Asamoah Gyan's career has been a bit of a roller coaster since the last time he played in the Africa Cup of Nations. In the 2010 edition of the tournament, Gyan emerged as the Black Stars' first choice center forward, scoring three goals as they made the final of the tournament. At the 2010 World Cup, he scored a dramatic winner against the United States in the Round of 16, then missed what would have been a game-winning penalty kick in the quarterfinals against Uruguay.
Following his World Cup performance, Gyan moved to Sunderland from Rennes for £13 million, a Sunderland club record. Though Steve Bruce did not start him every game and Gyan was rumored to dislike his role in Bruce's tactical setup, he proved effective, scoring 10 goals despite making just 20 starts.
A combination of financial incentives and Gyan's attitude caused the club to loan him to Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates at the start of this season. Very few people have had an opportunity to see him play, but he's scoring for fun. Will the drop-down in competition cause Gyan to drop down the Black Stars' pecking order?
Even if it doesn't, he's dealing with an injury. Gyan went down with a hamstring problem just before squad lists were due, but he was named to the Ghana squad. He participated in full training for the first time over the weekend, and could find himself back in the starting XI before long. He has plenty of time to get up to full fitness, and Goran Stevanovic will have a tough decision to make between Gyan and Prince Tagoe. Tagoe played well in qualifying and is fit, but has had a poor season for Bursaspor.
As a true center forward and lone striker in Ghana's 4-5-1/4-3-3 system, Gyan is a perfect fit, which will likely cause him to get starts even if Stevanovic wishes he was both more fit and playing at a higher level of competition. His ability to come back for the ball, hold it up, distribute to his teammates and finish is a combination of skills possessed by very few players in the world. He does not have elite size or pace, but has enough size and pace to compete with any central defenders he will encounter in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Gyan's relationship with Sunderland fans has fluctuated constantly over the last year and a half while his desire to compete and work rate have come into question, but there's no questioning his talent and scoring rate. He scores once every other game for Ghana and has been a key player in their last two major international tournaments. If he's fit, he can't be left out of the team.
National Team: Ghana
Club Team: Al-Ain (UAE, on loan from Sunderland)
Role In National Team: Center forward in 4-3-3, potential starter or first bench option