Ghanian winger Edwin Gyasi has been linked to a host of English clubs in recent weeks as he plots a move away from relegated Elitserien side Aalesunds FK.
Stoke City, West Brom, Nottingham Forest and Swansea have all been credited with an interest but a report in the Mail on Sunday went further, to claim Sunderland and Middlesbrough have entered talks over a potential January signing.
Gyasi enjoyed a decent enough term in Scandinavia but couldn’t save Aalesunds from the drop into Norwegian football’s second-tier. The 26-year-old scored six and weighed in with a handful of assists in the recently completed Eliteserien season.
But aside from a Wikipedia entry and bits and bobs which have been in the press, few of us know much about the Amsterdam-born attacking player.
With that in mind, we collared an avid Aalesund fan and a Norwegian journalist to get the lowdown.
Kristian Stenerud, journalist with Norwegian newspaper Sunnmørsposten;
He's a player with great potential. At his best, he is by far too good to play in Norway. He's been a bit up and down this season, but has still scored six league goals. There have been some episodes on and off the pitch, but i think it comes down to him being frustrated. He wanted to leave the club last January and in the summer, but there was no bids according to the club.
Øyvind Gangstad, Aalesunds supporter
Aalesund have been well known to get players from the Netherlands after they hired a Dutch assistant manager. Gyasi signed in March 2016, and former boss Trond Fredriksen told us the winger would take Norwegian football by storm.
On the other hand, the player was explicit on his reasons for joining – “I am using Aalesund to take the next step to the Premier League”. This would prove to be a problem for Aalesund and Gyasi.
He’s an explosive right winger and he can be deadly when he trains his eye on goal. He is good on the ball and has a great technique. He is best when dribbling on the right wing, cutting inside and shooting. He has scored 12 goals for Aalesund over two seasons, and a lot of the goals are from distance.
Players in the Norwegian top division struggle to defend when Gyasi has the ball at his feet and attacks them with pace. He is not a typical assist-player with a lot of crosses, but his qualities lie in his pace and his shooting.
What tends to be a problem, is that sometimes he is too aware of his qualities. He has assets no doubt, but he isn’t much of a team player. Gyasi is the star player, but struggles to fit in. That could maybe improve in a better team with better players alongside him, who knows. He has a big ego, and he’s not scared to criticise his team’s way of playing football. He has great offensive qualities, but Aalesund struggled with his lack of defensive work.
Gyasi has also been ruled out of training with the team based on violation of internal rules and in every transfer window he has been linked to another club, and his ambition has been a problem for the environment in Aalesunds.
There is no doubt that he wants a step out to a better league, but this could potentially be a big transition in a bigger club. Better clubs would presumably not accept a player with such an enormous ego.
I think the AaFK-fans are split on him. They love his offensive qualities, but he was only great for around a third of the season. On the other side, supporters here see a troublemaker and a player putting himself above the club. Aalesunds depended a lot on him, maybe too much, and trusted him to “do something magic” in every game.
I definitely think Edwin Gyasi would be a great fit in Sunderland though, where he’s being linked. You will get an explosive right winger with a good left foot, but you will also get a player with an enormous ego.
The English Championship is a physical league, but Gyasi can trouble a lot of defenders with his pace and dribbles. He needs a new club, and a bigger club that matches his ambitions. Aalesund are willing to sell, but it has to be the right price.
A big talent with an ego to match, then. Gyasi is predominantly left-footed but has played almost entirely on the right wing in recent seasons. That alone would hand Sunderland an extra dimension going forward and offer competition for Callum McManaman who has dipped in and out of the Black Cats this season or Aiden McGeady on the opposite flank.