On-loan Middlesbrough star Patrick Bamford last weekend celebrated another accolade in what has been a hugely successful season so far.
The Chelsea-owned 21-year-old was crowned the Championship Player of the Year just a few days after helping Boro to a 1-0 win over title rivals Norwich City, a win that left the Teessiders requiring two wins from two matches and a slip up from either Watford or Bournemouth to guarantee automatic promotion.
Bamford’s role in the rise of Aitor Karanka’s side has been a pivotal one, scoring 17 of the club’s 65 league strikes.
The figure equates to 26% of the north easterners’ second-tier haul for the season so far and, following his presentation of the award, the youngster expressed his desire to challenge for a first-team place with the Premier League champions-in-waiting:
“I want to play for Chelsea, I hope I do get that chance and I think I can compete…after two years regularly playing out on loan, going back and sitting on the bench wouldn’t really help me.”
A striker with obvious goalscoring prowess, Bamford has delivered at League One MK Dons, where he notched 21 times in 44 appearances, before scoring eight in 23 at Derby in his first second-tier stint last season.
This gradual progression suggests, should he be presented the opportunity to perform in the Premier League, the Grantham goal machine will do the business.
With veteran Didier Drogba still to extend his current Chelsea contract beyond this summer, Jose Mourinho would be mad not to exploit this golden opportunity to blood one of English football’s most promising players by releasing the Ivorian.
Drogba once again drew a blank in the Blues’ 1-0 victory over Manchester United last time out, with the bulk of the west Londoners’ attacking threat provided by midfielder trio Eden Hazard, Oscar and Cesc Fabregas.
This bagel means the Shed End favourite has scored just three goals across all competitions this term, but with no alternatives to frequently injured twosome Diego Costa and Loic Remy, Mourinho has had no option but to field his 37-year-old last resort for the full 180 minutes of Chelsea’s previous pair of fixtures.
As a result, the Premier League pacesetters have been short of energy up front, scraping past Man Utd and QPR before them by 1-0 scorelines.
While Bamford lacks an ounce of the experience Drogba has, the increased speed, vibrancy and goal-threat he would bring to their attack far outweighs this.
Rumour has it the Ivory Coast legend will sign up at Stamford Bridge for another season, which means Boro’s borrowed frontman won’t be afforded first-team opportunities and will seek employment elsewhere, but given his scintillating season in the second-tier, he’ll have ample Premier League options.
If he remains at Chelsea for 2015/16 in Drogba’s stead, however, the 17/20 about him scoring over 8.5 top-flight goals is worth consideration.