Chelsea seal rare bargain transfer with Ba signing

Posted by Phil Lythell

Demba BaPA PhotosDemba Ba has made a £7.5 million move from Newcastle to Chelsea

The news that Demba Ba has completed his transfer from Newcastle to Chelsea has to be welcomed with a certain amount of enthusiasm. The Senegal international might not quite have the global superstar status of Radamel Falcao or Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the striker most definitely knows where the goal is, the key trait for any centre forward.

It is also a relief to see Chelsea get some business done early and not see any wrangling over transfer fees or personal terms drag negotiations into the latter part of the January transfer window.

The signing of the excellent Gary Cahill 12 months ago aside, the last major transfers made by the club midseason were not confirmed until the very last hours of January when David Luiz and Fernando Torres were signed in a £71 million statement of intent. That allowed transfer fees to be inflated and wages to be enhanced as the club were held to ransom with the clock ticking down until the window was shut. With Ba having a buyout clause of just £7.5 million, closing the deal was made all the easier, and there were obviously no major concerns during his medical despite his reported chronic knee problem.

And the transfer could not come soon enough. To say that Chelsea's Achilles' heel this season has been in the striking department would be an understatement. Fernando Torres might have experienced a recent good run of goal-scoring form, but -- with the arguable exception of the opening goals against Sunderland and Aston Villa -- he has not been able to make the difference against quality teams or in tight matches. Part of that is due to the fact that he is a shadow of the player who used to terrorise the Blues when he wore a Liverpool shirt, though it should also be noted that he has shouldered total responsibility for that position given the scarcity of options available.

The moving on of Didier Drogba, without bringing in an obvious replacement in order to allow Torres the freedom to operate, has backfired. Instead, it has forced the manager -- whether Roberto Di Matteo or Rafael Benitez -- to field the Spaniard even if the player himself is off-colour or feeling the effects of playing the full 90 minutes in practically every match in every competition. Benitez has stated that he wants to rotate Torres more, and the acquisition of Ba will allow for that. It is also to be hoped that increased competition for places will bring the best out of Torres, though perhaps we would do well to remember his labouring in the shadow of Drogba before we get too optimistic.

In the last two campaigns until his recent transfer to Liverpool, Daniel Sturridge was at the club, yet for some reason successive managers never truly saw him as a real alternative to either Torres or Drogba. In Sturridge's defence, he has suffered from injuries this season and has been unavailable for selection for lengthy periods, but even when fit he was largely overlooked, which seems strange given his excellent goal return in the first half of the 2011-12 campaign and his prolific spell on loan at Bolton Wanderers the previous season. Sturridge has the capacity to frustrate more than any player who has passed through Stamford Bridge over the past few years, that is for certain, though surely a good coaching setup should have been able to extract his obvious talent.

That said, Chelsea have made a tidy little profit from their transfer dealing over the last few days -- not something that one has been able to say with much regularity during the Roman Abramovich era -- with Sturridge moving for a fee of £12 million. That has to be good business for the Blues who, in Demba Ba, have acquired a true centre-forward who has an unerring eye for goal. And, crucially, he is in form with 13 strikes in 20 Premier League appearances this season.

The exchange of forwards might have seen Chelsea lose a British talent, but there is little doubt that they now have a player who can genuinely challenge Torres for that lone striker's berth. The relatively small outlay, combined with Ba's now having a crack at a big club, also means that Chelsea have not introduced another giant-sized ego into the dressing room that might obstruct any summer move for Falcao.

The Blues still need to look at bolstering defensive midfield options, especially if Frank Lampard is to be ousted, but for the time being the club's transfer policy seems to be back on track.

Welcome to Chelsea, Demba Ba!

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