Teen triallist Traore outshines Chelsea stars on Asian tour
Despite all the many familiar faces at Chelsea who have been reacquainted with Jose Mourinho over the past fortnight in Asia, it is a 17-year-old unknown triallist who has made perhaps the greatest impression.
Bertrand Traore, a midfielder from Burkina Faso with a sweet left foot, was only invited onto Chelsea's tour after Mourinho watched some footage shown to him by the club's academy department.
Traore has duly been unfazed by the opportunity to work under the most famous coach in world football, scoring twice in three games and also producing some starring performances on the training ground.
Mourinho has already made it clear that he wants Traore to be part of his squad this season but the club now face an anxious wait until they can offer him a professional contract when he turns 18 on September 6.
Any other club could also still attempt to sign Traore until that point, meaning that Chelsea's natural excitement at his talent is being tempered by a desire not to alert their rivals.
His performances over the past eight days – especially a wonderful goal in front of 70,000 fans in Indonesia – have rather put paid to that wish.
For Chelsea, the situation will be complicated by the need for a work permit even if he does sign a professional contract.
In the United Kingdom, work permits are only automatically issued to players whose country is in the top 70 of the FIFA world rankings and who have appeared in 75pc of their competitive fixtures in the two previous years.
Special dispensation can be requested but it appears that the most likely outcome is for Traore to sign for Chelsea in September and then be loaned out in a league where the work permit rules are less stringent.
Traore is in England on a student visa and, while he did also have a trial with Chelsea's academy last year, there were reports in 2010 that he was set to join the club despite competing interest from Manchester United.
It is understood that he first came to the attention of Chelsea scouts for his performances in the U-17 World Cup of 2009.
He made his international debut in 2011 when he was just 15 against Equatorial Guinea and, also that year, he was quoted saying that Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou had treated him like "a younger brother".
Mourinho believes that he is now ready to join the senior members of his Chelsea family. "Traore we would like to keep," he said.
"Those are the rules in England and we have to accept them. We'll have to wait until he becomes 18 to try to get the permit for him to stay in England. If it's not possible we have to let him go on loan somewhere.
"For a 17-year-old boy, sooner or later, the committee has to give him a permit to play football in England.
"If he's playing for his country at the same time – one of the most important countries in African football – he'll get his deserved permit. So no dramas with it. It's fantastic for him to come here and play well for Chelsea."
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill said that Traore had also made a big impression in training.
"I know the quality of the training we do and lads like Traore have come into the games and not looked out of place, which is great," he said.
"He's been working well with the manager for two weeks and scored a fantastic goal. He's composed on the ball and has great confidence for such a young lad."
Asked if he would now like to see Traore join Chelsea, Cahill said: "I don't know the ins and outs of the situation, but he's certainly done himself no harm in the two weeks we've been away. We don't want to get carried away, but he's certainly not looked out of place in training alongside some top players. He's a young lad, but I'm sure he's got a bright future at Chelsea."
Cahill also believes that Romelu Lukaku, who has scored four goals in three games during this Asia tour, is ready for first-team football at Chelsea next season.
"He has been flying in training," said Cahill. "I play against him in training a lot and he's a handful just with his pace and power. His finishing is great too. It's exciting times for him and I'm sure he's looking forward to the season." (© Daily Telegraph, London)