Nigerian defender makes permanent move to Italy
After a very good season enhancing his development, Chelsea defender Ola Aina has today completed his permanent move to Serie A side Torino after the Italian club exercised their €10m (approx. £8.9m) buy-option that was included in the loan agreement.
After making his debut for the Blues in the 2016/17 season, making six appearances for Antonio Conte’s side, the Nigerian international has decided to swap London for Turin as his home, despite Chelsea trying to convince Aina at the last minute that he did have a future at Stamford Bridge.
The 22-year-old will now move to Torino permanently after spending a successful season on loan at I Granata, making 32 appearances and scoring once as Walter Mazzarri’s men finished 7th in Serie A.
Aina joined the club back in 2007 at the under-11 level, winning two FA Youth Cups (2013-14 & 14-15) and two UEFA Youth League titles (2014-15 & 15-16) during a spell of unprecedented success at the Academy level.
Aina’s debut in a Chelsea shirt came against Bristol Rovers in August 2016 in the League Cup, making a further five appearances that season.
Aina then moved on loan to Hull City in the 2017-18 season, where he featured regularly for the Championship side, making 44 appearances and scoring once. It was during that season he made his senior international debut for Nigeria in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over Zambia.
Ola his Chelsea career as a right winger before moving into defence and establishing himself as a mobile full-back capable of playing on either side of the pitch, as well as at centre-back. And this versatility proved crucial for him as it gained valuable playing time at Torino, predominately playing on either flank as a wing-back, in either a 3-4-3 or a 3-5-2 system.
For me, him leaving was a bad move from a Chelsea perspective going forward. What compounds that belief even more is him leaving for a measly sum of less than £10m, considering the amount of money the club has wasted recently on ‘average’ players’.
With it becoming more likely with every passing day that Chelsea will not contest the current FIFA-imposed transfer ban, his versatility across the back-four would have added both quality and depth to our current squad. Especially so as I believe (& feel) he would offer more to the team than the likes of Marcos Alonso and Davide Zappacosta for example.
Unfortunately, Aina is another Chelsea academy prospect that has felt the brunt of the recent lack of faith, patience and confidence (from the club at a boardroom level especially) in the academy system as a whole and has decided to move on.
Our loss is their gain.