‘Jose Mourinho wanted me to replace Champions League winner – I’m worth just £1.6m now' – Football News

‘Jose Mourinho wanted me to replace Champions League winner – I’m worth just £1.6m now'

Baba Rahman didn’t have a great start to life at Chelsea (Image: Getty)

Chelsea’s £21million swoop for Ghanaian sensation Abdul Rahman Baba back in 2015 was hailed by then-manager Jose Mourinho as the perfect strategy to bolster the Blues’ defence. Mourinho was convinced that Baba would be the ideal successor to Premier League stalwart and future Champions League winner Cesar Azpilicueta.

The left-back arrived at Stamford Bridge from FC Augsburg with high expectations, as Mourinho sought to fill the void left by Filipe Luis’s departure to Atletico Madrid, reports Football London. The Portuguese gaffer was keen on creating a competitive environment, stating Baba’s arrival was crucial for squad balance and competition, particularly highlighting his ability to challenge Azpilicueta.

Mourinho said at the time: “It is important because he is a left-back. He can compete with (Cesar) Azpilicueta. At the same time Azpilicueta can compete with (Branislav) Ivanovic for the right-back position, so he replaces Filipe Luis in the balance of the squad.”

Baba himself was over the moon about joining the London heavyweights, expressing his delight more than nine years ago: “I am very happy to sign for Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the world. I can’t wait to train with my new team-mates and am very much looking forward to working with them and Mr Mourinho.”

Rahman’s move however did not pan out as expected, with the player only making 23 appearances and providing a mere two assists in his debut season. During this tumultuous period, Chelsea languished in 10th place, and Mourinho was sacked mid-season, leaving Baba to adapt under new manager Guus Hiddink.

Baba’s second season saw him loaned to FC Schalke 04, where he managed one goal and two assists but was largely sidelined due to fitness issues and a meniscus injury.

Tragedy struck when Baba tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during Ghana’s African Nations Cup match against Uganda in 2017, resulting in an agonising 470-day recovery. Despite two severe knee injuries early in his tenure with Chelsea, Baba was eager to return to the pitch.


Baba had a torrid time with knee injuries (Image: Getty)

In a cruel twist of fate, after joining Mallorca on loan for the 2019/20 season, Baba suffered another knee ligament injury just three weeks in. An alternative treatment approach ultimately failed, resulting in surgery on both knees – which nearly ended his career.

Reflecting on the devastating impact of his injuries, Baba confessed to Sheik Toufic in an interview: “It was 2019. I just wanted to stop when I first heard the news about my injury. That was the first time I slept early in my life. Normally, I take time before retiring to bed but when I heard the news, I passed out after just under five minutes.

“I wanted to call it quit but after making some calls and putting some things into consideration I felt like I still I had a chance. I feel it like I could still be on the pitch doing what I love most.”

Baba recovered and went on loans to PAOK Salonika and Reading, before eventually moving from Chelsea to PAOK in 2023 – where he now plays his club football.

The Chelsea to PAOK transfer reportedly cost just over £1m and TransferMarkt has claimed that Baba’s market value has dropped from £12m to just £1.6 million in 2024. He has found a good home at PAOK where he’s made 44 first-team appearances, scoring six goals and assisting four times from left-back.

Things panned out very differently for Azpilicueta, meanwhile, with the Spaniard going on to win two Premier League titles and captaining the club to a Champions League triumph in 2021. It’s unfortunate that Baba wasn’t able to reach the heights he was predicted to reach by Mourinho at Chelsea but the return from injury that he’s had is impressive in its own right.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1920469/Chelsea-transfer-news-Jose-Mourinho-Azpilicueta