At 29, Afriyie Acquah feels the time is right to experience football in another continent as he has signed a contract with a club in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Banti, promoted to the Saudi Professional League last year, ably presented a deal, good enough to convince Acquah to end his long association with European football and move to Asia.
Acquah moved to Europe as a teenager and with the support of his competent manager, Oliver Arthur, who is now more than a friend, has survived for over a decade.
His last club was Turkish top-flight Yeni Malatyaspor. He represented them for two seasons in which he accumulated 59 appearances and scored three goals.
Before the Turkey adventure, Acquah spent two years at Palermo where he made 31 appearances.
The Italian club was Acquah’s first when he arrived in Europe in 2010. Initially signed for the U19, the midfielder was promoted to the first team in no time after impressive performances.
Acquah proceeded to play a combined 54 matches for Parma on loan before another loan spell at Sampdoria and then Torino signed him permanently from 1899 Hoffenheim, a club he joined after leaving Palermo.
His departure from Empoli in 2019 brought to an end his nomadic life in Italy.
Acquah barely put a foot wrong in all the clubs he featured for and as such, when Malatyaspor decided not to renew his contract at the end of last season, there were several offers from across Europe, but the tough-tackling midfielder was fascinated by Al-Banti’s offer and decided to take the new challenge in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Banti wants to compete with the big boys in Saudi and are making reasonable investments to realise it. Acquah’s arrival underscores their ambition.
“I’m happy to sign for this club. I want to thank my manager Oliver Arthur and the President of Al-Batin [Nasser Al-Huwaidi] for this opportunity. I want to tell fans of the club that they should wait for me. I’m going to give my best,” Acquah assured.
Since it is a new environment, the culture, food, weather and most importantly the football will certainly be different for the Sunyani native. However, someone who knows Acquah best, Oliver Arthur, believes his client will not be subdued.
“He [Acquah] had a very good season in Turkey and the player is in great shape for this adventure,” Arthur, who owns ArthurLegacy told Ghanasoccernet.com.
“This is new terrain with a new challenge but Acquah has always risen to the occasion and so I know he can meet expectations.”
Acquah’s consistency at club level has made him a regular for the Black Stars since his debut 2012. He has played 39 games, including Africa Cup of Nations final against Ivory Coast in 2015.