After what was perhaps an underwhelming season for the Brazilian, Chelsea’s Oscar has a point to prove and prove it he will.
The 2014-15 season was the 23-year-old’s second best in terms of goals (six) and his best assist return (eight), but his lowest in key passes and chances created by quite a distance.
Oscar contributed just 28 key passes last season, compared to 46 the previous year and 42 in his debut campaign on English shores. He created just 36 chances as Chelsea surged to their first title in five years, 12 less than the season before (48) after creating 47 shooting opportunities back in 2012-13.
His goals and assist tally were strong though, he scored two less than the previous year, but notched up six more assists as Chelsea became a more creative force.
Despite this, Oscar is still a bit behind the man considered the best outright ‘number 10’ in the league – David Silva.
Silky Spaniard Silva scored 12 goals last season, assisted seven, provided 86 key passes and created 93 chances in a Manchester City side that finished second, eight points behind champions Chelsea.
Juan Mata, the man offloaded to Manchester United by the Blues back in January 2014, scored nine goals over the 2014-15 season, contributed four assists, created 50 chances, and made 46 key passes.
Oscar, on the other hand, is in for a stellar season.
Games have piled up thick-and-fast at club level. He played 64 games in all competitions in his first year at Chelsea following his move from Brazil’s Serie A when just 21 years of age, 47 in his second season and 40 last term.
This year, the ex-Internacional midfielder has had his first summer without an international competition since 2011.
The Olympic Games kept him busy during 2012, as did the Confederations Cup the year after and the World Cup followed in 2014.
New Brazil manager Dunga did not select Oscar for this summer’s Copa America which should have him refreshed and revitalised.
He could well be in for a fight for his place though with all number of possibilities.
Juan Cuadrado needs to make an impact in west London sharpish, and if he can force his way into the right-wing spot he craves, the impeccable Willian could be moved to his favoured ‘number 10’ role and dislodge Oscar in the process.
Alternatively, Cuadrado could get a move back to Serie A with Italian giants Juventus, Inter Milan and Roma all reportedly keen and, instead of the Colombian going into the right-wing spot, it could be one of apparent transfer targets Pedro of Barcelona or Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann.
Interest in Pedro has cooled, however, with Manchester United looking a more likely destination for the Spaniard.
Victor Moses will also prove a stumbling block; with manager Jose Mourinho saying he will give the previously forgotten man a chance in the Chelsea fold next season. Despite being Nigeria born, Moses is classed as “home grown”, as he was at Crystal Palace from the age of 17 which will stand him in good stead.
What does work in Oscar’s favour regardless is his style of play and sheer determination.
It is no secret that Mourinho likes his players to track back, to work hard, and defend when needed, and no-one can fault Chelsea’s number eight with regards to any of that. His impeccable work rate and Mata’s lack thereof, led to the departure of the latter, with the self-titled ‘Special One’ preferring the dogged Brazilian.
That strength of Oscar has also been his downfall. His effort, piled with his busy summers with his country, eventually took its toll and in some games it was evident he was overworked, something that might not be a case next season.
If Oscar can use his summer break to his benefit, we will see the best from the man who set Chelsea back £25 million in 2012. While he has impressed during his three years in England, some fans are running out of patience with a player who was once dubbed a “wonderkid”. Another good, yet not stellar, season might see him replaced.