Occasionally, a young player springs up at Chelsea who is sure to make it for your club. Lucas Piazon was seen by many as someone who could. To break the worrying trend the club had developed of never giving academy players a chance.
Piazon did not grow up training and playing with his teammates at Cobham. Instead, the Blues paid a hefty fee to Sao Paulo for the then 17-year-old Brazilian, beating out the likes of Juventus. He arrived at the club in early 2011 but had to wait a whole year before being deemed eligible to play for the senior team.
2011/12 was a memorable year for Chelsea, more so than most. The season started turbulently but culminated in the senior side winning the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup. Meanwhile, the club’s youth team replicated the latter success – winning the FA Youth Cup – with Piazon playing a key role. The Brazilian was declared the Blues “Young Player of the Year” for the campaign.
The early promise shown by Piazon intensified when he scored against Paris Saint Germain during Chelsea’s tour of the United States in summer 2012. He featured heavily in friendly matches, a sign many fans took to assume his involvement in the upcoming season. Those assumptions turned into confidence when Roberto Di Matteo named him in Chelsea’s Champions League squad for the 2012/13 campaign, dropping club great Florent Malouda in the process.
That same campaign was the closest Piazon came to breaking into the first team. He started twice in the EFL Cup – against Wolves and Manchester United – before making his Premier League bow against Aston Villa. The game will always be remembered by his bright cameo, during which he assisted Ramires, won a penalty, took it and saw it saved by Brad Guzan.
Piazon had talent, time, accolades, and the backing of the club; where did it all go wrong then? It started in 2013 with a loan to Malaga.