Will Chelsea’s 18-year-old Brazilian Lucas Piazón make it at Stamford Bridge?
This article will look at the options the Blues have in terms of developing him into a future Chelsea starter.
Lucas Piazón would have been a Juventus player if Chelsea hadn't consulted their scouts, whose assessment of the Brazilian youth international prompted the London club to offer Piazón a wage Juve couldn't match.
Bianconeri general manager Beppe Marotta spun the story and stated the club took the moral ground in not signing Piazón (via Football Italia):
It wouldn't have been ethical to give a minor an annual salary worth €1 million. What would the other youngsters with whom he'd be playing think, youngsters who have yet to sign a professional contract? I am honoured not to have signed Piazón in these conditions.
Juve talking about ethics? Spare me the BS, Beppe.
South American football correspondent Tim Vickery isn't convinced of Piazón's ability (via BBC Sport):
Usually operating off the centre forward, he [Piazón] is tall, strong and elegant, two-footed and good in the air. But he also came across as a frustrated figure, fretting when things were not going his way.
Could this be a youngster who had an early advantage because he matured physically so quickly but, as time went on, stood out less as others caught up?
As I have made clear already, conclusions reached at Under-17 level are treacherous. After the South American Championship six years ago, I wrote a column that focused on the two stand-out players, Kerlon of Brazil and Elias Figueroa of Uruguay. Now 23, the world is still waiting for them to make an impact.
For those who watched last year's 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, you'll recall that Piazón wasn't mentioned in the same category as the likes of Julio Gómez, Jonathan Espericueta, Carlos Fierro, etc.
Even a super-sub like Giovani Casillas received more coverage than Piazón, who only scored once and provided two assists. Whereas, Casillas played 291 fewer minutes and netted three times plus registering two assists.
Brazilian manager Emerson Ávila's three best players during the tournament were Adryan, Ademilson and Wallace—yes, the Wallace Chelsea signed earlier this month.
In fairness to Piazón, the FIFA Technical Study Group did give him a mention: "mobile attacking midfielder with good vision and excellent technique." Also, Viktor Fischer didn't dominate the competition, but he is now one of the Eredivisie's most exciting talents.
The word coming out of Cobham about Piazón is that he's too good for the youth and reserve team. Unsurprisingly, he took out the Young Player of the Year award during Chelsea's end-of-season gala.
When Chelsea underestimated a tactically resolute Corinthians side, who ironically adopted a similar counter-attacking approach the Blues used to win the UEFA Champions League, Piazón called out his teammates for losing the FIFA Club World Cup final (from UOL Esporte via ESPN FC):
We lacked character. Nobody wanted to fight. We went into a final without the will to win, and that's unacceptable. A lot of us were missing the desire to be champion. I think Ramires and David Luiz, the Brazilians were the ones who gave the most, and now they are sad.
His latest comments reinforce the "frustrated figure" anecdote Vickery gave about the Brazilian teenager.
Piazón's Chelsea career is stuck in limbo. He can churn out an 8/10 performance without breaking a sweat for the reserves yet he isn't going to get quality minutes as a first team player. Warming the benches and the occasional 10-15 minute cameo will only serve to stunt his development.
So, what do Chelsea do?
When you read Romelu Lukaku's account of the way he was treated by André Villas-Boas (via Jeremy Wilson at The Telegraph), you begin to understand why Chelsea have failed to properly nurture the likes of Mbark Boussoufa, Miroslav Stoch and Gaël Kakuta.
Gaël Kakuta...that's a blast from the past. Remember him? He was so good, the Blues inadvertently re-opened the debate over rich clubs poaching the best available prospects from smaller clubs for basically nothing.
Last season, Chelsea royally screwed over two of their most promising prospects—Lukaku and Josh McEachran.
Lukaku should have been loaned out but wasn't. Not only was his development being impeded but his psyche deteriorated as the season wore on.
The Blues management underestimated the value of Leon Britton and Joe Allen to Brendan Rodgers' Swansea City. As a result, McEachran spent more time watching games than playing.
Lucas Piazón has told Globo Esporte (via Samba Foot): "Nor is it my will [to go on loan]. It is best for me to stay. The club has a project for me. They made it clear that they want me to stay. This was never the plan for Chelsea."
Right, sitting on the bench isn't exactly a good plan. Unless, the Blues start giving Piazón quality minutes week in, week out—loan him out in January.
But, to where? Premier League clubs don't have a policy of playing youth players like Bundesliga and Eredivisie clubs.
In recent seasons, Vitesse owner Merab Jordania has actively promoted Chelsea's prospects, perhaps in goodwill to his friend Roman Abramovich.
|Chelsea Prospects to Vitesse||Started Games (Yes/No)|
|Patrick van Aanholt||Yes|
How about loaning Piazón to Vitesse?
Loaning Lucas Piazón to Vitesse seems like a good idea on paper but Fred Rutten already has Jonathan Reis and Wilfried Bony to score goals. Vitesse took a significant risk in signing Reis, since he suffered from substance abuse, and he's got his career back on track. Bony has been in beast mode this season, scoring 16 goals in 17 league games, whilst adding a physical presence up front.
Piazón could take the role of Gaël Kakuta but Chelsea scout Piet de Visser described the Frenchman's form with the Dutch club as a "a remarkable comeback."
For me, Kakuta has swung from "oh, I now see why Chelsea wanted him so desperately" to having Gervinho-esque moments.
Piazón would face the same situation at Vitesse as he would with Chelsea—on the outer looking in. At least with the Blues, he has the company of David Luiz and Ramires.
Another option for Chelsea management is to loan him to a club like Roda where he can link up with Chelsea youth teammate Amin Affane. There's room for Piazón in the starting XI provided that he passes the ball to Senharib Malki.
Marítimo, a club that have scored the fewest amount of goals in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, need some creativity and Piazón could be the godsend they've been waiting for. He speaks the language and it's a club with 11 Brazilians in the squad, meaning he should fit in smoothly.
What's your opinion of Piazón, and should the club loan him out in January? If yes, what club do you recommend?
Next season, Chelsea will face the same dilemma with Islam Feruz, who has world-class upside.
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