COMMENT By Solace Chukwu Follow on Twitter
The attacker overcame an injury suffered on his debut against Chelsea to show his class after returning from the Nations Cup, but does a mooted transfer overhaul of Slaven Bilic's side threaten his future with the Irons?
The story of last season
For Ayew, it is hard to look on 2016/2017 as anything other than a disappointment. His arrival in the Premier League in 2015 with Swansea took the division by storm, and he served notice of his immense talent with a goal on his debut against Chelsea.
He would debut for West Ham against the same opponent, but to rather less eye-catching effect: Ayew only played 35 minutes against the Blues before going off with a hamstring injury that would keep him out of action for 10 weeks.
He registered just one goal in the opening half of the season, but the air in Gabon during the Africa Cup of Nations in January apparently did him a world of good. He found the net five times from the end of February till the end of the season, but the Hammers' patchy form meant his goals seldom translated favourably on the team’s league standing.
His six-goal tally meant he finished as the club’s fourth-highest scorer in the league, remarkable given his long injury lay-off and the fact he only started 15 games the entire season.
What could happen this window?
There is a lot of uncertainty hanging over West Ham at the moment, with manager Bilic still not certain to be in the job for much longer.
It has been reported that Ayew is keen on leaving the London Stadium, and favours a move back to Marseille, where the prospect of a reunion with former Hammer Dmitri Payet would be tantalizing. There is, according to his legendary father Abedi Pele, no concrete interest on the club’s part though.
Newly-promoted Newcastle, in need of attacking quality, are also having a look, and may fancy a flutter.
West Ham have been reported as pursuing a number of attacking targets in the current window, although actual transfer activity has been hard to come by. At present, Pablo Zabaleta remains the only addition, but the Hammers are desperate for attacking reinforcements.
Interest in Andre Gray, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Kelechi Iheanacho means there may be little room for Ayew in the West Ham forward line.
What to expect next season
If West Ham are able to get their targets over the line, it could certainly have an effect on Ayew’s playing time. It is, however, worth noting that one of the Ghana international’s major assets is his positional versatility. He is able to fill in anywhere in attacking midfield, and can even play as the farthest forward attacking player.
One could see him thrive on the pace of Walcott, whose speed would be a huge asset for the Irons’ counterattacking style; or, for that matter, feeding off movement of Iheanacho and/or Giroud, should they arrive.
A move to Newcastle, where could team up with the lightning fast Dwight Gayle, would present him with a clean break and a more progressive team in which to strut his stuff (West Ham only scored 47 goals all of last season; leaving aside the relegated sides, only five clubs were worse off).
In truth, while Ayew showed glimpses of his quality at West Ham in spite of his injury woes last season, it has not been the perfect move that was hoped for when the Hammers paid a club record fee to prise him away from Swansea.
A clean break would no doubt be the best for all parties at this time: allowing the club to recoup some of its investment, and allowing Ayew to move on to a more suitable team.