At the end of last season, Jose Mourinho famously predicted that in the coming season, Oscar will have "the same evolution" as Eden Hazard. While Mourinho was categorically wrong, it turns out he was also sort of right. Even when he's losing, he's still winning! Sort of.
Both Oscar and Eden Hazard had a very backwards evolution this season, both hampered by injuries and confidence issues and whatever else that's gone wrong. While Hazard has been showing signs lately, finally that there's still good in him, Oscar's playing time has steadily decreased, and we're now at a point where he's only started four of our last fifteen games. For a
man boy once anointed as the No.10 around whom Mourinho will build the next great Chelsea, that's a rather shocking development. Those plans changed eventually to be centered around Hazard of course, but it's still brought up as a measuring stick by which Oscar's inconsistencies are judged.
The 24-year-old is aware of some of this, certainly, and has once again vowed to do better.
"It's been very difficult for me. had a great season last season, and I'm coming from two or three seasons of doing well, but I was one of those players who got injured at the start of the season. When I came back, the team wasn't doing so well and I found myself on the bench and in and out of the first team. I didn't achieve the level I wanted to achieve but hopefully next season I can do better."
Oscar once vowed to be the next Lampard (he's already got the proper number on his back), but he'll need to make several steps up in order to do so. That said, with Antonio Conte coming in, a manager who's known as a bit of midfield king-maker, there is a decent potential here for Oscar to thrive under the Italian's tactics and methods. His skill set seems tailor-made for Conte's style.
"[The new manager's arrival] is great for the players. Obviously you have to prove yourself. I'm sure the coach has been following all the players individually. It will be a breath of fresh air to the team and everyone's excited to prove their worth to be here. Obviously I haven't been very happy because I haven't been playing very much but, with the new coach coming in, it's a fresh beginning for everyone."
-Oscar; source: Sky
Given that we rejected a rather princely sum from China for Oscar's services in the winter, it would appear that we're still very much counting on him to live up to his one-time promise as a standout in the 2011 FIFA U20 World Cup. Maybe Conte will prove to be the missing ingredient.