For the first time in a while, Chelsea fans will be feeling optimistic about their youth set up. You only have to look at the recent Premier League game against Wolves to see why – with the Blues showcasing some of their finest young talent in Nemanja Matic, Gael Kakuta and a promising Italian striker named Fabio Borini.
Borini, an 18 year old forward, signed from Italian side Bologna in the summer of 2007, aged just 16. He made his way into the reserves side last season and quickly became the first choice striker. He ended the season as top scorer with a prolific 10 goals in 11 games, showing that despite his age, the Italian clearly has an eye for goal. It is a goal scoring record like this that has prompted superlatives from Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti as well as other admirers.
At the beginning of the campaign, Ancelotti highlighted Borini as the youth player most likely to break into Chelsea’s first team this season, a hint at how highly he is rated by the powers that be at Stamford Bridge. This is a huge testament to the abilities of the young striker as his name is often overshadowed by that of the controversial Gael Kakuta – another youngster with a promising future.
In previous years Chelsea have been no stranger to criticism surrounding their youth system, having been accused by many of neglecting youth talent and ‘buying’ success. Ancelotti has however, begun to install his faith in some of the youth players brought to the Bridge by Sporting Director Frank Arnesen. Fans have already been treated to several glimpses of the Borini this season, with the striker having made appearances against QPR, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves and in the Carling Cup tie against QPR, Borini demonstrated his ability. He impressed the Stamford Bridge crowd and was unlucky not to find his name on the score sheet, having a one-on-one effort saved by the Rangers keeper.
Borini has been likened to Italian striking legend Filippo Inzaghi. He is an intelligent striker with a good technical ability and, as his reserve record demonstrates, an eye for goal. His comparison to Inzaghi can only be a good thing for his development under Ancelotti, with the current Chelsea manager having managed the legendary striker for several years at AC Milan. Borini is predominantly an out and out striker but is an adaptable player and can be utilised in a number of attacking roles. There is no doubt that he will get more chances this season and I am sure the young Italian will have marked the African Cup of Nations period on his calendar. January may be the time for Borini to impress both Ancelotti and the Stamford Bridge faithful, with first team strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou heading for Africa.
Chelsea have shown they are keen to produce youngsters for their future and Fabio Borini acts as further evidence of their intentions. Chelsea’s youth talent has been relatively sparse in recent years and you only have to look at Carlton Cole to realise that they have let some real talent go in the past. Captain John Terry has also stated his belief that the youngster will begin to live up to the hype this term and Chelsea fans, who have not really seen a huge home-grown success since Terry, will be hoping that Fabio Borini lives up to the potential he undoubtedly possesses.