Chelsea let Didier Drogba leave the club at the end of his contract last season after the cult hero elevated his status at the club to that of a legend in Munich. The Ivorian’s goal and penalty strike in the fixture propelled him into the immortal status at Stamford Bridge and despite the knowing from fans that his career could not last forever there was still a sense of disappointment when Chelsea let him go; just like there will be when Frank Lampard suffers the same fate in June.
Since that departure Chelsea have been linked with numerous players called the ‘next Drogba’. Vitesse Arnhem goal-getter Wilfried Bony has been the main attraction in this circus. The Vitesse Arnhem striker has been a goal phenom in the Eredivisie this season and West Ham, Fulham and Borussia Monchengladbach are all expected to join the race for his signature this summer.
But for me Chelsea do not need to stretch their search world, continental or even nationwide for the ‘next Drogba’ … he could be just down the M4 motorway.
The player I am referring to is 18-year-old Reading striker Uche Ikpeazu; who has been causing a storm in the under-18 league this season.
We told you about his talents before back at the start of the season. The youngster admits he models his game on that of Didier Drogba and just like ‘Drogs’ he has terrorised Arsenal this season. His hat-trick against them earlier in the campaign, one of three trebles with the others against Blackburn Rovers and former club QPR, proved this.
And for his age he is an incredible physical specimen. Standing at 6ft 3ins tall and 92.4kg in weight he is a giant of a striker.
Compare his achievements at this age to Drogba's and you can see why hope is high. At the same age Drogs was struggling to make an impression at lowly French outfit Levallois.
This weekend Reading under-18’s won again and Uche was surprisingly not on the score-sheet against Crystal Palace.
But he has scored 23 league goals this season as well as his fair share in the FA Youth Cup; his most recent goal coming with a powerful header against Fulham.
The Londoner is surely destined for big things and while Reading fans will hope to see Uche with them for a long time they must all fear the lure of a bigger club.
Although with their imminent relegation and Nigel Adkins in charge, a manager who enjoys giving the youngsters a chance, Ikpeazu may be ready for first-team football next season; which would certainly make staying with The Biscuitmen a much easier choice.
While Chelsea would certainly love to have this teen in their ranks there is little doubt staying with Reading is his best option. And all Royals fans will be hoping that phone doesn’t ring anytime soon.
Watch him score a screamer for The Young Royals after 1.49 on the video below…
image: © Crystian Cruz