As Chelsea announced the signing of left back Abdul Baba Rahman on a gloomy Sunday after the humiliating defeat at the Etihad Stadium, Chelsea fans all around the world started browsing YouTube to see whether the Ghanaian defender could actually prove to be a serious competitor for the regular starter Cesar Azpilicueta.
While, it is true that whenever Chelsea sign a 20-year-old, he is normally sent on loan immediately, to gain experience while waiting to be called up by the club for promotion into the first team. This may not be the case now! Seeing the sorry state of the usually tight defence, Jose Mourinho has definitely decided to buy the talented youngster in order to challenge both full backs. Yes, you read it right, both full backs.
Ivanovic, who has been one of Chelsea’s most consistent performers in recent seasons, has hit a rough patch this season. Jefferson Montero gave him a torrid time in the first match, and so did Sterling in the second. Azpilicueta is a lot more solid in defence, and not to forget, Azpilicueta’s natural position is the right back. He was brought in to fulfill that role when Benitez pushed out John Terry and moved Ivanovic into central defence.
If Baba Rahman impresses Mourinho, and Azpilicueta continues to be good defensively, Ivanovic may be benched with Azpilicueta moving to right back. So, in effect, Baba Rahman will push both Azpilicueta and Ivanovic while he competes to start at left back.
Baba Rahman is a tremendously pacy left-back, with fantastic dribbling ability. He has the ability to beat players one on one and complete take-ons, something we don’t usually associate with the more defensive minded Azpilicueta, although we do not feel the need for that since Hazard does all the dribbling and attacking on that flank.
Now let us see how Baba Rahman compares with the club’s regular left back Azpilicueta at the said position. Azpilicueta made 29 appearances in the Premier League last season while Baba Rahman made a total of 31 appearances in the Bundes Liga. According to Squawka, Azpilicueta made 70 successful tackles last season while Baba Rahman made 91 successful tackles in the league, which shows he may even be a better defensive choice.
Gifted with a great sense of positioning and ability to read the game, Baba Rahman also made 83 interceptions, compared to Azpilicueta’s 59. Now, in order to be a successful defender in the Premier League, one must have a good aerial ability since a lot of the teams employ crossing and long ball passing. Azpilicueta won 38 headed duels out of 75 while Baba Rahman completed 77 out 115 headed duels, which is a huge step up.
When it comes to attacking, Azpilicueta comes nowhere near the Ghanaian. While Azpilicueta completed only eight take-ons last season, Baba Rahman completed a whopping 44 take-ons, which is a testimony to the 20-year old’s speed and dribbling ability. Baba Rahman even has 4 assists and 20 key passes to his name, which is more than Azpilicueta’s 3 assists and 14 key passes.
One can clearly see that the former Augsburg player is serious competition to Cesar Azpilicueta for the left back position while he will also spur Ivanovic to improve at right back. Hopefully, Baba Rahman’s arrival will improve the defence and lift up the mood at Stamford Bridge.
As for us, we are absolutely convinced that the young defender from Ghana, who seems a complete fullback, will be an absolute hit at the Bridge, that too a long term one. With both senses of defensive duty, and the ability to make forays up front, Baba Rahman and Hazard on the left wing may tear up opposition defences.
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Edited By: Karan Dubey
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