Chelsea tinged with regret as Samuel Iling-Junior rises to Juventus challenge

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Samuel Iling-Junior’s two assists in 43 first-team minutes at Juventus have alerted the world to his talents and sent a tinge of regret toward Chelsea.

The 19-year-old has burst onto the scene in Turin after setting up a grandstand finish in his 20-minute cameo from the bench in his side’s 4-3 loss to Benfica in the Champions League last month.

Almost immediately after his introduction, he set up a goal for Arkadiusz Milik and two minutes later laid one on for Weston McKennie, without officially getting an assist.

He then set up the winning goal for Nicolo Fagioli away at Lecce in Serie A the following weekend. His impact in those two matches will be met with both pride and regret at Cobham, where he spent nine years in the Chelsea academy before leaving for Juventus in 2020.

Chelsea knew back then they were losing a top talent, just months after Jamal Musiala went to Bayern Munich. It is understood that Iling-Junior was grateful for his upbringing at Cobham but personally targeted a move overseas to try to accelerate his development and challenge himself.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Bayern, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund all tried to sign the multi-dimensional attacker, spotting him at 16 years old and wanting to offer a first professional contract at 17.

Juventus won the race for his signature by selling a project that saw Iling-Junior feature in an all-star youth team also including Italian starlet Fagioli and Argentine wonderkid Matias Soule.

Moving overseas as a teenager during the Covid pandemic has tested Iling-Junior but he has come out the other side a better player and person.

The Islington-born youngster now speaks Italian almost fluently and is showing the skills he first learned in the cages in north London and then honed at Chelsea.

To further develop his talents, he has been doing extra training sessions with former Chelsea and Tottenham academy coach Saul Isaksson-Hurst.

Isaksson-Hurst privately trains a host of Premier League and overseas stars through his My Football Coach business, but is as excited about Iling-Junior as he is about any of his talents.

Samuel Iling-Junior brings the full package... he has got everything

"Samuel brings the full package to the party, he has got everything," Isaksson-Hurst told Standard Sport. “Chelsea are big on physical assets and he brings strength and power but he matches that also with amazing quality technique.

"He is almost like a street footballer with his skill and balance. He brings almost everything to the table. He can play seven, eleven, a 10 or even in central midfield.

"Samuel came to me and we just wanted to sharpen him up and challenge him a little bit. We spoke about certain one-on-one sessions and that second assist he got in the Champions League was almost exactly like some of the work we did in our sessions.


“We work on tactics, on one-on-one and his balance on both sides. We want him to have one-on-one domination to beat players to find a pass, cross or get off a shot. So we focused on those sorts of things to support him in that area.

“He is a really friendly young gentleman, great-mannered and has a great family. His mentality was to come and work with me when others might have been on a beach to get that bit extra into his game because he is so committed.

"That is the difference between the outliers who really want it. They take that extra step even when they have arrived at one of the biggest clubs in world football. He is not satisfied and knows the hard work has just begun."

Iling-Junior initially played for Juventus Next Gen, effectively their reserve team who play in Serie C, and immediately impressed in Italy. Unfortunately for Juve, the England Under-20 international has just eight months left on his contract and they are now urgently trying to re-sign him.

They do so amid huge interest from the Premier League and clubs in Germany, Italy and France. Bayern, RB Leipzig, Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt are all known to be interested alongside French sides PSG and Monaco.

His contract situation and recent performances have only increased interest around Iling-Junior, who is also grateful for getting his chance at Juve and could well sign a new deal.

Manager Massimiliano Allegri had been considering offering him his first start against PSG in the Champions League on Wednesday as a reward for his recent form, but he got an ankle knock that will keep him out for two weeks. Still, the injury is unlikely to slow the ascent of Iling-Junior, who is increasingly making a name for himself.