YOUNG striker Charlie Kelman has signed a three-year deal with QPR, joining from Southend United for an undisclosed fee.
The club also has the option of a further year.
Arriving from League Two, 18-year-old Kelman will initially be joining up with our Under-23s squad, enabling him to develop and eventually become ready for the step-up to the first team.
The Basildon-born striker came through the Southend youth system before signing his first professional contract with the Blues in 2019. An American U20 international, he quickly gained valuable first-team experience with the Shrimpers, scoring six times in 35 games.
QPR director of football Les Ferdinand is fully aware of the talent Kelman possesses, explaining: “We’ve tracked Charlie’s progress and we feel we can bring him to where he needs to be.
“He is a goalscorer and, at just 18, has scored goals in league football already, which alerted us.
“We’ve got two good strikers at the club in Lyndon Dykes and Macauley Bonne already. Initially, Charlie will be with the Under-23s but we want him to push those two.
"He’s tasted a lot of men’s football already, so he understands the game - we just need to polish him up. Hopefully he can make the grade sooner rather than later."
Ferdinand is also aware that our growing reputation of nurturing young players is becoming a huge selling point for the club.
He said: “In terms of what we’re doing with developing players, I think we’ve become attractive in the sense that some players see themselves as being able to come to QPR and be given an opportunity to play in the first team.
“Everyone has seen what has happened with Ebere Eze, and there is lots of excitement around Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ilias Chair now, too. Bringing players through is the model we have to follow in order to be sustainable.
“Charlie is another player who we hope we can have the same impact on."
QPR head of coaching Chris Ramsey was also quick to praise Kelman, and knows the former Southend man's early footballing experiences will only help to further his development.
Chris added: "Charlie is an exciting, young player who has already sampled first-team football.
“With the coaching staff we have at QPR, we believe that we can get him ready for the Championship and make him fulfil his potential.
“He’s got an eye for goal, which is obviously something that is difficult to teach, and he can be a target man. Obviously, he needs to develop his skills.
“Our development programme will definitely give him what he needs – we’ve heard good things about his attitude and willingness to work.
“It’s up to both parties now in terms of him getting the opportunity to play first-team football and making sure he develops in the right way."
Speaking to Charlie himself, the young attacker admitted that he is delighted to be joining QPR.
“It’s exciting to be able to join a great club like QPR who also develop players," he said.
“I’ve got a lot still to prove, but I’m excited to do that – coming in and playing with and against better players will only help me.
“I want to enjoy it – I love playing football and I love scoring goals. Hopefully I can now make the step up.”
He added: “The way the club are developing players was a big attraction for me. You look at Ebere Eze and he's now in the Premier League playing for Crystal Palace.
“The club now have a track record of bringing players through and hopefully I’m the next one on that list."
He’s tasted a lot of men’s football already, so he understands the game - we just need to polish him up.