On the face of it, Kwadwo Asamoah has enjoyed a successful time in the Italian top flight, with six Serie A wins, four Italian Cups and three Italian Super Cup titles, all with Juventus.
Moving to Internazionale in 2018 means the dynamic Ghanaian has played for two of the seven sisters of Italian football, a remarkable achievement for anyone, particularly a player not formed at either club.
He was also, albeit a long-term injury absentee at the time, part of the Old Lady squad that won the double in 2014/15, and almost completed Italy’s second-ever treble, only to suffer defeat at the hands of Barcelona in the Champions League final.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side then went close again in 16/17, but were denied by Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid, in a 4-1 defeat which the versatile player remained on the bench as an unused substitute.
Anyone will be proud of the aforementioned accomplishments, yet with Asamoah, it feels like something is missing.
The 2008 Africa Cup of Nations runner-up has had a peculiar career so far, winning the biggest prizes in the south-central European nation, and was even included in the 2013/14 Serie A Team of the Year, alongside Roma and Morocco centre-back Medhi Benatia.
Be that as it may, individually, there’s a strong indication he never played as well as he could have for a sustained period.
Indeed, this is probably the upshot of a horde of injury problems which began in November 2014. The then-Juventus man injured his knee cartilage which ruled him out till May, a 3-1 success over Napoli. It seemed odd that Allegri played him for the entirety of the encounter with the side from Naples, and the blowback of that decision was a recurrence of the player’s knee issues.
Asabob missed a staggering 52 games in all competitions from November of the previous year till his return in September 2015…but this was short-lived with another layoff keeping the industrious West African out for over a month. This time he missed eight matches.
That has been the story of the box-to-box midfielder turned wing-back’s career since, with persistent knee worries rearing their ugly head time and again.
As a consequence, the Ghana star hasn’t really kicked on from the player who was involved in five goals (one goal and four assists) in his first four matches for the Turin outfit in 2012/13.
He ended with two goals and eight assists in Serie A in his maiden campaign with the Old Lady, before following that up with as many goals and five assists the following season, which turned out to be Antonio Conte’s last at the Bianconeri .
While Asamoah’s declined goal contribution numbers can be put down to Allegri and Luciano Spalletti (in his first season at Inter) utilising a back four with the African mostly at left-back, as opposed to the wing-back role preferred by Conte, continuing injury problems have lessened his number of appearances over the years.
In his final four seasons at the Old Lady, the 31-year-old played seven, 11, 18, and 19 times in the league, a major decline from 27 and 32 in 12/13 and 13/14 respectively.
Even a reunion with the manager who brought him to Juventus hasn’t changed the Ghanaian’s luck with injuries as knee problems have frustrated the player since November, thus limiting him to just 18 minutes (0-0 draw with Roma in December) in the months leading to the league’s suspension.
Conte had started him at left wing-back in seven of the Nerazzurri’s opening 10 matches, but this recent layoff has kept the ex-Udinese man out of 13 of the last 14 matches. He’d played just 28 percent of Inter’s league games this season and the club’s purchase of Ashley Young from Manchester United seems to have knocked him down the pecking order too.
Be that as it may, injuries haven’t been the only curse of Asamoah over the years.
The player’s versatility and tactical intelligence have seen him utilised in left midfield, central midfield and defensive midfield over the years, as well as left-back, left wing-back, and even at centre-back.
These frequent changes have made it impossible for the adaptable Inter player to truly make a position or role his own like other African midfielders of his generation such as Yaya Toure, Mikel John Obi, and countryman Michael Essien (although it should be noted that the ex-Chelsea man’s physical attributes and tactical flexibility also saw him turn out in odd positions from time to time).
Instead, Asabob will likely be remembered as a player who won trophies and represented two of the biggest clubs in Italy, without really hitting the heights his promise suggested when he was at Udinese or even in those first two campaigns under Conte at Juventus.