With Samuel Eto’o out of the door after his contract came to end, the question is what is likely to happen to the rest of Chelsea’s existing collection of strikers. Huge doubts remain over Romelu Lukaku’s future, while there is a general assumption that the Blues will try to offload Fernado Torres to get his huge salary off the books and recoup some of his transfer fee. Which leaves Demba Ba.
But not for long, if the latest speculation is correct. It’s been reported today that the Senegalese striker has held talks with Turkish club Besiktas over a possible transfer.
It’s not the first time he’s been linked with the club. He was set to sign for them during the January transfer window, only for the deal to be pulled by Chelsea because of an injury to Torres. This time, however, there doesn’t appear to be an obstacle to the move going ahead.
Ba is a singular player who arouses wildly conflicting emotions when watching him. At first glance, he appears to be a clumsy oaf of a player, albeit one with great speed – but with little control or clear vision about what to do with the ball. And yet, he has a certain knack of scoring just when his team need a goal, or being on hand to force the ball home with his shin or his knee, or whatever part of the body is available.
His late goal against Paris St Germain was typical of the man, sticking out a leg to balloon the ball over the goalkeeper with a mis-struck shot. It may not have looked pretty, but he had managed to get himself into the right place in the penalty area to take the chance.
And then there was the Liverpool game at Anfield, when Ba – stuck alone up front as Chelsea retreated into their own half to defend – ran everywhere and harassed everyone until he ended up as the grateful recipient of Gerrard’s slip and scored a beautiful breakaway goal.
Some will question whether, given this ability to score in unlikely ways, Chelsea shouldn’t be looking to keep Ba as a back-up striker to Costa and whoever else is brought in. It’s a fair point given that his wages are not that high and the amount Chelsea are likely to receive for him will effectively be peanuts.
Certainly, Mourinho seemed to warm to him at the end of last season, making him the regular starter in the last few games and, in others where Chelsea were chasing a late goal, bringing him on so that we could hoist long balls towards him and allow him to use his aerial ability.
However, it can’t be denied that he was the least skilful of Chelsea’s strikers last season, and that better players can be found to fill the squad back-up role. A move to Besiktas will be good for him, as he will once more be going to a club where he is the lead striker, and good for Chelsea as it allows the club to move on.
What do you think? Should Ba Stay or go?