Chelsea snap up wonderkid Ampadu

Chelsea have reached a deal to sign the Exeter City defender Ethan Ampadu, with the Premier League champions in negotiations over agreeing a fee with the League Two club for the highly-rated 16-year-old.


Ampadu made 13 appearances for Exeter’s first team last season and became the club’s youngest player after making his debut aged 15 years, 10 months and 26 days against Brentford last August. Ampadu is the son of the former West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City midfielder, Kwame. Ampadu has attracted interest from top-flight clubs including Manchester United and Arsenal, where his father is the under-18s manager, ever since making his professional debut.

Exeter had offered Ampadu, a product of their academy, a scholarship contract but he elected to talk to other interested clubs. Chelsea, the Premier League champions who have agreed a deal to sign him, are now in negotiations with the League Two club over compensation for the defender, as he is under the age of 24. In a statement released on Saturday, Exeter said they hoped they could agree a fee without the need of going to a tribunal.

Football is in Ethan’s genes. His dad, Kwame, enjoyed a successful playing career which included spells at Arsenal, Exeter, Leyton Orient and Swansea and is currently head coach of the Gunners’ Under-18s.

His talent was obvious from an early age and he was signed up by his one of his father’s old clubs, Exeter, at the age of seven. It wasn’t long before he was being tipped for the top and in August 2016, he made his debut for the club at the age of just 15. His appearance – in a League Cup match against Brentford - saw him become Exeter’s youngster ever player, breaking an 87-year-old record. His reputation was further enhanced when he was named man-of-the-match.  Ampadu went on to make 13 appearances for the League Two side in all competitions in 2016-17.

He is eligible to represent England, Ireland, Ghana and Wales but has chosen to play for the Dragons. He has already played for Wales at Under-19 level and was named their Young Player of the Year in 2016 - one of the youngest ever players to receive the accolade. Chris Coleman has been closely tracking the teenager’s progress and called him into his senior squad for a training camp in May.

Exeter manager Paul Tisdale has been singing his praises for the last few years, describing Ampadu as a "remarkably gifted but grounded young man" and claiming "he's got a long career ahead of him”. He has fielded Ampadu in the centre of defence and centre of midfield but believes he has the talent to play in four or five different positions.

Exeter academy manager Simon Hayward has praised Ampadu’s dedication and commitment. Speaking in November 2016, he said: “He deserves everything he gets, as he's a very good lad. He's dedicated and committed and I think he's put in a huge amount of hard work over a large number of years and he's proven himself to be a good learner, as he works things out for himself. He very rarely makes a mistake twice, so he's an absolute credit to himself, his parents and all the staff who've done ten years of work with him."

Exeter’s director of football Steve Perryman, the former Tottenham star, also has only good things to say about the youngster. "He's got an old head on young shoulders, which is a bit of a cliche," he said, when discussing his rise to the first team. "Nothing fazes him, as he's composed, he reads the game and he talks to players of a more senior level. He's not acting the youngster but he's humble enough to know his place and on the field he delivers – what more do you want? It's fantastic, really."

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