'I don’t think I have done enough' - Boga concedes he is yet to fulfil Chelsea potential

Jeremie BogaGetty Images

Just 18 minutes into his Chelsea debut in August, Jeremie Boga was hauled off in a tactical change following Gary Cahill's dismissal against Burnley. 

The Blues would go on to lose their opening match of the 2017-18 Premier League season - a sign of things to come in a campaign which ended in a disappointing fifth-place finish. 

Boga joined Chelsea at the age of 16 after being scouted in a non-professional game. His dribbling ability and box of tricks made him one of the most exciting players to watch in his age group, and his senior bow was the culmination of years of hard work.

Now 21, Boga spent the majority of the 2017-18 campaign on loan at Championship side Birmingham City, having completed a move at the end of August. Though Boga admits that he was left down about the length of his only appearance in a Blues shirt to date, he is still proud that he has been able to achieve something that few have managed.

"Yes, it was very surprising for everyone including me to start that game," Boga told Goal."In pre-season, I went with the first team and for me it was just to add numbers. But I said to myself, ‘I will train hard and you never know, I might get that opportunity.’

"In the Arsenal game [in China] that is what happened because [Pedro] got injured. It was unlucky for him, but it was an opportunity for me. I went in and after that I got more game time. Then when we came back to England I was training well, because I knew there was a player out with a red card so it was an opportunity to take.

"Luckily, I got my 15 minutes. I think on the day and the day after, I was really sad. I think that is a normal feeling because, for me, I was waiting for that chance for a long time. After that, I got back up and trained as hard again because I couldn’t keep staying down about it. You have to make sure when the next opportunity comes that you are ready.

"Everyone knows how hard it is to play for Chelsea, so for me, whether it was just one minute or two minutes, I don’t care. It was really a proud moment for me and my family. I now look back on it with pride, yes."

Boga spent a third successive season out on loan, this time at Birmingham. The Midlands side struggled throughout 2017-18 and only narrowly avoided relegation, but Boga earned a creditable 34 appearances to take him to 92 over the course of spells with Rennes, Granada and now Birmingham.

Harry Redknapp signed Boga for Birmingham, but the attacker would go on to play for three more managers, with Lee Carsley, Steve Cotterill and finally Garry Monk coming in. Boga believes his versatility helped him to be of use to different bosses.

"I played in all different positions. With Redknapp, at the beginning, everyone was happy because I was playing as a number 10," Boga added. "I was high up the pitch and working in a second striker position, where I played throughout my Chelsea youth. So for me, that was important.

Jeremie Boga

"I can also play on the wing and did that a lot this season. I can also play as a striker. I have learned to play as a striker. I think it helped me survive, especially this season, because if I could only play as a number 10 then I think I wouldn’t have lasted long in this team with their problems."

Though he does have experience at the highest levels in France, Spain and England at the age of 21, Boga concedes that he should be further along in his development. 

"For me, I have done some good things in my career, but for the talent that I think I have I don’t think I have done enough," the one-cap Ivory Coast international said. 

"I think I need to go much higher, I want to keep working to reach my goals at my national team and clubs I play for. I have a lot more work to do."

Jeremie Boga

Boga is cautious about his next move and a summer meeting at Chelsea will decide what he does next. The midfielder does think that Chelsea's loan system is beneficial to many players, and that several of his fellow 36 loanees have what it takes to make it.

"The best feeling was one against Hull City because I played against Ola Aina. We did everything together ever since I came to Chelsea," Boga said. "From the Under-16s we grew up together, but it wasn’t such a fun experience because we lost 6-1. However, it is nice to see how well he is doing and to exchange shirts, it was a proud moment for us.

"I think Ola can be a top player in his position. The same goes for Charly Musonda and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. I hope Loftus-Cheek gets his chance soon and Musonda is a talent."

Boga has now worked under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. With the Italian likely to depart Chelsea this summer, Boga hopes to experience being coached by a world-class manager once again in the future.

"There is not a lot of differences because they are both top managers at the top of their game," Boga said of the pair. 

"Mourinho was very good as well with me also. He gave me a lot of confidence. I did pre-season with him as well and he was always talking to me. I think they both are good coaches and are really focused on what they do. They notice every detail and don’t let anything get past them."