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Marcin Bulka & Daishawn Redan: Why quit Chelsea just as it's changing?

COMMENT: Marcin Bulka. Daishawn Redan. Did they get the memo? Did the message arrive...? This season is about the kids. Chelsea's kids. The new manager is ripping it all up. Like never before, Chelsea's academy talent will get their chance. Why leave just when it's all changing...?

This is a blow for Chelsea. A real blow. But this is the gamble clubs take by moving for youth players abroad. Yet as much as it's been swept away. Thrown aside. All thanks to the goodwill generated from Frank Lampard's return. Losing Bulka and Redan is a massive, massive hit. Not just for the club's future on the pitch, but those staff whom put in all that leg-work to bring the two to the club.

There's genuine frustration. Even some anger. All surrounding Bulka's decision to walk out on the club a fortnight ago. It was no slip that among the departing five Chelsea publicly thanked as their contracts ended on July 1, the Polish goalkeeper wasn't among them.

The development team thought they had it managed. They knew there was some annoyance at Bulka's end, particularly after he was blocked from leaving on-loan in January. But they had it all mapped out. And had expected him to recognise the planning. A first-choice with the U23s, Bulka would step up to the senior keeper's pool this season. Rob Green's retirement creating the room. And in direct competition with Willy Caballero, there would be opportunities for Bulka, at 19, to press for first team selection.

Instead he quit. And in a huff. Moving sideways (or is that backwards?) to PSG. Where they already have three senior keepers on the books - and are in the market for a new No1. No matter what has been dripped into Bulka's ears this year, that won't be him.

And we say dripped because by his own admission the young Pole has been getting plenty of advice from outsiders this past year. He complained about broken promises. About 'small percentage' matters being ignored. And clearly it's been encouraged by those outside the club.

“I talked to many people from the world of football, it was not a secret," stated Bulka when explaining his decision to quit. "I informed the club that I would not sign a new contact.

“I left Chelsea not only because of Kepa, but there were also several other aspects that we talked about after the preparations for the season last year and which were not met.

“What I have been told has only come true in a few percent. We did not quite get along. That's how it looked, but I did not get a chance."

So now he's with PSG. A prospect who was seen at Chelsea as a 10-year player. The Blues nicking him away at 16 from under the noses of Barcelona. Bulka signing within weeks of trials at La Masia where Barca GM Pep Segura had been won over. That he was tempted away from Barca's academy partners in Poland, FCB Escola Varsovia, made it all the more a coup for Chelsea's recruitment staff.

"After the first training session, Segura agreed with me. He said that Bulka had great potential, trialled him for three days and then invited him to Barcelona. It was March 2016," revealed FCB Escola Varsovia's president Wieslaw Wilczynski, who a month later would be overseeing Bulka's move to London.

Perhaps this original choice should've been a hint to Chelsea of what was to come. Just as we've recently seen, the logical move for Bulka was to go from the FCB Escola academy to La Masia with the aim of eventually reaching the first team. But Bulka had other plans, just as Chelsea have now experienced.

And in a similar vein, Redan has decided to jump ship and move to Germany with Hertha Berlin. Again, like Bulka, we're talking about an outstanding young talent. In Holland they say the best of a generation. If Bulka was to be a 10-year Blues player, Redan wouldn't be far behind.

But like Bulka, the Dutch striker grew impatient. Which, again, has left Chelsea staff perplexed.

Though still only 18, Redan would be pushing for first team action this season. There were no guarantees from the Chelsea staff, but there was an expectation. This coming season he would be tasting senior football.

Instead, he's made the move to Hertha Berlin. And will begin - not in the U23s - but the U19s. However, just as their counterparts in London, Hertha management do expect Redan to quickly be pushing for a place in Ante Covic's plans.

Need to know what we're talking about here? Just consider what Chelsea's long time transfers adviser Piet de Visser said of Redan this past season.

"He is a cool striker who scores very easily. That is something special, something elusive. It is difficult to train and so it makes him special," said Roman Abramovich's key football confidant, who regards Redan alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi as the best for their age in Europe.

"If he wanted to, he would be a reinforcement for every Eredivisie team next year," and that would be including Champions League semifinalists Ajax.

At his Hertha presentation this week, Redan left us in no doubt why he walked.

"I wanted to go for the first team," he explains. "I felt ready. I have been with the U23s for the last two seasons. I wanted to take the next step."

Why he couldn't have waited for Lampard, only Redan knows. But like Bulka, perhaps the manner of his original move would offer a hint of things to come. A 16 year-old Redan walking out of Ajax and into Chelsea's arms over pressure to sign pro terms.

"It all got a bit too much for me. Trainers, associates; everyone came to me to ask when I would sign with Ajax," he recalled at the beginning of last season. "I felt pressure from the club. Then I thought: I just do not show up anymore."

And like Bulka, there is a career plan in the mind of Redan. One which didn't involve Chelsea in the long-term.

"I am in top shape," he said in Berlin. "And training in England is also tough. That was one of the reasons why I went from Ajax to Chelsea in 2017. To become physically stronger. To grow into a beast. I now take that to Hertha. I cannot wait..."

Which for Chelsea. For Lampard. And those academy staff. It's a problem associated with all their foreign youth teamers. Even if the memo arrives - and Lampard sticks to his promises - can they still persuade the next Redan or Bulka to "wait" and not walk away?

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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