Chelsea eager to harness obvious talents of young Bertrand Traoré

Chelsea face an anxious wait to discover whether they will be able to secure Bertrand Traoré on a full-time professional contract.

The club are hoping to sign the teenager, a revelation on the side's pre-season tour of south-east Asia, on his 18th birthday in September.

Traoré was introduced as a substitute in the matches in Bangkok and Jakarta, and started the victory over Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, scoring accomplished goals in the last two games. The club had taken him on the tour as a triallist, at least the second such spell he has enjoyed with Chelsea in the last two years. The 17-year-old has apparently been in the United Kingdom on a student visa and it is unclear when that visa is due to expire.

Under Fifa regulations Traoré cannot sign a professional deal until 6 September, when he turns 18, though José Mourinho has already indicated that the player, a full Burkina Faso international with eight caps, may still fail to secure a work permit. This means he will most likely have to be loaned to a club on the continent in the hope that clearance can be gained in the future. His regular appearances for his country, with Burkina Faso ranked 42nd in the world, suggest he might eventually meet the work permit criteria.

The concern at the south-west London club is that a foreign rival – potentially one in France where his elder brother Alain, a French passport holder, plays for Lorient – who are not hamstrung by the same stringent work permit restrictions – could offer the teenager a deal in September and fast-track him immediately into their first team. Certainly, a crowd of over 80,000 were dazzled by his display in Jakarta.

Chelsea will hope the faith they have shown in the player, not least by selecting him for the three-match tour, will persuade Traoré to remain with them even if he has to seek a loan move elsewhere for at least a season. Mourinho had been shown DVD footage of the attacking midfielder playing in friendly fixtures at the club's youth academy last season and decided on the basis of those clips alone that the youngster, who made his full international debut in a friendly against Equatorial Guinea three days before his 16th birthday in 2011, should travel with the seniors to Thailand.

His form on the tour justified that faith, with a smartly taken goal against Malaysia being followed by an exquisitely curled reward in Jakarta on Thursday. "He's been working well with the manager for two weeks and scored a fantastic goal," said the centre-half Gary Cahill. "He's composed on the ball and has great confidence for such a young lad.

"I don't know the ins and outs of his situation, but he's certainly done himself no harm in the two weeks we were in the Far East. It's too early to say he's ready to do this and that, and we don't want to get carried away, but he's certainly not looked out of place in training alongside some top international players. He's slotted in nicely. He's a young lad, but I'm sure he's got a bright future at Chelsea."

While Traoré has not been permitted to feature in competitive fixtures during his time at Cobham, the London club's interest in his services is long-standing. There were reports in 2009 that the midfielder, aged 14, had alerted Chelsea scouts to his abilities while playing at the Under-17s World Cup in Nigeria. Manchester United and Marseille were also linked with moves for the Burkinabé.

The Burkina Faso sports minister had announced in August 2010, clearly somewhat prematurely, that the player would be joining Chelsea. Traoré was subsequently quoted in local media enthusing about the welcome afforded him by Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou at the club in September 2011. "They have taken me into their little group and we all speak French together," he said at the time. "They are always there to offer me advice, and they treat me like a younger brother."

Powered by article was written by Dominic Fifield in Jakarta, for on Friday 26th July 2013 23.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Jason Bagley

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