The Chelsea reserve team will be getting underway today at 9 AM EST, beginning their title defense against Sunderland. The reserve team has undergone quite a bit of turnover as players like Jacopo Sala, Gorkan Tore, and Fabio Borini have all moved on. The team will still be loaded with talent, however, as players like Oriol Romeu, Josh McEachran and Romelu Lukaku will probably still see plenty of action there to keep sharp. We also have a very promising defense with Danny Pappoe, Nathaniel Chalobah, and Tomas Kalas all in the center. Throw in names like Ryan Bertrand, Patrick van Aanholt, Billy Clifford, Connor Clifford, and Milan Lalkovic and there are quite a few reasons to pay attention. There's one more very interesting name we should be adding to that list, however, and we'll take a quick look at him now.
Aliu Djalo (nicknamed "Kaby"), joined the club as a 15 year old in 2007. He was born in Guinea-Bissau, and began playing in Portugal for Boavista at the age of 11. Now 19, the 5'6" midfielder is comfortable playing centrally or out on the left. He's known for being an attack minded player, and he's extremely agile and good with the ball at his feet. He's involved in the Portugese U18 squad, and will likely graduate to the U19's beginning this fall with hopes of eventually slotting into the U20 squad for the 2013 World Cup.
Kaby was very raw when he arrived, possessing tons of tricks and skills but not really adapting to the quick passing game Chelsea asked him to employ. He made a huge leap in that department last season, probably putting himself on the teams radar as a prospect for this season. His passing has been improving over the last several seasons, and with that improvement he managed to graduate from the youth squad to the reserves about midway through last season. He definitely adds a different element to the team, and was one of their better players in linking the defense to the attack last year.
His attitude and leadership are not in question at all. Prior to graduating the youth squad, he often found himself captaining the side. He's a very active player who covers lot's of ground every match, much in the mold of Ramires. He's also a very willing tackler, not afraid to take on players much larger than himself. Unfortunately though, he's not really very good at it. He's tended to have a habit of picking up lots of yellows and reds for poor tackles, often going in late. He certainly needs to improve on that skill if he's ever going to contribute to the first team. Here's a short video of Kaby so you can get a brief look at him:
I wouldn't expect Kaby to make any sort of impact on the first team this season, but if he impresses in the reserves early on I could see him being a candidate to be sent out on loan for the second half of this season. He's certainly one to keep an eye on, as he was starting to look very good at the end of last season. I'll be interested to see him playing at the reserve level regularly this season, as I'm really quite curious as to what we have with him.