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Mohammed Salisu: Ghana coach provides latest international update on ‘stubborn’ Southampton target pursuit

The Black Stars coach sheds light on the prospects of the defender wearing the national colours.

Ghana coach CK Akonnor has disclosed the Football Association (GFA) have still not been able to win over former Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu to play for the Black Stars.

The 21-year-old, who is on the verge of joining English side Southampton, caught attention with a series of outstanding performances in the Spanish La Liga last season, reportedly attracting interest from Manchester United and Atletico Madrid.

Ghana’s national team management quickly moved to hand him an international opportunity but the centre-back turned down his first call-up last November and has still not made himself available for national duty for the Black Stars.

“Yes, we’ve tried to reach out to him [Salisu Mohammed] but we’ve been unsuccessful,” Akonnor has told Angel TV.

After Salisu announced his breakthrough with fine performances in La Liga last season, then Ghana coach James Kwasi Appiah handed the centre-back a first call-up for a 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying double-header against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe in November.

The Valladolid man, however, pulled out of the games, citing an injury as his reason.

In March this year, new Ghana coach Akonnor shockingly left Salisu out of a 23-man roster for an Afcon qualifying clash with Sudan, revealing he had been unsuccessful in making contact with the player.

The revelation generated controversy as many questioned the player’s patriotism while others speculated a possible international future with Spain as the reason behind his perceived lack of interest.

“With Salisu, I tried to get into contact with him, that didn’t work,” Akonnor said at March’s press briefing after announcing his first-ever squad as Ghana coach.

“The last time we played South Africa [and Sao Tome and Principe] he was invited [but] he didn’t come. I’m still in contact with him trying to find out his reasons.”

Salisu only left Ghana in 2017, joining Valladolid from the African Talent Football Academy.

He made 13 league appearances for the Spanish side’s B Team in his first season, and doubled the number of outings in 2018-19.

He was drafted into the first team last season and he did not disappoint as he played 31 times in La Liga, starting 30 of the games, scoring once and providing one assist.

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