What makes Chelsea’s latest Brazilian teen target different

11/10

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Chelsea to win the Premier League

Chelsea’s squad is hilariously packed following a raft of loan returns, with a whopping 56 players reminiscent of Barry Fry’s worst excesses when in charge of Birmingham in the mid-90s.

Long forgotten names such as Marko Marin, Kenneth Omeruo, Christian Atsu, Victor Moses and Marco van Ginkel await further orders after making it home from multiple loan spells.

Not included within that bloated number is 16 loan signings already agreed ahead of the coming campaign, with two young men in situ at assumed Chelsea feeder club Vitesse, including 20-year-old attacking midfielder Nathan.

He’s one of six Brazilians on the Blues’ books, with first-teamers Oscar and Willian seemingly secure in their posts, while the other four learn the ropes.

Winger Lucas Piazon will struggle to convince new boss Antonio Conte of his worth going by recent seasons, with the 22-year-old managing just five goals in 40 appearances for Reading and Eintracht Frankfurt since the start of 2014/15, having bagged 11 Eredivisie goals at Vitesse the season before.

Full-back Wallace is back in Brazil on loan at Gremio after struggling for game time with Serie A side Carpi last term, and at this stage looks odds-on not to make it at Stamford Brdge, while the jury is still out on 20-year-old wideman Kenedy.

With such a patchy success rate when buying young from Brazil, you’d think Chelsea would take a look at their strategy, yet low and behold another teenage Canarnho-in-the-making is thought to be firmly on the radar.

To be fair to Thiago Maia, the 19-year-old Santos holding midfielder Conte is said to be scouting at the Olympics, it looks like he’ll at least go for a fair price, with The Mirror’s rumoured £15m more than twice the fee that took Kenedy from Fluminense to West London.

A veteran of 70 senior outings for Santos since making his debut at the age of 17, Maia has already racked up more senior appearances than compatriots Kenedy, Nathan or Wallace, all three of whom are older, the latter by almost three years.

In an area of the pitch where Chelsea are in flux, with John Obi Mikel preparing for his 11th season as Stamford Bridge reserve water-carrier and Nemanja Matic potentially on his way out in the wake of N’Golo Kante’s arrival, Maia might find fertile ground to grow.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Iain Houten

Iain has been contributing pieces to various websites on an array of subjects, including sports, politics and art, for over four years. Despite blue being his favourite colour, the teams he supports all wear red.