Citi Sports’ Benjamin Nketsia examines Kevin-Prince Boateng’s recent surge in form for Las Palmas and insists that even though, the numbers look appealing, the former AC Milan man should be kept away from the team by new coach Kwesi Appiah.
For the first time ever in his professional career, Kevin Prince Boateng has managed to hit double figures in goals and has defied the odds to stay healthy through the process.
The projects of Berlin have left an everlasting scar on one of its sons and unlike most ghetto situations, this scar is a positive one; one of perseverance and the will to succeed.
The eleven-year professional career of the German-born Ghanaian international has been laden with events that depict him at the peak of his powers and also at the bottom of the pit.
From walking off the pitch after being racially abused in a pre-season match to performing Michael Jackson’s moonwalk in front of the AC Milan faithful to commemorate their 2011 Serie A title, Boateng has seen it all.
Boateng is currently serving an indefinite suspension from Ghana’s national since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
His expulsion from Ghana’s camp in the 2014 Brazil World Cup alongside his buddy Sulley Muntari left some with their jaws on the ground while others believed that he had it coming.
His offense: Using swear words and showing disdain for the coach, Kwesi Appiah and his training methods, according to an account from the latter.
Legend has it that Kevin openly ridiculed his manager in front of team mates and even brought him to the point of tears.
The entire story will perhaps never be fully disclosed but what is clear is that Kevin’s choice of words and body language were not appreciated by the manager.
His inclusion in the World Cup squad divided opinion with one school of thought persistently highlighting his offensive qualities and the value of his experience at the top to the team while a second train of thought insisted that Kevin lacked the commitment and discipline required to help a team succeed.
He was often accused of wanting to picking and choosing matches that suited him which were often played outside Ghana.
In the end, Appiah prioritized experience at the expense of character a decision that backfired badly.
In an interview in 2016 with CGTN Africa, he insisted that he still remains puzzled as to why such harsh measures were taken against him but still has a clear conscience and will return to the team when given the opportunity.
“There were people who had a problem with me, I don’t know for what reason.
“I got kicked out,I don’t know for what reason.
“They had their reasons and they made them up but I don’t think that was the right decision.
“I didn’t do anything that required that I be kicked out,” he stated.
The streets and the life of poverty shaped his life and his career in a manner he has not been ashamed to discuss.
Most pronounced among his admissions is the fact that he lived under the illusion that talent alone would be sufficient to get him to the top.
In the light of the above situation he is hardly the sort of experienced player that can be looked upon as a role model for younger players.
The lack of exemplary work ethic coupled with the alleged disregard for authority make him hazardous to a team that will be looking to bury a lot of bad memories of the past while building for the future.
Finding a home
The move to the tiny Canary Islands by Boateng raised more than a few eyebrows but after his detachment from the focus on the game that had been created by playing in the big cities it seems the perfect move on hindsight.
Athletes these days are paying extra attention to their bodies and pushing the boundaries of medicine and technology to elongate their careers.
Boateng, however, admitted to getting trapped in the fast life of excessive partying, splurging his hard-earned money on friends and luxuries while paying little attention to the craft that made the bank balance worth looking at.
According to him, he was coveted by clubs bigger than Las Palmas but took the decision to play for one of La Liga’s smaller sides where playing time would be guaranteed as long as he stayed fit and worked hard.
That commitment to turn his career around has yielded 10 goals and 3 assists in 26 matches in 1834 minutes of football while posting a shot accuracy rating of 51 percent.
He is easily Ghana’s most in-form midfielder playing in mainstream Europe.
He came up with a goal to help his team salvage a point against Real Madrid and scored a wonder goal against Villareal which has been mentioned in the goal of the season conversation.
At Las Palmas, he has been given a number of roles which have helped him thrive while making use of his creative and attacking instincts
Quique Setien has given Boateng the freedom to express himself in the attacking third of the pitch even deploying him as a false nine in a number of matches.
He has that spring in his step again but most importantly, he looks like he is committed to giving of his best and is enjoying his football.
It is curious that his return to form has coincided with the return of Kwesi Appiah, the man whom he allegedly did not see eye-to-eye with at the World Cup.
The man says that as far as issues connected to the World Cup in Brazil go his conscience is clear despite an attempt by unnamed individuals to mar his name.
He has revealed that he is open to a Black Stars return but only on the condition that bad blood of any kind will be resolved to give him a clean slate to start over.
The years have healed the feelings of betrayal that a lot of Ghanaians held towards Boateng following the Brazil fiasco but to others, he is no longer worthy of pulling on the national colours of Ghana.
Veteran Sports journalist and President of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana, Kwabena Yeboah, was very emphatic in his stance against the thought of even considering bringing Boateng back into the fold.
“Kevin must not be given any other opportunity again to return to the Black Stars even if he turns into a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo overnight,” Kwabena Yeboah said.
That is how strongly some individuals feel about Kevin coming anywhere close to this team.
On the other hand, everyone deserves a second chance especially when they have shown remorse for their actions in the past and have resolved to right the wrongs of the past.
In Boateng’s case, it remains unclear whether he is remorseful because he insists that he has done no wrong.
A key factor that Appiah will be carefully scrutinized on during his second tenure will be his efficiency in man managing both the playing and non-playing body.
If I am to fathom a guess, I strongly doubt that he will want to take chances with a player whose cultural upbringing ruffles feathers even when he is just being himself.
The Sudan experience in Al Khartoum should have exposed Appiah to various characters which in turn has enriched his leadership experience.
Extending a hand to Kevin to return to the team will be a bold move.
With Ghana’s Russia 2018 World Cup chances currently on life support, it remains unclear if Kevin is still interested in pulling on the Black Stars jersey as they strive to restore some pride or will sign up to the task of playing through the Afcon 2019 qualifications.
As far as Kevin and Appiah are concerned, we only have a lot of “what ifs” to deal with.
What remains clear is that Kevin is still a quality player as long as he remains on the pitch but combining national team duties with playing his club is not what he needs at this stage in his career.
I believe that he is keen on extending his career as long as possible while salvaging as much of the lost glory while he can.
He must make complete peace again with Ghana and its people but it must not come in the form of a Black Stars return.
By: Benjamin Nketsia/citifmonline.com/Ghana