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Ethan Ampadu & RB Leipzig: Why Chelsea need to rip this one up

COMMENT: This wasn't in the script. Not for Chelsea. Nor for Ethan Ampadu. And now the question is: do they rip the thing up?

Ryan Giggs, the Wales coach, sounded the alarm this week. The nation's best young prospect - with potential not seen in years. Ampadu has found himself stuck this season. In neutral. The now 19 year-old being passed over week-after-week by Julian Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig.

Celebrated as a coup upon his arrival, Ampadu's loan move is still waiting to actually begin. The midfielder is yet to see any first team action under coach Nagelsmann. He's been involved in matchday squads - but that's it. Nagelsmann hasn't seen enough from Ampadu to warrant a debut.

As Giggs says, it's "concerning". The Wales manager echoing the feedback this column received Monday from a long time Cobham source. He didn't parrot it word-for-word, but Giggs came pretty close to detailing the general opinion inside Chelsea about what has befallen Ampadu in Leipzig.

"It is a concern because Ethan is at the age now where he has to play," Giggs said, referring to Ampadu's age. He's not that 16 year-old kid at Exeter City that we were all scrambling to learn of. At 19, the lad needs to be playing.

Giggs continued: "He's had a few problems there injury-wise, nothing serious but little aches and pains. The last few camps he's looked so much better in training.

"He is such a talent it's hard to ignore. But it's very difficult for him to play 90 minutes and back-to-back games, because he's not had the minutes."

From his standpoint, Giggs wants a player with a game sharpened by regular first team football. Wales are stronger with a confident, in-form Ampadu sitting at the base of their midfield.

For Chelsea. Indeed, for Ampadu. The "concern" is more about the long-term. Sitting on the bench - or even in the stands - for matchday does the player no good at all. Especially at 19 years of age. Ampadu could be doing that at Cobham. Indeed, he'd be getting more minutes back at Chelsea with the U23s. There's been no such reserve team chances at RBL thus far. And to be fair, if Ampadu was to turn out for their second team, it's unlikely Chelsea would tolerate housing their prospect any longer with the Germans.

So what's happened? Why isn't this working? Well, the simple answer is: Nagelsmann.

In his first season with RBL, the team is flying. But he doesn't work to type. At 32, Nagelsmann has been billed - especially in England - as a coach eager to gamble on youth. Someone who'll give the club's youngsters a chance. But the reality is something very different - especially as RBL coach. Nagelsmann has gone largely with the players he's inherited.

Like Ampadu, former Everton winger Ademola Lookman has found himself frozen out. As has fellow summer additions Luan Candido and Marcelo Saracchi. It isn't just the form of those in Nagelsmann's XI which have kept them sidelined. Their new coach, sounding more like Maurizio Sarri than Frank Lampard, pulling apart their game - publicly - when pressed about their absence.

On Saracchi, Nagelsmann says "he's clearly made too many mistakes", while for Luan he insists the player's tactical know-how isn't up to scratch, "In the rarest case, do you get an 18-year-old fullback from Brazil who will immediately play every game."

And as for Ampadu and Lookman, Nagelsmann warned: "While the overall system is not super stable, these players will simply have less and less playing time." Are you watching Chelsea?

Well, of course they are. Lampard's backroom team know (as we're sure the player and minders do also) that Ampadu would be getting a game with them. Indeed, it's no great stretch to suggest he'd be a regular under this manager and the approach to team selection he's brought this season. Just consider Billy Gilmour's introduction for one.

And when you consider the rapid progress we've seen from the likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, there must be a sense of missed opportunity inside the Ampadu camp.

This loan isn't about toughening up a young player. To have a pampered young pro see how the other half live. Ampadu went through that at Exeter. He doesn't need to prove he can dig in and tough things out, no matter the playing opportunities.

This move was about football. Accelerating his development. And lifting the self belief that comes with being a regular first teamer. Basically everything Ampadu is still waiting to experience two months into this loan - and with a warning from his coach of little chance of anything changing soon.

For Chelsea. For Ampadu. This was never in the script. As things stand today, for the sake of his development and his career, they need to rip this one up.


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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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