Chelsea can look to Demba Ba for goals this season
Jose Mourinho can trust striker to produce for his team this campaign
When Chelsea purchased Demba Ba from Newcastle for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £7million back in January, it was a buy that was necessary, yet it had panic written all over it.
Entering the 2012/2013 season, Chelsea had parted ways with club icon Didier Drogba and the capable, but frustratingly inconsistent, Salomon Kalou. They lost veteran striker Nicolas Anelka to Shanghai Shenhua and shipped the promising Romelu Lukaku out on loan to West Bromwich Albion.
This left Chelsea's strike force paper thin, with Fernando Torres the only recognised striker in the team and only winger-cum-forward Daniel Sturridge offering support in the Blues' first team.
Roberto Di Matteo and the coaching staff had a big decision to make as they were torn between entrusting club record signing Fernando Torres with delivering the goals necessary to fire the club to trophies, or breaking the bank once again to land a world class striker.
Ultimately, the decision to go through with the former proved rather costly, to the extent Chelsea's title challenge was virtually over by Christmas.
The general, hopeful feeling, was that with Didier Drogba vacating the centre forward position, Torres could finally repay the club with the sort of form that once gave the Spaniard legitimate claims to be recognised as the world's most lethal striker.
Torres would know that he would start week in week out and would be shown the faith to lead the line in the biggest games. This show of faith was only fleetingly rewarded as Torres blew hot and cold and was largely ineffective and uninspiring for the crucial first half of the season as Di Matteo went on to lose his job and Chelsea's season went into freefall.
The arrival of Rafa Benitez in November was met with vehement disapproval from the Stamford Bridge faithful where home games brought about a toxic atmosphere that exacerbated the team’s poor performances.
The winter transfer window couldn't come quickly enough as reinforcements were in desperate need as Chelsea were forced to reassess their season objectives as their season crumbled before their eyes with another failed title challenge, to go with the ignominy of a group stage exit in the Champions League.
Long time targets Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani were courted, but any plans to bring them to West London were held until the summer which led to the arrival of Demba Ba. Another striker was an absolute necessity to add extra firepower to a front line that had been plagued by profligacy.
Demba Ba was a viable and solid acquisition, but it was curious in nature given that it was not the forecasted big name signing.
In Chelsea's strong finish to the season, which yielded a top three finish in the league, their highest finish in two years and a Europa League triumph, Demba Ba was decisive in key games such as against Manchester United in the FA Cup where he scored a spectacular winner in the quarter finals.
However, the Senegalese powerhouse was disappointing on the whole in terms of his goal return, but must be lauded for the impact he made to the squad in terms of depth, performance and variation.
His future at Stamford Bridge came under question as Jose Mourinho's second coming got into full swing, but it seems he will be fighting it out with a somewhat improved Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku, who is returning from a successful loan spell in which he bagged 17 league goals.
It is still unclear what system and style Mourinho will be implementing however - pre season fixtures have shown that Romelu Lukaku and a 4-2-3-1 system will be preferred.
Whilst incredibly talented and maturing as a player with every game, Lukaku is still somewhat a rough diamond and at 20 years of age, Mourinho will be asking a lot of the Belgian star if he is to take centre stage during the upcoming season.
As the former Anderlecht prodigy grows and develops into the fully fledged world class striker that many predict he will become, Demba Ba remains Chelsea's most reliable and trusted option upfront, even if Fernando Torres' reputation and Romelu Lukaku's burgeoning talent suggests otherwise.
Demba Ba provides Mourinho the option to play both ways as a striker in that Ba's physique and strength allows him to play comfortably with his back to goal as a classic target man or as a forward playing off the shoulder of the last defender who is constantly looking to get in behind defences thanks to his impressive athletic attributes.
The former Newcastle man is in the prime of his career at 28 years of age, and given how impressively Ba exhibited a rare blend of consistent, clinical finishing and a penchant for the spectacular at St James' Park, who is to say he cannot repeat or even elevate his game with classier players around him in the blue of Chelsea?
If Mourinho shows Ba faith by playing him in a healthy percentage of games in a centre forward position that will no doubt be in dispute and rotated during the initial stages of the season, he is more than capable of repaying Mourinho with goals.
With a full pre season under his belt with Chelsea and healthy competition, a fit Demba Ba can be the main figure instead of becoming the forgotten man who was bought on a whim.
With so many similar attributes to former talisman Didier Drogba, Demba Ba could prove to be the perfect man who successfully links together the Drogba era with the emerging Romelu Lukaku era.
In the Premier League Mourinho will no doubt be after a strong physical forward who can play upfront on his own and, therefore a Demba Ba at his prime should not be wasted when the best of him is ready to explode for Chelsea.
It would seem remarkably foolish if Demba Ba ended up being under-utilised where a man at the peak of his powers has his talents going to waste.
There are several teams such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Roma who could do with a quality target man such as Ba, so at the price Chelsea have got him and the potential he possesses, Ba is Mouinho's hidden gem that has not cost the club a fortune.
His prominence in the first team would carry on a proud tradition of powerful and domineering strikers where Chelsea's reputation as a powerful unit is restored under Mourinho as the club has yearned for a more flamboyant and passing style in recent times.
Some will say that Torres should be given another chance to justify his enormous price tag. After all in two and a half years at the club he will have played under a staggering five different managers when the new season kicks off, so therefore he warrants another opportunity under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho.
Some will say that Lukaku is ready to fulfil what almost seems like his destiny, in succeeding childhood hero Didier Drogba at the club he supported during his youth. His impressive loan spell at West Brom last season coupled with his excellent pre season form, have many believing the Belgian prodigy is the man to be entrusted with firing the club to trophies next season.
Demba Ba may not have forged a name as famed as Fernando Torres, nor has he been earmarked since his teens as the game's next big thing, but what he is at present is a fit and healthy striker at his physical, mental and professional peak.
This means if his ever going to achieve any career defining feats such as winning the golden boot, it is now or never. Therefore Mourinho must give him his fair share of chances. Nobody is asking Mourinho to play Ba every week.
As all three striking candidates jostle for a starting place, all that is being asked is that Ba be given a fair opportunity to stake his claims as too often reputations and hype overshadow and blind people.
It would be a tragedy if Ba withered away on the bench when he could be making a significant impact at so many clubs, including Chelsea.
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