-CHELSEA TO RETAIN NIGERIAN-BORN STRIKER
– Youth coach says the striker is regarded
– Reckons Solanke will have to impress Chelsea’s new coach, Conte.
Despite talks of contract extension stalling, Chelsea have expressed their desire to keep highly rated Nigerian born England youth international striker, Dom Solanke, 18, at the club.
Speaking to news men after Chelsea Youth F.A triumph, Joe Edwards, The two-time FA Youth Cup winning coach, insists Chelsea maintain high hopes for striker Dominic Solanke’s future at the club despite discussions over a new contract having hit an impasse, BBC reported.
The 18-years old striker has spent this season on loan at Vitesse Arnhem, scoring seven times in 24 appearances, and has a little over 12 months to run on his deal at Stamford Bridge.
His stepfather who doubles as his agent is handling negotiations over prolonging his stay at the club, and he is reportedly holding out for a massive increase in wage and a further assurance of first team opportunities.
According to the Guardian, the prolific forward, who scored over 40 goals at junior level last term, has made a single senior appearance for Chelsea, in a Champions League fixture against Maribor under José Mourinho, but remains highly regarded within the youth set-up at Stamford Bridge.
Edwards, who steered the U 18’s to a fifth FA Youth Cup in seven years by beating Manchester City on Wednesday, is to start a 12-month secondment with the club’s recruitment department next season.
Dealing primarily with players out on loan, and could yet find himself monitoring another of Solanke’s temporary spells away from Chelsea, the guardian reported.
Edward said, “The relevant people working as part of Dom’s development programme will sit down and discuss what is best for him once he has finished up at Vitesse Arnhem,” said Edwards, who has seen the striker develop at the club from the Under-8 age group.
“But he’s definitely one of the boys we’ve got high hopes for and, hopefully, whether it’s this coming season or further down the line, he’ll be one who makes his mark at Chelsea.
I think there are several who can. And we saw with Marcus Rashford at Manchester United that you won’t see properly what they can do until you put him in.”
“They have achieved a lot,” said Edwards, who will also work with the England youth teams as part of his Uefa Pro Licence next year.
“This is the Under-18 Youth Cup, but a lot of the players have played Under-21 and Under-19 football for a couple of seasons now. I’d say there are a few in this group who are ready to step in and have a go at senior football, and that’s what this period at the end of the season is about now.
“We’ll sit down as a group of staff and it’s case-by-case for each player to see what they are ready for. If it’s a loan it’s what level? What league they are going to go to? So we’ll sit down and that’s part of the new role I’m looking forward to. I’ll be involved with the loan players. So that relationship with some of the youth players, hopefully I’ll be able to maintain it on their journey with them.”
Edwards added, “every player is case-by-case and there will be different reasons for each player as to why they didn’t nail down a senior place,” added Edwards. “There’s pressure at every club in the Premier League. It’s not just us where it is difficult: it’s becoming more and more difficult probably with the resources all the clubs have now.
“And yet at every stadium in the country I go to, when a young player’s name is read out over the Tannoy, it often gets the biggest cheer. We’ve seen that now with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and others. But there will be plenty of dialogue with the new first-team coach Antonio Conte when he comes in, and there have been at least four or five academy players on the first-team training pitches every day.
“There’ll be at least a dozen on the pre-season tour to Austria and the United States, and every opportunity those boys get in front of the first-team manager, they have to make an impact. That’s all we can ask for,” he concluded.