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Inside FutbolInside Futbol

06 October 2018

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England

Chelsea Have Better of Early Transfer Exchanges with Ba In and Sturridge Out




So often it is the final few days of the January transfer window that provide all the drama for Premier League fans – but Chelsea and Liverpool have bucked that trend for 2013, completing deals that bring immediate impact and remove some of their mutual desperation. For the Blues, the challenge is to cling to the Manchester clubs’ coat-tails; for the Reds, it is cracking the top six.

And so both clubs have goals in mind – in every sense – with Chelsea swooping for Newcastle’s Senegalese striker Demba Ba and Liverpool taking attacker Daniel Sturridge from Stamford Bridge to Anfield. Both players have promise but, now that the dust has settled, it is hard not to feel that the Blues did the better business.

Since Didier Drogba’s departure last summer, Chelsea have been pining for a target man to provide a dimension that Fernando Torres cannot. For a paltry £7M, they have their man. Ba has a proven track record in the Premier League, scoring 16 league goals last season and 13 thus far this campaign, and his aerial prowess will provide more options for manager Rafael Benitez and his array of midfield playmakers. The deal, which triggered the release clause in the 27-year-old’s contract, also raises questions over Torres’ future, given that Chelsea have typically played with a lone striker dating back to the Jose Mourinho era.

If Ba re-watches footage of Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat at home to bottom club QPR, he will have few concerns about winning a regular starting role. The champions of Europe may have thumped Aston Villa 8-0 last month, but they have since managed one goal in 180 minutes of action against Norwich and QPR. Torres again looks out of sorts and has tended to keep his place due to a lack of other options more than anything else. That is no longer the case.

Alan Pardew, Ba’s manager at Newcastle, put a brave face on the striker’s exit, however will be all too aware that it leaves the Magpies with increased relegation fears. "It’s done", he explained. "He will go to Chelsea with our blessing. He has done fantastically for us. It’s a big club – good luck to him. For us, it’s not a bad thing because of all the uncertainty of whether he was going to stay is now done."

As for Sturridge, he brings real potential to Anfield, despite falling out of favour at Chelsea, but will need to settle quickly to justify the £12M transfer fee. He has shown flashes of brilliance, has worked his way into the England ranks and is still just 23 years of age. Now, he is in position to take the next step in his career.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has been crying out for fresh, injury-free attacking options to relieve the burden on the in-form Luis Suarez, who has been an isolated figure at times just like Torres. Sturridge fits well with Rodgers’ youth movement but must improve his decision making and consistency if he is to become a top tier talent.

Steven Gerrard gave the new signing a warm welcome but reminded Sturridge that it is time to deliver. "He has said he wants to play football for a big club", the Liverpool captain said. "There’ll be no excuses. He’ll be with good players at a great club.

"I think he’s at the age now when he needs to settle down, get a settled club and show consistently what qualities he’s got. It’s all there for him. He just has to go and grasp it with both hands."

Sturridge also brings versatility which will be priceless for a club that is thin on attackers. His pace, movement and deadly left foot make him a threat on either flank as well as through the middle – and he is certainly an upgrade from fellow England team-mates Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing who have both flopped at Anfield.

That said, effectively swapping Sturridge for Ba and pocketing a tidy profit represents great business for Chelsea, who are forever in "win now" mode. It is a far cry from January 2011 when they shelled out a whopping £50M on Torres.

There will likely be more deals ahead for both clubs too. Neither are currently on track to meet their expectations for the 2012/13 season, meaning that the pressure is well and truly on both managers and that the Ba and Sturridge signings may just be the start of a busy month.

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