Will he be at Pompey in 2019? Conor Chaplin deal’s good news either way

Conor Chaplin signs his new Pompey deal in the presence of chief executive Mark Catlin Picture: Colin Farmery

Conor Chaplin signs his new Pompey deal in the presence of chief executive Mark Catlin Picture: Colin Farmery

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There was the club’s prized asset in classic contract-signing pose.

The sight of Conor Chaplin putting pen to paper on a new contract was celebrated throughout the Pompeysphere last Friday.

Other sections of Planet Pompey simply chose to give a knowing wry smile at what they saw as the club maximizing their most bankable player’s transfer value.

Chaplin’s deal now carries his agreement with the Blues through to the summer of 2019. That’s a year’s extension on his existing deal, which the 19-year-old inked last year.

It’s reward for the hurtling progress of the Academy graduate since he made the breakthrough at the end of the 2014 season.

Chaplin is now 61 games into a senior career which has been made up of 16 starts, 45 appearances off the bench and 16 goals.

Paul Cook has continually spoken of the time when he can keep the little livewire on the leash no longer. And that time has now arrived, with the weekend defeat against Notts County his sixth Pompey start on the bounce.

It represents Chaplin’s best unbroken run in the side as he takes the lead role in Cook’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

It was last season when the striker really announced himself to the wider football public with Capital One Cup goals against Derby and, from an improbable angle, Reading.

The noise hasn’t abated since, with 11 goals fuelling talk of transfer interest from Championship sides.

The tally is at four this time around but, Chaplin, of course, is also staging his own his goal-of-the-season competition after jaw-dropping efforts against Wycombe and Blackpool.

Brighton are the side who continually surface when it comes to his future.

He may be one of our own and nailed his Pompey colours to the mast, but his upbringing 15 miles west of the Seagulls’ Amex home has given oxygen to the transfer chatter.

There will be other suitors, of course, for one of the most talked about lower-league talents.

So that makes news of his new contract positive, however you look at it.

We wait to hear details of any release clauses, but it gives Chaplin greater financial reward for his development while placing Pompey in a stronger selling position.

The teenager has spoken of his desire to fire the Blues back up the leagues.

Whether he’s scoring goals in royal blue in 2019 or not, this is business which makes sense for all concerned.

– JORDAN CROSS