Analysing Chelsea Academy striker Bryan Solhaug Fiabema

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: A sunset behind the corner flag inside the stadium ahead the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday at Stamford Bridge on January 27, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: A sunset behind the corner flag inside the stadium ahead the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday at Stamford Bridge on January 27, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

Taking a look at the young Norwegian who has been turning heads with his recent performances in the youth set-up at Chelsea.

Years from now it will be a quiz question for the ages: who was Chelsea’s first signing under Frank Lampard? Some might answer Hakim Ziyech with confidence, while others might rack their brain trying to remember who came first, Timo Werner or Kai Havertz. Either way, many will be surprised to hear the name Bryan Fiabema as the answer to that trivial ask.

After joining Chelsea from Norwegian side Tromso IL on January 1, 2020 for a fee of £540,000, the young striker—now 17-years old—has had an incredible 11 months in the academy set-up. Let’s take a look back at his journey not only with the Blues thus far, but also the one leading up to his time at Cobham.

Fiabema joined his local side in 2016, who was playing in Eliteserien—Norway’s top flight—at the time. The division has been a great incubator for developing players, while also giving first team experience at noticeably young ages. Two examples of this are Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland. In 2015, Odegaard became the youngest player to ever play in Norway’s top division, at 15 years and 158 days. Just 11 days later, he would go on to earn the accolade of becoming the division’s youngest ever goalscorer. Haaland on the other hand, made his Eliteserien debut in 2017—just a month shy of his 17th birthday—scoring the winning goal six minutes after being introduced as a substitute.

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Although Fiabema was not able to get as many minutes compared to other Norwegian talents—recording just one substitute appearance—he was able to get minutes at the international youth level. There, he represented and scored for the Norwegain National Team at every level from U13 to U17. Ultimately, it was only after a trial with the Blues that he was able to seal a move to west London.

Upon starting the next phase in his young career, Fiabema was placed in Chelsea’s U18s, but progressed quickly. He made one substitute appearance before getting his chance in the Development Squad, coming on once again as a substitute in a 1-0 win against Everton U23s. He would play as the lone striker from the 62′ on, with a freshly rehabilitated Ruben Loftus-Cheek playing behind him in a 4-2-3-1.

This season, the young Norwegian has been able to continue his progression at a fantastic rate. After starting the campaign in the U18s, he was once again moved back to the Development Squad, where he has remained a key player. He has been in fantastic scoring form, registering four goals in five appearances as a part of England’s reserve league, known as Premier League 2. Watching video footage of him playing for both club and country, he has shown himself to be a confident player who loves to attack from central areas. From these areas, he shows off his anticipation and positional awareness. Furthermore, he has displayed a cool head from the penalty spot, calmly putting away two penalties against Walsall and Liverpool.

Simply put, Fiabema is a highly adept striker. His prowess up front and natural eye for goal can be summed up with two wonderful strikes against Derby County U23s, which changed the game and helped Chelsea turn around a 2-1 deficit. The first, a left-footed shot from outside the box, he managed to squeeze the ball in from a tight position after it got away from the Derby defenders. The second is taken after a lovely run from Thierno Ballo into the box from the left side. Fiabema ran through the middle, anticipating the incoming pass, and putting the ball away nicely to the keepers right. He scored despite pressure from a number of surrounding defenders. The two goals showed his technical ability, scoring with both feet and taking his shots first time.

While the young Norwegian has shown his exploits whenever he has been given the opportunity, his winning goal against Manchester United in the semifinal of the FA Youth Cup is undoubtedly his stand-out moment this season. In a game that was broadcast live in the United Kingdom, Fiabema again showed his ability to exploit space in central areas and hit a first time shot into the roof of the net. Although the subsequent final ended in disappointment, with Chelsea succumbing to a 3-2 defeat against Manchester City, the goal that sent them to yet another FA Youth Cup final will have not just put him on the radar of Chelsea fans, but surely on the radar of the first team coaching staff.

With Armando Broja following in the steps of Mason Mount and spending a season in the Eredivisie with Vitesse Arnhem, Fiabema is quickly gaining a reputation as the star striker in Chelsea’s youth set-up. If he can keep his confidence high and keep performing on the pitch, one would think that he will be marked for a call up to the senior squad, alongside Development Squad captain Tino Anjorin, who is highly regarded at the club and has already been handed two senior appearances under Lampard.

Of course, it is too early to tell what the next steps will be for Fiabema. In a club that demands excellence across all teams, Andy Myers will be pleased to have a new exciting talent that he can assist in moulding into a player good enough to take the leap into the first team. All while simultaneously helping him to clinch a second successive Premier League 2 title. The club, however, will probably want to assess him for at least another season before a loan move would be on the cards. Given where his ability is at right now, a season or two in the Bundesliga could be the perfect challenge for him. In Germany, he could flourish playing against high defensive lines while having to deal with the physical challenges of playing at the highest level.

Chelsea’s record of keeping young players focused, whether they make the grade into the first team or not, has been excellent over many years. This, paired with his ability, should give him the opportunity to realise his potential. Whatever the future holds, these are exciting times for Fiabema and the future of the No. 10 role at Stamford Bridge.

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Who is the player in Chelsea’s academy you’ll be keeping an eye on in years to come? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!