“The Chelsea Way” is simultaneously used as a term of derision and endearment, but Oscar‘s arrival at Stamford Bridge means we probably won’t get to use that beloved phrase any time soon — at least when referring to Chelsea FC.
Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Junior officially joined the Blues on Wednesday, completing a transfer from Internacional believed to be worth £25 million ($38.7 million). He adds loads of class and even more character to Chelsea.
The 20-year-old’s signing also signals the end of an (all-too-brief) era where Chelsea would pack 10 players in defense, frustrate neutrals and opponents and look to score on the counter-attack. It worked against FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League, winning a coveted trophy but few admirers. Oscar should have a key role in a new-look Chelsea attack, which could one day be as versatile and potent as any of Europe’s top teams.
In his short time as a professional soccer player, Oscar has shown himself to be mature, focused, determined and intelligent. In 2008, he graduated from Sao Paulo FC’s prestigious youth academy and won the FIFA U-17 World Cup. He broke into his club’s first team in 2009, but at some point that year, Sao Paulo stopped paying him. The then 16-year-old walked out on the Brazilian giant in December of that year.
Oscar soon joined Internacional as a free agent, but Sao Paulo took the matter to court claiming he was still under contract. The dispute was resolved in June 2010 when the two clubs agreed to a £4.75 million ($7.4 million) transfer, which was a record-high fee for a deal involving two Brazilian clubs. The teenager continued to progress as a player during that six-month layoff, and he was able to earn a spot on Internacional’s roster at the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup. He should be able to settle and adapt to English life and soccer without great difficulty.
Brazil manager Mano Menezes recently praised Oscar for his mental stength, the Guardian reports.
“Oscar has shown his strong character to get over various issues,” Menezes said. “He is very mature and he has shown this with his determination to choose where he wanted to play. It shows how mature he is.”
Few will dispute Oscar’s on-field talents. The slick-passing, two-footed playmaker can play centrally or out wide. He has represented Brazil at every youth level from U-15 through the Olympic team. His hat trick powered Brazil to a 3-2 victory over Portugal in the final of the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup and earned him a place in the senior squad, for which he has made six appearances.
That number should skyrocket in the coming years. Menezes gave him the vaunted No. 10 yellow jersey, and the Brazil manager is sure the Chelsea-bound star can handle the responsibility that comes with it.
“He wears the number 10 for Brazil, and we don’t give that shirt out to just anybody,” Menezes said.
“Chelsea’s fans can expect a very intelligent player,” he continued. “He is somebody that is able to read the game and solve any problems that arise for his team. He does not rush and dribble with the ball at this feet but he finds good things to do with the ball.”
Chelsea and its manger Roberto di Matteo are enjoying a summer of love that has seen them spend £65 million ($100.6 million) on attacking talent. Oscar, the obscenely talented Eden Hazard and the industrious Marko Marin will join Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Daniel Sturridge and others in a fierce competition for playing time. Veteran stalwart Frank Lampard is looking forward to the fight.
“We proved to be a great team and a great unit in the second half of last season,” Lampard said. “This year maybe we are slightly different because we have more new young players coming in.
“There might not be the settled togetherness that we had on the pitch at that side because we had been together a long time. But there is an excitement about our team as well and that’s probably the main difference.”
Oscar is currently on Olympic duty, where he hopes to end Brazil’s long wait for a gold medal. Following a short break, he will join Chelsea and live the “dream” of young Brazilian players by playing for a top club in Europe. Both di Matteo and Menezes are depending on Oscar to live up to his moniker of “the New Kaka.” Neutral fans, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lionel Messi are depending on him to come good, lead Chelsea into a stylish new future and end the nightmare of “the Chelsea way.”
Photo via Twitter/@KABAR_CHELSEA