Tino Livramento: Why European clubs are queuing up to sign Chelsea's academy star

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Goal

It is not news anymore, but Chelsea's academy knows how to produce top talents.

Of the six players to have won the club's Academy Player of the Year award between 2015-20, five have already gone onto make their full international debuts.

Two of them, in Mason Mount and Reece James, started last season's Champions League final and were part of the England squad that finished as runners-up at Euro 2020.

Winning that prize, then, is a good barometer for a player having future success, making the 2021 winner, Tino Livramento, a prospect worth watching out for.

Unsurprisingly, a host of rival clubs have already begun to take notice of the right-back's undoubted talent.

AC Milan and RB Leipzig have both shown an interest in the 18-year-old, as have Premier League trio Aston Villa, Southampton and Brighton, with Livramento's contract set to expire at the end of the 2021-22 season.

For a number of Blues supporters, the prospect of losing Livramento is bringing back unhappy memories, with just 18 months having passed since another homegrown right-back, Tariq Lamptey, was sold to Brighton, only for him to almost instantly become a Premier League star.

The fear of history repeating itself only grew when Chelsea's interest in signing Achraf Hakimi from Inter was revealed, and though the Morocco international eventually joining Paris Saint-Germain does not automatically mean Livramento will now extend his contract, the failure to land a new right-back does at least open up a spot for the England youth international to earn a place in Thomas Tuchel's squad.

"Tino immediately and frequently stands out to watchers of Chelsea’s younger age group teams for his dynamic attacking performances down the right side of the pitch," Phil, the mononymous individual behind the popular @ChelseaYouth social media accounts, tells Goal.

"He produced 16 goal involvements (three goals, 13 assists) in 26 academy matches during the 2020-21 season, and was the main outlet for the team’s attacks, often linking up with Lewis Bate and benefiting from his expansive and ambitious passing range.

"His ability to outpace and outmuscle defenders is a constant menace to opponents, and he has the physical capacity to make those high-intensity runs late in the match too.

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"In the final third his delivery is consistently impressive, often preferring to find a perfectly-weighted low ball into the middle for an advancing runner (or a striker dropping off into a pocket of space), and finding a measured pass while moving at full speed is an especially impressive trait for one so young.

"His defending is committed and honest while developing at the rate many young defenders experience, but he has the athleticism and physique to handle himself in one-v-one battles and to be a very tricky player to beat when he adds more experience to his game.

"That he is at such an advanced stage of development by the age of 18 is no surprise to those who’ve tracked his progress through Chelsea’s junior ranks."

Livramento is closing in on a decade at Chelsea, whom he joined as an Under-9 having been scouted at his local club of Roundshaw in south London.

A boyhood Chelsea fan, Livramento regularly played above his own age group, making his U23s debut less than a fortnight after his 17th birthday.

At international level, too, he has been a consistent performer whenever making the step up, having captained England's U17s and already spent time training with the U20s squad.

Croydon-born Livramento is also, however, eligible to represent Portugal, and therefore has heroes from both sides of that international rivalry.

"I always looked up to Cristiano Ronaldo," Livramento told Chelsea's in-house media channel "The way he plays the game with no fear and so much confidence really inspired me. He plays the game like no one else and is a machine.

"To still be scoring the number of goals that he is now is astonishing, but it is a result of his work ethic and willingness to stay at the top of the game and prove that he is the best. Also, for me having Portuguese blood, he inspires me to make my family proud.

"I really aspire to be a role model for younger footballers like Ronaldo was for me."

On his idols from supporting Chelsea, he added: "I looked up to players such as Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. They signify what it means to be a Chelsea player and the standards they set were world-class."

Livramento, who has also played further forward on the right-hand side of midfield at times, has had a taste of what it takes to be a modern Chelsea star having spent some time training with the first-team squad under both Lampard and Thomas Tuchel.

He was named on the bench for the first time towards the end of the last campaign, but remained an unused substitute againat both Arsenal and Manchester City as Tuchel's team chased a top-four finish in the Premier League.

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That such a talent is still waiting for his senior debut is potentially part of the reason why Livramento is yet to commit his long-term future to Chelsea, though he is hopeful of getting the chance to impress Tuchel during pre-season, with both James and Cesar Azpilicueta enjoying some time off after deep runs at the European Championship.

But whether he can be convinced to stay or not, there is no doubt that he has the potential to be the latest Chelsea academy graduate to reach the very top of the game.

Blues supporters just hope he does so while still plying his trade at Stamford Bridge.