Chelsea poached 17-year-old Jamaican striker Dujuan ‘Whisper’ Richards from under the noses of Newcastle this weekend - but who is the highly-rated teenage star?
Despite having had a two-week trial in the North East and attended a match at St James’ Park last month, the youngster was shown signing a pre-contract agreement with the Blues on Instagram on Saturday night.
Richards will join on his 18th birthday in October after director of recruitment and talent Joe Shields secured the deal on behalf of Chelsea.
The former Southampton guru was responsible for poaching a second talent from under the noses of the Toon, having beaten them to the signing of Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos in January.
Craig Butler, who runs the influential Phoenix All Stars Academy and agency with the same name in the Caribbean, is a key figure in Jamaica.
Having made a star out of Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey, Richards follows in his footsteps and made his full debut for Jamaica in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago just hours after signing for Chelsea. He did so alongside 19-year-old Chelsea winger Omari Hutchinson.
The debut followed a sensational season at Phoenix All Stars Academy in the capital Kingston, where he scored 31 goals and registered 19 assists.
The 6’4 striker was widely known to academies in England after facing Manchester City, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United on a tour of the country in 2021.
Real Sociedad also took the versatile forward on trial in 2022 and Ajax and Genk were said to have been tracking him. He was, however, always likely to join a Premier League club having spent time at Brooke House College in Leicestershire. He also has an English grandmother.
Butler, his agent, described why he chose Chelsea: “They gave him the best offer, the best opportunities and they are looking forward to him being in the Chelsea colours.”
Richards then wrote on social media: “What a dream come true. When I am 18 years old I will be able to play in the Premier League and for a club like Chelsea.
“[They are] Champions League winners and with such a high pedigree that I’m still so grateful to God for this opportunity to challenge other great talents on the colosseum of football.”
Chelsea have signed a player who is tall, strong, quick and, although he can play with both feet, is predominantly left-footed.
Impressively, he also boasts support from a family that has a huge sporting pedigree. His father Odile Richards was a basketball player, his uncle O’Neil Richards played cricket for Jamaica and his other uncle Nick Richards is currently in the NBA.
Now, 4,000 miles away from home, he will try to bring together all his potential and hone it at Chelsea’s famed Cobham academy.