Reading have had a long time to wait for a new left back, but they managed to bring in a high-profile one on Friday afternoon. Chelsea man Baba Rahman has arrived on a season-long loan.
So... was he worth the wait? Is he any good, what will he offer tactically and - most importantly - will be a success in Berkshire? We put those questions to Chelsea writer Ram Srinivas, who's also co-founder of football recruitment consultancy Mrkt Insights.
How would you sum up his time at Chelsea?
I'd sum up his time at Chelsea as.. very strange. It's as if generations went by between the time he signed to present day - that is hyperbole, of course, but it really feels like a different Chelsea in 2021 and I find myself perplexed at the mere thought of Baba Rahman being a Chelsea player.
That's no slight on him though, it's just reflective of the club's policy of loaning to profit at all costs. When he signed I was fairly optimistic and he did show promise early on but his time at the club petered out quickly enough as he never really built upon it and also had no chance at consistency due to Antonio Conte coming in and playing a different style of football to Jose Mourinho.
I do know that Baba Rahman's talent floor isn't low though - he was signed by Chelsea for a reason and would've probably continued to thrive in the Bundesliga if not. In fact, I feel second-hand guilt for the club having taken away any semblance of stability from him with a different loan every season, although these decisions are also never unilateral, so it is what it is. To put a long story short, it didn't pan out for Baba Rahman the way I'd hoped but he's still a player of a very respectable talent level.
What style of defender is he? How about strengths and weaknesses?
It's a little hard to pin down his exact style as he's just gone to so many differently styled teams over the years, but essentially he's a very able attacking full-back that likes to engage 1v1.
He's not really a 'low-percentage' full-back with the ball and can rotate possession around nicely or engage in combinations around the penalty area but prefers to progress the ball through carrying.
I've not been a fan of his delivery in the past, though it seems to have improved a little since. Regardless, I wouldn't put it under one of his foremost strengths.
Defensively he can recover well and I've known him as a capable 1v1 defender but he's not strong in the air. In a nutshell, he's enterprising and will get up and down the flank amply but do not expect consistency in delivery or a very defensively solid full-back - having all of which would probably place him at a higher level, to be fair!
What's his character like?
I think anyone that's required to have a disjoined career on Chelsea's loan carousel requires a steely character and clearly, he's been open to go to a different country most times which could also speak positively of him.
He's also stuck it out through some recurring injury troubles. He definitely knows what it takes to play in high-pressure situations, having appeared in crucial Champions League games for Chelsea and starring multiple times for his national team, Ghana.
That's as much as one can tell about his character from the outside but it reads positively, and the fact that he's chosen to go to a more 'competitive' league in the Championship than back to PAOK is also a positive. No second-tier stigma!
Do you think he'll be a success at Reading?
Yeah, I'm optimistic on him doing well at the 'ding. Secretly always wanted him to have a crack at this level - it's the right one for him, just below top-four level and the Championship is also arguably slightly weaker this year.
I don't think he'll boss the level but he's certainly capable of being one of the better fullbacks in the division if he gets to grips with the intensity of the Championship. Should give you at least a 7-7.5/10 most weeks.