Solanke’s maturity is the key to his progress, says Nevin

Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin believes Dominic Solanke’s maturity is a big reason the 17-year-old striker has already become part of Jose Mourinho’s first-team squad.

The England youth international made his Blues debut as a substitute in the 6-0 Champions League demolition of Maribor on Tuesday, with boss Mourinho tipping the teenager to play many more games at the highest level.

And Nevin told West London Sport: “He has all the technical stuff and the physical attributes too.

“He scores goals and is brave but his personality is crucial at this young age and it stands out. He has a confidence and a belief about him that is not arrogance.

Jose Mourinho of Chelsea

“He is going to play in many Champions League matches. He will be a very good player.”
Jose Mourinho on Solanke

“There is a calmness; he plays with a relaxed air and he has impressed people with his maturity – particularly Jose, because he has already trained with the first team quite a bit.

“It shows when he scores a goal because he doesn’t get over-excited and always celebrates with the player who set it up. Chelsea are very excited by his potential.”

Solanke scored 20 goals in 25 games for Chelsea’s Under-18 side last season and has been a regular scorer at various international levels for England.

Nevin, who was a fans favourite during his five years at Stamford Bridge and is a regular Chelsea TV pundit, has seen plenty to suggest Solanke has a chance to make the grade.

But the Scot says it is crucial to find the right balance and not over-burden Solanke with high expectations.

“There is a good bunch of youngsters coming through and being physically strong really helps Dominic get an early start,” Nevin added.

“Nathan Ake is another one who is around the first team and he was fantastic against Maribor the other night.

“But it is unbelievably hard to break through at a top-level club like Chelsea.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group G - Chelsea v NK Maribor - Stamford Bridge

Chelsea v Maribor player ratings

“I wouldn’t want to put pressure on any of the young players there but if you want to become a top player then you probably want to be playing regular first-team football at 18-19.

“Look at what Raheem Sterling is doing at Liverpool and look at [Cristiano] Ronaldo, who was playing regularly at a very young age. It’s better if it happens at the main club, but if not, then on loan.”

Nevin expects Solanke, who was also an unused substitute in last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace, to be used “sparingly” – even if the Blues are struggling with injuries up front.

Diego Costa is a doubt for Sunday’s match against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Loic Remy is struggling with a groin problem and Didier Drogba is not fully fit after an ankle injury.

“It’s harsh to ask a player as young as Dominic to come in and play up front on his own,” Nevin said.

“But Chelsea do still have options and Jose will come up with something. If Costa is not fit then obviously Didier is around and Andre Schurrle could play there.

“Eden Hazard is another option and watching Branislav Ivanovic’s movement and finishing, he could play there! His movement is like a centre-forward – it’s unbelievable. His goal against Everton was fantastic.”

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