Ike Ugbo, who left Chelsea this summer, has explained his decision to join Genk over Marseille after electing to leave Stamford Bridge.

The striker brought an end to a lifelong association with Chelsea back in August when he decided to leave for Genk in a £3.15m deal.

He had been with the club since 2007 when he joined as a youngster, progressing through their ranks up to the Under 23 set up in 2018.

Going further than that proved to be tough for him, though, with a series of loan spells at the likes of MK Dons, Scunthorpe, Roda JC and Cercle Brugge all failing to help his chances of first-team football.

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Indeed, he left Stamford Bridge this summer having failed to make a single appearance for Chelsea’s first team, a damning indictment of his time at the club.

At the time of his departure, there was plenty of interest in his signature, but he says past experiences made him head to Genk instead.

“I spoke to the club at the end of last season, and they had a good plan for me,” he told Sport Magazine.

“Other teams came forward, but I felt I could find what I needed here at this point in my career. It was the project that attracted me.

“I’m not yet at the level where I can consider winning the Champions League or playing a major role elsewhere. I have to be smarter about my choices.

“The young Ugbo might have opted for Marseille: a big club, in the south of France, close to the family. The prospect of playing against Lionel Messi…

“But the Ugbo of today thinks that might have been a mistake. After Cercle, Genk seems to me to be the ideal step to take.”

Despite being excited about the move to Genk, leaving Chelsea was naturally hard for Ugbo, given his lifelong association with the club.

Indeed, leaving was further complicated by the people he would be leaving behind, having been a part of the same youth set up as the likes of Mason Mount and Reece James.

Both of those are now bonafide first-team stars under Thomas Tuchel, something which shows there is a pathway for young players at the club.

It would therefore be easy for those who don’t make it to feel jealous, but Ugbo insists that is not the case.

“No, I’m happy for them. We went to school together; we trained together, we went to games together,” he added.

“I can’t be jealous of their success. Everyone goes their own way.

“You’re happy for the one who succeeds because you’ve also grown up with others who have completely disappeared from the scene.”