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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Columnist: goal.com

Andre Ayew to West Ham United: The next chapter

Dede Ayew and Dmitri Payet with some football officials Dede Ayew and Dmitri Payet with some football officials

Andre Ayew , who secured a £20.5 million move to West Ham United on Monday, raised some eyebrows when he swapped Olympique de Marseille for Swansea City last summer.

The forward, who had come to the end of his contract at OM, paid lip service to the idea of remaining in Provence, but it was always pretty clear that he’d be on his way out of the Stade Velodrome.

There was no shortage of interest—reported at least—in his services, with clubs from Germany, Italy and England all understood to be eyeing up the free agent.

In the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Queens Park Rangers, Everton and Liverpool were all been rumoured to be interested, with Ayew appearing—at one point—to talk up the prospect of a switch to Merseyside.

In Serie A, AS Roma reportedly held talks with Ayew’s agent and father Abedi Pele, while Inter Milan, AC Milan and Napoli were all named as suitors in various portions of the European media.

Finally, Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen were open about their interest, while Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg were all also linked to the player’s signature.

Amidst such a litany of options, it understandably came as something as a surprise when the forward—this delicious blend of tenacity and fantasy, of experience and youth—opted to join Garry Monk’s Swansea City.

It certainly wasn’t the exotic destination that some Ghana fans had hoped for for a player who they believed—fairly—was among Africa’s finest.

Yet Ayew was confident in his decision, and seemed to have approached this career crossroads in a different way to supporters back home.

"I am delighted to be in the Premier League which is for me the best championship in the world," the attacker told Canal Football Club in August.

"I am very happy with my choice to play for Swansea,” he added. “I have managed to make my name in England but I must continue to work because I know I can do much better.”

And, a year later, he has.

There are no real losers here, although Swansea—almost striker-less Swansea, we might add—ought to be concerned about their prospects this season after losing one of their key men.

The Swans have, at least, secured a significant profit on last summer’s ‘investment’, while West Ham United receive a quality operator with his best years ahead of him and—notably—having proved himself in the Premier League.

Considering the talent they’re acquiring, with Ayew having bagged 12 goals in his maiden EPL campaign, £20 million feels like a snip.

While some Ghana fans may grumble that Dede ought to have again set his sights higher and transition from Swansea to a Champions League side, rather than a Premier League outfit with only feint hopes of making Europe’s premier club competition, the move may well prove to be an astute one for the Black Star.

West Ham, be under no illusion, are a team on the up at a crucial turning point in the club’s history.

Not only are the Hammers beginning inaugurating their new London Stadium—the acquisition of which is a coup far greater than the Swans’ free signing of Ayew last summer—but positivity is rife under fan favourite Slaven Bilic, who has assembled an excellent squad during his 12 months at the helm.

Adding Ayew to the likes of Andy Carroll, Sofiane Feghouli and Enner Valencia should guarantee that the Hammers can comfortably outgun most of their traditional rivals in the division, while the prospect of Dede lining up against his former Olympique de Marseille teammate Dimitri Payet is mesmerising.

The pair dazzled at OM during that final season in France before everything collapsed at the Stade Velodrome and could make the Hammers genuine contenders for a spot in the top four.