Patrick Bamford – Will He Ever Make It At Chelsea?
The ink was barely dry on the Chelsea youngster’s new deal at the club before he was jettisoned off on loan to a lowly Premier League club.
Four years later, Patrick van Aanholt has long since given up his dream of making it at Stamford Bridge, having moved to Sunderland last summer following a series of loan deals.
The Dutch defender’s story is a common one amongst hotly-tipped Chelsea wonderkids, and one that could prove a salutary lesson to Patrick Bamford.
A True Blue…Or Not?
Bamford penned a new, three-year deal with the Blues yesterday before being immediately dispatched to ambitious Crystal Palace for the season – Jose Mourinho deeming the Championship’s Player of the Year surplus to requirements, preferring instead to place his trust in a clearly declining Falcao.
Around the same time Bamford was arriving at Selhurst Park, 14 miles away another former Chelsea prodigy had finally given up the pretence of making it with the league champions.
Josh McEachran, once courted by Real Madrid, became the latest academy player to fail to break into the Chelsea first-team as he joined Brentford on a permanent deal.
Bucking The Trend
So, can Bamford buck the trend followed by the likes of van Aanholt, McEachran and countless others? The 21-year-old differs from them in that he signed from Nottingham Forest as a 17-year-old but, even then, youngsters signed by the club have tended to fair no better.
Kevin De Bruyne joined Chelsea the same day as Bamford but was sold just two years, and three appearances, later for a profit of over £10 million.
Even Mourinho must regret that deal, with the Wolfsburg midfielder now valued at upwards of £50 million.
Becoming Championship Player of the Year is no guarantee of success. Bamford’s predecessor Danny Ings has just joined Liverpool but previous winners such as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake have failed to kick on with their careers.
His 17 league goals at Middlesbrough last season helped propel them to the play-off final but was still less than eight other Championship players managed. However, it is testament to his ability that, despite scoring ten goals less than Daryl Murphy, football league managers deemed him the best player in the division.
Moving On Up
Bamford clearly has the attributes and ambition to become a top Premier League striker. A player so intelligent even his interceptions are well-read, he turned down a place at Harvard University to pursue his career in football. He’s got clever movement and is a fine finisher, assets that should blossom at an attacking Crystal Palace that lacked a focal point up-front last season.
A prosperous season in the top flight might just force Mourinho’s hand at offering the England Under-21 player a berth in his first-team squad in 2016/17. By that stage Falcao’s loan deal will have expired, and should he endure another season like his last one it’s unlikely he’ll remain.
It is clear that Bamford will need to become an outlier amongst talented Chelsea young stars to eventually earn a first-team place at the club, rather than become the latest in a long assembly line of players to be signed or developed, loaned out and sold for a profit.
He has the talents to achieve this but his career is in the hands of the Special One.