Will Ethan Ampadu one day captain Chelsea?
One debate that never gets old among London football fans is – which team in the city is the biggest. Who really is the pride of London?
Ethan Ampadu was given a chance to answer that question regarding his long-term future. There was room for sentiment. His father Kwame, is the head coach of Arsenal’s under-18 team. The Gunners wanted Ampadu to join up with his father’s squad. The youngster, however, made an unexpected decision. Upon leaving Exeter City, he chose to rather continue his development at Chelsea. That was 2017’s summer. Ampadu was aged 16 at the time.
One year on, things have moved quickly for the Exeter-born defender/midfielder. Ampadu’s career can be correctly described as rising meteorically. Two years ago the lad was playing League Two football. He's now featured in the Premier League and has become a regular with the Wales national team. That phenomenon is mounting pressure on Chelsea to treat him better than they do the litany of teenage sensation in their youth team.
Perhaps you’re watching Wales or the Chelsea youth team. You see a young man looking like he lost his way to the barber shop, yet playing like someone born with a pair of football boots. Ask no questions, that’s Ethan Ampadu. He’s only 17 by the way. Although one can argue he has a football brain that belies that age.
Scouts began to take notice of the dread-locked Ampadu in 2016 when he made his senior debut for Exter as a 15-year-old. Not long after, offers began to flood in. Ampadu decided to sink or swim the best. The decision is paying off. Seven Premier League appearances and four international caps have followed.
Chelsea was made to pay Exeter a compensation. Reports peg the fee at £2.5 million and a 20% sell-on share if he leaves the Blues. His fine performances for his country was the trigger.
As is the case with British home-grown players who make an immaculate impression in their teenage years, the hype has started. Ampadu has been likened to the best players ever to play in his position. More so, he’s been touted a future Chelsea captain. However far-fetched they might sound, these acclamations cannot be waved off listlessly. Ampadu has shown everyone he’s on the right track.
Inevitably, teenagers grow and become men. Standing six-foot tall, the man in Ampadu is already brandishing more than just muscles and a broad shoulder. His panache and nimble feet are all too evident. Ampadu has seized the opportunity presented by the ongoing UEFA Nations League to show just how much talent he has locked up in that ever-burgeoning figure of his.
Ryan Giggs’ Wales was a class apart when they hosted Ireland in a Nations League game. Ampadu was on for 67 minutes but caught the eye from the get-go. His contributions were evident even on the scoreboard. His superb assist for Aaron Ramsey which began by daringly dispossessing Jon Walters, followed by a 10-yard sprint headlined his performance. But he was also the game’s top tackler per Whoscored and had a pass accuracy of 88%. He also had a hand in one other goal. Wales lost their following fixture at Denmark. Still, Ampadu held his own in the 72 minutes he featured.
Ampadu has demonstrated he has the discipline, nous and determination to go far in the game. To reach the height of skipper at a club like Chelsea, opportunities must never run dry for the youngster. On his part, consistency is non-negotiable. He won’t surprise many if he can manage that.
Over the year, Ampadu will be kept busy by the Premier League 2; being a key member of Chelsea’s Under-23 squad. Maurizio Sarri knows he can get a big helping hand from the Welshman in the first team whenever he wants it. There’s time though. Ethan Ampadu will get even better as his teenage days begins to recede. The man could be leading Chelsea in the near future. If they manage him well.