As expected, Chelsea have signed Portugal midfielder Deco from Barcelona on a two-year deal for a fee believed to be in the region of Ã‚Â£8million. Deco had been told by new Barca boss Pep Guardiola that he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t required and it was a natural move for him to tie up with his former Portugal manager Phil Scolari at Chelsea.
“It is good for me to be here and first of all I am very happy to be here,” Deco told Chelsea’s official website.
Although this is ScolariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first signing he was, of course, believed to be heavily involved in the signing of fellow Portugal international Jose Bosingwa.
Deco suffered a series of injuries during the 2007-08 season, and he made just 14 starts in Barcelona’s La Liga campaign. He featured in Euro 2008 for Portugal and at times, looked somewhere near his best.
“I am sure I have come at the right time to do great things and be able to help Chelsea go back to the way it was and come back to being the first one, not only in England but also to win the Champions League that has been their dream for so long,” said Deco.
Deco’s joins a Chelsea squad already containing Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien, Jon Obi Mikel and Claude Makelele. It would seem likely that Frank Lampard at least, may be on his way out. Rumours of his move to join former boss Jose Mourinho at Inter will now gather pace.
“It is great that we have so many great players here at Chelsea and it is great that there is the competition which is healthy for everybody and this just makes the team better,” Deco told the website.
“To have great players in any position of the club just enhances the club. I know it is a new challenge but I am looking forward to it.”
There are two questions that need to be answered about Deco. He is, without doubt, a hugely talented player and has been one of the finest midfield players in the world of his generation. Whether he still is that good at the age of thirty remains to be seen.
Is he sufficiently fit and free from injury to undertake the rigours of all that a Premier League season entails?
He showed very clearly in Euro 2008 that he is still one of the best passers of a ball there is. However, the Premier League midfield area is usually very congested and players get little or no time on the ball.
Is Deco still quick enough to produce his best in the Premier League?
I am not too convinced that the answer to either of my two questions is yes. I absolutely love him as a player and I believe that if he had arrived in England two years ago, he would have been a superstar. Leaving it until now I fear that his move may have similarities to when Andrei Shevchenko arrived at Stamford Bridge with all the associated fanfares and expectations.
Deco has had a remarkable career. With both Porto and Barcelona he has been hugely successful. He has won the Uefa Cup and Champions League with Porto together with three Portuguese league titles and three cup wins.
With Barcelona he has won the Champions League, two La Liga titles and two Spanish Super Cups.
He has fifty-six international caps and was part of the team that finished runners-up in Euro 2004. Deco is also one of the few players to win the UEFA Champions League with two different clubs and is the first player to win the UEFA Best Midfielder Award with two different clubs, once each.
Although this is a record with few equals, it is very noticeable that there is nothing worthwhile on his record since 2006. That is largely due to injury but may also be because he is just not quite the player he once was.
I hope I am wrong because Deco at his best is an absolute joy to watch and could brighten up and enhance the English Premier League considerably. The first few games will give us an idea of whether he can produce the goods or not.
If Deco can reproduce his best form then Chelsea will be very difficult to stop indeed.
There are two quotes that highlight the importance of Deco as a player and a man. His former boss at Barcelona, Frank Rijkaard, recognised the effect he had on the team:
“Deco is the barometer of our season, when he is in form the quality of the game rises, when he is not so good the team as a whole performs less well.”
His teammate Lionel Messi spoke about his effect on the other players:
“Deco doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does everybody listens.”
He will bring much to the Stamford Bridge dressing room, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just not certain that he will bring much to the pitch.
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