Ghana legend and former Leeds United star Tony Yeboah says the African players in the English Premier League will have to push harder to make the required impact at the top stage.
Yeboah, who was one of the first Africans to thrive in the Premier League, says the nature of the league and the transfer policies of clubs mean extra work for the Africans if they want to get noticed.
The African contingent will be led by Senegal’s Sadio Mane, who became the most expensive African player when he signed for Liverpool in a bumper deal last year.
As Alex Iwobi pulls the strings at Arsenal, his compatriot Kelechi Iheanacho will be trying to adapt to a system at landlocked Leicester, where he moved this summer.
With Egypt’s Mohammed Salah on the books of Liverpool and Ahmed Hegazy at the Hawthorns, the African contingent in the EPL will be as solid as a rock.
Yeboah moved to Elland Road in the summer of 1995 and enjoyed a successful time there.
He scored for fun, hitting back-to-back screamers against Liverpool and Wimbledon and being adored by his mates and fans alike. The 51-year-old bagged 24 goals in the League in his time and it is a feat no Ghanaian has come close to – although Ayew is about 10 goals away.
Yeboah is hopeful the new crop of Ghanaians in the League will do well.
Jordan Ayew moved to Aston Villa at the club’s most trying time – everything at the club was at an all-time low. That in many ways affected Jordan’s work rate and delivery for the club. Now with Swansea and the belief of manager Paul Clement, he is hoping to be the best he can be for a club his elder brother was a hit at.
“These days in football you don’t need to score to be useful to a team. Jordan won’t give you 15 or 20 goals a season because he is not that kind of player,” Yeboah observed.
“He is not that kind of player because he works hard for the team, chases balls, he tackles, which means he does not stay in the box a lot.
“What he has is the strength and skill-set to create chances for the team. He is a good team player and his side will benefit from using his strength in that regard. It would be nice if he scores more goals, but there is a lot of more to his game than that. ”
Yeboah reckons he will be an asset for the Welsh side this season.
His older brother, Andre, had a tough one at West Ham last season.
He signed with a lot of promise until an injury kept him out for most part of the season. Now fit and well, Andre has his job cut out for him.
Yeboah, who played with Andre’s father in the 90’s, claims the 26-year-old has the character to overcome tough situations.
“After your first season, everyone gets to know you more,” he said.
“You are no longer a surprise. Coaches know your strength, the opposing players read you better, they know what you do and what you don’t, so the second season tends to be more difficult.
“But Andre has always proven he can deal with these things. He will be fired up to prove this season that the first season was no fluke and how last season went was not exactly reflective of him.”
Yeboah is also excited that finally, Christian Atsu has found a place where he can call home and concentrate on his football.
Atsu is easily one of Ghana’s best players when fit and if he shows it at Newcastle they will be flying.
He hasn’t exactly been a hit in England after barren spells at Everton and Bournemouth but will look to put all of it behind him.
“I am delighted for Atsu. He has been tossed around on loan from one club to the other but he seems to have found a base at a very good club like Newcastle United.
“The Premier League will test him incredibly. It requires strength, a strong personality and such great discipline, but he is such a good player and I really hope he can prove that in the Premier League,” Yeboah concluded.