With Pedro’s move to Stamford Bridge stealing the majority of Chelsea’s summer headlines, it seems their most successful pre-season acquisition has gone largely unnoticed.
Despite being relatively unknown upon signing, Baba Rahman has already imposed his quality this campaign. With Branislav Ivanovic struggling recently, the youngster has impressed in the Champions League.
Many have been keen to identify the lack of game time Rahman has been awarded in the Premier League, but in such a ruthless competition, Jose Mourinho is simply wrapping the youngster in bubble wrap.
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Admittedly, Rahman experienced a baptism of fire when awarded his first league start against Stoke City, but this is understandable. The 21-year-old’s tenure at Augsburg saw him exposed to a far less physical league where skill takes centre stage.
Being torn limb from limb at the Britannia stadium proved a shock to the system and he was far from the only Chelsea player to underperform in their stagnant 1-0 loss.
It would be unfair to judge the youngster on that single performance when the Ghanaian has been such a success in the Champions League.
Away from Chelsea’s toxic run of form in the league, the club has proven a force to be reckoned with on the European stage. It can be little coincidence that the Blues’ success has come alongside the consistent selection of Rahman.
His pace and athleticism bombing forward has plagued opposition full-backs, the Ghana international assisting Oscar’s goal in Chelsea’s recent 4-0 mauling of Maccabi Tel Aviv. Not only does Rahman harbour bubbles of energy, but he also possesses a clinical delivery.
Although he has far from taken the world by storm with his Chelsea performances, there is little doubt the left-back is making a lasting impression just four months into his tenure. Compared to Ivanovic, Rahman has been electric.
His Serbian teammate has been a victim of the pace and strength of the Premier League this year. It seems over the course of the summer he has been stripped of his ability to execute a tackle, as shown by Sadio Mane’s ruthless treatment of the 31-year-old during Southampton’s 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge October.
At the very least, Rahman would have been able to match Mane for pace and avoid being turned inside-out by every individual step-over.
Mourinho is being cautious with his youthful acquisition and whilst his persistent selection of Ivanovic in the league may be viewed as stubbornness, it is also to protect Rahman.
Hector Bellerin endured a nightmarish evening at Borussia Dortmund on his Arsenal debut last season, yet is now one of England’s most feared full-backs. Rahman may follow suit and has the potential to flourish under Mourinho’s wing.
Whether or not Rahman becomes yet another young player to be spat out of the Chelsea machine is unknown, but there is little doubt that if he is handled well, the Ghanaian could become an exciting long-term prospect for Chelsea.
After all, Kevin de Bruyne's sale finely demonstrates that Chelsea should not be too quick to judge their youthful contingent.
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