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A Young English Striker Has an Incredibly Important Decision to Make...

18/06/2015 22:36 BST | Updated 18/06/2016 10:59 BST

£10m. The fee being placed above Patrick Bamford's head after one-and-a-half good seasons in the Championship. 19 goals later and last campaign was undoubtedly an accomplished one from the young forward. But how, and more importantly, where, does he build on this?

Well, he has two choices. Stay at Chelsea where he will likely rot on the bench behind Diego Costa and Loic Remy, or go elsewhere and try and improve his reputation further - prove that he has what it takes to lead the line of a team in the Premier League.

Although Bamford would like to stay at Chelsea, this seems implausible in the short term as he has himself stated that "I don't want to spend next season sat on the bench - at this stage it's important for my development that I play every week if possible."

So where does he go? Well, Premier League outfits Sunderland, West Brom and Newcastle have been touted as possible destinations, though nothing is concrete as of yet. Even at these clubs it is unlikely that Bamford would be given the chance to conduct the attack of a team in his maiden Premier League campaign.

There is of course the chance that Bamford could return on loan to the Championship. If so he would most likely go back to Middlesbrough, especially given the well publicised relationship that Boro boss Aitor Karanka has with Jose Mourinho.

So, he has an important question to ask himself - which league would be best for his ​career progression?

The striker is not yet the finished article, and while 19 goals for Boro over the course of the last campaign is an excellent total, it cannot be said that he set the world on fire. He was very, very good, but there is not yet enough evidence to suggest that he was playing at a level significantly below his own.

Looking at a history of players who tore it up in the Championship there is unfortunately no solid evidence either way to suggest that Bamford has what it takes to make the immediate step up to the Premier League.

Danny Ings and Charlie Austin both bridged the gap between Championship dead-eye and Premier League performer, but the key here is that both players were playing in the same side and system in which they got promoted to the top flight in the first place.

Looking at players that moved clubs to make the step up and the success of the transition does not look so sure. Take for example Udinese's Matej Vydra, who swapped loan destination Watford to West Brom to get a shot at the Premier League.

After scoring 22 goals over 2012/13 for Watford, Vydra flopped during his top flight experience the following year, scoring only three league goals in 23 games. He returned to Watford last season where he once again found his level and was successful, scoring 16 goals in the Championship.

So there it is; the million dollar (or £10m) question. Will Bamford be an Ings or an Austin. Or will he be a Vydra?

£10m is a fee too high for any club to realistically take Bamford from Chelsea's hands on a permanent basis at this moment in time. A loan seems the most likely scenario, especially with Bamford voicing his desire to stay at Chelsea in the long term.

Though, even a temporary move presents a risk if he cannot get a good run in a Premier League first team. One poor season and the confidence can go, the value can drop and his dreams of leading the line for Chelsea may well go up in flames.

On the flip-side,a move back to the Championship means that Bamford will once again be playing week-in week-out in relative media obscurity. Not that lack of media attention is necessarily a bad thing for a young player, given that he will be intensely scrutinized as an Englishman in the Premier League.

Dropping down a league may not be the most exciting of options for an ambitious young player, but it would give Bamford a chance to prove that he is truly too good to be playing at that level permanently.

Another season of 20 goals for a second tier side shows without question that he deserves a proper shot in the Premier League - maybe even with Chelsea.

In a time of little certainties for the striker, what is irrefutable is that this is a crucial time in his career. Make the wrong move now and he may never get the chance to reach his potential. Make the right one and his talent could take him almost anywhere.

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