It was a busy January for Chelsea as they underwent a dramatic £323m transfer splurge, bringing in eight players, while they also confirmed that Christopher Nkunku will join in the summer for £63m from RB Leipzig.
Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Malo Gusto, Andrey Santos, David Datro Fofana, Joao Felix and Noni Madueke all pitched up at Stamford Bridge last month for varying amounts in the Todd Boehly-backed spending spree.
You would be forgiven for having missed any one of their signings in among all the drama but the £26m move for PSV’s English winger Madueke is a fascinating one and it is a deal that seems to have gone slightly under the radar.
A 20-year old, who spent time in the youth systems at Crystal Palace and Spurs, Madueke took the jump to move to PSV at the age of 16 in 2018 – rejecting offers from Manchester United and Chelsea in the process.
He shone in Holland, refining his attacking instincts under the tutelage of PSV boss Ruud van Nistelrooy – scoring 20 goals and adding 14 assists in 80 games for the Dutch giants, having previously excelled for their reserve team – Jong PSV.
English winger Noni Madueke, 20, completed a £26m move to Chelsea from PSV in January
Madueke excelled during five years in Holland, scoring 20 goals in 80 games for the Dutch side
In fact, Van Nistelrooy was Madueke’s first coach at the club in the Under-19 side before the former Manchester United striker took charge of the senior team last year.
Madueke’s exploits, which also include four caps for England Under-21s – having previously represented the Three Lions at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 level – led to the 20-year-old making the exciting switch to Chelsea last month.
He is a player in a hurry, having moved to Holland to achieve his desire of playing first team football as quickly as possible and he has now found his way back to the top of the English game.
The winger made his debut for PSV when he was just 17 and shone in the Eredivisie while Madueke also helped his side to win the Dutch Cup last season – and he has featured in the Champions League.
Despite his immense talent and potential, he is a player who may not be that well-known by Chelsea supporters, but there was one man who could barely hide his delight at the culmination of years of hard work when the move to Stamford Bridge was confirmed.
‘Yeah, I’m really excited for Noni,’ Saul Isaksson-Hurst – who runs his own training and private coaching business, ‘My Personal Football Coach’ and lists Madueke among his clients – exclusively told Sportsmail.
‘We’ve talked a lot over the last couple of years and he’s been keen to get back to the Premier League and into the main England squad.
‘He’s done really well in the Under-21s and at PSV and this move to Chelsea is just another stage in his journey and I’m really excited for him.’
The 20-year-old is a man in a hurry, having moved to PSV aged just 16 to play first team football
Personal coach Saul Isaksson-Hurst (R) spoke exclusively to Sportsmail about Madueke (L)
The pair have worked together since the summer of 2021 with Isaksson-Hurst putting on technical and personalised sessions for Madueke and providing feedback on games
Isaksson-Hurst is a highly-regarded coach, having built his reputation over more than 10 years in the academy scene at Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, where he specialised in technical skills.
He has since spent his time working as an individual coach with professional footballers across Europe’s top leagues.
His clientele includes players such as Madueke, Norwich defender Max Aarons, Brentford’s Rico Henry, Juventus starlet Samuel Iling-Junior and Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun – who is currently on loan at Reims and is the top scorer in Ligue 1.
Isaksson-Hurst give his clients feedback on games and also provides technical and position-specific sessions to help them improve, often working with them once a week.
With Madueke, the pair linked up in the summer of 2021 after the 20-year-old had enjoyed a breakthrough season at PSV and he has only gone from strength-to-strength since.
Isaksson-Hurst explained: ‘Noni was coming back to London from PSV for the summer and his agent was looking for some individual training in the off-season.
‘My name came up and we worked together for four weeks of very intense training.
‘He went back to PSV and that season (2021-22) went really well for him and we stayed in touch, I gave feedback on games and things like that and we worked again this pre-season.’
