A player who holds the record (and forever will) of being the first player born after the UEFA Champions League started on 25 November 1992 to take part in the competition, Joshua Mark McEachran the Chelsea prodigy.
At just 20, he is one of the finest prospects in English football today. The natural successor for the No. 8 role. The next Lampard. A debut for a club at which he joined at the age of 7 in the Champions League at the age of 17, it doesn’t get bigger than this. But all is not well for Josh. A closer look reveals how uncertain his Chelsea future is.
Chelsea Young Player of the Year in 2011 seems to be struggling to get a foothold at the club and has been forced to look elsewhere at least temporarily. He made a total of 22 appearances for Chelsea in his breakthrough year and after. Although he wasn’t technically involved in any goals, he still impressed as he showed vision in creating them and playing the ball before the assist on many occasions.
Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, Ray Wilkins and Stuart Pearce are among many who have showered praises on Josh. Constantly being compared to Wilshere, Modric and Nasri with his style of play he certainly does justice to the comparisons.
Fast forward to the year 2013. And you see a player who has been loaned thrice and currently at championship side Watford F.C. being spoken about still in terms of potential and not achievements.
Jack Wilshere though only 14 months older to him has gone on from being an exciting prospect to being an integral cog in the midfield for club and country. He has played over 100 games for Arsenal and has been capped 11 times for England already. Arsene Wenger’s youth policy clearly getting the better of Chelsea’s ever changing managerial policy, another reason for his fluctuating fortunes.
He broke through under Ancelotti and was made to play a more advanced role by AVB and before he could really settle in it was Roberto Di Matteo’s turn to roll the dice and he wasn’t particularly favoured by the Italian and nor did Benitez favour him. And was loaned out to Swansea and Middlesbrough.
At the end of January 2nd 2014 Josh will again be available to Chelsea as his current loan period effectively ends. He will come home to a team packed with quality midfielders. Not just quality but raw young talent much similar to his. With Ramires, Mata and Mikel at their peak and Oscar, Hazard, Van Ginkel, Schurrel, de Bruyne only getting better and Mosses, Piazon, Marin and Romeu returning from loan at the end of the season, Josh has his work cut out.
Assessing the options he has, the most likely choice is to set out on loan again. Van Ginkel just 4 months older to him and with so much quality will definitely get the nod over him. What favours Josh is his versatility. He has the ability to play as an attacking midfielder as well as a deep lying playmaker.
Lampard can’t play every game like he used to and Essien and Mikel aren’t the same quality players they once were so maybe Josh gets the nod and will be asked to stay. A lot will depend on his mind set though. Will he settle for crumbs at Chelsea or would he be happier playing a bigger role at a smaller club.
The Chelsea prodigy has tough decisions to make in the near future and Chelsea have no intention of letting him go either. Chelsea could loan him to a premier league side again but there is no guarantee that he won’t rot on the bench like how he did at Swansea.
Another option would be to loan him out to other leagues maybe a Champions League playing club, like how Courtois is being handled but lately with all the rumours going about even his situation is likely to get tricky. Whatever may be the decision he makes he will still have enough time to prove himself as he has July 2016 until his contract runs out and a player of his quality is bound to greatness.