Since his return to Stamford Bridge at the start of the 2019/20 season, manager, Frank Lampard has placed a particular emphasis on bringing youth players into the first-team set-up. While the likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham – now mainstays in the squad – immediately spring mind, Lampard has also given sporadic opportunities to several other youth-team players. Billy Gilmour seized his chance, putting in back-to-back man-of-the-match performances against the two Merseyside clubs back in March; Tariq Lamptey changed the game when he came on against Arsenal and has continued to impress after his move to Brighton. Now, it appears Faustino Anjorin may join them as he was named, by Lampard, in Chelsea’s Champions League Squad.
Like so many of the breakthrough stars of 2019/20, Tino Anjorin began his career at Cobham. He ascended through the ranks and eventually became part of the all-dominant Chelsea team that won both the FA Youth Cup and the U18 Premier league in 2018. The team, that included both Billy Gilmour and Reece James, also finished runners-up in consecutive UEFA Youth Leagues. Anjorin’s contribution can not be overstated; he has 29 goals and 14 assists in only 65 games across various youth competitions.
However, it was the Limoges Tournament in 2018 in which Anjorin announced himself to the world. In the second game of the tournament, he scored a goal that can only be described as world-class; he shielded the ball from his marker, cut inside from the sideline and fired a shot past the Russian keeper from 25 yards out. His two goals from three games saw him end the tournament as top-scorer and voted the best player in a squad that contained the likes of Mason Greenwood and Bukayo Saka.
While it was Maurizio Sarri, who called Anjorin up for his first senior training session, it is Frank Lampard who has made more of a concerted effort to blood him into the first team. He handed Anjorin his debut in the 7-2 rout of Grimbsy Town in the EFL Cup; the youngster’s eye-catching cameo was well received. Had Chelsea not crashed out of the competition against Manchester United in the next round, it is likely he would have had many more chances to show his talent for the first-team. As it were, Anjorin had to wait until March 2020 for his Premier League debut against Everton. The 19-minute spell may not have given him enough time to make his impact on the game, but it did see him receive one good chance at goal from, fellow youngster, Billy Gilmour. This particular move ended in a harsh tackle by Dijribil Sidibe rather than celebrations; however, it may have provided a glimpse to the future in terms of the link-up between the two Cobham graduates.
Despite only playing 42 minutes of first-team football, Tino Anjorin was included in the long-list for Tuttosport’s coveted Golden Boy award, a sign of his reputation in youth football. Perhaps more importantly, Frank Lampard has shown his faith in the midfielder, by offering him a five-year contract in April (which he signed). The latest progression in Anjorin’s career came this-week as included in the B-list for the Champions League Squad.
There is a tendency from pundits and fans alike to judge one youth player by comparing them to another. In Anjorin’s case, these comparisons have often been to Ruben Loftus-Cheek. These similarities between the two players are evident, if not a bit shallow. Like RLC, Anjorin has an imposing build and is capable of scoring a range of goals, with either foot. However, Anjorin than the older midfielder; he is capable of dominating the midfield, making his presence felt in the box, or playing out wide on either wing. He has all the skills necessary to become a complete modern footballer.
However, senior players rarely excel in multiple positions at once and, given the abundance of attacking talent at the club we may, we may see Anjorin deployed in a slightly deeper role than he is used to. With Chelsea drawn into a relatively easy group, it is likely we will see Anjorin play more over the coming weeks and thus get a more complete picture of his role at the club.