Madueke possesses significant skill, pace and technique and provides a goal threat from wide
Madueke has also started to become a key man for England Under-21s over the past 12 months
Graham Potter will hope Madueke can inspire his misfiring and often underwhelming front-line
For a personal coach working with such top talent, it is hard to pinpoint particular areas of improvement, but for Isaksson-Hurst, he is always looking for the ‘marginal gains’ that will take his clients to the next level.
He said: ‘With Noni he’s a top player and one of best young players in Europe. It’s about challenging him and supporting him to get the marginal gains and squeezing a few extra per cent out of him.
‘He’s really direct and is great one-vs-one and so we work on that and then develop other areas like his weaker foot.
‘My job is to supplement what my clients do in a team environment and to add a little bit more individual value and attention as to what they need to do.
‘Being an individual coach is a skill in itself so I create those individual sessions, and focus on key areas that are needed to be successful.
‘I look at the player and the game-changing moments in that position and then create practices which will replicate that and then hopefully they can take that into games.’
By watching Madueke, it is clear to see the abundance of quality, athleticism and skill he possesses, but having picked up sticks and moved to Holland at such a young age – before entering a dressing room that included high-profile players such as Inter Milan and Dutch international defender Denzel Dumfries – he has had to show significant mental strength to ensure he succeeded.
Along with Madueke, Isaksson-Hurst works with Max Aarons, Folarin Balogun and Rico Henry
The pair focus on the ‘marginal gains’ such as improving Madueke’s weaker right foot
Isaksson-Hurst is full of praise for Madueke and has described him as a ‘mentality monster’
‘He’s a mentality monster,’ Isaksson-Hurst added. ‘He wants to work harder than everyone else.
‘He flew me out to Marbella for a week in the summer because he was there on holiday and when we were there, all of his friends were in beach clubs but he was out working with me on the pitch every day which is quite inspiring.
‘The day of his signing at Chelsea he messaged me and said ‘right let’s get to work, the work starts here’. It gives you an idea of his ambition and drive.
‘Most players get to that point and just enjoy the contract at a big club and think they’ve arrived. But for him it’s just another step on his progression.’
With the well-publicised transfer dealings from Graham Potter’s side last month, the Blues have purchased a significant amount of talent from all around the globe.
In forward positions alone, they signed Mudryk, Felix and Datro Fofana, while Madueke will also have to compete with current stars such as Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech among others.
This raises questions over how Madueke will settle at Stamford Bridge and whether he will be able to feature enough as to not hinder his rapid development.
Madueke will hope to ignite a stuttering Chelsea attack that has scored 22 goals in 20 games
Isaksson-Hurst has no doubt that the 20-year-old will prove to be a success while at Chelsea
But for Isaksson-Hurst, there are no such worries and he backs Madueke – who labels himself a player ‘who tries to beat players’ and someone with ‘an eye for goal’ – to have no problems stamping his authority on Potter’s team.
He explained: ‘The previous summer he had offers to come back (to England) and he said he didn’t want to come and be a squad member. He’s coming back to be a first team regular!
‘I think if you look at him, he offers something different for Chelsea on the right-hand-side.
‘He’s more dynamic and direct, he can run beyond with and without the ball and I’m confident he can make an impact to that Chelsea team.’
The 20-year-old will be tasked with helping to ignite a stuttering Chelsea attack that has scored just 22 goals in 20 league games this season and one that has often lacked pace and creativity – two qualities Madueke possesses in abundance.
He could make his debut in Friday night’s Premier League clash against Fulham and Isaksson-Hurst will be watching on with pride ahead of what he believes will be the start of a fantastic career in west London.
‘He’s one of the best, if not the best young forward player in Europe,’ he said.
‘He’s a really dynamic and exciting player and one who likes to take players on and create things. He’s box office and that’s what all supporters like to see.
‘There’s an end product too so he’s exciting to watch and I’m sure Chelsea fans will enjoy having him at the club and seeing him scoring goals and providing assists.’