The Cobham Academy, one of the most famous football academies in Europe, if not the world, has churned out some unbelievable talent in the last 20-25 years and a lot of this is down to Roman Abramovich who dreamt of creating a starting XI with only players from the Cobham academy one day.
This nearly came true last year as Chelsea fielded 8 academy players in a Carabao Cup match. Players like Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, Tino Anjorin, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Charly Musonda, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and several others have gone on to make appearances for the senior side in the last 6 years, with most of them coming last season under the then Chelsea manager Frank Lampard.
A player, however, who was not afforded that opportunity and has now blossomed in the Belgium First Division is 22-year-old Ike Ugbo and is now set to leave his boyhood club, this time permanently.
What has Ike Ugbo’s journey been like as a Chelsea loanee as he nears a permanent exit?
Ike Ugbo, 22, joined the Cobham Academy as a 9-year-old in 2007 and went through the ranks of the club as most academy starlets would at his age.
The Englishman signed his first professional contract with the Chelsea U-23 side, which is Chelsea’s development squad and the baffling thing was that Ugbo was only 16 years old when he joined the squad. Predictably, Ugbo could not tough it out there and was sent out on loan to Barnsley only a year later in 2017.
Since then, the center-forward has gone on loan to MK Dons, Scunthorpe United, and 2nd tier Dutch side JC Roda Kerkrade. However, it is the youngster’s latest club in Cercle Brugge, where he has really come to life and showed the kind of potential he has.
Cercle Brugge are a club in the Belgium First division who are now 16th in the table. To put into perspective how influential Ike Ugbo has been to the side, the Englishman has contributed to 40% of the club’s goals this season while also having featured 31 times out of the club’s 33 games this term.
Moreover, Ugbo also finished in the Top 5 list of the Belgian First Division top scorers with 16 to his name and all of this at the age of 22.
Ike Ugbo Chelsea exit after 14 years:
His impressive performances with Cercle Brugge have caught the eye of several clubs around Europe with Fulham, Monaco, and Genk ready to fight for the forward’s signature in the summer.
The interest is justified due to multiple reasons besides the Englishman’s statistics.
Ugbo has proved to become a highly potent finisher who can latch onto through balls while also being a technical dribbler on the ball. While the 22-year-old has yet to develop his passing range, Ugbo is very fast and direct.
The youngster is a very useful asset in a counter-attacking team as he is a highly aware forward who can find nooks and crannies in the penalty box to finish off chances. At 6’1, Ugbo is an aerial threat as well while the forward also excels during set-pieces with the Englishman getting into the right place at the right time to head the ball home.
Ike Ugbo has previously iterated about his endearment towards current Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham who guided him in the academy with Abraham being a year elder to the 22-year-old.
Ugbo’s performances as a youngster also caught the eye of the England National set-up as the striker has featured for the England U-17 side as well as the U-20 side of the England National team with the forward making 15 and 5 appearances respectively.
Now, after almost 15 years at Chelsea, Ike Ugbo is planning on moving permanently and is valued by Chelsea at £5 million, more than double his market value of £2.25 million as per Transfermarket.
While there is no certainty on which club the forward will join, it has been both a tough and a pleasant journey for the Englishman at Chelsea and as per his interviews, the striker will always be grateful to the Cobham Academy for everything they have given to him ever since the forward was 9 years old.