There are many examples of footballers not unlocking their full potential and in recent times another big name that is threatening to join those ranks has been Chelsea’s Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Jr. Having burst onto the European scene in a Champions League group stage draw against Juventus, Oscar has always been labelled a promising player who has produced the goods sometimes, but in a very inconsistent manner.
Going back to that match against Juventus, where he bedazzled all viewers with a sumptuous goal, turning sharply past a helpless Pirlo and then curling the ball in the far corner beyond the reach of Gianluigi Buffon, he made a mark not just via his goal but by his overall performance. Playing as a number ten, he did his defensive duties so well that the on-song Andrea Pirlo was stifled throughout the game, not making a contribution one would come to expect of him.
Naturally, the Frank Lampard comparisons followed suit and Oscar himself once said that he sees himself playing in the center of the park in a few seasons. Then in came Jose Mourinho and Oscar ended up having a unique position on the pitch. You might have heard of the attacking number fours or the false nines, but Oscar was a defensive number ten. The one and only. His duties were not just restricted to setting up attacks in the final third but also to press high and tackle and break down moves before they begin in the base of the opponent’s midfield.
In terms of the uniqueness of the positions, a comparison could be drawn out with the Everton version of Marouanne Fellaini. David Moyes used Fellaini, a defensive midfielder by trade, as a second striker, whose duty was to win aerial balls as well as win the opponent’s ball higher up the pitch.
Both Fellaini and Oscar are dream players for a tactician, albeit only theoretically. What could you not use them for? Both were two players, packed into one. If the need is to attack, send them on. If the team needs to defend, send them on. Well, if only things worked in real life as they did in terms theories and if only both didn’t suffer from consistency issues, especially Oscar.
The more depressing part about Oscar not fulfilling his talent is that now the players sacrificed for him come into even more prominence. Juan Mata was Chelsea’s reigning Player of the Year when Jose Mourinho decided that Oscar will be his first choice number ten. Kevin de Bruyne was languishing among the subs, waiting for a chance to prove himself when Oscar was pulling the strings as Chelsea’s playmaker. And now while Oscar struggles at Chelsea, the duo sold to accommodate him have been making things tick for the Manchester clubs.
Oscar’s goals plus assists output has never been spectacular, in fact there is nothing about him that is spectacular, which is not a criticism but just a statement underlining his overall well-roundedness and versatility, but the fact that the goals plus assists number has been further going down is not encouraging. What is going wrong with Oscar? Is he just not a player cut out for the top level?
At first, the excuse was that he was playing way too many games every season. But this year, when he had a free summer having been ruled out of the Copa America, he has gone on to perform at an all-time low, probably his worst season for Chelsea till date. He has been accused of disappearing midway through the season and it held valid last season when after sizzling in the first half of the season, he waded off the picture. However, this season he is yet to turn up to the occasion.
A goal in Chelsea’s first league game of the season amid an impressive display led the Blues’ faithful to believe that this might finally be the season Oscar delivers his promised goods, but injuries derailed that momentum and his performances have been indifferent ever since. There are some voices that say that he makes the Chelsea midfield tick, but even that side of the camp has gone silent this season as Oscar has been struggling to do what he has always promised to do. This has evidently been his worst season so far and, heck, he even appears to have gotten worse than he was last season!
Oscar is a player of a kind that doesn’t come along all that often. He is unique, he is special. But he is also inconsistent. And not just Chelsea fans, but football fans throughout still hope that he can get to the top level he often threatens to reach and stay there and perform week in week out, because the greats don’t fade off of the game!
Stats Courtesy – Squawka