Some players, on leaving teams in the Premier League, go on to achieve much at their new clubs. Names like Paul Pogba, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric are just a few players who have left the Premier League and have found continued or greater levels of personal and team success.
Other players leave not with a bang, but with a whimper. The kind of players who tend to drift into obscurity are usually under-utilised players who were bought without the necessary scouting, or else failed to live up to reputations.
Chelsea fans will remember one man in particular who falls into the second category. Salomon Kalou played for Chelsea between 2006 and 2012, making 156 league appearances and scoring 36 goals. During his time at the club, Kalou won the Premier League title, four FA Cups, one League Cup and one Champions League trophy.
He was liked, if not exactly loved, whilst in London, and he often found himself behind the likes of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres in the Stamford Bridge pecking order.
When his contract expired in 2012, Kalou opted to leave Chelsea. Initially, he was courted by many big clubs in Europe, with reports linking him with clubs such as Schalke 04 and Liverpool. Despite this, Kalou ended up signing for Ligue 1 side Lille, where he spent the next two years. During his time in France, Kalou scored 30 goals in 62 appearances, including in their short-lived European campaign. The highlight of his time in France was probably his only Champions League goal that he scored for the club, when he netted against Bayern Munich in a 6-1 humbling.
In the summer of 2014, Kalou moved on from Lille, signing for Hertha BSC of the Bundesliga. The side from the German capital struggled in Kalou’s first season, and Kalou could only manage a return of six goals in 27 Bundesliga appearances. Luckily for Kalou, Hertha managed to avoid relegation to the 2.Bundesliga, giving him another chance to prove himself in the division.
Fast forward to the current season and Kalou is leading the line for one of the Bundesliga’s surprise packages. After only just avoiding relegation the previous year, Hertha find themselves flying high in the 2015-16 table, sitting third and in the Champions League automatic qualification spots with only six games remaining. In addition to their strong league form, Hertha BSC has qualified for the semi-finals of the German Cup for the first time in recent memory.
Integral to the turn-around in fortunes of Die Alte Dame has been the goalscoring exploits of Kalou. This season he has netted 13 in 25 Bundesliga matches and has 16 in 29 in all competitions. Whilst 13 league goals may not seem like much, Kalou’s total is over a third of his team’s total, as Hertha have only netted 37 goals during their push for European qualification.
Finally, Kalou seems to be the biggest fish in the pond, and he is very much Hertha’s first choice striker. This seems to suit him, and it is giving him the chance to finally prove himself to be something like the player that Chelsea thought they were signing in 2006.
He also seems happy at the club and in the surroundings at Hertha. He recently gave an interview in which he said that he wanted to make history at Hertha in the same way that he contributed to making history at Chelsea during his time at the club. A German Cup final and automatic qualification for the 2016-17 Champions League would go a long way to making sure he and his teammates are remembered as heroes and not as mererly men.