Swansea City head coach Francesco Guidolin says that he sees Andre Ayew as a striker or a false number 9 next season – despite the player himself preferring to play in midfield.
The Ghana international has recently admitted to French TV that he`s aware that club`s are interested in him, which prompted Guidolin to insist that he hopes he stays on next season.
‘I like England. I feel good at Swansea. It was a good year for me. The season was good on a personal level,’
‘Of course, every player wants to play for the Champions League or the title. A time will come when I’ll aim for these.
‘I won’t talk a lot but with what I’ve accomplished this season, clubs are interested in me. Later, we will see [what happens].’
You could say that Ayew will be in a rush to leave if a Champions` League club came calling in the Summer. Sunderland have been linked once again after failing to buy him in January, but he isn`t going to be interested if reports of Chelsea`s interest is true.
Despite local press speculating that Swansea City would be willing to sell Ayew in the Summer for bids of £15m or more, Guidolin wants him to stay, and if he does stay, it looks like he`ll be planning on utilising him as a striker or a “false 9” – as opposed to a winger – a position he played in at Marseille before his free transfer to the Swans last year.
It may be Ayew`s preferred position, but the player has clearly been far more influential as a central forward.
As the stats graphic below shows, Ayew has assisted 3 goals and scored 6 in 7 games playing as a striker. 4 of those goals scored and 1 assist in 3 games under Guidolin`s leadership.
But as a winger, he`s offered very little, managing 0 goals or assists in 7 games as a winger under Guidolin.
Obviously it`s not a fair comparison, you`ll expect a player to score more goals playing as a striker than as a winger – if he can operate in either role that is. But Ayew doesn`t play as an out and out winger, often moving inside to operate in a striker`s central position. It`s been long debated this season as to why he was often played as a winger, as his habit of moving inside left space on the flank and unsettled the balance of the team.
Guidolin – and Curtis to his credit – both noticed this and soon made changes. Ayew was often only played as a winger to compensate for new signing Paloschi up front. But later in the season, with Paloschi injured and Gomis simply not performing – plus the improving form of Montero and Barrow, Ayew was the best option up front – and he proved it.
This week, Guidolin said:
‘I hope he stays, I don’t know, but we have discovered other good characteristics with him.
‘He says he is not a striker and he is a midfielder, but in my opinion he is a striker. He is also a good false nine.
‘He is a big player, but his attitude is good. He is an important player, but he is quiet, a good guy. He is happy here.’
Ayew – matches played as a striker in 2015/16:
Ayew – matches played as a winger under Guidolin in 2015/16:
Ayew`s goals and assists dried up playing as a winger following Guidolin`s arrival, before that he scored 5 goals in 11 games, with 1 assist.
Is Guidolin right to develop Ayew as a central forward if he stays next season? I`ve seen few Swans fans argue that he`s better playing as a winger than as a striker. He has the stats and goalscoring record to backup Guidolin`s comments, and considering the current available strikers at the club, they may well want to hold on to Ayew next year.