Despite scoring two outstanding goals in recent weeks, Ba must up his game considerably to remain first-choice at Chelsea.
When Demba Ba arrived in England, he came with the stigma of the injury-plagued. Even though those “injuries” were hypothetical, proclaimed as being only a matter of a time following a failed medical at Stoke City.
And yet first at West Ham, and then with Newcastle, Ba was a bargain and later a revelation.
So it was no surprise when Chelsea signed him in January, although you sensed it was more as a temporary fix until the summer sales.
A few games ago, people were saying it hadn’t worked. Having netted 13 times for Newcastle this season, he bagged a brace on his Chelsea debut before suffering a dip in form.
But then came that goal against Manchester United in the FA Cup; a goal of such technical brilliance it defied logic no matter how many times you watched it.
It was the strike of a natural goal-scorer. Quite simply, it was sublime.
And then he went one better, with his acrobatic effort against Manchester City at Wembley that spoke of a player at the peak of his confidence.
It may not have changed the outcome of the match, but it was its best moment – unless you were a City fan.
And it prompted this question: is Ba becoming the scorer of great goals rather than the scorer of many goals?
It may seem strange to say so. And Chelsea fans may disagree. But he is still not the player he was last season. And when this campaign ends, should two of his goals have been outstanding ones, that won’t count for much if his total is only a few more.
Ba needs to score scrappy goals, poacher’s goals, all kinds of goals.
He needs to use the rest of this season as an audition for the next. Because if rumours are true and Radamel Falcao is bound for Stamford Bridge rather than Old Trafford, Ba will be very much second fiddle.
You are able to try outlandish things when you know your place isn’t threatened; when you have the confidence both in your position and your ability. But it is quite another when your chances are limited.
And should Chelsea see what the rest of England has been seeing all season, and decide that Romelu Lukaku has proved he is ready for his chance, the scorer of great goals could quickly find himself third choice.
Quite simply, Ba can be great sometimes but he needs to be good all the time. Whoever is in charge at Chelsea next season will expect nothing less.
How good has Ba been for Chelsea? And how many opportunities will he get next year, as his club almost certainly look to bring in at least one new striker in the summer?
image: © Jason Bagley