For months it was highly expected that Demba Ba would be leaving behind the cold northern winds of Newcastle this January. With an alluring £7m release clause in his contract a move was perhaps more predictable than the laughably poor line up of Z-listers in this years rendition of Celebrity Big Brother. Requiring greater guess work however was which club the striker would actually sign for.
Having said that, his move to Chelsea will not have stunned many in the vicinity of the football world. It is no secret that Chelsea have been in need of a striker, and with the sale of Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool it would have been idiotic not to at least bring in one forward. The bargain price of £7m, for a proven Premiership goal scorer, represents great business for the London club; however it is for Ba that I have my concerns.
Of course on paper, moving to the European Champions and one of the ‘big four,’ could well be considered a dream move for Ba, and in his head it probably quite rightly is.
My only fear is that at Chelsea he might not receive the game time that his quality and goal scoring exploits deserve. Some reading this, or simply based on the articles title, may well have already rubbished this theory, especially after his magnificent two goal debut display in Saturday’s 5-1 F.A Cup defeat of Southampton.
Ba himself will no doubt possess the self belief that he can establish himself as a major player at Stamford Bridge. His goal scoring record of 38 goals in 72 appearances in English football, coupled with the fact that he is the third highest scorer in the Premiership this season, may well back up that faith.
However it is not Ba that will be the problem in terms of his success at the London club, it is Chelsea and manager Rafa Benitez. It’s no secret that the Spanish manager holds a small erection for his compatriot Fernando Torres. Irrelevant of form, performance or effort it is obvious to all that Ba will be playing second fiddle to Torres.
The only way that Ba is likely to become a regular would be if Torres were to suffer a long term injury or Benitez changes his formation, opting for two up front. There is no hiding the fact that the Chelsea hierarchy are a ruthless bunch. You only have to look at the treatment of Di Matteo, Clattenburg and most recently, Lampard for evidence of that. So he can expect no sympathy or favours in that regard.
Ba himself will no doubt be aware of the task involved in dislodging Torres from the number one striking birth at Chelsea. In short he will have to be magnificent, yet even that may not be enough.
Even with Benitez’s much criticised rotation policy I just don’t see Ba receiving the game time that he may well imagine, and can’t help think that he may have been better off trying to engineer a move to either Arsenal, Tottenham or Liverpool (if they hadn’t signed Sturridge.) Much like Scott Parker’s and Daniel Sturridge’s ill fated moves to Stamford Bridge, I can’t see past another football career becoming frustratingly stunted. I only hope for Ba’s sake that I am wrong.
Do you think Ba’s move to Chelsea was a good one?
image: © Julian Mason