Chelsea’s 18 y/o academy gem could be an exciting Palmer partner
Chelsea’s affluent academy continuously churns out talented youngsters, but only so many can make the first-team grade, while others are told to find a future elsewhere.
When the Blues released a 14-year-old Declan Rice, they found out the harsh realities of what can happen when you let go of a talented youngster before they reach their potential.
Rice’s departure, of course, serves as a timely reminder of the world-beating quality that can slip through the net when the ceiling of a player isn’t taken into account.
In the case of 18-year-old Leo Castledine, who has shown early signs of developing into a quality attacking midfielder, Chelsea have a player on their hands that they must manage correctly.
Castledine is currently ripping it up in the U21s and the next stage of his development is either; opportunities to impress sporadically in the first-team or gaining a regular taste of senior football out on loan.
Much like what they did with Rice, the Blues must avoid letting go of his precocious talents and instead, watch him develop into the next sensational star unearthed from Cobham.
Leo Castledine’s statistics this season
A modern midfield player, who can slot into a variety of positions when utilising several different systems, Castledine is most effective as an attacking midfielder, but he has also been deployed as a wide playmaker and a centre-back.
Chelsea’s development coach, Mark Robinson, once likened his talents to former academy graduates, Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher, through his ability to ghost into the penalty area from deep and score goals.
He said: “In terms of energy, he is similar to Mount and Gallagher. I think he has more elements of Conor. He can be very dangerous when he arrives in the box. He is definitely going to be a goal-scoring midfielder.”
The 18-year-old has certainly demonstrated the above description this term by plundering four goals and supplying five assists in eight Premier League 2 appearances.
Castledine’s confidence and charisma on the ball – where he looks like he’s going to produce a moment of class – is a unique trait that is normally prevalent in elite-level players.
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Dubbed by one talent scout as a “joy to watch” having witnessed his precocious talent, the teenage sensation is matching the level of quality that first-team star Cole Palmer is serving up this season and the pair could form a frightening partnership in the near future.
Cole Palmer’s statistics this season
Palmer has predominantly operated as a right winger this term, but similarly to Castledine, likes to operate in central areas and unlock defences with his incisive passing.
In the absence of a natural central attacking midfielder following the injury to Christopher Nkunku, Mauricio Pochettino has been forced into utilising Gallagher in that position.
Whilst the Englishman has performed admirably as a number 10, recording four assists and five big chances created in the top flight, Castledine has the potential to exceed Gallagher in the creative department and form an instrumental partnership with Palmer.
The former Manchester City man has been tremendous since arriving in the summer and in seven top-flight starts, he’s produced four goals and two assists, which underscores how vital his contributions have been.
As an attacking midfielder, who enjoys drifting out to the right and left flank, the thought of watching Castledine and Palmer interchange on the pitch is a mouth-watering prospect and one that would give their opponents something to think about.
It’s this sort of movement that Chelsea are crying out for in the final third and although Pochettino is unlikely to throw Castledine in at the deep end, other clubs have benefitted from showing faith in their youth stars.
18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo was given an opportunity to start for Manchester United against Everton on Sunday and put in an outstanding performance beyond his years.
If Castledine is given a similar chance to shine, the talented midfield maestro can provide the Blues with some much-needed creativity alongside the fleet-footed Palmer.News Related