The Ghanaian switches one shade of blue for another and it could ultimately prove beneficial for all involved
By: Sammie Frimpong
Baba Rahman’s transfer to Chelsea in summer of 2015 excited many, but there was a general feeling that he wasn’t quite properly cooked when making the big leap from the Bundesliga to English football’s brighter lights.
He’d made a name for himself in Germany alright, racking up some impressive statistics in just three seasons across that country’s top two divisions; by the time he departed those shores, he was arguably the finest left-back in the land. Still, all he’d played for were Greuther Furth — a club that spent only a season in the top-flight and had made a quick return to the nether realms of German club football — and then Bundesliga fresh entrants Augsburg. Rahman had cut his teeth, yes, but had he used them enough to suit the Premier League’s rock-hard bony tests?
Well, maybe he had, but a difficult first season in west London made the move appear a tad premature. The champions themselves struggled to keep a grip on the title, and Rahman came off worse from battling Spain international Cesar Azpilicueta for the left-back’s starting berth. The 22-year-old thus failed to hold his own under two managers, gathering just 23 starts in all competitions and offering glimpses of his worth only a few times out of the lot. His future at Stamford Bridge was never really in doubt — the estimated £20m investment in him really seemed one for the long-term — but time away from his parent club was never going to do Rahman any harm. The question, though, was where?
Turkish giants Besiktas — among others — reportedly came calling but, in the end, it was another club which plays in royal blue, one Rahman played against a couple of times while in Germany, which secured the temporary deal.
Schalke 04 may be no Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund, but they’re high up enough in the German game’s food chain to hone Rahman’s talent a bit more. As extra perks, Rahman would get to enjoy European action (Schalke have qualified for the Europa League’s group stages) — a luxury none of his Chelsea teammates would have after last season’s thoroughly underwhelming campaign — while his manager in Gelsenkirchen, Markus Weinzeirl, was his last before making the switch to England.
So, then, the experience should be helpful, ensuring Rahman returns to Chelsea in better shape and with a greater chance of breaking into whatever project Conte may be steering by then.