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Sports Features of Thursday, 28 May 2015


Ghanaians in La Liga Review

There were three Ghanaian representatives in the Spanish top flight this season, with Thomas Partey, Mohammed Fatau and Derek Asamoah representing, respectively, Almeria, Rayo Vallecano and Eibar.

I begin with Thomas Partey, who despite being relegated with Almeria—after a 19th-place finish—introduced himself to Spanish audiences with a series of impressive campaigns.

Thomas spent the campaign on loan at the Rojiblancos from Atletico Madrid, and Diego Simeone will surely be encouraged by the powerful performances of the 21-year-old.

The Ghanaian’s opportunities at Atleti have been limited, but he has demonstrated, over 31 appearances at Almeria, that he has a long and exciting career ahead of him in the top tier.

I was particularly impressed with his performance against Real Madrid. Thomas and his teammates may have lost 3-0, but the Ghanaian delivered a commanding display and this kind of experience will surely serve him well in the future.

While the Black Stars are not short of talented central midfielders, Thomas—with his rugged contributions—surely has an international career ahead of him as well.

The midfielder did receive 13 yellow cards—the joint-third highest in the division—but Almeria, scratching around for points near the bottom of the league, could hardly have been expected to ask him to curb his enthusiasm.

Ultimately, tenacious Thomas couldn’t keep La Union in the top flight, but he surely shouldn’t worry about having to play in the second tier next term.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of Derek Boateng, who also dropped out of the top flight with Eibar.

The 32-year-old is out of contract this summer, and while Michael Essien—six months older than Boateng, and another member of the 2006 World Cup squad—is courting offers from across the world, it’s hard to see where Derek goes from here.

The midfielder, who moved to Eibar only last summer, is out of contract, and having only made eight starts over the last campaign, is unlikely to have too many suitors.

He was hardly impressive either, despite showing that he still knows how to use the ball intelligently.

After a tricky spell at Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and suffering relegation with Fulham, the former Black Star is ambling ingloriously towards retirement, or at least a return to one of Europe’s lesser leagues.

Finally, Mohammed Fatau was in an odd position of playing on loan for a mid-table side while his parent club were embroiled in a relegation battle for the campaign.

The 22-year-old managed only nine appearances for Granada last season, and left for Rayo in search of more first-team action this term.

He barely found it—making only ten La Liga outings—although he impressed in victories over Almeria and Villarreal. It’s also worth noting that Fatau did struggle with injury, missing the majority of December and January due to a thigh concern.

Rayo finished in 11th—a fine return for the Vallecanos—but Granada struggled, and ended the campaign level on points with relegated Eibar.

In truth, it might have helped Fatau’s career had Granada dropped into the second tier—affording him an opportunity to take a key role in the first team and enjoy a season of first-team action.

It is concerning that the midfielder, who will be 23 later this year, has only made 15 league starts out of the last 76 possible.

The Ghanaian is an energetic and alert presence in the middle of the park, but he needs a consistent season of action to truly indicate what this talented midfielder’s career trajectory will be.