Most of you have probably never heard of Daniel Pappoe, and as youth team product that just turned 17 that's easily understood. Pappoe was born in Accra, Ghana on December 30, 1993. He joined the Chelsea academy at the age of 12 as a holding style midfielder. He went through a little growth spurt at the age of 14, and Chelsea decided it was for the best to push him back to the center of the defense. Now that he stands about 6'5" tall, that decision is proving to be a prudent one indeed.
Pappoe isn't known for being a technically gifted player, he sometimes struggles to pick out the proper pass or becomes indecisive with the ball at his feet. He's also suffered mental lapses from time to time, but I think that's to be expected in any young center back. He makes up for these deficiencies by being absolutely dominant in the air and physically stronger than 90% of regular premier league center backs. Pappoe has already drawn praise form John Terry for being as much a threat from set pieces as anyone on the Chelsea first team, which is really saying something for a player that just turned 17. In the 2008 Marveld Toernooi tournament in Holland, Pappoe was the leading goalscorer of the tournament (5 goals in 4 games) despite being a center back.
Here's a nice set piece goal from Pappoe at the Dallas (at about 2 minutes), although Pappoe really ahould have defended better to prevent the second Dallas goal. This was this past spring, and Pappoe was only about 6'2" at the time:
This one against Cardiff gives you another look at Pappoe, and you can really get a feel for how much physically larger he is than everyone else at that level.
Just watching the few clips here, it's pretty clear that Pappoe is very raw. He's got adequate mobility for his size, but he'll never be known for his pace. He'd likely need to be paired with a faster center back in the future for best results. He's clearly a hard worker, as evidenced by the fact that he regularly wears the captains armband despite being considerably younger than many of his teammates. He's also perhaps the most physically imposing player currently wearing a Chelsea jersey at any level. Pappoe is a major project, but he'll be one to keep our eyes on going forward. It will be fun to see how much larger the young man gets, as it's not uncommon for kids of that age to continue growing for another year or two. If you're lucky enough to view tomorrows youth cup contest, Pappoe will clearly be the number one option on corner kicks. The quick passing approach of Arsenal may cause him some fits in the back though, so hopefully it's a good learning experience for him.