Chelsea have an Oscar – But will he be an award-winning signing?
Posted on August 7, 2012 by Joe Plewes
With Chelsea’s penchant for exuberant signings it’s difficult to make a case for giving the King’s Road outfit an ‘academy’ award, even if the Cobham conveyor belt has brought along the likes of Ryan Bertrand and Josh McEachran in recent times.
Leaving all the cheap movie gags aside and the latter may be feeling rather displeased at the arrival of former Internacional star Oscar, having already found first team football difficult to come by in a crowded midfield. McEachran has in fact turned out just fifteen times in the league and with four of those appearances coming during an unfulfilling loan spell at Swansea, it’s hard to even make a case for the Oxford-born midfielder to be part of the supporting cast.
While Bertrand’s promotion to the first team is slightly more imminent – the 23-year-old is Ashley Cole’s heir apparent – Roman Abrahmovich’s appears to have rekindled his desire for immediate albeit expensive success in the wake of that historic Champions League win. Yet labelling the likes of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and of course Oscar as geared towards immediacy is a little misguided – with the three only totalling a combined age of sixty-four – although Hazard himself arrives as close to the finished article you can buy in the current climate as a two time UNFP player of the season and a £32 million pound acquisition.
But what about Oscar? Is he the finished product?
Ostensibly the answer is of course no. While the comparisons to the seemingly stagnating Josh McEachran are maybe slightly wide of the mark, Oscar has only mustered forty-seven league appearances himself and is thus one for both the present and the future, as a mature footballer for his age capable of both the deft touch and the long range pile driver.
His hat-trick in the Under-20 World Cup Final last year outlined his talents going forward and while the debate rages on within the Chelsea faithful as to what position he will play, surely the less defensive responsibility required the better. The obvious and perhaps lazy comparison is to fellow Sao Paulo graduate Kaka, and Oscar has been deployed in that attacking midfield role during the Olympics. To use a different analogy, he’s more of a Rolls Royce to say Lucas Moura or Neymar’s Ferrari, but the pace in the Blues’ armoury comes from elsewhere anyway.
Yet the main positional concern in that respect is that Eden Hazard appeared to effectively demand the number ten role when he signed at the beginning of June, citing guarantees over the position he will play as particularly important when he chose his club. Juan Mata can play there, Lampard loves to arrive in the box and Marin played in an offensive midfield role fifteen times last season, even if the agile German has shown glimpses of blistering pace in pre-season more akin to a winger.
So how does Oscar fit in and how do Chelsea line up this season? 4-2-3-1 is the probable formation, with Torres the lone front man in a system that suited him so well at Anfield. But Mata is a magician in that number ten role, Hazard wants to play there and Ramires was of course lauded for a number of performances out wide. With Lampard and Mikel preferred as the ‘double pivot’ in pre-season, you wonder how the jigsaw will fit together and that’s without even throwing in likely squad players Raul Meireles, Florent Malouda et al. With Moses heavily linked too, what if too many cooks spoil the broth?
Oscar will hope not. With Olympic success on the cards adjusting to SW6 life may take a little longer, but he’s a Brazilian number ten and he really ought to be Chelsea’s too, conducting his business in the final third not with stifled creative ambition further back.
Either way, it’ll be exciting to see how one of the next great Brazilians get on this season in a star studded line up. You get the feeling he’ll be a star – albeit as a Hollywood signing rather than a homegrown actor – but if Chelsea repeat last season’s success those in the Matthew Harding Stand won’t care one bit.