As you will all have heard, today's Sunday Mirror touted 16 year old Isaiah Brown as a potential summer signing for José Mourinho's Chelsea. Fortunately, I know more about Brown than most. I'll begin by letting you know that Brown is a boyhood Chelsea fan.
Brown, or better known as 'Izzy', is originally from the suburbs of Peterborough. Izzy spent his childhood playing for Histon but was always under the very careful watch of West Bromwich Albion. He trained and played with Histon but was allowed to go on tours and attend pre-season camps with WBA, there was clearly an agreement already in place regarding Brown's future from a very early age.
When Brown was 14, he was considered old enough to leave his family home in Peterborough and move in with a family chosen for him by West Brom and sign a contract with the midland's team. He joined the Sandwell Academy, a brand new state of the art school that was recently built 50 metres away from the Albion's home ground in West Bromwich.
Sandwell Academy educate the majority of WBA's best prospects above the age of 14. It allows West Brom to keep an eye on their players, control their school work and more importantly, it allows them to get more playing time in. Next to Sandwell Academy, WBA also have a full size indoor pitch, mainly used by the younger academy teams but a site the first team also use when the pitches at the training ground are unusable in bad weather. Next to the indoor pitch and the Academy, there is a brand new 4g floodlit artificial football pitch which will be used by teams across the academy. So within 100 metres of each other, you have the Hawthorns, Sandwell Academy, the indoor full size pitch and a brand new 4g pitch, quite a campus they're building in West Bromwich.
It's clear to see that WBA are pumping money into their academy and it's starting to pay off. Chris Wood was recently sold for £1.5M, Jerome Sinclair was sold to Liverpool for around £500,000 as a 14 year old last season, he recently became the youngest player ever to play for Liverpool. George Thorne and Craig Dawson are young players who are on the verge of cementing their places in the first team squad and there are dozens of other talented youngsters throughout the academy who will go on to either appear for WBA or sold on for a reasonable fee.
Will Izzy go on to become a regular Albion player or will he be sold on at a young age? In my opinion, it could go either way at the moment. Brown recently spent a week at Arsenal on trial, something he couldn't have done without Albion's permission, a sign that WBA are willing to listen to offers? West Brom might do well to cash in on him now and let another club try and turn his raw potential into the class required to be a professional footballer, every young player is a risk, regardless of how much potential they have.
Brown appeared for WBA U21s a number of times in the season just gone but didn't quite make the impact many were expecting so it was quite a surprise when I heard he was travelling with the first team to Chelsea. Regardless, I was delighted for him. I first saw Brown play at the Nike Cup over 12 months ago. He dazzled me with his pace, close ball control and clinical finishing. In my opinion, he was the second biggest star of the tournament, the star was undoubtedly a certain Jeremie Boga. Boga is just one of the reasons why I don't think Izzy should join Chelsea. I think Izzy is brilliant and I would love to see him succeed but he's no Jeremie Boga.
I hope Izzy stays at West Brom, I don't want to see him join Chelsea and just become one of a number of talented youngsters fighting for the chance to appear in the Carling Cup. West Brom will give him a chance, like they gave Chris Wood a chance, like they're currently giving George Thorne, Craig Dawson and Donovan Daniels a chance. I just hope the kid who once nodded at me at a Beyonce gig makes it to the top and I believe he's got a better chance of doing that if he stays at West Brom.