belfodil during the January transfer window.

#37 Pierre Kunde Malong

Caught the eye for Mainz in 2019-20 as he helped them avoid the drop, but Malong played just 11 times last term, and hasn’t played since early January after losing his place due to a knee injury.

He, therefore, played no part in the 05ers’ remarkable comeback during the latter portion of the season, and was only part of the matchday squad—as an unused sub—on four occasions.

#38 Islam Slimani

After scoring nine goals with AS Monaco last term, there were hopes that Slimani could kick on with Lyon this term and return closer to the form he demonstrated at Sporting Lisbon before his career took a wrong turn at Leicester City.

Ultimately, he ended the season with just three goals as OL missed out on the top three—and Champions League qualification.

#39 Olivier Ntcham

Once compared to Paul Pogba, Ntcham was deemed surplus to requirements at Celtic and signed on loan for Olympique de Marseille, but then struggled to make any kind of impact with OM.

After just 120 minutes of Ligue 1 action, he wasn’t kept on by Les Phoceens—they’re now considering Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal—while Ntcham’s future now looks to be in Greece, with AEK Athens monitoring his situation.

Motivation appears to remain a problem.

#40 Ambroise Oyongo

The Cameroon full-back’s progress has been halted in recent years, with Oyongo taking his time to return from a serious ankle problem.

He managed just five starts for Montpellier during the first half of the season, before being loaned to FC Krasnodar to attempt to get some playing time.

After playing just 13 minutes in Russia, he returns to France with much to prove.

#41 Keagan Dolly

Cut by Montpellier Herault after managing just three starts in Ligue 1 last term, Dolly failed to either score or register an assist for MHSC.

It looks like a return to Africa is now on the cards, with Al-Ahly and Mamelodi Sundowns both understood to be keen on his services.

#42 Krepin Diatta

Superb at Club Brugges during the first half of the campaign, Diatta secured a high-profile move to AS Monaco, then subsequently lost his way in Ligue 1.

He scored just once since his transfer, although there were glimpses of his dynamism, suggesting he could yet be a hit in the future.

#43 Josh Maja

Hailed as a potential saviour at Fulham when he arrived and scored twice on his first start—securing a 2-0 victory against Everton on Valentine’s Day.

However, over his next 13 matches, he would draw a blank in 12, netting only in the 1-1 draw with Arsenal.

Questions continue about his ability to compete at Premier League level.

#44 Mbaye Diagne

Like Maja, Diagne was a January recruit signed with a view to firing West Bromwich Albion to safety.

Like Maja, he only managed three goals and while one came in the draw with Manchester United, and another in the emphatic victory over Chelsea, it wasn’t enough to keep the Baggies in the top flight.

#45 Ryad Boudebouz

Saint-Etienne ultimately saw off the risk of relegation to finish in midtable, but it wasn’t without some tensions along the way.

For a player of Boudebouz’s creative qualities, one assist is a poor return.

#46 Mathieu Dossevi

Relegated with Toulouse last term, Dossevi moved to Denizlispor in order to sample life in Turkish football.

Unfortunately, he made it two out of two as his new club finished bottom of the Super Lig standings and were promptly demoted to the second tier.

#47 Floyd Ayite

Another player relegated from the Turkish Super Lig, Ayite was part of the Genclerbirligi side that conceded 76 goals and limped out of the top flight.

The Togo wideman netted three during the course of the campaign.

#48 Asamoah Gyan

Despite the excitement upon his arrival at Legon Cities, as the Black Stars legend returned to his homeland, Gyan’s transfer has subsequently proved to be a whole lot of hype and a whole lack of end product.

The striker has struggled with niggling injuries during the course of the campaign, and was subbed off with injury only 33 minutes into his first competitive start…seven months after he signed.

#49 Andre Onana

Still being linked with a move to Arsenal, Onana’s stock remains high and—after Edouard Mendy—he’s the finest African goalkeeper in the game.

However, the Cameroon stopper is still less than halfway through a one-year suspension for taking a banned substance, and missed the final three months of the Eredivisie season.

#50 Bongani Zungu

A Scottish champion with Rangers, but Zungu will surely have wanted to have played a greater role in their memorable success.

The South Africa midfielder made just one start during the Gers’ Invincibles campaign, and he’s now being linked with a move back to his homeland with Kaizer Chiefs.

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