THE YOUNG GENERATION: NEW PROFESSIONALS
There has been good news for a trio of Chelsea youngsters this month as George Cole, Ola Aina and Charly Musonda have put pen to paper on their first professional contracts at the club. All have featured predominantly in Adi Viveash's Under-18 side this term and their manager was understandably pleased to see them make the next step in their development at Chelsea.
'Anyone who gets a pro deal I say "well done" and shake them by the hand,' Viveash said when speaking to the official Chelsea website.
'Ola is a young player who burst onto the scene in the Youth Cup and had an exceptional semi-final and final as a schoolboy and he's got a lot of promise, an England international, playing up above his age.'
'There's a lot of development to come for him. He's had a very difficult introduction this pre-season because the Under-21s is quite a big step but we think there's a lot to come from Ola.'
Aina (pictured above), who featured for the England Under-18s recently in a friendly double-header against Hungary at the FA's new training centre in Burton, has made seven appearances for the youth team this term so far and one substitute appearance for Dermot Drummy's Under-21 side.
Another regular this campaign for Viveash has been Musonda (pictured below) and, despite missing the last four outings through injury, the young Belgian has caught the eye when given the opportunity. With quick, neat footwork in midfield and creative use of the ball in the final third in the five Under-18 games he has played so far this season, he has a goal and a brace of assists to his name.
'Charly unfortunately is out injured at the minute but his form at the start of the season for the Under-18s was pretty sparkling,' Viveash said. 'He's a very exciting footballer and a very different individual. He's a deep thinker for a young kid and really thinks a lot about his game, has really good adult conversations and, for me, he could be something, though it's still all about potential at this age.'
Cole (pictured below) has also featured in the majority of games for the youth team so far this campaign, contributing with two goals in as many matches at the start of the season back in August. His set-piece deliveries have proved a useful weapon in the young Blues' armoury and his threat down either flank has caused a host of young defenders some real problems. Viveash spoke glowingly about how the England Under-18 international's attitude has paid off, despite a succession of injuries and fitness struggles over the past couple of years.
'It's difficult when a lot of the other second years are in the Under-21s group,' said the manager. 'George, along with Jon Muleba and Chike Kandi, are still in the Under-18s training group on a day-to-day basis and that is quite difficult mentally to handle sometimes but George has done well.'
However, the youth team boss was quick to issue a warning to the new professionals about avoiding the temptation to rest on their laurels now they had signed new contracts. 'At a club like Chelsea it's all about the next contract, you've got to get the next one,' he added. 'If you end up signing three or four-year deals that's fine but then suddenly you're at 20, 21 years old and can you get the next one that takes you to 24, 25 because that's the aim and the real challenge at a club like this?'
By Sam Poplett