CHELSEA starlet Ethan Ampadu is no longer the Blues’ “little secret”, says Pat Nevin.
Chelsea signed Ampadu from Exeter City last summer having forged a reputation as one of the most promising talents in the football league.
And he was utilised fleetingly by Antonio Conte in his first year at Stamford Bridge after making his first-team debut in the Carabao Cup.
Ampadu has turned heads with his performances for Chelsea’s Under-23s in the meantime and he impressed in pre-season.
But it is for Wales that he has really come into his own, particularly as he starred in last week’s win over the Republic of Ireland.
Nevin, who spent five years at Chelsea, says Ampadu is no longer an unknown quantity.
“Maybe the most obvious example of what you need to be however is now being shown by Ethan Ampadu,” Nevin wrote for Chelsea’s official website, while discussing youngsters making the grade at Stamford Bridge.
“He joined Chelsea from Exeter at the beginning of last season and was our little secret for a short while but anyone who watched his midfield performance for Wales against Ireland will know that the cat is well and truly out of the bag.
“Against international players he absolutely bossed the game and was arguably the best player on the field.
“He was exactly the same but this time playing at centre-back in his last outing for Chelsea, against Lyon in the pre-season game.
“It gives a much better gauge of where he is right now compared to other youngsters who are coming through in the game in England and there are quite a few of them.
“Ethan is however only 17, he can play in those two vital positions comfortably already at a very high level, while his attitude and demeanour suggest it maybe isn’t a question of if he will be a regular starter for the Blues, but rather when he will be.”
Nevin says Ampadu cannot afford to rest on his laurels though as he seeks to establish himself at Chelsea.
“Having said all that, there is still a lot to learn,” Nevin added.
“A dose of reality was served coldly by Denmark as Christian Eriksen scored a couple against Ampadu’s Welsh side on Sunday.
“Like the young Scot McGinn against the experienced Spurs man [Mousa] Dembele [when Scotland faced Belgium], Ampadu just days later got to understand what is needed to play against one of the very best in the business, this time another Tottenham midfielder.
“So yes there is still a jump to be made yet, but one that Ampadu can make.
“There is an almighty chasm between the class of Eden Hazard and his Belgian team-mates and the level that Scotland are at.
“I can’t see how they can bridge that gap any time soon, whereas the gap Ethan has to traverse to get into the team is one I am sure he can manage in the fullness of time.”
Ampadu is yet to feature for Chelsea as Maurizio Sarri’s men have made a 100 per cent start to the new Premier League season.
But the 17-year-old will be hoping his showings during the international break will have put himself on the Italian gaffer’s radar.