A quickly developing story has now met its still surprising conclusion: Tariq Lamptey has opted to leave his boyhood club and sign with Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion today.
The 19-year-old signs a 3-year contract, while Brighton pay somewhere in the region of £4-6m for the privilege of completing this deal now instead of at the end of the season when Lamptey’s Chelsea contract was set to expire.
We had been working on an extension, too — and some *coughAthleticcough* even reported *coughNoRumors-JustFactscough* that to have been successful — but Lamptey, who has made three substitute appearances this season all in the last month, apparently believes he has a better chance of first-team minutes away from Chelsea. With club captain César Azpilicueta and star of the future Reece James ahead of him at right back, it’s not an unreasonable belief and decision, even if it is a bit disappointing given that Lamptey had been at the club since age 6. (And let’s not forget that Dujon Sterling, 20, is still on the books as well, plus all the other up-and-comers in the younger age groups at the Academy.)
Chelsea may be offering a real and attainable pathway from the Academy to the first-team these days, but that doesn’t guarantee that every promising youth player will stay and play. If nothing else, it’s a numbers game: we produce more talent than could ever fit into one team. By definition, some will have to look elsewhere for opportunities — we can only hope that we (get to) keep the cream of the crop.
In any case, good luck, Tariq! Perhaps our paths will cross again in the future.