Chelsea have landed one of the most hotly rated prospects in Europe by completing the signing of ‘wonderkid’ striker Thierno Ballo.
The 16-year-old Austrian has agreed to a scholarship deal with the Blues’ academy, having represented the club at youth level in a number of friendlies last year – including a game where he found the net five times against London rivals West Ham.
Ballo, who was born in Guinea, was reportedly scouted playing football in the streets as a youngster by local Austrian side SC Chemie Linz, where he later went to score a staggering 200 goals in just two seasons. The striker was soon snapped up by German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, who must’ve seen at least a glimpse of the forward’s future potential.
The youngster ultimately joined German regional league side Viktoria Koln in 2016, impressing so much with his performances there that he earned a call-up to his national side’s under-17s squad, making his debut for Austria in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship aged just 14. Ballo also managed to secure an Adidas sponsorship at around the same time.
Deal done on 16th birthday
Now, having turned 16 on January 2, the young star is officially a Chelsea player, with SC Chemie Linz coach and the player’s legal guardian Peter Huemerlehner advising his protege every step of the way.
“We narrowed down a few clubs and looked closely at not just the infrastructure but also the training work, so Chelsea made the best impression,” said Huemerlehner.
Despite natural excitement over the signing, Huemerlehner stressed that the young star must be nurtured with patience at Chelsea rather than rushed into senior action before he is ready.
“It would have been possible to have a longer contract, but that is nonsense – he should have a proper education for four years and the youth team for the next two or three years. He does not have to make the leap into the first team in the next three or four years, but is expected to grow up in the youth team. “