Back in the summer of 2015, a pair of young players from Brazil arrived at Chelsea’s training centre at Cobham. and Atlético Paranaense, respectively.
One of them, from Fluminense, got plenty of fanfare as he was immediately integrated into the first-team by José Mourinho (after utilizing the work permit loophole), although often playing out of position, which has ultimately stunted his growth.
The other, from Atlético Paranaense, has trod a more standard path, first taking his talents to Vitesse for two seasons before moving to French club Amiens last year. That season-long loan was cut short in January as Nathan had only played nine minutes of Ligue 1 football. He switched to Portuguese club Belenenses instead for the second half of the season, a move that thankfully proved to be a smart one.
Nathan had not featured an outrageous amount for Belenenses, with only 492 minutes of playing time over 13 appearances, but the two goals he’s scored were massive, helping the team to a draw with Benfica and a win against (eventual) Primeira Liga champions Porto. No wonder all parties involved want Nathan to stay in Belém for another season, as per a report from Portuguese newspaper O Jogo.
There will always be questions about why Chelsea were even paying attention to Nathan in the first place — he had done little to warrant a transfer to England, especially when compared with Kenedy — but he certainly isn’t the first or last young player to join Chelsea as a long-shot (and/or as a favor to an agent). Still, while he may never become a player with enough quality to be part of the senior squad, his successes are still our successes for now, and in the end, he may yet contribute to the club’s bottom of line. Every little bit helps!