SHOCKING NEWS: coming from a reliable source Chelsea Football Club are winning the race in acquiring the service of talented young Italian forward. The attacker is clearly a prodigious talent with a big future ahead of him and it is no surprise that he has chosen Chelsea as his preferred destination.

I can confirm that this deal is 90% looking positive as negotiations are still ongoing

After only a few minutes in the company of Nicolas Jackson, it becomes clear how he has gone from street footballer to leading the Chelsea attack in just six years.

Jackson possess a rare self-assuredness – and his words are spoken with complete conviction.

‘It was my dream from when I was young to play in the Premier League and now I’m here,’ he says matter-of-factly. ‘People may not understand but it feels normal to me. I always believed in myself.’

It was my dream from when I was young to play in the Premier League and now I’m here,’ he says matter-of-factly. ‘People may not understand but it feels normal to me. I always believed in myself.’

Jackson’s formative years were spent in The Gambia. It was on the streets of the West African country that his football education began. There were no coaches. No demands. No rules.

‘Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a football player,’ explains the 22-year-old. ‘But my family were more concerned with me going to school and you have to listen to your parents.

He continues with a smile: ‘I was always playing street football with friends, you know? It helped me a lot, gave me a lot freedom. I would watch other players and learn on the pitch. It was really nice, something I will always remember.’

It was at 16 years old that Jackson moved to Ziguinchor, Senegal. He joined local side ASC Tilene, his first club and his first experience of organised football. It was a decision that set him on the path to Chelsea.

Jackson, given his talent, inevitably caught the eye and trophies were won with Tilene. Soon came the opportunity to join a professional club.

‘My mentor – now my agent – found me there and took me to the first division in Senegal,’ explains Jackson. ‘He took me to Casa Sport. It was a little difficult but there was a coach [Badara Sarr] who believed in me.

‘I was playing as a false striker or a number ten. When you’re younger, you want to be with the ball.’

Jackson established himself in the Casa first-team squad during the 2018/19 season. Soon came approaches from Europe and in September 2019, he completed a move to La Liga side Villarreal.

On and off the pitch, it was a dramatic change. ‘I had never been to Europe before,’ recalls Jackson. ‘I remember I got there really late but the sun was still out! That was different.

‘It was not always easy, you know? I was on my own. No family. Different language. Different food, which I didn’t like. But I was focused. I had my dream. So it was ok.’

Jackson initially trained with Villarreal’s under-16 side. It was his first taste of European football and there was an inevitable period of adjustment required.

‘It took some time,’ he accepts. ‘I’d never been in an Academy before, never had that kind of football. So I played for the Under-16s and then the Under-19s. I learned a lot.’

After a year at Villarreal, Jackson joined Spanish second-tier side Mirandes. It was an important experience. Injuries had to be overcome. Form had to be found. Minutes had to be earned.

Jackson returned to Villarreal having made 17 senior appearances, but he felt ready for more.

‘When I came back from, Unai Emery was in charge of the first team. He brought me up and he taught me a lot. He changed my mindset, my game.’

Jackson made ten first-team appearances for Villarreal during the 2021/22 campaign. He also continued to represent Villarreal B and his seven goals and eight assists ensured the side clinched promotion to the second tier.

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