With Branislav Ivanovic set to miss the start of the Premier League season with a dislocated shoulder, Chelsea have been searching for ...
With Branislav Ivanovic set to miss the start of the Premier League season with a dislocated shoulder, Chelsea have been searching for an alternative right back.
And rather than rush into the transfer market, Antonio Conte appears to have found a ready-made replacement in academy graduate Ola Aina.
The 19-year-old has featured in all four of Chelsea’s pre-season friendlies, including the matches with Liverpool and Real Madrid on their American tour, and has performed impressively.
But who is the teenage talent and can we expect to see more of him when the season gets under way?
Born in Southwark, south London, Temitayo Olufisayo Olaoluwa Aina joined Chelsea at the age of 11 and has worked his way up through the youth ranks.
When he first entered the academy, Aina played as a right winger but was converted into the dynamic right back we see today. He is, however, more than comfortable of playing across the back line when required.
In 2012, Aina made his breakthrough in the Under-18 squad and, having impressed greatly, went on to feature in the FA Youth Cup final as Chelsea were beaten over two legs by Norwich.
But success in that competition would come 12 months later, as Chelsea defeated their neighbours Fulham 7-6 on aggregate over two thrilling legs.
Well ahead of schedule, Aina also made his mark in the Chelsea U21 side, who won their version of the Premier League by defeating Manchester United in the Old Trafford final.
That same season saw a first taste of continental football in the UEFA Youth League and Chelsea would go on to establish themselves in the competition with back-to-back titles.
So Aina has amassed quite the medal collection already – in 2014-15, he played in the team that beat Manchester City to retain the Youth Cup two weeks after they had defeated Shakhtar Donetsk to win the Youth League.
And last season saw Aina an ever-present in Chelsea’s run to another Youth League final, where they beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in Nyon, Switzerland.
So it’s fair to say that Aina has already acquired a taste for success in his fledgling career.