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Jan 8, 2013

Ba: Title may be beyond Chelsea

Demba Ba has conceded Chelsea have little hope of picking up the Premier League title this season, and will have to make do with success in cup competitions.

Though Chelsea have a game in hand on leaders Manchester United, Chelsea need a miracle to bridge the 14-point gap between themselves and Sir Alex Ferguson's pacesetters.

After signing a three-and-a-half year deal at Stamford Bridge last week, Ba, who scored twice on his debut at Southampton in the FA Cup, is realistic about Chelsea's ambitions for this season.

"It's going to be complicated for us to catch Manchester United on the line in the Premier League, but we're still in three cups, and we're going to try and win as many trophies as possible," Ba told L'Equipe.

"Even if I'm not entirely familiar with everything, my first game with Chelsea went really well. Of course, it's easier with world-class team-mates. The negotiations [over his move] weren't complicated as the press had said. On the contrary, they were rather simple and quick. Going from Newcastle to Chelsea, I've clearly taken a step up."

Ba's path to the European champions might have been somewhat shorter had Watford not preferred Ashley Young to the Senegalese international when both were on trial at the club almost a decade ago.

Instead, Ba headed back to France before moving to Belgium, where a bad leg break led to complications and surgery which would damage his left knee and cause the collapse of his move to Stoke City from Hoffenheim in January 2011.

However, 66 Premier League appearances for West Ham United and Newcastle United later, Ba feels questions about his supposedly fragile fitness should stop.

"There was no problem in that regard with Chelsea. I don't like to go over that again, but you just have to look at the number of games I've played since I came to England. The answer should satisfy everyone," said the forward, who also overcame rejection from Auxerre and Lyon as well as Barnsley and Gillingham in the early days of his career. "All my different experiences, the trials in different clubs have helped me grow. I don't regret anything that happened."

Ba's former Newcastle team-mate Yohan Cabaye is convinced Chelsea have made an astute acquisition in picking up a man who netted 29 goals in 54 Premier League appearances for the Magpies.

"Demba's had quite a few physical problems, and you can still see the lump on his left leg, which might have put a few clubs off, but he's a player you can count on," the ex-Lille midfielder told L'Equipe. "He's always very calm off the pitch, and never goes out on the town. He respected the Newcastle shirt right to the very end, and I'm very happy for him, even if I'm naturally disappointed for the team to lose such a player."

• Pick your Premier League fantasy squad for the second half of the season now and challenge your friends.

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