Baba Rahman: Decent, but unexceptional debut season at Chelsea

The policy of buying young blood means that football clubs could reap dividends for years to come. Liverpool have used this approach, often unsuccessfully. Another club that finds itself doing using this model is Chelsea. More often than not, the Blues use their infamous loan system and send the young players to gain first team experience elsewhere.

While this makes sense on paper — after all, wouldn’t a player at a young, crucial stage be getting minutes on the pitch rather than sitting on the sidelines waiting for his turn to come — it has resulted in the potential of many stars being halted, the shining example of this being Gael Kakuta who despite having a moderately successful time at Sevilla was recently sold to Chinese side Hebei China Fortune.

When Chelsea decided not to loan out Baba Rahman after acquiring the young defender’s services from Augsburg, fans were naturally appreciative of the intentions of the then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

But about six months later, the player himself would be glad to move away from the club, perhaps even on a short-term basis because of the lack of game-time he has been involved in.


Decent stats

Rahman has featured in 12 matches in all competitions for Chelsea which can be broken down to 8 in the Premier League and 4 in the Champions League. In total he has played 815 minutes, starting 9 games and coming on as a substitute in three.

His statistics for these matches have been pretty good. He averages 3.2 tackles and 4.1 interceptions every 90 minutes. However, considering the total time is a little more than 9 full games, these stats can misrepresent Rahman’s season or abilities so we mustn’t dwell too much in them. At the same time, these shouldn’t be completely overruled.

Rahman was exceptional for Augsburg and became one of the most capable left-backs in Germany last season at just 20 years of age at the time. He was solid in defence and provided plenty in attack along with Tobias Werner who he partnered on the left flank. It is therefore sad to see what a letdown his move to a more attractive league and “bigger” club has been.


Used sparingly by Mourinho

Signed by Jose Mourinho, he was used sparingly by the Portuguese in the opening months when the Blues were struggling heavily. The reason Mourinho gave for not picking him initially was his height. The 21-year-old stands at 5 ft 10 inches, which to be fair isn’t exactly short. Moreover, height isn’t the only attribute which can be put under consideration when talking about aerial competence.

The youngster admitted back in January that he was growing frustrated with the lack of game-time he was receiving on the pitch. Since then, he has featured in eight games for Chelsea. His performance against PSG in the first leg of the knockout stage of the competition was extremely solid and it led to Hiddink giving the youngster chances in the Premier League. He was blasted for a mistake he made against Southampton in the Premier League which led to Shane Long scoring.

However, many ignored Cortouis’ fault in the goal completely as the Belgian was slow to come off his line for that goal. Hiddink substituted him at half-time which could have demoralised the youngster. He has featured in another couple of Premier League games, including playing the entirety of the game against Stoke where he did decently.

He hasn’t played in the two games since.


Tough to assess

His assessment this season is made tougher by the lack of time he has got on the pitch. Rahman did extremely well for Augsburg last season, and has shown glimpses of unadulterated potential in this campaign as well. For the player, as the end of the season approaches where the Blues have games of little significance, he would hope he can get a run of games to show what he’s capable of.

Perhaps the Ghanaian can impress the manager who takes over next season — probably Conte — in the pre-season. It really is unfortunate if the player, who was one of the if not the best left-backs in Bundesliga last season, is shipped off without the chance to do that considering a player at such a young age needs time to get used to a new club, league and country.

He can be a great long term prospect for Chelsea, given time, encouragement and good guidance.


Written by Aakriti Mehrotra

Follow Aakriti on Twitter @Aakriti1

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