First Chelsea summer signing already training with Pochettino's squad

Tom Weber
Tom Weber
  • Updated: 12 Feb 2024 20:03 GMT
  • 3 min read
Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea

Pape Diong has already been spotted in Chelsea training ahead of his summer transfer.

In late 2023, reports broke that the Blues were in negotiations with Senegalese side AF Darou Salam over teenage talent Pape Daouda Diong. Fabrizio Romano revealed in late December that a deal had been struck that would see the 17-year-old arrive at Stamford Bridge upon turning 18 in the summer of 2024.

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A towering defensive midfielder, Diong really burst onto the scene in 2023 and was even rewarded with a senior debut for the Senegalese national team in September, his only cap at this level to date. Later that year, the youngster starred for Senegal's U17s at the World Cup in Indonesia.

The highly-rated prospect is one of myriad youngsters to have been snapped up under the Todd Boehly regime since the American took over the club from ousted Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in 2022. While a lot of big clubs wait for non-European talent to take their first steps at a smaller side on the continent before pouncing, Chelsea are trying to get ahead of the curve by signing players directly from their home countries.

Pape Diong
© IMAGO - Pape Diong

Diong already training with the Blues

Though Diong will only officially join the club in the summer, he is already becoming a familiar face in west London. The youngster visited Stamford Bridge during the negotiations over his move and he recently attended a Chelsea U21 game as well.

Now, the teenager has been spotted training with Chelsea and wearing the number 41 shirt. However, despite his significant potential, he likely won't be part of Mauricio Pochettino's first team next season.

According to Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea are still internally discussing the youngster's next step. One potential option for him to get acclimatised to the European game is to send him out on loan to sister club Strasbourg in Ligue 1, reports the transfer expert.

A final decision hasn't yet been made, though. It likely also won't be a popular move. In January, they loaned Andrey Santos to the French side and this was met with outrage by Strasbourg fans who do not want to see their club become a Chelsea farm team.

Read more about: Premier League, Chelsea

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