The Ghana international was named among the substitutes for the European showpiece at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium this weekend, but wasn’t used by Massimiliano Allegri as Real Madrid downed the Italian champions 4-1 to clinch their 12th continental crown.
It may be doing Asamoah a disservice to suggest that—as he looks back on his best season since 2013-14—he ought to consider a future away from Juventus, but the midfielder must ensure that he doesn’t let another career-defining contest like this pass him by.
He may be playing at one of the world’s biggest clubs, and he may have swelled his trophy cabinet yet again this season, but in light of interest from the Premier League, the time is right for the 28-year-old to seek a fresh start.
Despite Saturday’s loss, it’s been an excellent campaign for Juve and, relatively, for Asamoah.
The Italian giants reaffirmed their domestic dominance as they won a record sixth consecutive Scudetto after finishing the league four points ahead of AS Roma, while they also lifted the Coppa Italia after beating Lazio 2-0 in the final—another high-profile bout that the West African didn’t play in.
Allegri’s side bounced back from the summer departure of Paul Pogba to reach their third UCL final in three years—memorably downing Barcelona in the quarter-finals—while they would have won the league title more comfortably had they not taken their foot off the gas late on in the campaign.
Asamoah came into the season on the back of two injury-ravaged terms.
In November 2014 he suffered a severe knee injury in a league game against Empoli, and ended the season with only seven league appearances, while things were arguably no better last term when he made 11 outings, but played 54 fewer minutes in Serie A.
By comparison, this season has been one of significant improvement for the former Udinese man.
He’s featured 18 times—of which 16 outings have been from the start—while he’s played more minutes than the previous two campaigns combined.
Notably, he’s largely avoided the fitness problems that have so plagued the peak years of his career, and he’s often looked the part when called upon as well.
Asamoah ends the year with a pass-success rate of 89.8 percent in Serie A—the joint eighth best in the league—while he’s offered dynamism and energy down the left when called upon.
It’s become easy to forget that Asabob was originally a central midfielder and has been converted into a role on the flank, such has been his consummate quality, while the Kumasi native was outstanding in the 1-0 victory over Sampdoria in mid-March, contributing an assist and a valuable last-gasp interception to deny Patrik Schick.
However, as good as Asamoah’s been—and he’s been good—there’s no getting away from the fact that, these days, he’s merely the reserve left-back to Alex Sandro.
He excels in this role, and is professional enough to deputise for the younger man, but is the status of the world’s best reserve left-back really the best accolade he can hope for?
When Pogba departed for Manchester United, there could have been some hope that Asamoah would return to a role in the heart of the midfield, where he had played earlier in his career.
He’s not a creative maestro, but he’s an excellent midfield all-rounder who can tackle, retain possession, build attacks and drive forward with the ball at his feet.
During his first season at Juve, he contributed six assists in 27 league outings, although despite playing a handful of games in midfield this term, Asamoah has fallen further down the midfield pecking order following the additions in recent seasons of Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Stefano Sturaro, Mario Lemina and Tomas Rincon.
While Asamoah can still catch the eye at full back, it’s not a position where he can exert as much influence over an encounter—and arguably really impose and express himself—as he could in his natural position.
It’s hard to see the Ghana international being given the opportunity to attempt to establish himself in the heart of the midfield anytime soon…at least not at Juve.
New Black Stars assistant Stephen Appiah has urged Asamoah to reject overtures from foreign clubs and remain in Turin, but in light of reported interest from Southampton and West Ham United, the midfielder would be wise to consider a switch to England.
In particular, a switch to the Hammers and a reunion with Ghana teammate Andre Ayew could be particularly appealing for Asamoah.
Either way, still in his prime, and now finally free of injury, the West African’s top priority must be not to waste any more time watching on from the sidelines while others play for his legacy.
He’s already missed too much football to spend any more time as a deputy—particularly not if he wants to realise his potential—and while ostensibly a step down, a move to West Ham or the Saints would afford him a platform to truly demonstrate his class.
During his five troubled seasons in Turin, Asamoah has established himself among Ghana’s most decorated players of all time. No one can take that away from him,
Yet he’s destined to be remembered as one of football’s ‘what-might-have-beens’, unless he takes the opportunity to strike out elsewhere.