We've been looking at Chelsea's top ten prospects as we head into the new year, and Christmas day brings us to someone that is currently contributing to the Chelsea first team. We have seven spots left, and all of the seven remaining prospects were on every writer's ballot as well as making the community list. This youngster finished slightly higher on the WAGNH community list than they did on our final ranking, as the readers voted him into their #6 spot:
Piazon was virtually unheard of when Chelsea signed him away from Sao Paulo, but the decent fee that they paid for the 17-year old with no senior caps should have spoken volumes about his potential. He made his way to London in the fall of 2011, and has been one of the most exciting players to watch for Chelsea fans in 2012.
It was a bit unclear what role Piazon would play when he arrived at the club, as he was yet to make a senior appearance for any club and had slotted into a variety of roles at the youth and international levels. He had played on both wings, in the midfield, and as a striker in his time in Brazil, and he looked pretty good in all of those roles.
Lucas played regularly for both the youth and reserve sides last spring, making 23 total appearances and scoring seven goals. He assisted on quite a few more, and was easily Chelsea's best player as they won another FA Youth Cup. Piazon played primarily on the left wing during his first few months with the club, and he easily exceeded the lofty expectations set for him by most.
The most notable thing about Piazon early on was how composed he was on the ball. His reading of the game and movement were far superior to most of the youth in England, he looked like a seasoned professional playing against a bunch of kids. Because of that, many expected him to be sent out on loan, as there was little reason to doubt he'd get regular minutes that way.
Surprisingly, he was left in London to play with the U19 and U21 sides. With the tremendous depth Chelsea had built ahead of him on the wings and in the attacking midfield, it seemed unlikely that Piazon would see much time with the first team. Roberto Di Matteo did play him at center forward during the preseason tour of America though, so there was always the possibility he'd see minutes in that role if Fernando Torres or Daniel Sturridge suffered injury.
Piazon made his senior debut this season for Chelsea's senior team in the Capital One Cup this fall, he's now logged 145 minutes in the League Cup as well as making a 15-minute Premier League cameo on Sunday against Aston Villa. He's registered several assists, earned a penalty, and has come close to registering his first Chelsea goal. He has looked fantastic in his time on the pitch, and it's hard not to think he's going to continue to get chances because of that.
What the spring brings for Piazon will be interesting, as he's shown he's capable of holding his own in the Premier League. If he remains at Chelsea, I'd assume he'd get a few more cameos in addition to U21 and U19 minutes, but I really don't think that it's in the club's best interest to do so.
A loan spell may be the best option here, as Chelsea still have loads of talent in front of him and will likely add another striker very soon. While the U21 league is a great idea in principle, the talent we face is not likely to be at a very high level now that we've missed out on the elite group. Regular minutes at the senior level would seem to be the best thing for his development, and he'd be far more likely to get that on loan than here at Stamford Bridge.
Piazon will be one to watch this spring just due to the immense promise that he's already showing. His game could use some general polish, but there is little reason to think that he's not going to eventually become a Chelsea regular. To date, he looks like a real gem.