Why ‘mentality monster’ Madueke is destined for Chelsea stardom


ightning-fast Noni Madueke is in a hurry to make an impact at Chelsea after returning to London from the Netherlands.

The 20-year-old former Crystal Palace and Tottenham academy star is back in town, after the Blues paid £29million to sign him from PSV Eindhoven.

Madueke, who was born in Barnet, forged a career for himself in the Eredivisie after leaving Spurs at the age of 16 in search of first-team football.

Now, the winger who once described himself as “a bit of a showman” is ready to help ignite a stagnant Chelsea attack alongside fellow January signings Mykhailo Mudryk and Joao Felix.

Madueke is set to go straight into contention for a starting spot under Graham Potter, following his move to Stamford Bridge last week.

A left-footed, right-sided player with bags of confidence, he describes himself as someone “who tries to beat players” and with “an eye for goal”.

Newest recruit: Noni Madueke is tipped for immediate and long-term success at Chelsea

/ Chelsea FC via Getty Images

He faces strong competition from the 11 senior forwards in the Chelsea squad, but has backed himself to make his mark, after refining his attacking instincts with the help of Ruud van Nistelrooy in the Netherlands.

Madueke joined Palace aged nine and spent three years there before moving to Tottenham. He played for Spurs Under-18s at the age of 15, but after four years in their academy took the brave decision to leave England and reject interest from Chelsea and Manchester United to join PSV in 2018.

He felt the club which helped along Van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben and Ronaldo Nazario could provide excellent coaching, along with a faster pathway to the first team. Van Nistelrooy was his first coach in the Under-19s and took over as head coach last year.

Madueke made his first-team debut for PSV aged 17 and flourished in the Eredivisie, winning the Dutch Cup last season and getting experience in the Champions League.

He totalled 20 goals and 14 assists in 80 appearances in all competitions. Perhaps his most memorable moment was when he scored two goals in a 4-0 demolition of Ajax in the Dutch Super Cup at the start of last season. Before that match, former Chelsea and Tottenham academy coach Saul Isaksson-Hurst had been hired to provide Madueke with individual technical coaching.

“He is unbelievable technically,” says Isaksson-Hurst. “He is sharp, explosive and great one versus one. Physically, he is a great athlete, has pace and size. He looks the part as well!”

Another big part of his make-up is his mentality, built by moving abroad at a young age and hard lessons dished out in the PSV changing room by Netherlands right-back Denzel Dumfries.

Dumfries, a Chelsea target now at Inter Milan, and former Tottenham forward Steven Bergwijn, now at Ajax, performed a good-cop, bad-cop routine with Madueke. It led Madueke to being obsessed with “extras” and inviting coach Isaksson-Hurst, who runs a training business — My Personal Football Coach — on his holiday.

“I work with a lot of players, but he just has intensity and desire — and his will to be the best is second to none,” says Isaksson-Hurst. “Noni is just a mentality monster. Sometimes I tell him to calm it down a bit, because he always trains as much as he physically can.

“For example, when we were in Marbella, a lot of his fellow professionals are out at the beach bars in the day partying, and he is training with me in the heat. That’s what sets him apart from the others. He wants to be the best.”

Noni is just a mentality monster. Sometimes I tell him to calm it down a bit, because he always trains as much as he physically can

New Chelsea sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Christopher Vivell tracked Madueke’s development at their previous clubs, Brighton and RB Leipzig respectively, before bringing him to Stamford Bridge.

The excitement around Madueke is dampened slightly by his injury record. He has missed 43 games all competitions over the last two seasons due to hamstring and ankle issues.

But Chelsea feel his work rate will help him avoid further hamstring injuries and are confident they can mould him into a future star.

They also want him to have an impact now, to help ignite a stuttering Chelsea attack that has scored just 22 goals in 20 Premier League matches and has lacked pace and creativity. Their new No31 has those two qualities in abundance.

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