From wonderkid to Chinese cast-off – Oscar failed to become the superstar Chelsea expected
The Blues midfielder arrived in a blaze of glory after his £25 million move, but never quite made it and is now closing in on the exit door at Stamford Bridge.
Oscar may have played his last game for Chelsea after they received a staggering bid of more than £50 million from Chinese Super League club, Shanghai SIPG. If the 25-year-old choses to finalise the move he will leave Chelsea fans with the frustration of wondering what could have been.
After buying him for £25 million from Brazilian club Internacional, Chelsea are hugely tempted to cash in on a star who was once so highly rated that they sold Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata so he could flourish.
Mourinho reluctant to rotate
Since those sales, Oscar has struggled to provide the regular world-class performances that are required at a club like Chelsea, while Eden Hazard went from strength to strength as a Blues player.
Oscar will have to make sure that the deal works for him and may yet decide to pull the plug on the move, but with the money on the table it looks like all parties will accept. The Brazil international will go to China as a player who most European clubs would love to have, but who are not willing to match the astronomic spending of clubs like Shanghai SIPG.
Even £60 million would not make Chelsea budge for the likes of Hazard or Diego Costa. Oscar, however had all the talent to enter their level of importance to the club, but was never quite consistent enough resulting in him making sacrifices to help others shine.
During his time at Stamford Bridge Jose Mourinho demanded Oscar press, fight and bulk up as he looked to add value to his number 10, while Antonio Conte tried him out as a box-to-box midfielder in the centre of midfield for the opening few games of the season.
But that work-rate only meant he had fewer opportunities to show his creativity as Chelsea tried to fit Oscar in with Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Willian.
Those changes moved him away from what was his footballing identity, a creative genuis who can light up any game on his day. Those talents were evident even on his debut, and Chelsea fans have been expecting a world class player to emerge ever since they saw the diminutive attacker score a stunning brace past the Italian champions, Juventus.
Oscar scored those two goals in front of not only the Chelsea fans, but Conte who was managing Juventus at the time and dug out an impressive draw away to the Blues, who were then European champions. All eyes were on Oscar, and great things were expected – which might be part of the reason that fans grew disappointed at what came next.
He continued to shine in fits and starts, while he also went on to win his club’s goal of the year twice, but the type of consistency needed to win a player of the year award was far away. Those awards never came to Oscar, but they did to Hazard.
If he leaves, he will live forever on Chelsea goal highlight reels with strikes against Crystal Palace, Shakhtar Donetsk and a brace versus Arsenal remaining as positive memories for his fans.
However, he may remain burdened for not performing as he did on his debut on a more consistent basis. His occasional match-winning performances bought him time, but Chelsea are considering cashing out and his time could be up.
Oscar’s sale has been greeted by some with unfair ridicule but to real fans and those around the club, he will remain a respected figure when he chooses to leave.
His legacy includes Premier League titles and European success, but also suffers unfairly from the association with the sale of De Bruyne to Wolfsburg and Mata to Manchester United.
Conte took a proper look at Oscar at the start of the season and used him as a box-to-box midfielder for the opening four games. He performed well, but found himself out of the team after he was dominated by an energetic Liverpool midfield back in September.
Since that day, he has found it tough to convince Conte and his manager’s move to a 3-4-3 formation has done him no favours. Fabregas, N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic compete for two spots. Hazard and Pedro have nailed down starting spots behind Costa, which is a role that he could play, while Willian deputises.
Oscar’s talent will be missed in Europe and welcomed in China, where he could reunite with Andres Villas-Boas, but the move would leave him with unfinished business in English and European football with his peak still lying in front of him.