For the last few years, Chelsea have actively pursued a strategy of harvesting up talented youngsters from around the globe and trying to develop them into first-teamers of the future – or, if they don’t make the grade at Chelsea, into saleable assets that bring in a bit of profit and help ease the Financial Fair Play restrictions on the club.
Now two more talented teenagers look set to be added to the club’s stable – Croatia’s young sensation Mario Pasalic and French wonder kid Adrien Rabiot. One, in fact, has already signed – Pasalic was unveiled by the Blues today after completing a move from Croatian side Hadjuk Split.
Pasalic, who’s just 19, is an under-21 international already, and was included in the country’s provisional squad for the World Cup (although he failed to make the final 22). A central midfielder, he scored 11 goals in 36 appearances for Hadjuk last season. He’s unlikely to find himself in the first-team squad at Stamford Bridge just yet, however, and will probably be sent out on loan to Chelsea’s nursery club Vitesse Arnhem.
He’s already saying the right things, commenting on his move: “This is now a new start in my career. I am a central midfielder, my favourite player is Frank Lampard, and so I am very happy to be a Chelsea player.”
Rabiot is another exciting teenage midfield prospect. He’s on the books of Paris St Germain, and forced his way into the first-team last season despite the presence of PSG’s big-money superstars. But he has turned down PSG’s offer of a lucrative new contract – and now Chelsea has reportedly made a £7 million bid for him. Arsenal are apparently also interested, but Rabiot is keen on a switch to Stamford Bridge.
Meanwhile, there’s news concerning two more of Chelsea’s young stars. Bertrand Traore is returning to Vitesse, where the 18 year-old Burkino Faso international spent six successful months last year. “We are thrilled Bertrand is joining us again,” Vitesse’s technical director Mohammed Allach said. “He knows our work patterns and our playing style and he made a strong impression on us.”
And Kurt Zouma, the Blues’ £12 million signing from St Etienne in January, has finally been unveiled as a Chelsea player after participating in the first-team squad’s early training sessions at Cobham. Unless Chelsea buy a centre-back in the next six weeks (and that looks less likely now that Miranda has told Atletico Madrid he is staying at the club), Zouma may well find himself a fixture in the squad – at least until January.