Could Oscar’s Chelsea move restrict his potential?

Brazil and Chelsea midfielder OscarOne of the benefits for a young player in South America is that they are given much greater responsibility at a younger age, than in England. The progression of youth into the first team at many of the Premier League’s top clubs is disappointing. Yet across the Atlantic Ocean they are quickly seen as stars of the side, as was the case with Oscar at Internacional. The amount of playing time was key to his development but he may not be guaranteed to feature as much at Chelsea. Could his move to London be detrimental to his career?

While at Internacional, Oscar played regular first team football in an ever-improving Brazilian national league. Despite only being 20-years-old, he had become an integral part of the Porto Alegre side who are considered among the best in the country. He has also competed at high level and in a high pressure environment in the Copa Libertadores, which will have aided his development no end.

But now Oscar is joining a team which includes the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Marko Marin. All are established European players and play in a similar position to him, therefore making chances of a starting berth limited. The youngster will need to hit the ground running if he is to feature from the off. However, one advantage he does have is that he will have the support of the Chelsea fans who have been keen to watch him in action for Brazil during the Olympic Games.

Furthermore, Oscar has turned up with the right attitude. His recent comments to the press indicate that he is determined and motivated to ensure that his development is not hindered by the move to Chelsea. He said:

“I am ready to do whatever the manager wants me to do. For Internacional I played in several different positions, so I have no problem adapting. I’m joining Chelsea hopefully to win more titles. The project is very exciting, especially with the young players that they are signing. The offer was very good for me and I didn’t have to think twice about signing.”

Despite being of slight build, Oscar is surprisingly tenacious. Willing to chase the ball down and put in a tackle, it would make him more suited than his competitors to a deeper role. But of course, this is not where he will want to play, or be best utilised. Until recently Menezes had dropped Ramires from the Brazil squad as he had been playing wide on the right for Chelsea. Menezes may have recalled him for the forthcoming friendly against Sweden, but after wresting the No.10 shirt and position from Ganso, operating in a different area at the pitch at club level could cost Oscar the role in the national team that he has worked so hard for.

The way in which Europe can serve to limit the potential of a player can be portrayed with a comparison to another youngster who competed in the Under-20 World Cup final last summer: Portugal and Benfica’s Nelson Oliveira. The Portuguese striker scored four goals during the tournament and impressed greatly, yet the following season he appeared just 12 times for Benfica, only two of which were starts. Though Oliveira may have made the national team for Euro 2012, this was largely due to a shortage of centre-forwards in Portugal. A similar case could also be shown for Romelu Lukaku, who despite being the highest scoring player in the Belgium top tier at 16years of age, his progression has been stunted due to marginalisation at Chelsea.

With just two years to go until the World Cup, a move to Chelsea is a very brave choice for Oscar. If he succeeds, and he has the capacity to, the thought of how much he will improve from playing regular Premier League football as well as European competition is exciting. But it is up to the Blues to make this happen by ensuring he is playing enough in the first team.

If Chelsea make the most of the immense talent they have on their hands and trust in him despite his youthfulness, they could well have a potential world beater in the coming years. But if they fail to offer him enough time in the senior squad then he may not reach those heights whilst at Stamford Bridge.

Are you worried that Oscar could be hindered by his transfer to Chelsea? Or do you believe that it will be the perfect platform for him to develop as a footballer? Let me know on Twitter @thwebber