Why Josh Maja could be a good long-term investment for Chelsea

According to The Sun, Chelsea have been credited with an interest in Nigerian international striker Josh Maja, who currently plies his trade with Bordeaux in Ligue 1. 

The Sun understands that Blues boss Frank Lampard is keen to bring in a new striker during the mid-season trading period in January to provide first-choice Tammy Abraham with some cover and competition, and Maja has been identified as a potential target. 

The Lewisham-born prodigy rose through the youth ranks at Fulham and Crystal Palace before turning professional with Sunderland.

Maja only featured sporadically for the Black Cats during the 2017-18 season that eventually ended in relegation from the Championship, but a tally of 15 goals in 24 League One appearances during the first half of the 2018-19 campaign was enough to warrant a coveted move to France with Bordeaux last January.

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Josh Maja has registered 5 goals and 2 assists in 16 Ligue 1 appearances for Bordeaux this season (Getty Images)

Having only played a bit-part role at his new club towards the back end of the previous campaign, Maja has managed to nail down a more substantial role this term. 

Despite only starting five Ligue 1 games so far, the 20-year-old striker has already bagged 5 goals and 2 assists in 16 appearances, including a hat-trick and a man-of-the-match performance in a 6-0 demolition of Nimes earlier in December.

The Nigerian’s bright start to life in France hasn’t eluded the eyes of other clubs and Josh Maja currently finds himself on the verge of earning a return to the country of his birth with Premier League giants Chelsea less than a year after departing Sunderland. 

Meanwhile, Chelsea are planning a staggering £150 million spending spree in January after a successful appeal against the transfer ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport that saw FIFA’s imposed embargo reduced to only a single window. 

As per the Daily Mail, the Blues have already lined up some stalwarts like Jadon Sancho, Ben Chilwell, Wilfried Zaha and several others to bolster their squad during the mid-season trading period but Josh Maja has now become the latest player to hit the club’s radar. 

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Maja shot to prominence with Sunderland in League One last season (Getty Images)

Chelsea had been flying high under Lampard following an impressive run of results earlier in the campaign, but a string of four losses in their last five Premier League fixtures has somewhat dented the team’s confidence ahead of a busy Christmas period while also allowing rivals Tottenham to close the gap on the top-four. 

The Blues still have a stranglehold on the 4th position in the standings but with a resurgent Tottenham side under Jose Mourinho breathing on their neck, Lampard will surely need to find a way to get the club’s campaign back on track after some recent slip-ups. 

To that end, Chelsea have already come under scrutiny numerous times this season due to their questionable defensive displays and that is something Lampard will definitely need to sort out moving forward. The Blues have already shipped 25 goals and an improvement on those numbers during the second half of the campaign could be the key to a top-four finish in the Premier League.

With that in mind, however, the utility of a new striking recruit in January certainly can’t be overruled, especially when the target in question is someone as exciting and talented as Josh Maja. 

Breakthrough star Tammy Abraham has already bagged 13 goals in all competitions but Lampard would be wise enough to relieve the pressure on him by bringing in another out-and-out striker during the mid-season window, with veteran Olivier Giroud expected to seek an exit from Stamford Bridge after falling out of favour under the new manager. (h/t Sun)

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Maja recently scored a hat-trick for Bordeaux in Ligue 1 (Getty Images)

Michy Batshuayi has shown that he is more than capable of making an impact when called upon as a substitute off the bench, but Chelsea will need to find a replacement for Giroud, with the Frenchman’s departure looking very much on the cards. 

Verdict

Abraham definitely looks capable of evolving into a top-quality asset to Chelsea if his goalscoring heroics this season are anything to go by but Maja, too, is a player in the right age bracket with loads of potential who could well go on to have a big future in the game. 

The 20-year-old’s rise to fame at Bordeaux has already earned him senior international recognition with Nigeria and his previous schooling in English football means that Maja shouldn’t find it difficult to settle down at Chelsea, who have been making waves with their youth project under Lampard this season. 

Indeed, with some handy Ligue 1 experience under his belt, Maja now looks better equipped to make the step up to the Premier League in the years to come than he was twelve months back, and Chelsea would be wise to look at him as a long-term prospect rather than an immediate game-changer in January. 

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Chelsea have been linked with a January move for Josh Maja (Getty Images)

Realistically, Chelsea shouldn’t have too many problems with Giroud’s impending departure, given that Abraham and Batshuayi are more than capable of doing a job. Hence, Maja would have adequate time to get to grips with the Premier League and eventually make strides at Stamford Bridge if a move were to materialize in January.

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Having said that, Chelsea could have a gem on their hands in the years to come if they manage to get a deal over the line to bring Josh Maja to the club in the upcoming transfer window.