Chelsea defender Abdul Baba Rahman has revealed that he pushed for a loan move away from Stamford Bridge because Antonio Conte did not like him.
In 2015, when Baba signed for the London side in a £23 million ($31m) move from Augsburg, he appeared to be leading a major rebuild of the Blues’ defensive line-up.
Five years on, the Ghana defender has struggled for game time at Stamford Bridge.
In an interview with Joy Sports’ Gary Al-Smith, Rahman said then coach Conte was the reason he left for Germany.
“I left Chelsea because I didn’t get on well with Conte. When he arrived I had a first meeting with him before the season ended. He told me how he wanted to play and how I can be in the team if I decide to stay. So I said okay that’s fine. When we went on vacation and came back, he was at the Euros so we started the pre-season and then he came to join us. And during the pre-season I didn’t like the way he was reacting toward me. So I went to speak to the Sporting Director and I told him my worries. I told him this is what is happening in training and I don’t have confidence anymore and if I would stay here I will not be confident enough to show my qualities”, the 26-year-old said.
Baba continued: “The first meeting, he told me to just keep calm and keep working hard so I said that’s fine. This was in London and then we went to Austria and it started getting worse and that’s when I said no, I can’t take it anymore.”
When pressed for specifics of Conte’s treatment, he said
“I don’t know maybe my name was easy on his tongue, like every small thing was like ‘Baba’ ‘Baba’ and most of the players came to ask me what’s going on and I said I don’t know.”
Rahman recalls that his former teammate, John Mikel Obi advised him not worry about how Conte was treating him but he refused to listen – something he looks now ascribes to immaturity.
“Mikel Obi told me to just stay and shouldn’t bother what [Conte] is doing, but as young as I was , I was not taking it lightly so when we went to Austria I spoke to the Sporting Director and told him [that] it is going overboard and I can’t take it. So they told me okay, so what do you want to do? I told them I would prefer to leave and they said no the club don’t want to sell me. So I said okay, if that’s so then I would prefer to go on loan from here.”
Despite the hard time the attacking fullback was going through, he said his former Augsburg coach who starting coaching Schalke was open to have him back in Germany.
“The then coach of Schalke 04 was my former coach in Augsburg so he called me and told me, Baba you know if you are not feeling good at Chelsea, you know I’m here to help you. I’m in Schalke now so if you want to come that’s fine”.
Baba Rahman is currently back at Chelsea for the pre-season this season after his loan spell with PAOK, with whom he won the Greek Cup – his first piece of silverware since moving to Europe.