Demba Ba has spoken out about his time at Chelsea, with the Senegalese striker revealing that he thought a deal to allow him to move to Arsenal had been completed last summer.
Ba eventually did depart Stamford Bridge for Turkish giants Besiktas in a deal believed to be worth £4.7 million last month, with the former Newcastle man evidently deemed surplus to requirements under Jose Mourinho following the arrival of Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid.
While Ba - who was first brought to Chelsea in January 2013 by the unpopular figure of interim manager Rafael Benitez - certainly was not short of commitment and endeavour during his relatively short stay in West London, although he has intriguingly suggested that it may have been his lack of big-name reputation in comparison to some of his teammates that led to him never really becoming a success with the Blues.
Not a star name
"Sometimes when you are at a club with a lot of big stars, the name counts for more than the statistics. Unfortunately, it was like that in my case," he was quoted by The Daily Mail.
Although the 29-year-old clearly harbours a certain sense of lingering resentment at not being given ample opportunity to prove his worth at Chelsea, he insists that he holds no regrets over his decision to make the move from St James' Park.
"But I am happy I moved from Newcastle to Chelsea and achieved what I did. I have lots of friends there. Eden Hazard is one of my best friends, I am close to Branislav Ivanovic, too. All my wishes are for them to win the league."
Ba's most interesting comments from his recent interview were in relation to Arsenal. The Gunners - who come up against Ba and Besiktas in Turkey for the first leg of their Champions League qualification tie on Tuesday night - hardly made a secret of their admiration for Ba during last summer's transfer window, although a deal ultimately never came to fruition.
Arsenal move was close
In an honest admission, Ba claims he thought a potential switch to the Emirates Stadium had been all but agreed, with Arsenal's record deal for German playmaker Mesut Ozil the only thing that stopped Mourinho from sanctioning such a transfer.
"I always said the move to Arsenal was close," Ba added.
"I thought the deal was done and I would just go and do the medical, but it went another way. Jose has said why it didn’t happen. He was honest, he just didn’t want to give them a striker who could score goals, especially with the arrival of Ozil. Now I am playing Arsenal in such a big match. It’s crazy but I’ve no regret on everything that happened."
With Ba on hand to provide support and competition for Olivier Giroud, one can only guess at how his arrival could have impacted upon Arsenal's pursuit of the title in 2013/14.
Mourinho's stance on not wishing to strengthen a direct rival is perfectly understandable, although January's sale of Juan Mata to Manchester United would suggest that he is willing to make exceptions in certain cases.
Ba will be hoping to show Arsene Wenger just what he missed out on at the Ataturk Stadium this week, although Arsenal must be considered favourites to progress through to the group stages of European football's most-elite club competition once again.
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