Chelsea Transfer News: Blues Shouldn't Bother with Barca-Starlet Seung Woo Lee

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2014

Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho watches his team play during their English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Saturday, March  22, 2014. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Chelsea are currently battling Liverpool for the signature of 16-year-old Seung Woo Lee, one of FC Barcelona's top young talents, according to a report from The Daily Star's Gary Jones.

The young South Korean attacker is part of Barca's famed La Masia academy and is set to sign his first contract, but Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers believe they can persuade the talented youngster to join their respective teams.

It's easy to see why teams are so interested in Woo Lee. In a scouting report from 2013, The World Scout noted the young starlet recorded 38 goals and 13 assists in just 29 games for the U15s, and he was even christened "The Korean Messi."

With precise dribbling skills, a good eye for goal and vision well beyond his age, Woo Lee has the look of a future superstar. And backed by an enormous emerging football market in Asia, teams would love nothing more than to sign the player who could potentially trump the likes of Keisuke Honda and basketball's Yao Ming in popularity.

If the youngster has any common sense though, Chelsea would be the last team he'd consider joining. Similarly, Mourinho shouldn't even bother trying to bring the Korean attacker to London.

Barcastuff reports Woo Lee intends to do the smart thing and sign with Barcelona:

The Blues have an awful track record when it comes to talent development, and Mourinho has always preferred working with veteran players over emerging talents.

Just this season, Chelsea shipped out Romelu Lukaku on loan to Everton and decided to roll with Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o. The Belgian striker has outscored the other three for much of the season and still leads the entire group of players in scoring.

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Much was written about the resigning of Nemanja Matic, but his performances for the club so far indicates Mourinho made the right decision in bringing the Serb back to the club. If the Blues had any interest in talent development though, he would have never left in the first place.

Kevin De Bruyne was hailed as a future star when he was brought in from Racing Genk in 2012, and his performances with the Belgian national team show the talented midfielder can hold his own amongst the likes of Eden Hazard, Christian Benteke and Axel Witsel.

But De Bruyne never got a real chance to prove himself with Chelsea and after an initial loan spell and six frustrating months with the team, the player was sold to Wolfsburg.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

Even when the club tries to do things right, it doesn't work out. Thibaut Courtois has been with Atletico Madrid for so long he no longer wants to return to London, according to The Mirror's Darren Lewis.

I don't even need to mention Daniel Sturridge.

Nathaniel Chalobah, Thorgan Hazard, Lucas Piazon, Christian Atsu, Tomas Kalas, Ryan Bertrand and Josh McEachran. The list of talented youngsters that seem to be going nowhere with the club goes on and on.

That's not to say these players will not go on to have great careers. But due to owner Roman Abramovich's affinity for foreign star players, those great careers will probably not play out with Chelsea.

Alastair Grant/Associated Press

De Bruyne was ready to contribute, only for Willian to arrive. Lukaku reportedly handed in his request for a loan move when he found out Eto'o would be coming to Stamford Bridge, per The Guardian's Dominic Fifield.

Lukaku, De Bruyne, Sturridge and Courtois have one more thing in common: They weren't happy about their situations and became a distraction. A move away from the club (whether by loan or by transfer) was the only way to deal with a bunch of disgruntled youngsters who felt like they were being mistreated.

At the age of 16, Woo Lee is years removed from making any sort of contribution for a world-class team. The youngster has talent, but he still has much growing to do and needs to be brought along slowly. There's no better place for that than La Masia.

The famed La Masia
The famed La MasiaManu Fernandez/Associated Press

As much as any team would like to have the "Next Big Thing" waiting in the wings, Chelsea have shown a blatant inability to bring such young talent along. Mourinho's coaching philosophy simply doesn't match with extensive talent development, and Chelsea are built on veteran superstars joining the club every year.

Woo Lee would be best off staying right where he is, and Chelsea have proven they can win doing exactly what they are doing. Both parties would be better off steering well clear of each other.