Make or break move for Marin
Marko Marin has long been in danger of being buried under the weight of expectation as he has failed to live up to the hype that was bestowed upon him at the start of his career, but the Chelsea new boy insists he is ready to defy his doubters at last.
Marin has struggled to live up to his billing as the next superstar of German football since he made his international debut as a teenager back in 2008, with his form in the last couple of years leading many to suspect his potential was destined to remain unfulfilled.
That Marin did not make the Germany squad for Euro 2012 shows his rise has halted in no uncertain terms, yet he has retained a position on the radar of many a top club in Europe and his dream transfer was finally sealed as he moved from Werder Bremen to the champions of Europe last month.
Many who have followed his progress in Germany over the last couple of years have come to the conclusion that Marin is little more than a show-pony capable of the odd, fleeting moment of magic that is more than drowned out by his more commonplace anonymity, but he has other ideas.
Accepting he has much to prove as he steps into a dressing room full of players still glowing from their improbable Champions League triumph back in May, Marin tells ESPN that he is expecting a tough fight to secure a place in the Chelsea side and insists the deflated expectations on his shoulders will help his transition to the Premier League.
"There has been some criticism for me to deal with in the last couple of years and that is all part of growing up in this game, but I'm ready to prove I can be good enough to play at Chelsea," Marin says. "People can say what they want about me being lightweight and it has been said a lot in recent times, but all that matters to me is improving as a player and I believe I can make it here.
"All professionals have the burning desire to play and I'm no different, but I need to raise my level of professionalism and to perform better than ever to make an impression at this club. Everything I have seen at Chelsea is a step up from what I have been used to, but this is a good thing for me.
"Chelsea have a squad with alternatives for every position and you just have to live with that sort of competition. I know I will have to prove myself at every turn, but it's also fair to say that Chelsea bought me to play me. I spoke with the manager and he assured me that I was a big part of his plans.
"Some people in Germany doubt whether I can make a success of this move to such a big club, but I have faith in my abilities and have not come here to be a failure."
Marin says the 'German Messi' tag that was ambitiously attached to him in his youth was a burden he could have done without, as he claims it is "unrealistic" to try to emulate the Barcelona genius.
"Being mentioned in the same sentence as Messi was always nice, but it was never really serious," he states. "Messi is on a different level to everyone in the game at this moment and I hope people can forget about comparing me to him from now on. Basically, I'm a quick winger who loves to take on and beat an opponent and make chances. I don't claim to be anything as good as Messi.
"As a foreigner, I will need time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, but I'm very confident this phase will not take long. I believe English football will suit me as the emphasis here is on playing with a high tempo and making good use of the wings, which is what my game is all about. I am coming to the strongest league in the world and hopefully it will bring out the best in me.
"The attention to detail at Chelsea makes an impression straight away. You can see that the big players here have an incredible force of character. They won the Champions League last season because they wanted it more than anyone else, showing the true mentality of winners, never letting anything stand in their way.
"That's how they overcame Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Being written off made them stronger. Now, it's a case of moving on to the next set of goals - regaining the Premier League title and achieving more success in Europe."
Marin admits he is disappointed not to get the chance to play in a Chelsea team alongside departed striker Didier Drogba, yet he hopes this high-profile move will help him to relaunch an international career that has not lived up to expectation in the last couple of years.
"I played in three of the Euro 2012 qualifiers and believe that if I'd not been injured for much of the second half of last season I would have been in contention for a spot in the final squad," he adds. "The German colours mean a lot to me and hopefully this move to Chelsea will give me the platform to force my way back in.
"The coach (Joachim Low) has not forgotten me. I spoke to him after the move to Chelsea was announced and, apart from congratulating me, he told me he was sure I was doing the right thing going to such a big English club."
Marin's move to England is likely to make or break his career once and for all and, while the cynics who gave up on the midfielder many a month ago give him little chance of making the grade at Chelsea, this still youthful enigma seems determined to prove he is the real deal after all.