Afellay proving there is life after Barcelona (Video)

Many could have forgiven Ibrahim Afellay for sulking somewhat. After being touted as “the next best thing” for what seemed like an age in Holland as he developed from a flying winger to midfield fulcrum for PSV, there were high expectations from the Dutchman when he joined Barcelona in January 2011.

However, a combination of injuries, poor form and simply the quality of player ahead of him limited Afelaly’s impact at the Camp Nou. After all, it was unlikely that a place in midfield ahead of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas or Sergio Busquets could be found for him while on the wings, Afellay was battling a combination of David Villa, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez, not to mention one Lionel Messi.

Thus it was hardly a surprise when Afellay became the subject of much transfer discussion over the course of the summer, with new Barca coach Tito Villanova quickly informing the 26-year-old that he was surplus to requirements in Catalunya. While a myriad of big clubs were linked with him, from Arsenal to Inter Milan, it was surprisingly Schalke who eventually secured the winger on a year-long-loan deal.

To say that Afellay has impressed so far would be an understatement. Two goals in seven league appearances make impressive reading enough, particularly when you consider the second of those came in the victory over Ruhr rivals Dortmund. However, it is his performance in Schalke’s hugely convincing 2-0 victory at English heavyweights Arsenal in the Champions League where Afellay almost re-announced himself to the football world that all but forgotten him.

Facing up to an opponent in supreme form in full-back Carl Jenkinson, Afellay never gave the young Englishman a moments peace as he continually put him on the back-foot with his driving, jinking runs, both inside and out. Afellay’s eventual goal, Schalke’s killer second, was just rewards for a sparkling performance as he swept home a superb team counter to secure the three points.

Make no mistake, if Afellay continues up this level of performance, then will all due respect to Schalke, there will be bigger clubs vying for his signature come the summer of 2012.

Adam Mazrani