Wilfried Bony ready for the Premier League

Posted by Firdose Moonda

No matter where the money lies, where the best competition is or how much things have changed, a footballer is still considered to have really made it when he plays in the English Premier League. Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony is not far from making that move.

Currently at Vitesse in the Dutch Eredivisie, Bony tops the league's goalscorers list. He has netted 27 times in 25 matches and has caught the attention of many in London. It seems likely he will join West Ham -- he even went as far as saying it is "certainly a possibility" -- but there has also been interested from Chelsea.

In an endorsement that confirms his value and ability, Bony had praise and goodwill lavished on him by fellow Ivorian and London resident Gervinho. The Arsenal man is not at all surprised in the interest Bony is generating and predicted great things for his countryman.

“Wilfried is hot at the moment. He is confident both at club and national team. He has shown his talent and he is consistent. I can say he is currently one of the best centre forwards in Europe,” Gervinho said. “I can see why he’s pulling interest from a number of top sides. Wilfried knows how to hit goals and he nets them even with the smallest chances. I wish he lands a deal with a great club in the summer.”

A move seems certain, even though Bony signed a contract extension that should keep him in Arnhem for two more years. But will it be the right one? Should Bony choose a marquee club like Chelsea or a smaller one? Will he have the choice at all or will they pick him? The UK is not kind to all who visit its shores and some of Africa’s footballers have found that out the hard way.

Angola’s Manucho is one such example. After impressing Alex Ferguson during a trial, he was signed by Manchester United. Problems in securing a work permit saw him loaned out to Panathinaikos immediately, and when he returned, there was no space for him at Old Trafford. Again, he was sent away and Hull City had his services for a while.

In the space of two years, he went from being on the brink of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world to being deemed surplus to requirements. His move to Spain also resulted in brief loan spells but he has since established himself at Real Valladolid.

Egypt’s Hossam Mido is another forward who could not crack it in the English Premiership. A promising youngster at Zamalek, he went on a European tour of sorts, playing in Belguim, Holland, Spain, France and Italy before being loaned out to Spurs. They were impressed with him and he was happy there, but by the time he joined permanently competition for places was high and the marriage was an unhappy one.

After stints and Middelsborough and Wigan, he returned home but had one last dalliance with England when he played for West Ham. He did not score once for them and they did not offer him a permanent contract. Most recently, he was released from championship side Barnsley.

Both Manucho and Mido found themselves struggling to make enough of an impact to be guaranteed a place in the starting XI. Maybe they should have done bigger things in the lead-up to the English encounters or maybe it was just bad luck.

It's tough to know because amidst the tales of caution, are the ones of celebration. Demba Ba and Shola Amoebi are among the more recent ones. Yaya Toure is one of the more enduring ones. So is Gervinho himself, and he may serve as the biggest lesson to Bony as he makes his decision.

Gervinho did the hard yards before moving to England. He played in Belgium and France, where he had great success at Lille. He was the driving force behind their success in 2010-11 when they won the league for the first time in 56 years. That was his second and final season there, after which he joined Arsenal.

Vitesse are currently third in the league, three points behind Ajax with six rounds to go. They have never won the Eredivisie, but Bony’s form could change that. Should they manage that, it would place Bony in almost parallel position to the one Gervinho was in when he made the move to the UK. It would make him the main man in a winning campaign, who has paid his dues and earned success.

That is, of course, not the only recipe for readiness in the Premiership. There are many tales of players who have done it many other ways. But it is one of the routes, and if it turns out to Bony’s, he could at least have the pillars in place to set him up for the ride.

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