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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Chelsea teen could be Enzo Fernandez’s ideal partner

Chelsea are eagerly awaiting the return of N’Golo Kante, in the hope that he can inspire a turnaround in form alongside Enzo Fernandez in Graham Potter‘s midfield.

However, the Frenchman will turn 32 this month and his injury concerns so far this season suggest that he may not be the player he once was at Stamford Bridge, so Potter may soon have to find a replacement for the long term.

Fortunately for the English manager, he has Leo Castledine at his disposal, and with the 17-year-old catching the eye for the academy sides, he may soon be able to make an impact in the first team.

Who is Leo Castledine?

Castledine joined Chelsea from AFC Wimbledon’s academy back in March 2020, where his dad Stewart was a midfielder in the top flight for nine years, which certainly bodes well for the youngster’s future.

The teenager has played in nearly every position during his time with Chelsea’s academy sides but boasts an impressive return of 16 goals and six assists in just 45 appearances for the U18s.

Unsurprisingly, he has been promoted to the U21s and he has been a regular there this season despite his age, making 11 appearances in the Premier League 2, scoring and assisting once.

Will Castledine make it at Chelsea?





U21s coach Mark Robinson was full of praise for Castledine in an interview with The Athletic late last year, highlighting his impressive versatility and attitude.

He said: “Physically he is strong. He was standing out in his own age group so we just took him to give him a taste of the under-18 level early. As well as being a very good footballer, he has a tremendous attitude and he works very hard on his game too.”

When asked about the youngster’s best position, Robinson replied:

“We believe it is in midfield as a No 8, but he is also very versatile as well. He has played right-sided centre-back for the under-21s, he’s played wide for the under-18s. But wherever you put him, he gives absolutely everything.”

Is he a long-term partner for Fernandez?

While the return of Kante will be big for Potter in the short term, he has managed just two appearances this season due to injury and as he gets older, the Frenchman will surely only become more injury-prone and a less reliable option for Chelsea in the middle of the park.

As such, Castledine’s versatility suggests that he could do a job for Chelsea in midfield instead.

Alongside mega-money signing Fernandez, his energy could allow the Argentine to do what he does best, playing progressive passes and creating opportunities for his teammates.

Indeed, behind Castledine the £106.8m man could well be the glue that binds everything together, with the Cobham youth product then serving as the main instigator of attacks from deep, using his immense physicality to bully opponents.

That quality may well see him drag the defence closer to him, subsequently opening up gaps for Chelsea’s Argentine maestro to use his creativity. It’s a match made in heaven and one that could well see the Blues thrive moving forward.

Castledine is clearly a player of high potential – as Fernandez is – and if they can both live up to their hype at Stamford Bridge, there is no reason why a formidable partnership can’t be formed in the future.

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