Demba Ba left behind plenty of friends at Chelsea when he moved to Besiktas this summer but he can’t disguise some irritation that Jose Mourinho never gave him a proper chance at Stamford Bridge.
Ba, the major threat to Arsenal in their Champions League play-off first leg in Istanbul on Tuesday, scored 14 goals in 23 starts for Chelsea.
But he was only ever called upon by Mourinho when Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o were unavailable.
‘Sometimes when you are at a club with a lot of big stars, the name counts for more than the statistics. Unfortunately, it was like that in my case,’ said the 29-year-old Senegal striker. ‘But I am happy I moved from Newcastle to Chelsea and achieved what I did. I have lots of friends there. Eden Hazard is one of my best friends, I am close to Branislav Ivanovic, too. All my wishes are for them to win the league.’
Ironically, Ba came very close to joining Wenger’s team a year ago. Mourinho scuppered the deal at the 11th hour after running scared of the Gunners when they signed Mesut Ozil.
‘I always said the move to Arsenal was close. I thought the deal was done and I would just go and do the medical, but it went another way,’ said Ba. ‘Jose has said why it didn’t happen. He was honest, he just didn’t want to give them a striker who could score goals, especially with the arrival of Ozil. Now I am playing Arsenal in such a big match. It’s crazy but I’ve no regret on everything that happened.’