I am a bit of statistics buff and like to know as much about football/players etc so I thought I would do a bit more research into Demba Ba since he is now officially Chelsea's number 29. If you already know it all or are not too keen on a more detailed analysis and his past, then please feel free to skip this one.
Ba has done the rounds through Central Europe over the past 8 years and plied his trade in France, Belgium, Germany and finally England. The big grinned French born Senegalese striker's youth career had as many moves as his professional having played at 3 different clubs in France before spending a year in Watford. He moved back to France to start his professional career and has not looked back.
Ba scored 22 goals in 26 appearances in Ligue 2 during the 05-06 season on a one-year contract but then moved to Belgium.
During his short time at Mouscron he was very dangerous, scoring 8 goals and 1 assist in 10 games. It was in a lower division but I would consider it a similar position to Sturridge's loan to Bolton. He did spend eight months out injured during this time with fractures to his tibia and fibula.
Hoffenheim shelled out €3 million for him after that impressive first season in Belgium. During the 07/08 season, Ba hit 12 goals and 3 assists in 30 appearances in the Bundesliga 2, playing from right wing, left, up front and even as attacking mid. He did go a 2 month streak without scoring but other than that was consistently scoring throughout the year. 5 goals with the right foot, 2 with the left, 4 headers and 1 long goal. They were well spread out over the course of the game and 5 of those goals were lead changing. He was one of the main reasons why Hoffenheim gained promotion that season as he was developing into a very balanced striker. He played 30 matches in the league, 2 in the Belgian league before his transfer and 3 in the Pokal-Cup.
Ba's second season at Hoffenheim was his first season in one of the 'top4' leagues and he didn't seem to lose a step. 14 goals and 7 assists rounded off a very impressive first season in the Bundesliga and helped them to be crown winter champions on the back of 7 goals in the first half of the season and 4 assists. 7 goals with his right foot, 4 with the left, 1 long shot and 2 other goals with the timing of the goals being spread out but the majority coming in the middle 15 minutes of either half. His impact was well balanced against stronger and weaker teams in the competition. Goals against Bayern, Schalke and a hat-trick against Stuttgart, with assists against Dortmund and Leverkusen started to establish a pattern of performing well against bigger sides. 11 of Ba's goals in the 08/09 season where lead changing. He played 33 matches in the league and 2 in the Pokal for a total of 35 games and just over 3000 minutes for the season.
The 09/10 season was the first that Ba missed a significant portion of games due to his knees. He only ended up playing 17 games with 5 goals and no assists. It would have been a very disappointing year for Ba as it was his first season where he was sidelined for more than a couple games. He spent approximately 5 months off due to his knees, while also being out for a few weeks due to the flu, but was still able to play 1200 minutes in the league. One goal with the right foot, 3 with the left and 1 header.
Ba jumped right back into the saddle for the 10/11 season with 17 goals and 4 assists in 35 appearances for club and country. A January transfer to West Ham was not able to help the Hammers stay in the Premier League but he put himself in the shop window after a great second half of the season. 7 goals with the right foot, 3 with the left, 5 headers, 1 tap in and one other goal over the course of the season. Goals against Werder Bremen, Dortmund and Monchengladbach then goals against Manchester City and Liverpool after his Janaury transfer to West Ham. His goals were again very spread out over the time frame of the games and 13 of his 17 goals were lead changing. Ba was able to bounce back from an injury ravage 09/10 to play 35 games the following season.
Following the relegation of West Ham, Ba was snapped up by Newcastle on a free transfer. He didn't lose a step. 16 goals and 4 assists for Newcastle in his first season playing predominantly as striker, but due to his dip in form and the arrival of the in form Cisse, he was moved back into second striker but did not find net during that period. Ba's goal tally could have been much higher as he didn't score a goal after mid February. 7 goals with the right foot, 2 with the left, 4 headers, 2 penalties and 1 free kick goal with 11 of those 16 goals being lead changing. Goals against Manchester United home and away, against Spurs with hat-tricks against Blackburn at home and Stoke away. Ba only missed 4 premier league games during the whole season and was able to play 41 games in total for club and country.
A second season with Newcastle began much as the first did. 13 goals and 3 assists in 22 games for the club (plus an own goal) meant that Ba's £7.5 million buy-out clause was looking more and more attractive. 6 goals with the right foot, 2 with the left, 3 with the head, 1 penalty and 1 free kick goal. A goal against Spurs, double away to Everton, goals against West Brom and City while he rounded off the year with an assist against United and double against Arsenal in his final game for the Toon. 12 of those 13 goals have been lead changing and Ba has already been able to rack up 20 appearances in the first half of the season.
One of the big hurdles for any transfer has been the apparently poor state of his knees. It has been an issue for a couple of previous transfers with the state of his knees the reason behind a failed transfer to Stoke, before his move to West Ham. In the last 7 seasons however, Ba has only been out for 5 months due to his knees and that was all in the 09/10 season. We will never know the full extent of the state of his knees but I feel like he has been able to manage them well so far. If we couple that with the top quality medical staff that Chelsea have, I think that he should be able to keep his knees under wraps during his stay.
His goal scoring record is very impressive and also, for the most part, very consistent. 228 professional games with 110 goals gives him a goals to games ratio of 0.48:1. Add another 21 career assists to that and you have a goals/assists to game ratio of 0.57:1. If you look exclusively at his performances in the Bundesliga and Premier League, Ba has a goals to games ratio of 0.44:1 and a goals/assists ratio of 0.56:1. For a comparison, the player that he is replacing, Daniel Sturridge, has a career goals to games ratio of 0.27:1 and a goals/assists to games ratio of 0.38:1 ratio. The Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba, has a career goals to games ratio of 0.45:1 and goals/assists ratio of 0.59:1.
I had not had a real look at Ba's goal scoring record, but it is actually really impressive. Put him in front of our attack midfielders and give him a partner like Torres/Jovetic/Lukaku/Cavani...etc... and he will likely score a lot more goals. Overall I think it is a phenomenal transfer for the club as he comes for an absolute bargain. Ease the goal scoring burden on Torres and they will both hopefully score plenty of goals. Ba's versatility up front, having played LW, RW, SS and ST gives Benitez the flexibility to play him in conjunction with Torres and as a replacement for the Spaniard.