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High hopes for Ghana's Gyan at Sunderland

  • SI.com, Monday, September 20, 2010 1:55 PM

American fans remember Asamoah Gyan from the World Cup; they may not know the powerful Ghanaian forward who scored the goal that eliminated the U.S. in the round of 16 parlayed his performance into a $20.4 million transfer to Premier League Sunderland.

Teams often over-pay for impressive World Cup performances, yet Manager Steve Bruce -- himself a former international -- says he monitored Gyan for more than a year before deciding to buy him from French club Rennes. And the purchase comes during a period of buying and selling players that leaves the club more or less even in its transfer dealings.

Yet the record of Premier League clubs is littered with high-priced, post-World Cup purchases who flamed out: one of the most glaring being Liverpool's $5.5 million purchase of Irish defender Phil Babb after USA '94. Liverpool also paid a lot to get Senegal stars El-Hadji Diouf and Salif Diao after the 2002 tournament.

Gyan's recent success comes after some struggle and the intervention of Ghana teammate Michael Essien. He's yet to establish himself, but so far he's shown promise in the single-forward alignment often deployed by Bruce that requires him to hold the ball, win headers, create space and find places to take cracks at goal.

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