independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Ba takes a parting shot at 'wee club' Newcastle

Demba Ba announced his arrival at Chelsea with the confident – if somewhat undiplomatic – declaration that he believes he has moved into a completely new league from the one he inhabited at West Ham and Newcastle.

The Senegalese striker – already hardly the flavour of the month on Tyneside, where he has been widely viewed as a selfish mercenary – did at least tip his hat to Newcastle's distinguished history during his first interview for Chelsea's official website but he still could not help making them sound a bit like Fergie's "wee club in the north-east".

Asked whether he could settle as quickly as he had at his previous clubs in his new £75,000-a-week role, Ba said: "It would be good. This club is at another level. It will be easier with world-class players around, who make the football look so easy."

Emotional

The French-born Ba made it sound as if this was the culmination of a great, emotional stop-start journey, one which began in the Parisian suburbs, took in the bargain basement of French football and at one point looked likely to be completely derailed by the chronic knee injury that prompted Stoke to pull out of signing him.

"I never lost belief in my football though, never. You keep working and things come. Rewards always come," he said.

"Yesterday I was looking back and smiling to myself, saying 'Yes, I've done it'. I feel very proud, not only for me but the people who supported me over the years, like my mum, because when I skipped school she was afraid."

Rafa Benitez expects immediate results from the new acquisition. "He scores, he can hold up the ball, he can pass, has good movement and is good in the air. As a striker, everything you are looking for," was the Spaniard's verdict.

Benitez brushed aside any fears over Ba's fitness and any qualms about his perceived lack of loyalty to Newcastle, while insisting his arrival could only inspire healthy competition with Fernando Torres. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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