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'He's had a really good campaign' - Town loanee Ahadme bags award at Cambridge United

Gassan Ahadme is set to finish the season as Cambridge United's top scorer <i>(Image: Ben Phillips)</i>
Gassan Ahadme is set to finish the season as Cambridge United's top scorer (Image: Ben Phillips)

Ipswich Town loanee Gassan Ahadme has been named as BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Cambridge United Player of the Season.

The striker joined the Blues from Burton Albion back in 2022, but ended up making just eight appearances in all competitions before rejoining the Brewers on loan the following year.

Town’s promotion to the Championship saw him sent out once again, joining Cambridge for the 2023/24 season. Despite suffering an injury midway through the campaign, he’s managed to score 10 goals in 27 League One games, which commentator Doug Shulman said was a big factor in the decision to choose him as the award winner.

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“It was [co-commentator] Mark Johnson and I, we selected it,” he told the EADT and Ipswich Star. “It’s been difficult because you’re trying to pick a Player of the Season from a campaign which invariably has had more downs than ups, despite the fact that they haven’t been in the bottom four all season. There have been some tough old times, really.

“It’s quite difficult picking a Player of the Season from a squad that’s struggled at times, but everyone’s opinion seems to be Michael Morrison, being the captain and having had a decent season, or Liam Bennett, who’s a brilliant young player.

“With Gassan, every time he’s played, he’s been a really big factor in winning games of football or being in games of football. His contribution generally is one that I feel is bigger than most in the squad.

“If you look at the goals he’s scored, they’ve all been very key goals, bearing in mind that he missed about two and a half months of the season with his broken foot.

“When you look at that, you wonder why we picked him for Player of the Season, but it’s because of his contribution in terms of assists and goals. His goals this season - I had a quick tot-up earlier - they’ve contributed in a major way to 19 points this season. Without his goals, United wouldn’t have stayed up, that’s the key thing really.

“Very often, he’s been playing up top on his own, and he leads the line so, so well. He’s an absolute handful for any back line in League One, and there’s very few defenders that have got the better of him at times.

“He had a spell just before he broke his foot where he wasn’t quite as effective, but apparently he was playing with that injury for two or three games.

“All things considered, he’s had a really good campaign. He’s such an effective presence on the pitch, and he’s contributed so much in terms of goals and points, that it was difficult to look past him.”

Asked to pick a standout moment from Ahadme’s time in CB5, Doug didn’t hesitate in highlighting the dramatic 2-2 draw at The Valley.

“I’d say the two late goals he got at Charlton Athletic, one being a 96th minute penalty to get a point for United,” he said. “It was Neil Harris’ first game in charge, and he absolutely ran them ragged for the last hour or so.

“From absolutely nowhere, he got United a point that day. That really sticks out.

East Anglian Daily Times: Ahadme has had the most prolific season of his career to date
East Anglian Daily Times: Ahadme has had the most prolific season of his career to date

Ahadme has had the most prolific season of his career to date (Image: PA)

“Also, the goal that he got up at Fleetwood Town to get United’s first away win of the season. It was a second-half header, an absolute bullet header.

“The two goals he got at Charlton was the standout moment, I reckon. The equaliser came under a huge amount of pressure, but he stuck the penalty away like it was the first minute of the season in the first game of the season.”

Given his lack of minutes for Ipswich, as well as the fact that he’s yet to play above Championship level, it seems likely that Ahadme will move on regardless of whether Kieran McKenna’s side secure promotion to the Premier League or not.

Doug believes that Cambridge stand a chance of signing him on a permanent deal this summer, but he’s aware that there will be significant competition to acquire the 23-year-old’s services.

“The fact is that he really likes it here,” he explained. “Geographically, it suits him in terms of not having to live out of a suitcase. It suits him very, very well, and he’s always enjoyed his time at the club.

“He gets on with everyone in the squad and he’s a really popular member of the squad. That doesn’t mean that he’s going to sign, but because he’s a really good fit for the club and he’s liked his time so much, I think there’s a good chance that, if United can find the cash to perhaps fund his wages, you never know if they can get a deal done.

East Anglian Daily Times: The striker could have a long-term future at the Abbey Stadium
East Anglian Daily Times: The striker could have a long-term future at the Abbey Stadium

The striker could have a long-term future at the Abbey Stadium (Image: Ross Halls)

“What was quite telling, really, is the fact that he had a broken foot in January. I suppose a lot of players would’ve gone back to their parent club, sorted it out and spend the rest of the season back there.

“He was really, really keen to stay with United, and he made a point of saying that he wanted to stay and help the club secure their safety this season. That says a lot, really.

“A lot of it comes down to money, as these things often do. You never know what other offers come in, but I think United are perhaps in the driving seat considering that he’s had a good season with them and he seems to enjoy spending time with the squad.

“When you think about the fact that they’ve had four different managers this season, he’s stuck to his guns and just wanted to do everything he can for the club.”