You could sense it already when Tariq Lamptey made his impressive Cheslea debut, that not everything was hunky dory. Despite the (from the outside) surprising amount of trust placed in the 19-year-old in throwing him in at the deep end of Premier League football, away to London rivals Arsenal, with the game on the line, Tariq’s first words after the game included a curious phrase for such a young man: “I’ve waited a long time for this”.
As it turns out, he didn’t just mean that in the sense of growing up at the club from the age of 7, in the sense of the inarguable literal passage of time. He meant it more in the professional career-development sense, in believing that he’s ready for more and not quite getting that from the club. And so, despite Chelsea’s emphasis on (homegrown) youth this season, and despite two more substitute appearances since, he’s seeing a better pathway forward at Brighton.
“It was a really tough decision to leave as I’ve been at Chelsea since the age of seven and seen it all the way to the under-23s, and then the first team. It was a proud moment when I made my Premier League debut, but I felt that it was the right time to start a new chapter and come to this brilliant club.
“The manager and the club have shown great faith in bringing me here. I just hope I can repay their trust, and help the club reach their goals and objectives. They are a team on the up with a great fanbase, training ground and stadium and they have everything I need to become a better player.”
-Tariq Lamptey; source: Brighton & Hove Albion
We’re of course more than used to our own youth leaving us, since that’s practically all we’ve known over the past couple decades. But as much as there’s been a paradigm shift in one sense, there remains a limited amount of room in the first-team (even without new signings at the moment). And even if every youth player was a world class player in the making, we would not be able to keep them all.
It’s still annoying and in a way disappointing or frustrating that Lamptey chose to leave — he may be behind Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta at the moment, but you never really know in football — but it’s also quite understandable why he chose to do so. By allowing him to leave now, we hopefully part on good terms. It’s only inevitable that we’ll be linked with buying him back in a couple years.
Until then, good luck, Tariq (except against us)!