A double UEFA Youth League winner with Chelsea, full-back Ola Aina has made the step up to the first-team squad this summer under the Blues' new manager Antonio Conte.
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This week Ola Aina emulated Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Jake Clarke-Salter – like the full-back, all double UEFA Youth League winners – by making his senior debut for Chelsea. Aina's 78-minute outing came after he signed a four-year contract in the summer and was heavily involved in the club's pre-season tours of Austria and the United States.
Name: Ola Aina
Debut: 23 August 2016 v Bristol Rovers
Born: 8 October 1996
Preferred foot: right
They say ...
"Selected at left-back, Aina did not look out of place performing in front of a near-40,000 crowd at Stamford Bridge."
chelseafc.com on Aina's debut against Bristol Rovers in the English League Cup
"It's right to give opportunities to young players like [Ruben] Loftus-Cheek with great talent to stay with the first team and help us. It's the same for Aina."
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Aina's affiliation with Chelsea began as an Under-11. Initially a right-winger, he soon moved to full-back, his versatility demonstrated when he played in central defence for the Blues' U21 side as they claimed their domestic title in 2013/14, Aina's debut season as a scholar. The Londoner featured in every match of Chelsea's triumphant 2014/15 UEFA Youth League campaign and was a mainstay of the team that retained the trophy last term, starting at left-back in the semi-final and final in Nyon.
Playing style ...
Quick and athletic, Aina loves to get forward and deliver early crosses.
Shades of ...
Antonio Valencia – a right-footed winger turned full-back. Much like Aina.
Eureka moment ...
Aina figured in each of Chelsea's six pre-season games, all but two as a starter. Named on the bench for a Premier League encounter at Swansea City in April and the opening two top-flight fixtures of 2016/17, Aina finally got a taste of first-team action in a 3-2 victory over Bristol Rovers on Tuesday.
Best-case scenario ...
Aina's versatility offers Conte options, particularly with Kurt Zouma still months away from a return. Of Chelsea's senior defenders, only César Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanović are full-backs, meaning Aina is likely to be a regular presence in matchday squads this season.
He says ...
"I am delighted to sign a new four-year deal and commit myself to the club for that period. I am very happy and want to keep progressing this season."
After pledging his future to Chelsea in early July
"It is the best feeling to be there in front of the fans. It is a team I have supported from three years old, so it is a dream come true."
On stepping out at Stamford Bridge for his senior debut