Asamoah Gyan?s move to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG has been met with much enthusiasm.
Is it the new challenge or the money? A change of scenery or the money? A natural progression or the money?
No matter which way it?s put, Asamoah Gyan cannot seem to get away from the question of money after his latest move.
His transfer to Shanghai SIPG is believed to be pay $350,000 a week and will make Gyan one of the best paid footballers in the world. But he insists the money was not foremost on his mind when he made the deal.
?I was looking for a new challenge with the Shanghai team and the money was not the primary motivation,? Gyan said in a news conference. ?It is my ambition to win the Chinese Super League with Shanghai.?
Maybe the real answer is that chasing glory, not gold, is what Gyan is after and the paycheque is just an added bonus.
After all, Gyan is best remembered as a tragic hero at international level ? the man who missed the penalty that would have sent Ghana to the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup, the man who missed again in the 2012 African Nations? Cup final, a blunder that necessitated a break from the international game ? than a major club success. That was until Al-Ain came along.
Before the UAE League, Gyan was at Sunderland, before that at Rennes and before that at Udinese. The Italian club was his first overseas gig, at a time when it seemed Europe was at the Ghanaian?s feet. While at Udinese, he attracted interest from Lokomotiv Moscow, who offered $10.5 million for him, but Udinese pulled out.
Gyan was just 21 years old then. He stayed in Italy but never really settled and eventually left after an injury-plagued 2007-08 season. He went on to France, where things went better and he established himself, but the real deal was thought to have been sealed when Gyan cracked the English Premier League.
Sunderland may not have the stature of Manchester United or Chelsea, but the club did give Gyan an opportunity to prove his worth. Yet he always seemed to want to more, and he found it when he was sent on loan to Al-Ain.
He liked it so much in the UAE, he decided he would not return to Sunderland, sparking outrage over why a player would leave the prestige of the Premier League for a backwater league. The reason soon became clear: in the UAE, Gyan found a league he could well and truly own. And own it he did.
In his four years at the club, Gyan scored a staggering 114 goals, 95 of them in the league. He claimed the Golden Boot three times. Al-Ain won three league titles with Gyan in their squad, one President?s Cup and reached the semifinals of the Asian Champions League.
Gyan was happy at Al-Ain, so much so that last year he signed a contract extension that would keep him there until 2018. But now it seems the certainty of success has made the UAE lose its allure.
In China, Gyan will have to start again. He is likely to be able to assert some level of dominance over the Super League, as Didier Drogba threatened to do with his eight goals in 11 matches for Shanghai Shenhua, but the Ghanaian will still know he has to prove himself to a new team in front of a new audience. So maybe it is the change of scenery and the new challenge that has driven Gyan to China, but it likely would not have happened without the money.
Based in South Africa, Firdose Mooda is a cricket, football and rugby correspondent for ESPNCricinfo, ESPNFC & ESPN.co.uk