Ethan Ampadu has vowed to make the most of his pre-season chance with Chelsea as he looks to make his long-awaited breakthrough to the senior team.
A regular Wales international, Ampadu has returned to Stamford Bridge after a loan spell with Venezia and has made the cut for Thomas Tuchel’s pre-season squad, sticking around while other youngsters – Billy Gilmour, Armando Broja, Tino Anjorin and Harvey Vale – have been sent home.
Ampadu was handed 45 minutes during the recent 2-1 victory over Club America, and he admitted to the Evening Standard that he is desperate to win over Tuchel in the same way that another returning loanee, Trevoh Chalobah, did at this stage last season.
“Of course [I want to emulate Chalobah] but it’s not just me as there are a few of us with that same mindset that want to break through,” Ampadu said.
“We’re out here now and it’s our chance to show it. Like every footballer out there, my dream is to be at the top. I don’t think that’s a bad thing to say and dream; everyone wants to be at the top. It’s about fighting and getting towards that.
“I just want to keep improving, keep putting my head down, fighting and working every day. That starts in pre-season to try to get the chance. It’s hard to say because I am not at the top, I’m not playing week in, week out for a team trying to win the Premier League and Champions League.
“So until you get to that point – and once you get there you have to maintain – but it’s about getting there. This club fights for everything: Champions League, Premier League. It’s all about fighting here and trying to get to the top.”
Equally as comfortable as a midfielder or a defender, Ampadu insisted he does not care in which he position he plays on the pitch, admitting minutes are the only thing he cares about.
He was primarily used as a defensive midfielder by Venezia last season – an experience which Ampadu believes has set him up for a breakthrough at Chelsea.
“I learned a lot about myself and definitely improved,” he said. “So it’s just about taking that momentum and trying to carry on. I’m nowhere near to where I want to be yet so there’s still a lot way to go.
“It’s labelled as a very tactical and defensive league [in Serie A] but there is a lot of great quality going forward. You learn little tweaks and details to try to make yourself better as a defender.
“I was happy to go anywhere to play football. That was in Italy and I enjoyed it out there. It’s one of the top five leagues, it’s a very good league. And it was a good experience. Yes, it was hard at times because we were losing quite a bit but I feel like it was a good loan.
“Everyone says and agrees that the only way you develop is by playing games and last season I was fortunate to play a lot of games week in, week out.”