Can Marko Marin Spark His Chelsea Career into Life?
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At present, Marko Marin's Chelsea career is in danger of becoming a decent quiz question in about a decade's time.
Q) Name the German international winger Chelsea bought, never played and sold on after one season?
Which really is a shame as, based on hope more than expectation, I think he could still end up being a very effective asset.
The former Werder Bremen man opened his account for the club with the final goal against Wigan on the weekend, and from the moment he came on the Stamford Bridge crowd cheered his every touch, baying him to do something brilliant.
After an inauspicious start to life in West London, there was a danger that Marin had become something of a parody figure, and the fans' reaction to his involvement bordered on the sarcastic.
However, his lack of involvement has only increased anticipation from the stands that the 23-year-old is going to suddenly emerge from his cocoon like a beautiful butterfly, and as such—through doing next to nothing—Marin has inadvertently managed to garner for himself something of a cult status amongst the Blues following.
Many still remember last summer's preseason tour to the United States, when Marin marked his arrival with a series of scintillating displays.
He was the standout man on that trip and even outshone Eden Hazard in the battle of the new recruits.
Albeit only in friendlies against differing opposition, Marin appeared to be the jinking, jiving wide man Chelsea had been coveting for years.
The tag of "German Messi" was never going to do him any favours, yet there is something about his upright running style and evasive swerves that were ever so slightly Messi-esque.
I can also recall Marin single-handedly torturing Tottenham in a Champions League tie a couple of years back, and such fleeting shows have undoubtedly created a legacy the player has yet to properly fulfill.
Marin's stateside show also brought back memories of Arjen Robben bursting onto the scene with similar panache, only to set the template for Marin by getting injured and sitting things out for the first few months of the new campaign
When Robben returned, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea were transformed, with the Dutch flyer giving the side natural width, pace and penetration. That same impact has long been expected of Marin.
But for a multitude of reasons, he has yet to be fully integrated into the side. As such, we're closer to the end of the season than the start, with the German's contribution minimal.
Injuries have been a recurring theme for Marin over the past few seasons, reducing his stock from Germany's next big thing to an untried and untrusted bit part for Chelsea.
The fact Marin has been afforded such little playing time raises questions about both him and the way the Chelsea management have failed to initiate him into the team.
He did little to justify inclusion when given starts against QPR and Brentford, yet he's not been granted many opportunities to find his feet and form when coming off the bench.
Often his cameos are too little and too late, and inadequate for a player to find his match rhythm.
Chelsea's reluctance to use Marin is also made more curious by the lack of attacking options at the club. There's clearly an over reliance on Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, and the side were set back during January when the effective Victor Moses departed for African Cup of Nations duty.
If you look at some of Chelsea's best performances this season, like the wins at Leeds and Southampton and handsome home victories against Nordsjaelland and Aston Villa, one recurring theme was the presence of Moses—not necessarily because he is such a good player that he massively influences results, but because he gives shape to the system as a wide outlet who maximises the pitch, allowing an out ball to stretch teams and attack at pace from wide.
Even though Moses is now back, Chelsea really only have the Nigerian as an out and out winger, and how many top teams have one player to do one job?
Could Marko Marin make Chelsea a better team?
As Chelsea refocus their attention on a Champions League place and success in the FA Cup and Europa league, now is the time for Rafa Benitez to give Marin the playing time required to have an influence on the rest of the season.
The best way to view Marin is as a January signing—somebody who has come into the club to make an impact. Upcoming games against Sparta Prague and Brentford give Benitez the perfect opportunity to give Marin an elongated run in the side, effectively putting the ball into his court to prove what he can do.
I've long said that less is more in terms of the Mazacar trio, and Chelsea always look more balanced with one winger playing. Marin can be the man who gives the side an explosive X-factor, but he cannot do it from the bench.
Over the summer, Chelsea's recruitment team will probably scour the globe in search of another world class winger. Then the answer to our initial question could be, "The bloke who usually sat hunched back and across from Benitez on the Blues bench."
We'll never know until he's given a proper run in the team.
Come on Rafa, unleash Marvellous Marko Marin!
For more, follow me on Twitter @bainesyDiego10
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