One To Watch – Faustino Anjorin

reuters

Joel Richards 

This season has seen a steady stream of young hopefuls handed their Chelsea bow by Frank Lampard.

On the whole, they have largely impressed with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi all highlighting the depth of talent that has been produced in the Blues’ academy for some time. While there may have been an element of Lampard’s hand being forced due to a transfer ban imposed on the club, that hasn’t stopped him handing further debuts to midfielder Billy Gilmour and now Faustino Anjorin.

The 18-year-old made his Premier League breakthrough as a substitute in last month’s 4-0 win over Everton and immediately caught the eye as he fired one effort over, and was denied another chance thanks to a block from Djibril Sidibe. It was the latest milestone in what has already been a burgeoning career for the Dorset-born midfielder who joined the club aged six.

Lampard was no doubt made aware of Anjorin’s potential thanks to his assistant Jody Morris having coached the England youth international at U18 level. Anjorin was part of Morris’ FA Youth Cup-winning side in 2018, scoring the fourth goal in a 4-0 second leg hiding over London rivals Arsenal in the final at the Emirates Stadium.

Described as a box-to-box midfielder, comparisons have been made to another Chelsea starlet in Ruben Loftus-Cheek largely due to his physical build and technical proficiency in defence and attack. Anjorin’s goal-scoring attributes have been evident in Chelsea’s youth teams this season, having bagged 8 goals in as many games during last autumn in the UEFA Youth League, Premier League 2 and Checkatrade Trophy.

With reports in recent weeks suggesting a new five-year contract may be in the offing, Chelsea has made a concerted effort to tie down their hottest prospects after full-back Ian Maatsen signed a four-year deal at the beginning of March. 

In recent years, many Chelsea academy stars have been forgiven for seeking pastures new due to the lack of a clear pathway to the first team. Despite a largely successful youth team that has won many a Youth Cup or UEFA Youth League title, the ultimate achievement in providing players for the senior side was either hindered by unwilling managers who preferred to spend on proven talent, or the gap between youth and men’s football is too great.

That now appears to have changed under Lampard and has given hope to those on the production line that their chance to feature at Stamford Bridge may come in the near future.