The sun is out over Brentford’s training ground in South-West London and after his last session before Saturday’s game against Port Vale George Saville is relaxing after a well-earned lunch. The on-loan Chelsea youngster has just agreed a deal to stay at Griffin Park until the end of the season and he is happy with his choice.
“There was interest from other clubs but after speaking to the right people around me I think I made the right decision by staying here.”
It would certainly seem so given that Saville has made 24 appearances for the club so far this season, the sixth highest at the club. The Bees currently sit atop of League 1 ahead of Vale’s visit and being part of a promotion campaign would be an excellent experience for a young player and Saville believes that promotion is certainly achievable. When asked about his aims for this season he’s honest in his assessment; “I don’t see any reason why not. Obviously we’re all humans so things can change but I think we’ve got the right quality and a great depth to the squad and I think we’ve got a really good chance. I think mentally if we stay focused then we’ve got a great chance.”
Focus is a key word for a player who was brought to Chelsea by Brendan Rodgers when the Liverpool manager left Reading for Stamford Bridge. Yet to make a first team appearance for the Blues Saville has trained with the first team and featured in pre-season games and he cites these amongst his best achievements at Chelsea. “Obviously playing in pre-season games and sitting on the bench for first team matches but my personal highlight is maybe winning the youth cup.” The trophy in question is the 2009-10 FA Youth Cup triumph where we triumphed over Aston Villa in the final and Saville is one of the few players to remain at the club.
Training with the first team is a momentous moment for any young player, especially at a big club and Saville identified Frank Lampard as the player he has learnt the most from and Eden Hazard and Juan Mata as the best players he’s trained with. These were instant answers but when asked about the best player he’s actually played in a match with there is a considerable pause as he considers his answer but it is one worth waiting for.
“At Chelsea there are obviously a couple of very good players. I’ll give you a couple of examples of very good young players, Nathaniel Chalobah and Josh McEachran. I’ve played with them and they’re very good players. One of the best players I’ve played with is probably Jacob Mellis, he’s at Barnsley now. He’s a very good footballer and he’s one of the best I’ve played with yeah.”
The former Chelsea academy player made one senior appearance for the Blues, a home Champions League fixture against MSK Zilina in 2010. He left the club following an incident at the club’s training ground but he has rebuilt his career at Barnsley. He has always been considered a talented player and it is interesting that Saville, who clearly had a lot of respect for Mellis’ ability, singled him out. The instant responses returned when the question turns to the hardest he’s ever played against. “Paul Pogba” is the reply in a heartbeat, another reference back to the FA Youth Cup run.
However it’s back to the answers that require greater consideration when Saville is asked about his own personal strengths. After a little chuckle and another pause he says that he “really enjoys passing the ball” but adds that “I can be aggressive and I can do all the nitty-gritty stuff as well.” Another laugh ensues when the subject of his greatest weakness comes up “I could always improve the right foot!”
Saville is a player acutely aware of his own strengths and weaknesses and he showed a great understanding of his own game. He originally answered with John Obi Mikel when asked to compare himself to one player in the Chelsea first team but he recognised that he has, as he puts it, “changed a lot over the past 18 months.” He’s grown from a more defensive player to someone who likes to push on more and try and score goals. He can’t help but smile when he says, “I’m trying score goals like Lamps.”
Saville will return to Chelsea at the end of the season, hopefully after securing promotion and although he wants to establish himself as a Blue he insists he is focused on Brentford in the short term. There are attacking midfielders aplenty at Chelsea as we all know but in the centre of midfield there could soon be vacancies with Frank Lampard and Michael Essien seemingly coming close to the end of their Chelsea careers. Jose Mourinho might well consider giving some of the younger players like Saville their chance in the first team and the player is clearly very grounded. He showed maturity beyond his years and we at CFCnet wish him the very best for this season and beyond.