KickerGH’s writers debate another hot football topic
By: Joshua Ansah & Sammie Frimpong
Two Ghanaian internationals, Abdul Rahman Baba and Kwadwo Asamoah, are set to be forced on a collision course with each other, as reports circulate that new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte plans recruiting the latter (who he worked earlier with at Juventus) to join the former at the London outfit. With Conte having prior shown an inclination towards harnessing Asamoah’s defensive potential, it seems he’d be contesting the left-back/full-back spot with Baba. Should the ex-Augsburg man worry, though?
Our writers debate:
JOSHUA ANSAH: ‘Chill, Baba, chill.’
With news making rounds that Asamoah might be heading to Conte’s Chelsea, it’s very likely that he might find himself in direct competition with countryman Baba, should the current Italy boss stick to his preferred 3-5-2.
Given that Asamoah played in that role — and quite successfully — when Conte was in charge of Juventus, his presence might pose a real threat to Baba’s prospects of quality game-time but, for a handful of reasons, that might not necessarily be the case.
To start with, Asamoah isn’t the most fit player around anymore (his nine league appearances over the past two seasons only go to underline his fragile nature at the moment) and if the injuries persist, that could create a run in the first team for his similarly action-starved compatriot. It’s also highly possible that Conte might try a standard back-four — given previously failed results other trainers have had experimenting with three defenders in the Premier League’s not-so-distant past — a system to which Baba would be better suited as a natural full-back than Asamoah.
It has to be remembered, however, that Asamoah is quite comfortable in the middle of the field and is more likely to return to that area if he does move to Chelsea.
SAMMIE FRIMPONG: ‘Run, Baba, run.’
Having a new manager at Stamford Bridge ought to have freshened Ghana left-back Baba Rahman’s chances of increased opportunities in a Chelsea shirt, and the possible departure of Cesar Azpilicueta this summer would have freed up space in the pecking order for Baba to express himself a bit more.
Conte bringing Asamoah along, though, could erase any hopes Baba might entertain of a brighter future. Asamoah was always one of Conte’s favourites while the pair worked together for two seasons at Juventus. Conte rid Asamoah of Udinese’s black-and-white and threw Juve’s over him, making him, among other things, a two-time Serie A champion (a figure Asamoah has since doubled, though with little accompanying joy). It’s amazing how he got so much out of midfielder Asamoah playing the 27-year-old out of position at wing-back — the very reason for which he probably wants him at Chelsea.
Unless Asamoah remains fit (which, per recent history, is unlikely) or Conte opts to use him in a more traditional midfield niche (just as unlikely), he’d be directly pitted against fellow Black Star Baba for a place on the left of the Blues’ defence.
And competing with the boss’ pet?
Well, best wishes, Baba!