American defender Matt Miazga, 20, is on the verge of signing for reigning Premier League champions Chelsea.
On Wednesday news broke that the New York Red Bulls academy product had left U.S. national team camp in California and was tying up a deal to sign with the west London club as the young U.S. defender, who burst onto the scene during the 2015 Major League Soccer season, is about to become the next American plying his trade in the PL.
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However, as soon as news of this impending deal filtered through, so did waves of negativity regarding the possibility of Miazga becoming the next promising U.S. talent to spend years on the bench of a top club abroad rather than actually playing.
In this case that concern is legit and worth addressing.
Can you blame Miazga for moving on from New York and making the most of his Polish passport to join one of the biggest clubs in the world? Of course not.
Yet the biggest question is whether or not Miazga will ever see the field for the Blues. With Guus Hiddink currently in charge of Chelsea as interim boss until the end of the season, a new coach will arrive this summer and Miazga will have to impress whoever that is to remain in their plans. There’s also the small matter of usurping club legend John Terry, England’s vice-captain Gary Cahill and French international Kurt Zouma from the center back position. Terry hasn’t got long left, while Cahill is 30-years-old but Zouma, 22, is already a fans favorite and will be around for a long time. Will Miazga get the chance to play alongside Zouma?
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Miazga’s journey at Chelsea is about to begin but it will be a long and winding road — just like it has been for many other U.S. internationals including Brek Shea, Juan Agudelo and Jozy Altidore who all returned to MLS after spells in the PL — until he becomes a regular.
Although a report from SI.com claims that Chelsea will keep him at Stamford Bridge for at least the opening six months of his contract, Miazga will more than likely spend a few years out on loan at the beginning of his Chelsea career.
That’s not me being cynical but more so just being realistic.
Chelsea currently has 29 players out on loan and many of them are some of the brightest young prospects the game has to offer. Many critics claim the Blues are stockpiling young talent, while others suggest signing on promising youngsters for small fees and then loaning them out to others for a fee helps with cash-flow and aids Chelsea’s constant battle against UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
Regardless, last summer I witnessed Vitesse Arnhem play with four Chelsea youngsters in their starting XI, all of whom are on loan to their partner club in the Dutch Eredivisie. Miazga could do a lot worse than learning his trade and going on loan to Vitesse. With games against PSV Eindhoven, Ajax and Feyenoord he will improve and overall the level of play is deemed (by most) to be higher than MLS. It would be a step up and a natural progression in his career as the likes of Altidore, Aron Johannsson and others have found.
The one area of concern here is that if Miazga arrives at Chelsea and purely spends time with their development squad.
At his age he needs to play and U.S. men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann obviously has big plans for the towering center back after handing him his international debut back in November during the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. He is lined up, along with Cameron Carter-Vickers, to one day start for the U.S. at center back. However, would Miazga’s development be stunted by spending time training with Chelsea’s other young talents at their Cobham base and never getting near the first team?
In a recent chat with Klinsmann’s assistant, Andi Herzog, the Austrian told me having young U.S. players in the system in Europe is important as their development is accelerated at a quicker rate if they’re ready for the step up.
At this time it is hard to tell if Miazga will be pushed into Chelsea’s first team anytime soon. But this is a long-term move for the young American defender and even though plenty will be eager to follow his journey, this move should be treated with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation.