Why Chelsea should snap up Joe Gelhardt as a long-term prospect
The 17-year-old Liverpool-born forward has made only 8 first-team appearances for the Latics so far this term but his prodigious talent and serious potential have already put some of the Premier League giants on red alert.
Chelsea, Man United and Liverpool are all hot on trail of the emerging Championship talent, who is currently rated at £5million by Wigan after the Latics secured his future with a new long-term contract. (Express h/t Daily Star)
The report adds that Wigan are under no financial pressure to sell Joe Gelhardt in January despite their position in the bottom half of the standings, while Chelsea are expected to make an offer for the talented striker when they have their transfer ban lifted.
Gelhardt, who burst on to the scene at the DW Stadium in the previous campaign, made only a couple of appearances for the Latics last term but he has established himself in a more substantial role this season, with the 17-year-old featuring as a substitute on six occasions in the Championship so far.
The talented teenager grabbed his first senior goal in a 2-2 draw against Hull City back in September and has thereafter played cameos in defeats against Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea City and Brentford till date.
Furthermore, the Wigan prodigy has already made his mark for England at the U-18 level this season, having already represented the Young Lions at U-16 and U-17 levels in several competitions.
To put things into perspective, Joe Gelhardt is still very much in his formative years as a professional footballer but his talent and potential have been there for everyone to see, and Chelsea beating off competition from their Premier League rivals to snap up the Championship starlet would be a real statement of intent.
The 17-year-old is hardly a finished article just yet but that he is already rubbing shoulders with the big boys at such a tender age is indicative of a level of maturity that belies his tender years and the Blues could have a gem on their hands in the future if he goes on to fulfil his promise.
With the transfer embargo in place at Stamford Bridge and Frank Lampard showing an inclination to unleash the club’s academy prospects to cope with the crisis, the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori have all made the most of their opportunities to establish themselves as mainstays of the playing eleven.
Others like Marc Guehi and Billy Gilmour have also been handed their professional debuts by Lampard and with the pathway from the academy to the senior ranks pretty much open for the youngsters to make their mark, Chelsea’s interest in Joe Gelhardt is yet another instance of the club’s renewed faith in blooding up and coming prospects.
Plus, the Blues have a healthy working relationship with Wigan, as evident from the rise of Reece James in his loan spell at the DW Stadium last season, while another Chelsea starlet Dujon Sterling is currently enjoying a temporary stint at the club this term.
To that end, Chelsea should look to use their relationship with the Latics to iron out a deal for Joe Gelhardt as and when they have their transfer ban lifted.
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The 17-year-old still has some way to go in his development before he evolves into a game-changer in the Premier League but the Blues would be better off looking at him as one for the future.
All in all, Chelsea completing a swoop for the teenage sensation could pay off handsomely in the years to come.