FEATURE | Jordan Ayew: A spectacular season in review

A turn, drop of the shoulder and woof, a brilliant goal. Such finishes would have the fans chanting your name and opposition scrambling for jerseys at fulltime, but CoViD. Andre Ayew had seemingly set Swansea on promotion path, and for the first time in his career, he was battling to emerge from his brother, Jordan’s shadow.

Sons to the great Abedi Pele Ayew, Andre and Jordan Ayew have shone brighter than most. Their family is considered footballing royalty in African football circles.

Since Andre broke out for the national team at the 2008 AFCON, and subsequently winning the 2009 FIFA U20 World Cup as captain, he’s been the one. He’s Ghana’s current captain too. His talent undisputed. The debate had always been whether Jordan measured up. The talent been there, but the effort perhaps not matching it. Since breaking out at Marseille in the 2009/10 season, he has achieved a double-digit campaign once, at Lorient in 2014-15 when he scored 12 goals. It was enough to earn him a move across the Seine to Aston Villa. He was 23. It was definitely upwards.

He arrived at Villa Park with a chip on his shoulder and scored seven times in 30 appearances. In all the games he scored, Villa picked up a paltry two points, both equalizers against West Ham and Newcastle, losing the remaining five games. The Villains were ultimately relegated, consigning him to six months in the Championship. He’d rack up two goals and four assists in the dreaded division before heading to the AFCON with Ghana in 2017. It earned him a return to the Premier League and unification with his brother at Swansea, charged with turning around a season heading for the rocks.

Jordan helped the Swans achieve safety. However, they didn’t heed the warning signs and twelve months later, they would head down, with Jordan Ayew recording seven goals and two assists. His nine goal contributions accounted for 32% of the goals Swansea scored that season. Utilized often in a duo alongside Tammy Abraham or as a left winger, Ayew found life hard. There were positives; in contrast to the cursed goals at Villa Park, Swansea never lost when he scored. He bagged equalizers against Everton, Watford, Newcastle and future employers Palace, while game changing goals against Arsenal, Wolves and West Ham were ticked off. He had won them six points, enough to convince Crystal Palace to initially pick him on loan as Swansea adjusted their budgets to Championship size.

Jordan Ayew toiled at Selhurst Park in 2018/19 as he tried to adjust to Roy Hodgson’s route one style. He was in the shadows of Christian Benteke, Wilf Zaha and Andros Townsend. He scored his first and only goal of the season against Wolves in January 2019. Somewhat, Hodgson kept him, and he signed permanently for $3.5million.

It seemed to be the assurance he needed, repaying the favor at Old Trafford, where he took down Jeffery Schlupp’s knock on before firing calmly past David de Gea. A week later, he pulled a rabbit out of the hat, the wicked right foot again, leaving Tyrone Mings and Jack Grealish for statues before curling past Tom Heaton, the only goal of a tight contest. It was swiftly followed by a VAR awarded goal, borne of instinct as he sprung West Ham’s offside trap to poke home.

A far post header beyond Bernd Leno marked seven points won for Palace as he escaped David Luiz’s sights. However, the summary of his season’s brilliance came on Boxing Day against West Ham with an “Ayew Gonna Dance” moment, clearing their doubts as to why the winner in the first leg wasn’t a fluke, time ticking, he received the ball from Connor Wickham on the right, drove at the box, turned, and feinted two players, like a dancer to the tune of the drummer’s beat, clean on goal, he dinked the ball stylishly over a hapless Roberto.

He had driven the dagger into the hearts of Hammers fans, twice. He would make it four London Derby goals when his deflected shot looped beyond the reach of Bernd Leno. Arsenal undone by Kibi Brilliance.

His final London Derby Goal would come against Watford, a beauty within its rights, he curled in to the right corner from the edge of the box as the Hornets closed Palace down in sheer numbers. It was sheer brilliance. It was sandwiched by two classic poacher goals against Brighton and Bournemouth, where he’d converted passes with one touch, the ball making a swoosh sound as it left his boots as though assured it was going in.

His last act of the season was an assist against Tottenham, albeit a failed attempt at the spectacular which fell to Jeffrey Schlupp, it had become a sort of norm in the London Derbies. He didn’t need it. His goals had accounted for 17 points for the Eagles, the fourth highest in the league for an individual. His goal contributions were a whooping 35.5% of Palace’s 31 goals, the second least in the division. He ranked second for big chances created (4) and successful dribbles per game (2.0) at 62%, as well as being the highest ranked forward with tackles. It’s no surprise he’s swept home Crystal Palace’s Season ending awards.

While Andre Ayew failed to miraculously fire Swansea into the Premier League, his perofromances have attracted interest from Premier League clubs, as well as PSG! A first Ayew Derby since 2015/16 could be on the cards. There is no better time to be an Ayew.