Our writers debate the subject of just how much use the Ghana international could be put to by the Chelsea boss should he return to England
Ghana defender Baba Rahman was moved on a year’s loan from Chelsea to German giants Schalke 04 earlier this week and the youngster, explaining why he feels the temporary switch was necessitated, opined that “[he is] a rather offensive full-back. . . so [he] would have had very little playing time” under ‘defensive’ new Blues‘ boss Antonio Conte.
That claim raises the argument over whether or not Rahman would be of more relevance at Stamford Bridge — at least while Conte lasts — should he adapt his playing position to his strengths.
KickerGH‘s writers, Joshua Ansah and Sammie Frimpong, debate the topic.
JOSHUA ANSAH: ‘Stay still!’
Now, don’t get me wrong; I think Rahman will make a very capable winger, but I just believe it makes far more sense for him to improve defensively and solidify his role as a left-back (or left-wing-back, if that’s where Conte wants him). First, wide attacking players are much more dominant in the modern-day footballing atmosphere than wide defensive types. This means Rahman has a better chance of succeeding as part of a backline than in an offensive unit and a shift may very well result in much less demand for his services. Also, Rahman’s skill-set itself does not suggest such a transformation would be pragmatic. As a defender, he’s quite useful going forward but, were you to assess him in a strictly attacking light, a few deficiencies are exposed. If he were to take up a role upfront, Rahman will most likely be the kind that hugs the touchline and gets crosses in, with his main strengths going forward seen in his delivery, but with the current preference for wide men who cut in and create spaces for overlapping full-backs, the typical winger — a stereotype which Rahman’s key atributes are more attuned to — is becoming a thing of old. Rahman, without doubt, is quite good at what he does now and, though he still has some development to undergo, he’d better spend that process becoming a more refined version of what he already is and not something new altogether. Really, if it ain’t broken, why fix it?
SAMMIE FRIMPONG: ‘Change now!’
There are times when Rahman has looked like a man lost in his own brilliance. His offensive skills can light up any team’s attacking movement and even win games — see his role in Ghana’s 2-0 away win over Mauritius in June’s Nations Cup qualifier — and he minds his defensive duties well enough.
We are, however, in an era of detail-obsessed managers when every yard of loose, unchecked space would be exploited, an era when doing well enough defensively just doesn’t cut it — an era which may require that Rahman either adapts or dies.
The former, needless to say, would be the more feasible and beneficial alternative, at least in the context of Conte’s long-term plans at Stamford Bridge. If some of Rahman’s handful of outings for the Pensioners‘ last season stood out for his attacking prowess (remember that blissful night in Paris?), much of the remainder saw him fluff his lines in a manner hard to excuse (think the early minutes of his Premier League debut versus Aston Villa). Perhaps it’s time he gave some thought to becoming a more solid defender — or, as his most recent stats suggest, taking a literal step up on the pitch. Given his skill-set, he’s quite capable of doing either, just not both.