Despite being crowned the Championship player of the year in the Football League awards earlier this week, Patrick Bamford finds himself in limbo, as a lack of assurance from his parent club Chelsea leaves him wondering where he will ply his trade next season.
Opting to spend the season on-loan at Middlesborough, Bamford's 17 goals have helped to push the north-east club into the Championship play-off places.
As the Teessiders seek to reaffirm themselves in the Premier League after a six year absence, the 21-year-old has found himself the source of much speculation, as questions regarding whether or not he will finally get the chance to break into the Chelsea first-team continue to mount.
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Having signed a five year contract with the Blues in 2012 following a £1.5m move from Nottingham Forest, the English born forward has yet to gain an appearance under any of the four managers that have been in charge during his spell at Chelsea.
Nevertheless, unperturbed by his lack of opportunities thus far, Bamford remains highly motivated to fight for his place at the West London side.
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Speaking after he collected his Football League award this week, Bamford said, "There's no reason why I wouldn't want to be at Chelsea. That's my dream to pull on that Blue shirt, so hopefully it'll come true".
Harry Kane comparison
If Bamford needed to seek further motivation however, he need only look at the incredible rise of fellow youngster, Harry Kane, at Tottenham Hotspur this season.
Undoubtedly the breakthrough star of the current Premier League campaign, Kane has seen himself develop from a bit part player into an indispensable member of the team in little under a year.
However, though Bamford may well prove to be every bit as talented as the Tottenham starlet, the overriding difference between their circumstances is the competition that lies ahead at their respective clubs.
Whereas Kane has only had to compete with the overpriced flops of Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor, Bamford by contrast, will have to fight his way past Didier Drogba, Loic Remy and Diego Costa in order to gain a place.
An unenviable task even to the most promising of players.
Future in doubt?
It is precisely this mountain of talent which makes Bamford's future appear all the more in doubt. With Costa in fine-form this season it is hard to see him displaced as Chelsea's regular starting striker.
And although an ageing Didier Drogba will need to be replaced, it seems more plausible that with the budget that Chelsea have, they will opt for a proven goal scorer at Premier League level, rather then gamble on an unknown entity.
When asked if the young pretender would be part of next season's plans, Chelsea's manager refused to be drawn on the future, providing no assurances for Bamford.
"I don't have to speak about him, these last few matches, and possibly the play-offs, are important for him in his development" he told the Standard.
Were Mourinho to decide against including Bamford in his squad for next season, it is very likely that the competition for his signature will be highly contested, though this will be surely on a loan basis.
Wherever the destination for Patrick Bamford next season, a spell in the Premier League is undeniably what is required.
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