A young American striker is climbing the ladder in England. Queens Park Rangers announced the signing of Charlie Kelman to a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee. The deal includes the option for an additional season. The 18-year-old will start with the Under-23 team, which competes in the Professional Development League Two South.
“We’ve tracked Charlie’s progress and we feel we can bring him to where he needs to be,” QPR director of football Les Ferdinand told the club’s official website. “He is a goal scorer and, at just 18, has scored goals in league football already, which alerted us. We’ve got two good strikers at the club... Initially, Charlie will be with the Under-23s, but we want him to push [them].”
Kelman stated that he’s excited to join a club with a track record of development but still has “a lot to prove.” QPR is currently in ninth place in the EFL Championship with five points from four matches. The U-23s’ next match is on Wednesday, October 21st against Crewe Alexandra.
Kelman was born in England and grew up in Texas. He played in the FC Dallas setup before returning to his birth nation. A brief stay at AFC Hornchurch was followed by the Southend United academy. The youth striker dominated in prolific fashion, scoring 61 goals in a single season at the U-16 and U-18 levels.
Kelman’s now famous professional debut came in January 2019 against League One opponent Plymouth Argyle. He scored a wonder goal from the midfield that thrust him into the spotlight and generated headlines around the world.
Last season, Kelman led Southend with seven goals in a mere 19 total appearances across all competitions. The Shrimpers were relegated from League One and have limped to a dismal winless start in League Two, leading to the traditional player exodus. The Basildon native has long been the subject of various transfer rumors, with past reports linking him to a variety of clubs including Swansea, Tottenham, Brighton, and West Ham.
Kelman is a dual-national, eligible to represent the United States and England. He made one appearance for the U.S. under-20 national team in 2019. In an interview with American Soccer Now, appearing at a future U-20 World Cup was described as “his biggest goal” and a “huge honor.”
Despite possessing two seasons of professional experience, Kelman’s career is only just beginning. After leaving a worsening situation at Southend, he finds himself in the reserves at a significantly bigger club. While acceptable for an 18-year-old, it’s not a position a player wants to stay in for too long. QPR signed two established strikers in the current window, Lyndon Dykes and Macauley Bonne, so competition for first-team minutes will be fierce.
Kelman’s ascent has been rapid, with high-volume scoring at each successive level. This is yet another challenge on a bigger stage, but achieving at QPR will attract significantly more attention than in the past. The national team is always looking for reliable strikers, with a quality Championship player likely being the recipient of senior camp invitations and call-ups.
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