After joining from Augsburg in 2015 for £14m (+bonuses) but largely failing to impress in his debut season at Stamford Bridge, Baba Rahman was sent back on loan to Germany last summer. Alas, his time at Schalke 04 was cut short in January after he suffered a torn ACL while playing for Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations. Surgery followed, with the prospect of a multi-month, if not multi-year rehab waiting for him afterwards.
As we’ve seen recently with Kurt Zouma, full recovery can take anywhere from 9-12 months but sometimes up to even 24. Zouma appears to be trending towards the upper end of that recovery window, and that’s despite the physical aspect of his healing going just about as well as we could’ve hoped.
Unfortunately for Baba, it sounds like that’s not the case for him. Here’s Schalke 04 general manager Christian Heidel, talking to German tabloid Bild.
“Our team doctor met with Baba in London. His knee injury is much more complex and lengthy than anticipated. We will wait until July and then decide with Baba and his agent whether it makes sense to open negotiations with Chelsea.”
Schalke had hinted at still intending to lodge a bid for Baba this summer despite the injury, but it sounds like they are reconsidering that in light of the 22-year-old’s slower than expected recovery. With the left back not expected to contribute at the start of next season, that’s probably a prudent course of action on their part.
Few injuries are as devastating to a player’s career as ACL tears can be, even in these modern medicine times. They are not fatal, as they once may have been, and there are many high profile success stories (Adrian Peterson in the NFL, for example, or our very own César Azpilicueta), but Baba’s career will have been on hiatus for at least a year before he can get back to even thinking about playing regularly.
A month shy of his 23rd birthday, Baba should still have time for a long and productive career. It might be a while before he enters the reckoning at either Chelsea or another team, but if he works hard and stays focused, he should be able to do so.
This injury truly was most unfortunate, both in terms of a potential transfer or a potential role for him at Chelsea in the wing-back role (which we did not play with yet when Conte sent him out on loan last summer). Hopefully there are better days ahead for him.