Goal monitors and tracks the movement in the transfer market of some of the players eager to make Ghana's squad for the 2014 World Cup
By Sammie Frimpong
A World Cup year usually has everyone feeling pretty much excited and jumpy. For professional footballers - especially those who realise their prospects of making the squads for their respective Mundial-bound nations are quite faint due to limited playtime and other unfavourable factors at club level - it is time to get a little desperate, too, hence the unusual high levels of activity witnessed in the typically subdued winter window.
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Past and present members of the Black Stars appear to be feeling the heat, with some already jostling for new clubs to seek fresher opportunities while they still can.
Thirty-two-year-old Ghanaian full-back John Paintsil, a veteran of two World Cups and unemployed for some months prior, joined South African second-tier side Santos in late 2013, with a view to earning a slot for one last hurrah at football's flagship event.
Two of the Black Stars' fairly regular attackers, Jordan Ayew of Olympique Marseille and Spartak Moscow's Abdul Majeed Waris, have secured loan moves to Ligue 1 sides Sochaux and Valenciennes.
The pair could be joined on loan-seeking expedition by Derek Boateng who has publicly pined for a move from Fulham, a club he only signed for in the previous window. The midfielder's reasons for desiring time away from Craven Cottage, as revealed to Football411 last month, are hardly surprising.
“It is every player's dream to play in the World Cup and I want to go to Brazil to help my national team," the player was quoted as saying, before adding that "I cannot go to Brazil while I continue to warm the bench at Fulham."
He could not have put it anymore aptly, really.
Another who seems to have sensed an identical threat to his World Cup fortunes is out-of-favour Schalke 04 enforcer Anthony Annan. The hardy battler has not seen competitive action since injury terminated a loan stint with Spanish outfit Osasuna. Thankfully, Annan's contract with Die Konigsblauen runs out this summer but, of course, the 64-time capped Ghana international would know he cannot remain idle that long before finding a new club if he is indeed serious about returning to a Black Stars setup he has not been part of for sometime now. Should he fail to do so, though, Annan would surely rue refusing two offers that supposedly came his way during the last transfer window. Will he consider the Fenerbahce and Besiktas offers as being speculated? Time will tell.
For Michael Essien and Asamoah Gyan - players whose places in coach Kwesi Appiah’s final selection for Brazil 2014 are almost a given bar any unforeseen problems - it is not as much an issue of making themselves certain of an appearance at the global football fiesta as it is about honing their talents and readying themselves for the tournament. Essien has been reduced to something of a footnote in the plans of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho this season, featuring in just a handful of the club's games. A short-term transfer would suffice for the 'Bison', with agent Fabian Piveteau hinting at potential targets who could find Essien's lack of European action thus far this season a definite lure.
“[Essien] could leave Chelsea this winter,” Piveteau explained to French radio station RMC. “Several major European clubs playing in the Champions League were informed and the situation should settle down within the next 10 days."
Meanwhile, Turkish giants Olympiakos and Besiktas are reported to be monitoring Essien's situation, ready to pounce should they find it opportune.
Gyan's plight appears less dire, though. He starts often enough for Al Ain in the UAE Pro League, a testament to which are the domestic topscoring prizes he has claimed for the past two seasons. That notwithstanding, Gyan could be inclined to feel the quality of the footballing terrain in which he currently plays is not sufficient to keep him in sharp shape ahead of the World Cup, especially with the Stars drawn in arguably the tournament's toughest group and he serving as the team's primary go-to man for goals. Turkey's Trabzonspor and EPL side West Ham United have seemingly offered him the standards that could help the 'Baby Jet' give his fine finishing form that 'killer' edge which can aid Ghana in felling the likes of Portugal, Germany and the USA in Group G.
Regular Ghana goalkeeper Fatau Dauda has also sought a transfer from 2013 Champions League finalists Orlando Pirates, having gone seven months at the club without making his debut, while defender Daniel Opare is already being linked with a move from Belgium to the infinitely more glamorous French elite division. Over in Italy, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu's days as a regular substitute option for Udinese trainer Francesco Guidolin might soon be over if rife speculation of Merseyside cousins Liverpool and Everton rating him high on their respective shopping lists for January are to be believed, with the Zebrette pricing him at a handsome £7 million.
A number of these transfers and many others are likely to be pushed through before the period ends, while others would eventually come to nothing. With places on Ghana's World Cup squad up for grabs, though, may the mid-season transfer business - restless and action-filled as it is expected to be, based on what has already been witnessed - continue in earnest!