After months of speculations as to where Nigeria defender, Ola Aina will ply his trade next season, Chelsea on Wednesday confirmed that the AFCON bound defender has joined Serie A side, Torino on a permanent deal
English Premier League club, Chelsea on Wednesday announced Nigeria defender Ola Aina has joined Serie A side, Torino on a permanent deal after spending last season on loan at Torino and made a huge impression at the club prompting the Italian club to trigger a buyout option in their loan agreement.
“Everyone at Chelsea Football Club would like to thank Ola for his services and we wish him the best of luck for the next stage in his career,” a statement on Chelsea’s official website read in part, while Torino also posted a short message on their Social Media platforms expressing their delight on the permanent acquisition of Aina from Chelsea.
The 22-year-old defender made 30 league appearances as Torino finished seventh, scoring his first goal for the club in a 1-0 win over Udinese in February.
Regular playing time had been hard Ola Aina to come by with more experienced players like Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonzo and Emerson at Chelsea’s fold, culminating in a loan spell with Hull City penultimate season before another loan to Torino last season.
The Chelsea loanee enjoyed a cult hero among Torino fans with his performance, prompting the Serie A club clamouring to make the loan deal permanent, but doubts were cast as to if Chelsea would want to release him permanently considering a two transfer window ban hanging on the ‘neck’ of the London club.
In January, with season at the halfway stage Aina was named the fastest player in the Italian Serie A.
The official website of the Lega Calcio published infographics of the first round of the Serie A and the Chelsea loanee reached the highest speed peak calculated over a period of three seconds.
The Nigerian wing-back clocked a top speed of 29.66 kilometres per hour to rank first, though Aina has to improve in the defensive phase, he is considered Nigeria’s best offensive wing-back at the moment and his strengths are his pace and acceleration, which helps him against his opponents.
Aina has seen Cesar Azpilicueta consolidate his right-back position at Chelsea last term under manager Maurizio Sarri and even captaining the Blues. “The football here is very tactical. You have to concentrate a lot. They spend a lot of time on set-pieces and getting the right movement. “It has been very good so far and I’m loving it,’’ Aina said.
Aina played in all but three games this season for Torino. He has low-key been one of the loan army’s success stories of the season. Despite playing most his time at Chelsea and his 2017/18 loan at Hull City on the right, he has been Torino’s starting left wing-back since opening day.
Aina has done more than enough to warrant Torino executing his £10 million option to buy. Torino, who ended seventh in the Serie A table needed reinforcements for the additional coming campaign.
Aina has said severally he is delighted with his new environment and the opportunity to hone his skills in Italy after he joined Walter Mazzarri’s men temporarily for the 2018-19 campaign after extending his contract with Chelsea to 2021 last month.
After spending the majority of his career in England which included a season-long spell with Hull City last term, the 22-year-old highlighted differences between the two countries.
“I really like Turin. It’s not as big as London, but it’s a bit more relaxed and relaxing, a bit like me. In England, we train a lot in the morning, here it’s more the afternoon. I’m getting used to it though. Everyone is adapting to me, and obviously vice-versa. My teammates have made me feel good from the beginning, I thank them because it made it much easier for me to settle in,” Aina was quoted as saying by Football Italia.
“Serie A is very different from the Premier League, the football in England is more physical and fast. It’s slower here and there’s more time to think, but you need a very different, more intense, attention to tactics. That’s good for me because that’s exactly what I need to improve.
“I chose Torino because of the coach Walter Mazzarri, I talked to him and I got the feeling he wanted me and wanted to help me grow. I also felt he wanted me to work for him, that I could be important for his cause. Then, of course, Torino have a great history and the Italian league is one of the best, so I couldn’t say no.”
The 22-year-old believes he started brightly last season, and looks to continue to make a good impression on the first team.
He said: “I have started very well this season, thanks also to my team mates and to the coach, when there are challenges I always face them openly because I believe in my potential.”
He went on to praise Mazzari’s tactics and team set up, emphasising how he likes to be given the freedom to attack as well as defend.
Little wonder he has suddenly become a vital part of the team.
“I’ve been enjoying it so far. I’m enjoying training and the games, and all the challenges as there are some top sides here. I’m settling in just fine. My Italian was good but it’s dipped a little.” “The difference is a lot,” Ola Aina said. “The level is a lot higher, the concentration and tactical side of things are a lot higher than the Championship. For me, that is what is key for me this season. Right now, the squad are just focusing on each other, and to take each match as it comes. We want to play good football and get as many points as possible and win games. So if we can focus on this, then who knows.”
Normally placed on the right side, Aina has been operating on the left, though he admitted it makes no difference where he plays.
“Both right and left are the same,” Aina continued, “the only difference is you have to use your other foot. Simple really.”
He was born in the London and was raised by two Nigerian parents, he was also one step away from participating in the last World Cup in Russia: he was in fact included in the preliminary list, but was not chosen in the final 23.
Aina said, “I only arrived in August, but I immediately got along well with my new teammates, I tied up with Meite, Ferigra, Edera, but also with many others. “I feel at home and for this I thank them. I started this season very well thanks to my teammates and to the coach. When there are challenges I always face them openly because I believe a lot in my potential.
“Chelsea allowed me to be here because they know that this is an excellent championship and an opportunity to improve even tactically, I chose Torino because I talked to the coach and he immediately made me feel important for this team, and then because this club has an important history.”
The 22-year-old Chelsea Academy product is good in making short passes and is a good dribbler. He was a right winger when he first joined The Blues at U11 level before he was converted into a defender.