Eden Hazard may have caught all the attention (just the way he likes it) but of all the millions that Chelsea have splashed out this summer, it may just be that Oscar, the precociously gifted 20-year-old Brazilian, eventually turns out to be the Blues’ star buy.
Roman Abramovich clearly means business, spending money at a rate that he hasn’t since those early years of his ownership at Stamford Bridge, and in Hazard and Oscar he has hoovered up two of the most talked about talents in world football.
But in former Internacional star Oscar, Chelsea have a player who could be the fulcrum of their team for the next decade. A fee of £25 million is hefty for a player barely out of his teens, but Oscar has always been tipped for big things (a dispute over his contract in 2010 ended up in court as Sao Paulo and Internacional argued over who owned the player) and his talent is obvious.
Oscar has more than a passing resemblance to a certain midfield playmaking maestro by the name of Kaka – and he is in a similar mould on the field as well. Playing in the hole behind the front players, he is mobile, skilful, has an eye for a killer pass and is now plugging a gap in the Brazilian national side that hasn’t really been filled since Kaka’s career stuttered and never recovered.
His performances at the Olympics have been encouraging and his understanding with Neymar will no doubt encourage Roberto di Matteo, who is hoping his new-look attack is going to gel so the Blues can make their first serious challenge for the Premier League title since Carlo Ancelotti’s side won the ‘double’ in 2010.
But for all his evident potential, quite how Oscar will perform in his first year as a Chelsea player has to be questioned. By all accounts, he is a level-headed and focused character, but he hasn’t played outside of Brazil in his young career and could take a little while to adapt before hitting his stride.
It is why I wouldn’t advise taking the 6/5 that he scores more than 6.5 Premier League goals next season. A combination of bedding in and Di Matteo’s caution (Oscar is unlikely to play every game in a long, arduous season) means the 3/5 that he scores under 6.5 would be a more sensible bet.
Recommended bet: Oscar to score under 6.5 league goals in 2012/13 @ 3/5
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