Chelsea chance can be the making of Ethan Ampadu
Opportunities have been limited for the Wales international, but his impressive display could be the springboard to finally cementing himself in manager Maurizio Sarri's immediate plans.
Ampadu, 18, is a highly-rated and prodigious talent who plays with a maturity above his formative years. Versatile in a range of defensive and midfield positions, his ability to read the game has seen him elevated through the intermediate ranks with Wales to establish himself as a senior team regular under manager Ryan Giggs.
However, while international opportunities have been plentiful, making the same impression at club level since his 2017 switch to Chelsea from Exeter City has proved to be frustrating.
Sarri has been reluctant to loan his young star out for more senior football experience, but rather than limiting his development, it suggests that there is a commitment from the Italian manager to reward his patience.
The son of current Monaco assistant manager Kwame Ampadu, the youngster has a solid family environment to receive the right advice and guidance, and 2019 could prove to be a pivotal year in his career.
Followers of the Welsh national team have been aware of Ampadu's talent since he played a key role in the Victory Shield successes of 2014 and 2015. Again playing at a level above his own age, the trend continued as he was fast-tracked through the U17, U19 and U21 teams before being handed his senior international debut by former manager Chris Coleman in 2017 in the friendly against France.
A headline name in Wales' next generation, Ampadu has shown his senior football credentials for his country throughout the calendar year, and is set to play an important role in EURO 2020 qualification.
If he can establish himself in the Chelsea team ahead of the opening qualifier against Slovakia in March, his stock will rise even further.
A number of clubs have tried to prise Ampadu away from Chelsea on-loan due to his chances remaining few and far between, with Chelsea legend Frank Lampard the latest to ask his former club for a favour as he looks to guide Derby County back to the Premier League.
Lampard is the latest to fail in such an attempt, and it has become increasingly clear that Sarri feels his young talent is ready to be trusted.
Sarri's faith will be rewarded
Sarri is a tactical disciplinarian and the wily Italian will appreciate Ampadu's mental maturity in his understanding of the game and how to successfully apply his plans.
With Cesc Fabregas set to depart for Monaco, Ampadu has automatically moved up the midfield pecking order and having waited so long for his opportunity, there is no doubt that he will make the most of any chance to impress.
Ironically, it was Ampadu who appeared more likely to make a temporary switch to Monaco following the appointment of his father as Thierry Henry's assistant in October 2018. Regular football in Ligue 1 would have been an interesting experience for the youngster, although their precarious position at the bottom of the table would have brought with it an unnecessary additional pressure.
Should Sarri believe enough in Ampadu to trust him to implement his role in his system effectively, he will be rewarded in the same way as Giggs has been rewarded for the faith he has shown in him with Wales.
His image is distinctive, and it is clear that he is not afraid to stand out from the crowd as he starts to make his name in the senior game. Big money transfers are common place at clubs like Chelsea, and despite their success at youth level, the rewards have not transferred into the senior team.
A high turnover of managers has emphasised the need for instant success at Stamford Bridge, and few managers have been backed to implement a long-term plan as the demands of competing at the highest-level dictate the entire operation.
Alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi, this an exciting time for Chelsea, and they have the opportunity to establish talented youngsters that are clearly ready into their starting line-up.
Sarri's job will depend on how successful they adapt to the senior game, but they must be trusted sooner rather than later as their heads are turned by the promise of regular football elsewhere.
The right time
There is every reason to believe that Ampadu is ready to make that step, and it is his mental maturity and tactical understanding in addition to his natural ability that should sway Sarri's faith in him.
However, his position with Wales appears cemented for the immediate future regardless, and there will be no shortage of interest if Chelsea choose not to take a chance on this prodigious young talent.