Chelsea have moved quickly to agree a deal for Cristian Manea after fending off interest from Arsenal, Ajax and Udinese, reports The Mail.
The Romanian right-back has been on Chelsea's radar for some time with the same publication originally reporting in September that a deal was close to being struck with his club Viitorul Constanta. While that report proved to be false, it seems that strong interest from Stamford Bridge was indeed true.
Other reports suggested that the 17-year-old could make the move to west London in the January transfer window. Again, that did not happen, but talks were ongoing between the two parties over a summer deal.
Manea has throughly impressed at club level and has already made his international debut with Romania. As his reputation grew, interest from around Europe started to pick up pace.
Luckily for Jose Mourinho, Chelsea officials were far in advance of their Premier League rivals Arsenal and have now tied up a multi-million deal that will go through when the summer transfer window opens.
The young defender is expected to sign a five-year deal with Chelsea and, rather unsurprisingly, can expect to be loaned out to their Dutch sister team Vitesse or La Liga outfit Real Mallorca. The Blues have taken advantage of the loan system in recent years and Manea looks set to be another recruit for that rather than for the first-team.
While the first-team football will help Manea to develop, it leaves him with little chance of ever playing for the side that have agreed to sign him. Instead, Chelsea will hope he develops into a good player and sold for profit. Such a situation as occurred with Thorgan Hazard, who was sold to Borussia Monchengladbach last month.
Alternatively, if he becomes an exceptional player, Mourinho could decide to bring him back to Stamford Bridge. Thibaut Courtois is one of the only success stories to come out of Chelsea's new system after he developed into one of the world's finest goalkeepers at Atletico Madrid.
A dim future
Chelsea have sent a total of 30 players out on loan this season, many to foreign clubs. A lot of these players will never be seen in a Chelsea shirt before they are sold. It makes you wonder why Manea has agreed to be trafficked around Europe when offers from Arsenal and Ajax, two clubs that pride themselves on developing players closer to home, were present.
Can Chelsea turn Manea into a world-class player or will he be just another money-making product of someone's else's coaching system? Give us your views in the comment box below!
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