During the spring of 2017, a sea of potential suitors enveloped the then-16-year-old Daishawn Redan.
Linked with a move to a number of top European clubs including RB Leipzig, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea, Ajax were desperate to keep hold of him, and it got too much for the youngster, who did not play for six months, a decision he regrets. “It was a dumb thing to do,” lamented Redan.
In his first season at Ajax, he scored 44 goals, and he then did it all over again in 2013/14 for the under 14s. His lethal goalscoring ability caught the attention of Chelsea scouts, and Redan would turn down a contract renewal from Ajax, as well as offers from other clubs in order to sign with Chelsea in the summer of 2017. Redan’s first season in London would see him rapidly develop; after starting the season with the Under-18s, Redan ended the campaign as the first-choice striker for Joe Edwards’s development squad in the Premier League 2.
Redan is a versatile central forward who can also play wide-left or as a number 10, and he has represented the Netherlands up to the Under-19 level, although he is eligible to choose Suriname. An Amsterdam boy, he developed an incredible habit of scoring goals throughout his schoolboy years; he truly has a poacher’s instinct, and is apt at shooting on either foot.
The Dutchman debuted for the development squad at Fratton Park in January 2018, having been introduced off the bench early on in a Checkatrade Trophy knockout tie against Portsmouth. While still only 16, Redan impressed against League One defenders, and showed signs of an experienced striker that belied his age.
He continued to impress against older, weathered opponents, scoring in a Checkatrade Trophy quarter-final win against Oxford United at Stamford Bridge, the first of four successive games in which he found the net.
He continued to hop back and forth from the U-23 to the U-18 level. Back with the Under-18s, he scored twice in the FA Youth Cup final against Arsenal, as the Chelsea youngsters retained the trophy once again. These excellent performances led to Redan signing a professional contract in July 2018.
In addition to his remarkable goalscoring record, Redan is also responsible for causing one of the most important upsets in the PL2 last season. His early second half strike at Aldershot in February ended all title hopes for Leicester City’s U-18s, as they fell three points behind first place Liverpool, who had two games in hand. In Chelsea’s penultimate home game of the season, Redan made the step up when he was needed most, producing a Drogba-esque display in front of the 332 people in attendance.
Apart from his club record, Redan has assembled a respectable career at the international level, particularly for the U17s. In total, he has scored 20 goals and created four assists in 25 games. As the captain of the side, Redan won the European Under-17 championship. He also impressed at U16 level, scoring 10 goals in 12 games. He is now playing for the Netherlands U19s, and despite only playing in three games, he has already scored three goals. At the rate he is developing under, it will only be a matter of time before he secures his first call-up for the senior team.
His most impressive performance on the international stage came in a 6-0 win vs Bosnia and Herzegovina’s U-19s, in which he scored four out of the six goals for his side. At just 17, Redan has proven capable of leading his team-mates by example, and asserting his dominance on the pitch.
Chelsea transfers advisor Piet de Visser, the same man who discovered the likes of Ronaldo, Arjen Robben, and Kevin De Bruyne, revealed his appreciation for his compatriot.
“He is a cool striker who scores very easily, which is something special, something elusive, difficult to train and therefore makes him special,” De Visser told Voetbal International. “He is very fast in the first metres and very calm for the goal, as he already showed with the Dutch Under-17, which became European champions in May of 2017.”
So, what’s stopping him from making himself into a big name player in the coming years? It could be the infamous Chelsea youth policy which sees tons of young talents move away on loan, and never come back. Chelsea already have Olivier Giroud and Álvaro Morata in their squad, as well as Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi out on loan, and it may not be long before a new one comes in to challenge Redan for a future spot in the team. However, Redan’s versatility may prove useful to him, and if he keeps developing at this current rate, Maurizio Sarri will have no chance but to grant the Dutchman his first-team debut sooner or later.
Chelsea very rarely see youth prospects prevail from the academy, with John Terry being the sole homegrown product to win a starting spot for a sustained period. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen have attempted to break into the line-up, while Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ethan Ampadu, and many more will seek to break the duck. But breaking tradition, and consolidating a starting spot in one of the biggest outfits in European football, is easier said than done. However, Redan’s prodigious goal threat and excellent performances could see him rise to the top within a few seasons, but don’t be surprised when he is shipped off to a Bundesliga or Eredivisie side in order to gain first team minutes and demonstrate his obvious talent….and then still not make the first team.
At the tender age of 17, Redan has firmly established himself as one of Europe’s most enthralling center-forward prospects. Still, anyone can be an exciting prospect: it takes hard work, a determined mentality, and a bit of luck and correct circumstances for the exciting prospect to develop into a top-tier player. Nonetheless, Redan has everything it takes to make the jump to the top tier. Time will tell if he succeeds or fails at the last hurdle.
Photo: MarcadorInt/T. Martínez