From France to Belgium and Russia, he has never been short of suitors. However, playing for his parent club-Chelsea, at the senior level is Ike Ugbo’s ultimate ambition
Super Eagles hopeful Ike Ugbo, is attracting huge interest from clubs in the Belgian First Division A and French Ligue 1 after stellar performances for Cercle Brugge, where he is on loan from Chelsea until season’s end.
The 22-year-old English star of Nigerian descent’s outstanding performance has not gone unnoticed, scoring 10 goals in 16 appearances in the division.
Racing Genk have identified the Chelsea-owned striker as a potential replacement for Nigerian international Paul Onuachu, who is on the radar of big five European League clubs following the banner season he’s having.
Ugbo is also a key target for Belgian champions Club Brugge and there is also interest from Marseille in France.
Interested clubs have been speaking directly with Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia to enquire about the availability of the former England U-17 international.
Ugbo is planning to finish the season at Cercle Brugge before making a decision on his next career step.
The 22-year-old extended his contract with the Blues until at least June 30, 2022 before heading to Cercle Brugge on loan.
Meanwhile, Chelsea face a battle to hang on to the rising star after rejecting a £3 million offer for their emerging striker.
Ugbo’s impressing form has also triggered a bid from Russian top-flight club FC Rostov – which has already been turned down by the Blues. FC Rostov had a £3 million bid for Ugbo rejected by Chelsea.
But Ugbo’s progression on loan is causing rival clubs to take notice of the Chelsea academy kid, who has been with them since Under-10 level.
Ugbo won the FA Youth Cup under then Chelsea U-18 coach Jody Morris, who is now assistant to first team head coach Frank Lampard.
He has also represented England at youth level and is under contract at Chelsea until 2022 after extending his contract last season.
Ugbo has also been on loan at Barnsley, Scunthorpe and in Holland with FC Roda and is a highly-rated product of Chelsea’s youth academy.
He is eager to follow in the footsteps of fellow academy graduates Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Reece James by breaking into the first team at Stamford Bridge.
“I’m a true Londoner and, in my eyes, Chelsea will always be the biggest club in the capital.
“Chelsea would be the ultimate dream. As a kid, I admired Didier Drogba and John Terry.
“It’s up to me to prove that I’m ready for an eventual return,” Ugbo said.
A number of youngsters have found success in recent years after quitting Chelsea on a permanent basis in search of first-team action.
Nathan Ake impressed in three seasons at Bournemouth to earn a £41m switch to Manchester City, while Tariq Lamptey has earned rave reviews at Brighton.
On the continent, Jeremie Boga has established himself in Serie A with Sassuolo, scoring 11 league goals last term.
Cercle have an option to sign him for €5m, but the London-born striker is determined to make a name for himself at the Bridge.
Ugbo’s spell in Belgium is his fifth loan spell away from the Bridge. The youngster also gave a good account of himself in the 2019/20 season at JC Roda in the Dutch second division.
Ugbo keen on forcing his way into Chelsea first-team setup, speaking to Sport/Foot, claimed that he wants to force his way into the Blues’ first-team.
In 15 games for the Chelsea U-18 side, Ugbo scored 10 goals, while he has 15 strikes to his name in 34 games for the U-23s.
However, he has never made a first-team appearance for the Blues and instead, has been farmed out on loan constantly. Ugbo, till date, has had temporary stints at Barnsley, MK Dons, Scunthorpe United and Roda JC before signing for Cercle Brugge this past summer.
With Olivier Giroud not getting any younger, Chelsea could be in the market for a replacement once the Frenchman’s contract expires in the summer.
Ugbo is well placed to show he has what it takes to replace the veteran striker next season. He has his heart at Chelsea, now it has to be seen if he can back it up with his skills.