The Curious Case of Oscar - the Super Talented Brazilian Playmaker Who Left Chelsea Far Too Soon

​There was a sense of intrigue, mystery and excitement back in 2012, when Chelsea decided to splash out £25m (or less, depending on where you look) on Brazilian playmaker Oscar.

After all, this was a 20-year-old kid that very few people had heard of outside of Brazilian circles, and was one of Chelsea's first direct forays into the South American transfer market. But soon it became apparent that the Blues had done their background checks - with highlight reels and clips showcasing Oscar's obvious talent. 

Throw into the mix the fact that – despite his tender years – he'd already departed São Paulo for Internacional in acrimonious circumstances, and you realised that this was probably a boy worth fighting over. Probably a boy with a bit of X-factor about him, and probably a boy who could entertain the masses. 


Indeed, after two months of acclimatising to his new surroundings, Oscar was ready to show what he could do at Stamford Bridge from the start.

Like all special talents, he wasn't ready to just be unleashed in any old run-of-the-mill Premier League game. No, no, Oscar was ready to be unleashed on European football's biggest stage of all...the UEFA Champions League.

His opponents on that brisk September night were Serie A champions Juventus – managed by future Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who would later oversee the Brazilian's departure from west London – and what followed was one of the great individual performances from a debutant in Europe's elite competition.

Oscar netted twice in an entertaining 2-2 draw. His first was a smart enough finish, but his second – an audacious and frankly ridiculous curling effort past the outstretched arm of Gianluigi Buffon – was one of the great European goals.

It was a goal that any player would have been proud of, let alone a young South American kid making his bow on the grandest of stages. Needless to say, Oscar was named man of the match - and at that time, you felt as though it was the beginning of something special for Chelsea.

"I am very happy with two goals on my debut but I would have been much happier if the team had won the game. In Brazil, young boys dream of playing in the Champions League and I'm very proud to have realised my dream." Oscar, September 2012.

But, just four years later, everything had gone wrong for Oscar.

Out of favour, out of form, and soon enough out of harmony with Chelsea's supporters, his time at the club came to abrupt and sudden end when Shanghai SIPG agreed an Asian-record deal worth in the region of £60m.

So how had this happened? Why had this golden boy, who did make 203 appearances for the club before departing, slipped out of the club at just 25 years old?

It was...well, weird.

Yes, he had been inconsistent at Chelsea for a little while, but there was little to suggest that his talent had waned in any way. Conversely, Oscar still had his peak years ahead of him – and had enjoyed a relatively injury free spell in the capital.

But his best two seasons out of his four and a half at the club were his first two. He was never a prolific goalscorer from midfield, more the creator that Chelsea looked towards in order to open the door. He worked tirelessly ahead of a central midfield duo or trio, and soon demonstrated versatility by playing in advanced roles out on the flanks.

David Luiz,Ramires,Oscar

He was also a huge influence during Chelsea's successful Europa League campaign in 2013, scoring a total of six goals in 15 European appearances as the Blues capitalised on their early 

​Champions League exit.

His issue, largely, was that he wasn't the main man. 

Cesc Fàbregas, one of the great playmakers of his generation, had arrived at the club from Barcelona in 2014, and had soon reminded us of what the ​Premier League had been missing out on. The Spaniard was the ultimate passer, capable of distributing the ball short and long with pinpoint accuracy, drifting into pockets of space in order to pick a pass. He also had tremendous vision and spacial awareness, often leaving opposition defenders chasing his shadow.

In the 2014/15 season, Fabregas played 34 times in the league, scoring three times and contributing an astonishing 18 assists. Oscar did score double the number of goals, but registered just eight assists - his primary function in the team.

Cesc Fabregas,Oscar

​Chelsea also had Eden Hazard in their ranks.

The following season, Oscar registered just three goals and three assists in the Premier League, his worst return to date. By the time he actually departed Stamford Bridge at the beginning of January 2017 - under a cloud from Chelsea supporters who held him somewhat accountable for José Mourinho's departure - he had appeared just nine times.

Now, you have to do a fair bit of digging to see what Oscar's up to over in China. 

Granted, his bank balance has never been healthier - he's one of the best paid players in the league and perhaps remains the most talented - but his stature in the game has diminished significantly.

He hasn't played international football in five years, nor has been linked with a return to Europe or anywhere else. 

It's startling to say the least, as he's still only 28, but it may not be too long before Oscar is back on the radar, thanks to the Chinese Super League's brand spanking new salary cap. Chelsea may be a step too far, but it will be interesting to see if the first player to score a hat-trick in a FIFA Under-20 World Cup final feels the urge to push himself again.

For more from Toby Cudworth, follow him on Twitter!

​The Curious Case of Marko Arnautovic - Already Forgotten Footballer & Multi-Millionaire

The Curious Case of Daniel Sturridge - Once England's Great Hope, Now Forgotten in the Wilderness

Source : 90min