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Gaël Kakuta, unfortunately, has been more famous for almost getting Chelsea almost banned from making signings for two windows, than for his on-field contribution for the Blues since his 2007 move from Lens.
Now having spent last season on loan at La Liga rivals Rayo Vallecano, he will join Europa League winners, Sevilla.
Born in Lille, Kakuta was labelled the “next Zidane”, a title more or less every exciting young Frenchman is given. But that was not what got Chelsea fans excited. The Frenchman shone upon his arrival. He did incredibly well in the academy. He earned the Academy Scholar of the Year award after his first season with the Blues and was also voted Academy Player of the Year after finishing the campaign as the top scorer of the youth side with 12 goals in 24 appearances, an impressive feat.
He only got occasional first-team action under Carlo Ancelotti’s management. But Ancelotti did rate the player quite highly. After his Champions League debut against APOEL, the Italian raved about the player’s performance, “We had no intensity and no concentration, it was a very bad game from us. The only positive of the night was Gaël Kakuta. He played very well, he showed his fantastic talent. He trains very well everyday and will be the future of Chelsea.”
This was where things were heading for the player. Unfortunately, he went through the Chelsea loan policy and somehow got badly caught in that grinder. He’s been more or less constantly out on loan since January, 2011. That is arguably one of the major contributors to his stunted development.
What if the player had remained at Chelsea and continued to play for the club, working his way into the side (even slowly) and subsequently becoming an integral first team contender, or not as well. Things could have been very different for the winger. Loans to Fulham, Bolton, Dijon, Vitesse Arnhem, Lazio and Rayo Vallecano have followed since.
At Rayo, he made 35 appearances and scored five goals along with grabbing seven assists, in the recently concluded season. He now looks like an established senior player. Remarkably, he just turned 24 so he has not hit that phase too late.
There is absolutely no denying Kakuta is blessed with utmost talent and skill, he has incredible pace his dribbling skill is delightful, he has a fantastic vision – one that can pick a pass in the tightest of situation –and his end product is mostly really good. Last season at Rayo, he showed what he himself, was touted to go on and do. He established himself as one of Paco Jémez’s key players.
He leaves Chelsea eight years after he arrived, but is fortunate enough to go to an ambitious and exciting European side in Unai Emery’s Sevilla. The Spanish side won its second consecutive Europa League and features in the Champions League next season. Kakuta finds himself in good hands as he has a top coach in Emery, someone who has proved he can get the best out of players.
He has now found a new club and there is nothing tying him back to Chelsea and the horror eight years he has endured. His talent needs to materialize now. At 24, he is not beyond his years to do the same. He still has a year or two before he can even hit his peak.
Coach Emery however, will have to play a big part in it. He needs to be believed in and given the right sort of coaching. Moreover, he needs a lot of game-time. With Sevilla participating in all possible competitions, he will get a chance to do so. He needs to establish himself in Emery’s first team plans and live up to his own name.
At Chelsea, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Carlo Ancelotti spoke highly of him, touting him as the next big thing. Unfortunately for them, for him and for the club and its fans, the potential was never realized.
It will be interesting to see if the “unfulfilled prodigy” shakes off this unwelcoming title at Seville.
Written by Aakriti Mehrotra
Follow Aakriti on Twitter @Aakriti1
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