Demba Ba completes Chelsea transfer
Demba Ba said it was an easy decision to sign for the Champions League winners after his move to Chelsea was confirmed by the club on Friday.
The Senegal striker signed a 3½-year contract after his move from Newcastle for an undisclosed fee. The London club had triggered a 7-million-pound ($11.3 million) release clause in his Magpies contract.
Ba, 27, who will be eligible for selection for Saturday's FA Cup third-round match at Southampton, will wear the No. 29 shirt.
"It feels good to be here, I'm very happy and very proud. When the club who won the Champions League wants you, the decision is very easy. This club is massive and that's something that helped the decision a lot. It was not a hard one," Ba told Chelsea's official website.
"It was important for me, and for Newcastle, to get my future sorted and now we can move on. Now they have the whole month to buy someone and for me as well, the sooner the better. Now I am here I just need to get settled in."
Ba said there was no comparison between Chelsea and Newcastle after completing his move.
"This club is at another level -- it isn't West Ham or Newcastle," he said. "They are both big clubs with a strong history, but Chelsea is Chelsea and you cannot compare. It will be easier with world-class players around, who make the football look so easy."
Ba insisted his move early in the window had given Newcastle plenty of time to recruit a replacement.
"It was important for me, and for Newcastle, to get my future sorted and now we can move on," he said. "Now they have the whole month to buy someone and, for me as well, the sooner the better. Now I am here I just need to get settled in. When the club who won the Champions League wants you, the decision-making is very easy. This club is massive and that's something that helped the decision a lot. It was not a hard one."
Ba is tied for third in the Premier League scorers' table this season with 13 goals so far.
"We were looking for a player who we could play right now because we have one game every three days," Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez said. "So we couldn't be waiting and I think that it's the kind of player in the Premier League who can do well from the first day."
The transfer puts the seal on a stunning rise from the lower reaches of French football to the European champions.
Born in the suburbs of Paris, Ba played for Port Autonome du Havre, Montrouge and third division side Rouen before moving to Mouscron, in the Belgian top flight.
He then moved to Hoffenheim, helping it win promotion to the Bundesliga, and was signed by West Ham two years ago.
"Yesterday, I was looking back and smiling to myself, saying, 'Yes, I've done it,'" Ba said. "I feel very proud, not only for me but the people who supported me over the years -- my agent for instance who has been there since I was 15, my mum as well because when I skipped school she was afraid but today I am very proud for my family. I never lost belief in my football though, never. You keep working and things come. Rewards always come."
Ba's transfer activity has led to him being branded a mercenary in some quarters, while there have also been concerns about a long-standing knee problem. But Benitez shrugged off fears over the fitness and fidelity of the first signing of his reign.
"I think that he's a good professional," Benitez said. "That is the information that we have and hopefully he will show this. I was talking with him about what I am expecting from him, and he was OK. Professional football is quite difficult and then the players move around, the managers move around. The main things for me were to be professional, to do the right things for your club and, this, I think everyone is expecting."
Also Friday, Chelsea announced that its postponed Premier League match with Southampton has been provisionally rearranged for Jan. 16. The game had to be moved for Chelsea's participation in the Club World Cup.
Information from Press Association was used in this report.