Demba Ba: Chelsea Should Be Wary of a Transfer for the Newcastle Star

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer IJanuary 3, 2013

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  Demba Ba of Newcastle United reacts to a missed chance during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James' Park on December 15, 2012 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Demba Ba has been one of the Premier League's most prolific strikers over the past two years.

Following a winter transfer to West Ham United in January 2011, the Senegalese striker has tallied 29 goals in just 59 matches for both the Hammers and for Newcastle United.

After months of speculation, it appears Chelsea will land Ba's coveted signature. The Blues triggered his release clause on Wednesday, just hours before Newcastle's Premier League match with Everton.

Ba subsequently missed the fixture to negotiate with Chelsea. Following Newcastle's 2-1 defeat to Everton, Ba's manager, Alan Pardew, told BBC Sport he expects his striker to sign with Chelsea.

Much hype will come with the transfer of Ba to Stamford Bridge. The striker has been Newcastle's best player this season, scoring 48 percent of the team's goals to date.

The only player with a higher percentage of his teams' goals in Europe's top five leagues is Paris Saint-Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (51 percent).

Last year Ba finished seventh in the Premier League in goals with 16, helping Newcastle to a fifth-place finish in the league, their highest spot in the table since the 2003-04 campaign.

However, there are several issues which could result from the Senegalese striker's move to London.

The first question deals with Ba's placement on Chelsea's squad. In the 12 matches following the hiring of Rafa Benitez, the Blues have started with a solo striker in all but one match.

With Fernando Torres scoring six of his 11 goals following Chelsea's managerial change, it would not make tactical sense to replace the Spaniard with Ba.

Benitez previously claimed Torres would occasionally sit on the bench if a new striker arrived.

Last year, Ba did play on the left wing after the arrival of Papiss Demba Cissé during the winter transfer window.

However, Ba scored just one more goal over the course of the campaign, which came during his first match after the African Cup of Nations. The striker finished the season without a goal over his final 14 matches after scoring 15 goals in 20 matches before going on international duty.

Ba previously stated he does not like playing in the midfield after playing the position when he was a youth. Considering his failures with Newcastle in a midfield role last year, it would defy logic to play him there if he joined Chelsea.

The Blues should also be concerned with Ba's health.

Although Ba has missed just 17 matches over the previous seven years, it is unknown how he could keep playing in every match considering his health is, in the words of Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, "a massive risk."

Ba's knees have been a source of concern for years. In 2009 when he was with Hoffenheim, a transfer with VfB Stuttgart fell through due to a failed medical. Ba again failed a medical when he tried to move to Stoke City in 2011.

Both West Ham and Newcastle were unafraid of Ba's knees and were rewarded with an abundance of goals.

It is unknown if or when Ba could suffer an injury due to his poor knees. However, it seems likely it could happen soon.

Last season, Ba was fouled 1.6 times per match, the 17th highest in the Premier League. During this campaign, Ba has been fouled on average 2.3 times per match, the fourth highest in the league.

Considering the rate of leg injuries increases by four times during the second half of the Premier League campaign, there is a strong chance he could suffer a serious leg injury during the second half of this season.

Chelsea is ultimately in a high-risk, high-reward situation with Demba Ba. It could become a bust due to the strong likelihood of injury. However, he does have tremendous upside and could score plenty of goals.

Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan


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