The Scouting Report: Lone striker helps team make light of losing Essien

Asamoah Gyan, Ghana
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The Independent Online

It says something for the youth of a Ghana side which was supposed to be lost without its inspiration, Michael Essien, that Gyan is thought of as one of the elder statesmen of the team. He is 24.

Like many products of the African academies, the man who, unlike Lukas Podolski, converted his penalty against Serbia began travelling early. He was 17 when he signed for Udinese, although it would be hard to argue Gyan really settled in Serie A. He was loaned out to Modena when he arrived and after a successful World Cup in Germany seemed likely to be sold to Lokomotiv Moscow. Instead, he went to Rennes for €8m (£6.65m).

In the 2006 tournament, he scored Ghana's first goal in a World Cup finals, finding the net against the Czech Republic after 68 seconds in Cologne, although later he missed a penalty after being booked for trying to take it too early. Gyan was prone to cards in Germany, and was sent off in the defeat by Brazil for diving.

In South Africa, he claims that Ghana are a more relaxed and happier group of footballers. "I'm the one who leads the singing. It makes people happy," is how Gyan describes his influence in the dressing room. "I make people laugh to forget about football. We are far more relaxed than we were in Germany four years ago, we are more confident. I've scored quite a lot of goals with my club and with the national team, and I've regained my confidence. A lone striker needs to score regularly for his own self esteem." His 20 goals in 32 internationals is a significant rate of return for someone who often labours with little support.

Two years ago, when Ghana were both hosts and favourites, he and his brother, Buffour, threatened to walk out of the tournament after some vehement criticism of their performances. Two years later, he scored three of Ghana's four goals as they reached the final, which they lost to Egypt.

Information provided by The Scouting Network, a specialist agency which provides information for the leading clubs in Europe

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