By George Willoughby
It goes without saying that it is a very exciting time for Wales’ national football side.
A plethora of young talent has been selected by manager Ryan Giggs, and the future is looking extremely bright not only for Wales, but for the talented individuals themselves.
One player in particular who has stood out is 18-year old defender Ethan Ampadu. Ampadu is a product of the Exeter City academy, and his consistently impressive performances at such a young age attracted attention across England’s footballing pyramid.
Then, after making his debut at just 15, the Premier League giants came calling. Chelsea acquired the services of the highly-touted youngster and Stamford Bridge is where he still plays his football today.
Some great news for the defender was that he has been included in Wales’ 22-man squad. This came as no surprise to Wales fans given the fact that he featured in both the win over Ireland and the defeat to Denmark. The two games played out very differently, but even so, Ampadu showed an abundance of maturity and class in each match.
What is even more impressive is that Ampadu has been asked to play in a defensive-midfielder role for his country. Known for being a centre-half, the 18-year old has showed great versatility to competently operate in-front of the back four as well as being a part of it.
The main question now regarding Amapdu’s development as a player is game time. Currently at Chelsea, he made his Premier League debut last season coming on as a second-half substitute. Since then, cup football has been the only opportunity to see him in action. Regular stints in the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Checkatrade Trophy has showcased his ability, yet he remains a squad player.
Looking at the Chelsea team, surpassing David Luiz or Antonio Rüdiger for a starting spot is a very difficult task at this point, even more so considering the unbeaten start Maurizio Sarri’s men have made. As well, the midfield seems unchangeable with N’golo Kanté and Jorginho forming a formidable partnership which as a result, eliminates the possibility of Ampadu being selected as a holding midfielder.
The talent is there, and Ryan Giggs has acknowledged this in his decision to pick the youngster. It looks for sure like international football for Wales will be the best place for Ethan Ampadu to shine, as it will be the rare chance that he can test himself against high-quality opposition in a challenging environment.
Standing out in cup competitions will only get Ethan Ampadu so far. He needs to be performing on the biggest stage possible to enhance the probability of him being chosen in Chelsea’s first-team. This way, the pressure will be on Sarri to include the 18-year old in his plans.
It is frustrating to see a player of Ethan Ampadu’s ability being a regular on the Chelsea’s bench. Yes David Luiz, Antonio Rüdiger and N’golo Kante are all world class performers, but there is a player in Ampadu who is eager and ready to fulfil his limitless potential.