Mason Mount’s senior career kicked off with an excellent loan spell with Vitesse in 2016/17, and in 2020/21, we’re seeing what could be the start of another fantastic career for 19-year-old Armando Broja.
The Albanian striker, who made his debut for the Chelsea first team in March 2020’s 4-0 win over Everton, currently sits on nine goals from 23 appearances in the Eredivisie, making him the highest-scoring teenager playing in any of Europe’s top ten divisions.
For comparison, Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed the same tally in his debut season with Ajax, while Luis Suarez bagged ten for Groningen. With those numbers under his belt, it’s clear we need to start talking about Broja.
Apart from that four-minute cameo against Everton, most Chelsea fans probably haven’t seen Broja in action. Fortunately for them, they should have a front row seat when he features for Albania against England in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier.
To say England fans will see Broja at his best might be a bit of a stretch. After all, Albania aren’t exactly brimming with attacking talent, and their opportunities to punish England will be few and far between, but whoever starts at the back for Gareth Southgate’s side will know they have been in a battle after Broja is done with them.
A tall, powerful striker, Broja is a bit more of a throwback who enjoys using his body to his advantage. That’s no surprise given he grew up idolising Didier Drogba and has tried to emulate Tammy Abraham’s success at club level.
However, to say he’s a classic bruiser would be a disservice to Broja, who has added the technical ability with his feet that you need to make it in the modern game. He’s comfortable running at defenders and, most importantly, has the elite positioning and instincts needed to find himself in goalscoring spots.
We’ve seen that skillset carry over on to the senior stage, where Broja has been making waves for Vitesse. His goals haven’t always been glamorous as Broja often ends up bagging headers, tap-ins or rebounded efforts, but it’s that ugly side to finishing that Chelsea have been lacking in recent years.
Whenever a cross comes into the box, nobody in Thomas Tuchel’s side seems to be there. When a strike bounces back off the goalkeeper, nobody in Chelsea blue has gambled and tried to pick up the scraps. It’s what has left them longing for a striker like Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland or Inter’s Romelu Lukaku to come in and sort things out.
Those two are obviously in a league of their own, and even the most biased of fans would accept that Broja has a long way to go before he can be seen as anywhere close to that level, but he has shown the kinds of skills that could make a real difference in this Chelsea side.
With Timo Werner misfiring and both Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud facing uncertain futures at Stamford Bridge, there’s a gap in the squad for Broja to exploit.
Frank Lampard was known to be a big fan of Broja, and although Tuchel might not be aware of the youngster just yet, he should be keeping a very close eye on his development.