As the famous quote goes “respect is earned, not given.” One young footballer epitomises this phrase. Chelsea forward Patrick Bamford has joined fellow Premier League club Crystal Palace on a season-long loan, but not before signing a new three-year deal with the Premier League champions.
The loan market can be a cruel place for any young footballer trying to earn a living at the top of the game. Being loaned out to numerous Football League clubs without really getting a look in before being released on a free because they didn’t live up to their potential. It’s a harsh world football and, sadly, this is a common occurrence.
Bamford’s development through the leagues shows how well the loan market can be used, though, and Chelsea should be credited for this as he's improved year on year.
The 21-year-old moved to Chelsea in January 2012 from Nottingham Forest for a fee of £1.5million. For the rest of the season, Bamford plied his trade in the reserves and youth teams and quickly showed his potential.
In November 2012, Milton Keynes secured the services of Bamford on loan and on his MK debut he ended the match with three assists. Bamford had done enough to impress boss Karl Robinson and his loan was extended until January of the following season.
Bamford scored 14 league goals in 23 appearances within six-months for Milton Keynes and became a fans' favourite. His form, unsurprisingly, attracted admirers from the Championship. The tick was put next to 'League One Football' and Bamford moved to second tier side Derby to complete the season.
The young Englishman scored a further eight goals during his spell at Pride Park and helped push Derby into the play-off final. At this stage, Bamford was showing real maturity for his age and was demonstrating his adaptability and eye for goal in a very competitive league.
After his spell with The Rams, Bamford returned to Chelsea. He was part of their pre-season tour and was in Jose Mourinho’s plans for the upcoming season. However, the signing of club legend Didier Drogba meant Bamford would not be getting as much game time at Chelsea as he probably originally thought and was subsequently loaned out to another Championship side in Middlesbrough.
Of course, as the story goes with Bamford, he was a hit at his new club and was one of their best players throughout the season. He once again helped a side in the division reach a play-off final but, once again, was on the receiving end of a defeat. During his season long loan in the North East, Bamford scored 17 league goals in 38 games. Alongside Jelle Vossen, he shone.
Bamford also scored goals against Premier League opposition. In Middlesbrough’s FA Cup run he helped himself to a goal against Manchester City as his side reminded us of the magic of the cup as they shocked the Premier League big boys. He also helped himself to a goal against Liverpool in the League Cup showing, once again, that he can terrorise defences containing internationally known players.
At the customary End of Season Awards, Bamford was nominated for Championship Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year. He went on to win the first award, but lost out on the second to close friend Dele Alli of former club Milton Keynes. With Bamford putting a tick next to 'The Championship', a chance in the Premier League seemed to be on the cards, with or without Chelsea.
Pardew's Palace came calling after rumours Bamford might make the Chelsea squad, but the promise of a more realistic first-team chance and less pressure at Crystal Palace probably appealed.
Bamford offers something different to every Palace striker. He combines pace with a lovely touch and his overall intelligence on the pitch is clear to see. Crystal Palace do have Glenn Murray who proved himself towards the end last season but he’s showing his age and is on the way down, whereas momentum is firmly on Bamford's side.
Before joining Palace, Patrick Bamford was being tracked by the likes of Everton, Aston Villa and Newcastle so it’s easy to see how highly Premier League clubs rate the Englishman. Alan Pardew was quoted as saying: “It’s a coup for Crystal Palace ahead of a host of rivals.”
With the class that the Eagles have behind Bamford, he will be inundated with chances and will be keen to impress Eddie Newton, Paulo Ferreira and Jose Mourinho back at Chelsea after putting a tick next to 'Premier League Football'.
Bamford’s given the lower leagues a go and more than impressed. He's thoroughly deserving of his chance in the Premier League and has all the attributes to not only succeed at Palace, but Chelsea too. Hopefully this time next year he’ll be lining up alongside Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. Is he capable? Most definitely.
By Callum Read – @