Jessie Fleming: The future is here

It’s easy following Chelsea to become caught up in the here and now, to focus only on each game as it comes, not worrying about two or three years time, not too interested in Jessie Fleming. This season we’re all focussed on potential Champions League success, but what further down the line?

Luckily, there’s people running the club who keep the bigger picture in mind and that shows in the squad with the likes of Niamh Charles, Aggie Beever-Jones  Jorja Fox and Charlotte Wardlaw all making their way into the team thanks to Emma Hayes’ judgement and nuturing.

The Blues might be fighting on all fronts still, but has Emma Hayes guilty of overlooking a player who should be for the here and now, not just for the future?

In the managers defence, 23-year-old Jessie Fleming has started a cup final this season, but her overall appearances for Chelsea have been from the bench. 

Her performance in that cup final highlighted the quality already possessed by the Canadian and perhaps she should have more than three starts so far this campaign. Jessie Fleming has had 355 minutes of action so far, averaging out at just over 30 minutes per game (11) which clearing shows her standing in the pecking order.

Obviously Fleming is competing for starts amongst some of Europe’s top midfielders but you wouldn’t bet against her heading to the top of that list in the near future.

Jessie Fleming, Photo Courtesy Chelsea FC
Jessie Fleming, Photo Courtesy of Chelsea FC

Where it started for Jessie Fleming

It was during the She Believes Cup that Fleming really caught the attention, there were two videos, one where she battled against three USA midfielders, keeping the ball at her feet and then winning a free kick.

It was like watching three Chelsea midfielders in one, the tenacity of Erin Cuthbert, the ball retention of Melanie Leupolz and the intelligence of Ji.

Then there was the second video where Fleming dropped her shoulder and left Alex Morgan sat on the turf wondering why she didn’t take a longer maternity break. 

The quality of that movement was reminiscent of Pernille Harder, and it was wondered why on earth she hadn’t been more involved more?

Then recently Mia Eriksson revealed some interesting information that Fleming with 75 caps for Canada is more experienced on the international stage than the 27-year-old Magda Eriksson.

Fleming made her debut aged just 15 and played in both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, playing every minute of every game in Canada’s 2019 campaign. She also helped Canada to win a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. 

We are not talking about a young player starting to take their first tentative steps into competitive football. This is a footballer who made 75 appearances for UCLA Bruins (scoring 25 goals) and 75 appearances for her country. 

What can she offer now?

As Fleming has shown in her brief appearances so far, more specifically the Continental Cup final win over Bristol City and in the build up to Sam Kerr’s and Chelsea’s second goal against  Aston Villa at the weekend, that she has a lot to offer this team. 

Chelsea’a midfield is great, but the players in all have specific roles they do very well. Sophie Ingle breaks up play and can stop counter attacks, Melanie Leupolz keeps possession ticking over for Chelsea whilst also offering protection defensively. Erin Cuthbert is a bundle of energy and helps with Chelsea’s attacking press and Ji pulls the strings and conducts play between defence and attack.

There’s enough to suggest Fleming is capable of fulfilling any of those roles and to a very high standard. Her versatility in that midfield could become Hayes’ secret weapon as opposition teams won’t know which version of Jessie Fleming they’ll be up against. 

We’ve seen recently that versatility from the likes of Niamh Charles who after coming on in the game against Atletico Madrid at right back, has now gone on to become England’s best full back. With Fleming, it could have a similar impact. We know Hayes has a difficult job balancing the near and now with planning for the future, but the future’s here, the future is Jessie Fleming.

Written by Dean Mears (@DeanMears)

Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)

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