Just a few weeks after being named Chelsea Academy Player of the Year, Valentino Livramento was packing his bags and heading to the coast, joining Southampton in a £5m deal in the summer that’s already looking like the bargain of the decade.
The 18-year-old had visions of Premier League football dancing in his eyes when he rejected Chelsea’s contract extension, and those dreams have come true rather quickly and emphatically. He’s played all but four minutes of their first seven Premier League matches, garnering plenty of vociferous praise along the way — and plenty of dramatic hot takes along the lines of Chelsea letting another young talent walk away.
Of course, it’s not so simple as that; player development never is, especially at a club like Chelsea, and especially if we continue to measure the Academy’s success purely in terms of graduates playing for Chelsea. Obviously, that should be the primary aim, but even in the most ideal of circumstances, we would never have room for every potentially great player coming up through the system year after year. Making the leap to the first-team needs various different factors to align just right, some of which are in our control, and some of which are not.
Whenever a talented youngster leaves, scaremongering about the usefulness of the Academy itself also tends to follow. Why would young hopefuls keep joining if they likely might never play for Chelsea in the end? As we might surmise, and as Livramento confirms, it’s because the Academy itself is the best in the world. If you make it through, or even if you just spend a few years here, like, say, Jamal Musiala, you have given yourself the best possible education for a professional career in the sport, be that at Chelsea or wherever else.
“I’ll never have a bad word to say about how Chelsea treated me growing up and developing me into the player I am today. It’s probably the best academy in the world that anyone would want to go to and develop.”
Chelsea do reportedly have a buy-back option for Livramento, and because of our excellent treatment of his development, his ambitions, and his wishes, there’s not a single burn mark on our bridges with him. As much as that £5m looks like a bargain now, our £25m future fee could be an even greater one.
“I had to think what was best for me. Being young I’ve always wanted to just play first team football as soon as possible. I feel like if I stayed there things wouldn’t have happened as quickly as now. It was a hard decision for everyone involved. They agreed that it was best for me as well and they’ve always looked after me.
“[...] maybe one day [I could go back], but I’m just enjoying my football at the moment at Southampton, that’s where my head’s at right now. Just trying to pick up as many points as possible and improving individually.”
With Livramento doing things not seen in a decade — namely playing in his team’s first seven Premier League games of a season while still just 18 — it could be easy for him to shrink under the weight of expectations and attention.
Southampton’s ex-Chelsea star Livramento shares record with Giggs and Owen https://t.co/t1YxcSJpKn— SportsLive7 (@sportsliv7) October 6, 2021
But after a (young) lifetime spent at Cobham, he’s made of sterner, more focused stuff than that.
“It’s been a crazy couple of months and I haven’t had time to sit back and take in what has happened. I feel like it is better like that, I can just keep my head down and keep on taking every step and challenge as it comes [...] it is what I’ve dreamt of.”
-Valentino Livramento; source: Mirror
It’s a dream that hopefully just because September has ended, he’s not about to be woken up from anytime soon!