Reports last week suggested West Ham were keen to bring Demba Ba back to the club, as one half of a new-look strike-force with Andy Carroll.
Around the same time, the Chelsea striker’s agent went on record to say Ba wished to remain at Stamford Bridge, that he was prepared to fight for his place in a forward-line that may – by the time the season starts – look markedly different from the one that ended the last campaign.
But the 28-year-old could do well to reconsider his options in light of Chelsea’s transfer dealings and Sam Allardyce’s apparent interest.
Here are three reasons why:
It could be argued that footballers don’t owe their former clubs anything. It is after all a job, a business, and players move as regularly as any other “product”. And yet Ba’s transfer to Upton Park in 2011 was if not a leap of faith, certainly a bit of a jump. Following his failed medical at Stoke City that saw the move collapse, West Ham signed the striker on a three-year pay-as-you-play deal.
Even before his move to the Britannia Stadium fell through, he had failed a previous medical when Hoffenheim tried to sell him to Stuttgart. That West Ham saw his potential and took a chance should mean something.
Competition for places is about to get a lot harder
With Ba and Fernando Torres Chelsea’s only recognised (or in the Spaniard’s case barely-recognised) strikers last season, the Senegal striker got plenty of game time following his January move from Newcastle. But with the return of the blossoming Romelu Lukaku, the signing of Andre Schurrle, and the almost certain arrival of at least one new out-and-out frontman, Ba’s record of just two league goals in 14 appearances for the Blues may grant him a place on the bench at best.
At West Ham, he would start every game for which he was available. And should Andy Carroll ultimately arrive in a much-mooted but not yet accepted £15million deal, he would benefit considerably from the England international's presence and specific set of skills.
The World Cup
Perhaps it shouldn’t be a factor in itself, but how many times have you heard of players moving in an attempt to secure a place in a World Cup squad? To be honest, Ba is likely to go to Brazil regardless of the club he plays for, so important is he to Senegal. But should they qualify, Ba would be of far more use to them off the back of a prolific season than one spent predominantly on the bench.
The 28-year-old has shown what he can do when given a run of games, most emphatically during his outstanding spell at St James’ Park.
With the quality of signings linked with West Ham this summer, Ba could repeat and possibly even exceed those feats.
Given his age, he will want to be playing all the time. And while for now he may believe he can convince Jose Mourinho to give him a chance, should Hulk or Edinson Cavani arrive as has been much reported, Ba’s time could be just about up.
Does Ba have a future at Stamford Bridge? And would West Ham fans welcome him back to the club?
image: © Tom Cuppens