It had been expected, but it still came as a disappointment when it was confirmed.
Miroslav Stoch confirmed on his official website this afternoon that he has agreed a four-year deal with Turkish giants Fenerbahçe and will join the club after the World Cup. The Turkish league runners-up had announced the contract news earlier in the day.
The news is a particularly bitter pill to swallow for followers of the club’s youth and reserve ranks, for whom Miro was a star performer since arriving at the club in 2006. Having made a first-team debut in 2008/09, a successful loan spell in Holland at FC Twente saw him become a Dutch league champion, but in truth the signs had been far from positive on his future as far back as January.
Having been a revelation in the first half of the Dutch season, Chelsea chiefs offered the Slovakian international a new four-year contract. Stoch, however, wasn’t keen on signing unless he was guaranteed regular first team football.
Having been an integral part of a successful side for a year, coming back to London to sit on the bench wasn’t an appealing course of action. So he declined to sign immediately and chose to wait the season out.
This presented Chelsea with a conundrum, because Stoch’s contract expired in June 2011. If they chose to keep hold of the player and play him in a bit-part role, he would have been no happier to extend his Blues career and free to negotiate his own future on a free transfer midway through the 2010/11 season.
It’s a situation the club has previously found itself in, back in the summer of 2007. Then, Lassana Diarra was a teenager keen on regular action at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea didn’t feel he was ready, so negotiated his departure to Arsenal.
He has since landed at Real Madrid via Portsmouth and looks every inch an outstanding performer in his position – something undoubtedly known at Stamford Bridge, but not realised there due to a reluctance to give youth its chance.
Whether Miroslav would have been convinced to stay by becoming a regular next season is unknown, but for a player who has met every expectation in his career to date and surpassed them, it’s another shot to the stomach.
Top scorer for the Under-18 team twice, outstanding in the reserves, impressive cameo outings with the first team, a senior international heading to the World Cup and a key contributor for a Champions League team – but for some, it’s not enough.
Rumours suggest Carlo Ancelotti was none too enamoured with Stoch, and with his diminutive physique there will always be doubts as to his suitability to the game at the top level and his longevity in the game.
Whatever the reasoning, his future now lies in Turkey and Chelsea are set to receive a decent fee for him – reported to be in the region of £3m, but it remains unconfirmed at this time.
The question must be asked; if the most successful academy product in terms of achievements on the field of play cannot get into the first team, quite who can?
It’s never quite so simple but for players who are encouraged that merit will see them get their chance, it puts an element of doubt in their futures.
Chances of a top level career are incredibly slim anyway, but if opportunities aren’t forthcoming, they become even less realistic.
Doubting Carletto off the back of a double trophy success in his debut season in England may not appear to be a prudent approach, and he certainly seems to have his eyes on other young talent.
But with the World Cup starting tomorrow, waiting until after the tournament to secure any sale may have been a better course of action.
If Miroslav has a spectacular fortnight or more with Slovakia, Fenerbahce could well have had themselves a bargain.
In any event, they may well have anyway. News reports today link Aston Villa with £8m-rated tiny winger Mbark Boussoufa.
Where was he as a teenager? Where do you think?