While the senior players still have a week to wait until they get their league campaigns under way the Under-21 season got into full flow at the weekend – with Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea’s youngsters getting the party started.
And they played an absolute cracker of a game.
It was Tottenham who won out in the end in a six goal thriller, 4-2.
Harry Kane, Shaquille Coulthirst and a brace from Portuguese talent Iago Falque proved enough for the Young Spurs to get the victory.
For Chelsea the goals came from Josh McEachran – and new singing Isaiah Brown.
The 16-year-old was playing his first game for The Blues at this level, and demonstrated his talent with a consolation goal late in the game.
On a pitch full of 20-plus players, it was a real deep end baptism for the England under-17 international – and despite missing some early chances he will be pleased with his goalscoring display.
And it is a reminder of his ability, which might now take the lead in conversation, rather than the controversial fashion in which he arrived in London.
Last season, Brown made an appearance against Wigan in May that made him the second-youngest player in Premier League history.
So The Baggies obviously had high hopes for the forward – and when Chelsea cam knocking, they were clear in their response – back off!
But you could also hear, in the words of West Brom’s technical director Richard Garlick, a hint of resignation on their player’s future:
"We are disappointed by Chelsea’s offer. We have invested a lot of time and money in Isaiah’s development as a player. As one of our most exciting academy products in recent years, we had hoped to bring him through into our first team. But Chelsea have forced our hands and we are more than prepared for the matter to be decided by a tribunal if needs be. More importantly, it makes you question why these young players are joining bigger clubs when they are likely to gain more first-team opportunities in the Barclays Premier League at clubs similar to us."
Chelsea, in the end got their man, with a compensation package due to be confirmed via an FA tribunal.
And judging by early evidence, Chelsea’s tenacious pursuit will pay off dividends in the long-term.
image: © Jason Bagley