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Ike Ugbo: It would be nice to return to England – but first I want to come of age in Ligue 1

BY ALESSANDRO SCHIAVONE

Ike Ugbo has revealed that he wants to have another bite at the cherry in English football. But only once he made his mark with Estac Troyes, the Ligue 1 side he joined in the twilight of last summer’s transfer window from Belgian outfit K.R.C Genk.

The Lewisham-born 24-year-old was a two-time UEFA Youth League winner with Chelsea but quit them permanently in the summer of 2021, on the back of a frustrating sequence of five consecutive loan spells.

After a promising start to his youth career, frontman Ugbo failed to make his pro debut at Stamford Bridge.

Yet the Premier League is still pretty much in his sights.

In an exclusive interview with the South London Press at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, Ugbo said: “Definitely growing up in England, the aim is to go back to England. This was the step before going back to England, this was the right decision.”

Asked whether he set himself any ambitious goals such as bagging a specific number of goals for Troyes in a bid to capture the attention of English sides, Ugbo, who supports Arsenal, said: “No, I have no targets. I just want to develop and prepare myself to go back to England.

“I’d like to go back to Chelsea, who knows? But I am now focused on myself to develop as a player. But it would be nice to go back to England, for sure.”

Ugbo also claimed that the French top-flight is closer to the Premier League than the Jupiler Pro League when it comes to intensity.

The Canadian international spent 18 months in Belgian playing for Cercle Bruges and Genk before Troyes snapped him up, initially on a six-month loan deal.

He said: “Ligue 1 is very physical. Maybe the quality is not the same as the Prem, but there’s still a lot of good quality especially in Paris and Lens especially.

“The intensity is closer to the English league compared to the Belgian league, but it’s still a great level.”

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