After spending much of the summer trying to pry Wayne Rooney from Manchester United, and failing in their pursuit, you might have thought Chelsea would be hesitant to sell or loan their own player to a rival.
But nonetheless, along came deadline day and with it rumours that Arsenal were in the hunt to bring aboard Demba Ba on loan from Chelsea. For a moment, it seemed a rather odd move for Chelsea to aid a league rival, one that had just brought aboard Mesut Ozil.
But in the end—with perhaps a bit of gamesmanship at play—the Blues didn't allow Ba to join Arsenal. And it was the right decision.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho pulled the plug on Demba Ba's proposed switch to Arsenal because he fears the £42.5million capture of Mesut Ozil has made them genuine title contenders. Arsene Wenger was left fuming on transfer deadline night after Chelsea made a late U-turn on Ba’s proposed move across London.
The Arsenal manager thought a deal to sign the Senegal striker on a season-long loan deal was in place on Monday night after hours of negotiations between the clubs.
But Mourinho admitted the Blues blocked the Ba deal as they did not want to strengthen a direct rival, and the eleventh hour decision meant Wenger had no time to pursue any other options.
According to Jack De Menezes of The Independent, both Tottenham and West Ham were also interested in taking Ba on loan. But after loaning Romelu Lukaku to Everton, the Blues decided it best to retain Ba.
If Chelsea were simply leading Arsenal on, hoping to keep them from pursuing any other targets at forward, the ploy not only worked, but was a stroke of genius. The less nefarious reasoning may simply be that the Blues were considering the move until they knew Lukaku could be moved on loan to gain more experience and simply decided to keep Ba for depth.
Obviously, not sending him to Arsenal or Tottenham—a player that perhaps could have helped either club in their pursuit of a league title—was the logical decision. While it seems unlikely that Ba will have any impact at all with Chelsea, he may have been the perfect deputy for on-fire forward Olivier Giroud at Arsenal.
Yes, Ba scored just two goals in Premier League play for Chelsea last season. But remember, this is the player who scored 29 goals in 54 Premier League appearances for Newcastle in his season-and-a-half with the club.
When he's on his game, he can score with the best of them. He may not have a big role with Mourinho calling the shots, but that's still better than him carving out an important role with Arsenal.
It's obvious that the Gunners' acquisition of Ozil has put other Premier League teams on notice. Arsenal is gunning for a few trophies this year, and Chelsea wisely decided to abstain from assisting them in that cause.
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