Meet the Asian Messi Chelsea hope to snatch from Barcelona

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Barcelona’s infamous La Masia youth academy has produced some of the world’s leading players, so it’s only natural that rival clubs are keen to poach some of the untapped talent that’s currently learning the ropes near the Camp Nou.

Predominantly used to bring through the next generation of Spanish wonderkid, La Masia isn’t restricted to purely home-grown talent as any defender that’s been twisted inside out by Lionel Messi knows only too well.

Now though, in this multi-cultural footballing world with which we live, the tentacles of the planet’s greatest youth academy has stretched to Asia, with one of the continent’s most highly regarded talents playing for the Blaugrana’s youth side.

Having spotted Seung Woo Lee playing in the Catalunya-Korea Cup, Barcelona quickly snapped him up but, having not signed the 15-year-old to a professional contract, face strong opposition from Chelsea to secure the player’s long-term services.

It’s not uncommon for Barca’ fledglings to flee the nest, with Julio Pleguezuelo, Josimar and Canos all leaving Spain to come to England, joining Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool respectively.

And, despite holding their own in the Premier League title race with their current ageing crop, the 15/8 contenders for the top-flight crown have made a definite shift towards youth recruitment in recent times.

Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traore, and 19-year-old French centre-back Kurt Zouma, signed from St. Etienne, have both arrived at Stamford Bridge in the not too distant past and, although they’d have some years to wait, landing Woo Lee could be another promising move for Chelsea’s future.

With the Asian market a known money-maker too it wouldn’t be the worst move in the world for the club’s already well-stuffed wallets should they land the continent’s next poster boy from under Barcelona’s noses.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.