An inspired signing or a cheap stop-gap measure that will ultimately prove unhelpful?
Wrapped up in the final day of the transfer window was Chelsea’s stealthy swoop for the Portuguese trickster Ricardo Quaresma on loan until the end of the season. Quaresma’s availability became public knowledge after he was left out of the Nerazzurriâ€™s Champions League squad, and following an initial approach from Tottenham, the Blues managed to worm their way into the mix in order to bring the player to Stamford Bridge.
Quaresma, a poor man’s Cristiano Ronaldo, is without doubt a gamble for Chelsea. While the player may have cost them nothing apart from his Â£48,000-a-week wages, Felipe Scolari will be pinning his hopes that he is able to handle the hit-and-miss winger in order to spark his side’s title challenge back into life.
But the omens are far from pointing to a positive outcome. Despite impressive spells at Sporting Lisbon and Porto earlier in his career, Quaresma’s CV also records a miserable stay at Barcelona (22 games, one goal) where the Portuguse star quickly found himself surplus to requirements.
And since joining the Nerazzurri from Porto this summer, he once again found himself on the periphery at San Siro, chalking up just 13 appearances and one goal in six months. His time in Italy has added further fuel to the fire that Quaresma, a player for whom YouTube seems to have been designed, is destined to fall short of being a top-class footballer. With his Â£18.6 million transfer fee sitting as a noose around his neck, Quaresma can be viewed as the Robbie Keane of Italy.
Still, his talent, and more importantly his potential, cannot be questioned.
For their part, Chelsea are crying out for width. The days of seeing Cole and Bosingwa bombing down the wings linger as a distance memory, while the loss of Joe Cole, Florent Malouda’s insistence on never shining, and Salomon Kalou’s “square peg in a round hole” solution on the right hand side, mean that the Blues needed to recruit a wide man.
Coupled with that is the knowledge that, much like Pharaoh’s premonitions, years of plenty at the Bridge look set to be followed by several years of leaner tidings. Felipe Scolari has been forced to move prudently in the transfer market, no longer able to buy success as was the case for his predecessors.
Quaresma, 25-years-old, has it all to prove. It speaks volumes that despite being hand-picked by the Special One when he arrived in Milan, Quaresma failed to live up to his billing, with Mourinho opting to field Amantino Mancini and the ancient Luis Figo on the flanks in recent weeks. Yet people should pause before they cast aside Quaresma before he has even kicked a ball.
As pointed out by Serafino Ingardia, “the former Porto star was just adapting to Italian football and only needed more confidence. How long did it take Michel Platini or Zinedine Zidane to settle in Serie A? Nothing less than six months, which is why the departure of the Portuguese remains a mystery.”
Chelsea need Quaresma to be a success if they have any chance of winning silverware this season. And in the event that this happens, Scolari will be hailed as a genius.
Video evidence of Ricardo Quaresma’s performance for Inter against Torino last weekend can be seen here.