Former Zulte Weregem midfielder Junior Malanda was all over the rumour mill yesterday thanks to the 18-year-old popping up in London. According to most of the British papers, he was there to talk to Fulham. Not so, say Belgian paper De Morgan -- the Cottagers are apparently out of the race. Instead the teenager was chatting to Chelsea.
Het betrof geen echte onderhandelingen, wel een eerste verkennend gesprek met de Engelse topclub, sinds de succesvolle deals met Thibaut Courtois, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard en Charly Musonda Jr. tuk op Belgisch talent. Of de babbel tot iets leidde, is niet bekend.
Source: De Morgan (not online) via Press Display.
Google translate gives us this:
It concerned no real negotiations, a first introductory meeting with the English top Club, since the successful deals with Thibaut Courtois, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Charly Musonda Jr. tuk on Belgian talent. Or the chat led to something, is not known.
If a deal is forthcoming, it doesn't sound like it's too far along. Malanda's a free agent after finding his way to break his contract with Zulte, where he was a teammate of Thorgan Hazard last year, and that means he'd come very cheaply, if he does arrive at all (there would still be compensation due to his former club, however, thanks to his age). He's a powerful, athletic defensive midfielder, and although he wouldn't start for Chelsea immediately, he'd instantly step in as one of our top prospects.
How much can we trust this report? I'm not sure, but Malanda fits Michael Emenalo's acqusition patterns almost to a tee. He's young, talented and will have been heavily scouted while Thorgan Hazard played alongside him, and there's no reason Chelsea wouldn't be looking to bring him aboard apart from the slight concerns of greed raised by him breaking his contract with Zulte.
He's also Belgian, and you know how the club feels about that.