Why Chelsea should try and win the race for Wigan starlet Joe Gelhardt
According to the Daily Express, Chelsea are interested in signing Wigan Athletic wonderkid Joe Gelhardt, with the report suggesting that Blues’ boss Frank Lampard is keen to bring the teenager to Stamford Bridge.
Lampard, though, might need to wait until next summer to sign the highly-rated 17-year-old starlet, with the club currently under a two-window transfer embargo and the verdict of the appeal yet to be heard from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
However, Chelsea are in pole position in the race to sign the Wigan starlet, who has been regarded by many as one of the best emerging prospects in English football outside of the Premier League.
Wigan Athletic have endured yet another disappointing start to the season in the Championship but the abrupt emergence of Joe Gelhardt on to the scene has sent scouts from various Premier League clubs flocking to the DW Stadium.
The 17-year-old is yet to start a game for the Latics but he has already earned rave reviews for his talent and potential. The teenage striker has played three cameos off the bench in the Championship against the likes of Barnsley, Fulham and Hull City, the latter of which resulted in a goal.
Born in Liverpool, Gelhardt rose through the youth ranks of Wigan before making his senior professional bow for the Latics in the previous campaign in an EFL Cup tie. The teenager bagged an eye-watering 12 goals in 15 outings for England U-17s before making his U-18 debut for the Young Lions earlier in September.
To put things into perspective, Joe Gelhardt is still very much in the formative years of his career but he looks like a real talent at this stage and Chelsea are certainly well within their rights to plot a swoop for the youngster as one for the future.
With the fountain of youth finally beginning to flow at Chelsea following the arrival of Frank Lampard, Stamford Bridge has been converted from a graveyard for young talents to an absolute dreamland for emerging prospects.
The former club-legend deserves plenty of credit for masterminding such a rapid transformation with his reliance on academy products like Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori and Chelsea’s interest in Gelhardt looks completely justified if the recent trend set by Lampard is anything to go by.
Agreed, the transfer ban hasn’t allowed Lampard to complete expensive deals for new players upon his appointment as the manager but the embargo has somewhat proven to be a blessing in disguise for the Blues, with the long-neglected academy talents finally getting their chance to impress at the highest level.
Joe Gelhardt,17, still has to go through a lot of stages in his development before he is ready to play regularly for a club of Chelsea’s stature in the Premier League.
However, given that he has already made his mark in senior men’s football and has proven himself to be a prolific scorer for England at the U-17 level, the Blues will be hoping for him to make rapid progress through to the first-team.
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All in all, the Blues completing a move for the 17-year-old would be a step in the right direction and one that further underpins what Frank Lampard is trying to build at Stamford Bridge.