Quick Reads

Ethan Ampadu: Chelsea’s Welsh Wonder

Ethan Ampadu is a highly regarded prospect at Chelsea alongside talents including Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and Trevoh Chalobah. Sporting eye-catching dreadlocks, he has progressed rapidly through the youth academy into senior football and has been with the first team for over a year. But, it’s no secret over the years Chelsea have had talented youngsters that didn’t live up to their expectations. Players such as McEachran, Kakuta and Mancienne are just a few names that come to mind. With so many promising wonderkids being reported in the media, what makes Ampadu so special?

Let’s backtrack to Ampadu’s beginning in football. A product of the Exeter City youth academy, he made his senior debut at 15-years-old in a cup game. In doing so, he became the club’s youngest ever player, breaking an 87-year-old record set by Cliff Bastin and in the meantime was named man of the match. This sparked Chelsea’s interest who moved quickly to secure his signature. A few months later, Ampadu was fast-tracked into the first team and made his debut against Nottingham Forrest. It didn’t take long for him to showcase his tenacity as he instantly flew into a challenge with Danny Fox. His debut broke a few records at Chelsea: the first player born in the 2000s to play for the club and youngest debutant in over 10 years. Inevitably, Ampadu made his Premier League debut a few months later in a 3-1 win over Huddersfield Town.

Controversially turned down by England at 14 for “not taking enough touches”, he chose to represent Wales. Along with England, he was eligible to play for Ireland and Ghana. He qualified for Wales through his Welsh mother and made his international debut vs France in November 2017, giving a strong account of himself against some world class players.

Here are some quotes in the media praising the young Welshman:

Ryan Giggs – Current Wales Manager
“Ethan is a talented player. Even more so than that, as a person, he’s so balanced and mature for such a young player. He’ll be a magnificent player.”

Chris Coleman – Former Wales Manager 
“Your modern day centre-backs start play and you need to be confident in possession. He’s a good communicator and a good all-round player.”

Phil Babb – Sky Sports Pundit
“Ethan Ampadu has got composure beyond his years. The world is his oyster. I think Maurizio Sarri has to look at him and say ‘wow – what a player I’ve got here.”

At the beginning of the 18/19 season, he penned a new five-year contract with the Blues which will keep him there until 2023. The length of the contract signifies Chelsea’s belief in his potential. However, Chelsea’s squad is extremely competitive, he will find it tough to get many minutes in the Premier League. Luckily, Sarri has indicated he will allow Ampadu to leave on loan to gain more playing time. Ex-Chelsea players, Frank Lampard and John Terry at Derby County and Aston Villa would be more than happy to take the young Welshman on loan. Both clubs would serve as a great platform for his football development, playing under the guidance of two Chelsea legends would be an added bonus.

His composure on the ball, passing ability and tenacious tackling means he would be more suited to play in front of Derby’s back four as the Rams play more expansive football than Aston Villa. In addition, it would provide an opportunity to link up with Mason Mount, another prospect on the books at Chelsea.

Despite his youth, it looks like he could become a quality player within the next 3-4 years. Right now it’s crucial he secures a loan move out of Stamford Bridge to the Championship. Playing regular football at a good standard is the only way for him to progress and gain much-needed experience. Let’s hope he will realise his potential in West London or risk being mentioned in the same breath as Gael Kakuta.