Versatile defender Ola Aina is one of Chelsea's Academy's most promising young talents, having been earmarked for a potential role in the senior team for a while now. Last season, Jose Mourinho promoted him to the senior team, but beyond regularly training with the first-team, the teenager did not see a single minute of competitive action.
Unsurprisingly, after such a disappointing turn of events, Aina had let his contract run down, making him a free agent on July 1st. Unlike fellow prospect John Swift however, Aina relented after a few days and signed a new long-term deal with the Blues. Having joined the team as an U11 player in 2007, he's now set to stay until at least 2020.
"I am delighted to sign a new four-year deal and commit myself to the club for that period of time. I am very happy and I want to keep progressing this season."
In further good news, the 19-year-old has joined Antonio Conte's preseason camp in Austria, and while he did not start against Rapid Vienna in our first match, he was one of the first substitutes off the bench, replacing Baba Rahman at half-time and putting in a better performance than the once highly rated Bundesliga left back.
"I was very pleased with my performance. I just wanted to have an impact and try and do what the manager asked of me. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though the result didn't go the team's way. It was a good experience in a packed stadium."
Aina also enjoyed the experience of working with the new boss. No doubt all the shouting reminded him of the also quite vocal Chelsea U21 head coach Adi Viveash.
"I heard him a lot! It was really good. I would much rather have a manager telling me ‘Ola here, Ola there', than not hearing anything at all and being left in the dark. It was really good for me and playing on the left is normal for me as well."
"At half-time the manager just said to me and the team that we should press higher, and that everything we do should be press, press, press. It did seem to work as I thought we were edging to get a goal in the second half. It was unfortunate it didn't go our way."
-Ola Aina; Source: Chelsea FC
For now, what matters most is the squad regaining match fitness while also giving chances to youngsters such as Aina to impress — even if he, and others like him with little to no professional experience end up heading out on loan anyway by the end of the end of the transfer window.