Ethan Ampadu is well ahead of the curve. He’s still just a teenager — won’t be turning 19 for two more months! — and yet he’s already made his Chelsea debut (one of the youngest to ever play for the club) and his Premier League debut and has collected 8 senior international caps for Wales (second youngest ever after Gareth Bale to play for Wales).
But last season his progress flattened out a bit, thanks in part to nagging injuries (“growing pains”) but also thanks to Maurizio Sarri not having a good idea in how to utilize him. Chelsea were understandably keen to avoid a repeat of that situation, with Frank Lampard confirming last weekend that Ampadu would be heading out for a loan somewhere where he could play a lot — but still be challenged.
On paper, there might not be a better option for that than Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, who have made a name for themselves in recent years in developing young players into budding superstars, for both their own and others’ benefit. Hiring one of the best young coaches in the business in Julian Nagelsmann this summer has only added to the appeal of the place, which is reflected in Ampadu’s own excitement at the loan.
“I’m delighted to be at RB Leipzig and can’t wait to start the season with my new team. I want to get to know the lads and integrate into the team as quickly as possible. I have followed the club in recent years and have seen how well young players have developed here and how much potential this club has, so it’s the perfect step for me.”
-Ethan Ampadu; source: RB Leipzig
Leipzig have just begun their preseason preparations as well, so there’s little time to waste, especially as one of the major unknowns about Ampadu is just what might be his best position, having featured effectively both as a center back and as a central midfielder for so far in his young career. As much as that sort of versatility can be a positive, it can also make it seem like he’s not as good as other, more specialized players, at either.
With regular playing time, perhaps a more clear idea can be formed of just how best to utilize Ampadu’s ample talents.
“We’re delighted to have been able to secure a one-year loan deal for Ethan Ampadu. He’s only 18, but he already has a wealth of international experience and can play in both defence and holding midfield. Despite a number of offers in England, Ethan decided to join us. He is another top talent for the club and his versatility gives us more variety in the squad.”
-Markus Kröche; source: RB Leipzig
Leipzig are stacked with (young) talent and Ampadu will certainly have his work cut out for him to earn playing time at either position. But everyone seems confident enough that this will work just fine, so let’s hope that it indeed does!