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Michael Emenalo & Chelsea exit: Why West Ham, Newcastle must be on phone today

COMMENT: Don't let him go. Lock him in a room. Take away his passport. Whatever you do, don't let Michael Emenalo quit English football.

Emenalo is now in play. The kid from Aba. Of Eintracht Trier and Notts County. The man who beat Michel Platini's Financial Fair Play laws. Who smashed a system set up to protect football's old money. He's now on the open market. Clubs are already circling. He just can't be lost to English football.

AS Monaco are already in contact. A good job. A plum role for the Nigerian. All those contacts in Eastern Europe and South America. The global scouting team he assembled for Chelsea. Of course Dmitry Rybolovlev, ASM's chairman, and his outspoken assistant, Vadim Vasilyev, fancy tapping into that.

The Ligue 1 champs have already benefited from Emenalo's work up close. Mario Pasalic, a personal signing of the Nigerian, having spent last season on-loan with ASM. Not quite good enough for Chelsea, Pasalic found his level in Ligue 1.

And that's just it. Emenalo, over his ten years working out of Cobham, has signed team after team of potential world-beaters who would thrive at anyother level than the very elite where Chelsea now sits.

And when he did find those potentially world class diamonds, more often than not in partnership with Piet de Visser, the Dutch scouting master, he was at the mercy of the manager. A manager who had no time to work and develop such talent. Emenalo oversaw the arrivals of Mohamed Salah, Kevin de Bruyne, Thorgan Hazard and Romelu Lukaku. But he could only get them to the club. The rest was up to the coach...

At Chelsea, the Nigerian's speciality was Eastern Europe. Reluctant to speak publicly to the English press, Emenalo was always happy to have a word with local reporters during his regular visits to the likes of Serbia, Croatia or the Czech Republic. All those hours put in and miles travelled are appreciated across the region. There isn't a more high profile East European scout in the game than Emenalo.

In terms of personal success, Nemanja Matic is perhaps the standout. Emenalo taking the Serb from FC Kosice over eight years ago for £1.5m. That he had to go to Benfica to convince Chelsea's coaching staff of his quality was just another example of what Emenalo was constantly up against.

All that potential: Pasalic, Stipe Perica, Tomas Kalas, Slobodan Rajkovic, Gokhan Tore... the list goes on and on. Not quite good enough for Chelsea, but what could such talent in the future do for an aspiring Premier League club?

The two Davids at West Ham, Sullivan and Gold, should be getting on the phone to Emenalo today. Now that David Moyes is installed. Keeping Emenalo in London should be the priority. For the Hammers, it would be a transformative move. What could Emenalo's ability and contacts do for a club of West Ham's status?

It'd mean Sullivan having to check his ego. But surely he knows West Ham will never be a serious player while he acts as a football jack-of-all-trades. The Irons are the ideal platform for Emenalo's talents. His name has to be raised inside the boardroom today.

As it should at Newcastle United. Like Sullivan, talk of Emenalo's arrival may unsettle Rafa Benitez, but again the size of the Toon and their status in the Premier League is screaming out for the Nigerian's influence.

And this is all without counting the restructuring of Chelsea's youth system Emenalo oversaw during his ten years. Again, just as with his global scouting network, the talent was coming through. Wave upon wave of it. But only for other clubs to benefit. World Cup winners Rhian Brewster and Dominic Solanke, now of Liverpool, the two latest examples.

But take Chelsea's success at youth level and transport it across town to West Ham. Or up north to Tyneside. And those roadblocks simply do not exist. It'd actually be exciting to see Emenalo's methods fulfilled at a club - an English club - that doesn't suffer from the same demands as Chelsea.

For now, the good money is on Monaco, though we're hearing Peter Lim at Valencia has made been making enquiries this season. But wherever he ends up, it'd be a loss to English football if he's allowed to leave the Premier League.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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