5 former Chelsea academy players who probably wish they could've played under Frank Lampard
Despite the fact that we’re only four months in, the 2019/20 Premier League season has been an eventful one already. We’ve seen some huge surprises and plenty of epic games and goals, but one of the most exciting things to watch has definitely been Frank Lampard’s Chelsea revolution.
The club legend and record goalscorer took over the reins at Stamford Bridge in the summer when Maurizio Sarri moved to Juventus, and to say the atmosphere around the club has changed since then would be an understatement.
While it could be argued that his approach has come partly due to Chelsea’s ongoing transfer ban, Lampard has become the first Chelsea manager to truly make use of the club’s outstanding academy talent since Roman Abramovich arrived back in 2003, and the likes of Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount have made an impact on the pitch in the most positive of ways.
The way that these young players have become key to Chelsea’s fortunes poses another question – what could the previous generation of academy players at Stamford Bridge have done had they been given the chance that Lampard’s current players have?
Perhaps more than any other club, Chelsea have seen some tremendous young talent fall by the wayside over the years due to their seeming distrust of using them in the first-team squad.
Here are 5 Chelsea youth products who probably wish they could’ve played under Frank Lampard.
#1 Nathaniel Chalobah
England’s highest capped development player, with almost 100 games to his name at all levels, midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah left Chelsea for Watford in the summer of 2017 after becoming frustrated at Stamford Bridge with the lack of first-team opportunities offered to him. Chalobah first joined Chelsea’s academy at the age of 10, and signed his first professional contract with the club in 2012 at the age of 17.
A versatile player capable of playing in a deep-lying holding role and also as an attacking central midfielder, Chalobah was so highly rated during his early days with the Blues that he was named as a substitute for an EFL Cup tie with Newcastle at the age of just 15.
It didn’t take long for the usual pattern to kick in for him though, and in the summer of 2012, he made his first season-long loan move, heading to Watford, who were then in the EFL Championship.
Chalobah helped Watford to a losing effort in the Playoff final, but despite making 38 appearances and performing well, it wasn’t enough for Chelsea. The club sent him on a long series of loans, with Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough, Burnley, Reading and Napoli all playing host to him for periods.
Finally in the summer of 2016 it felt like he was ready to make his Chelsea breakthrough; then-boss Antonio Conte refused to send him out on another loan – but unfortunately for Chalobah he didn’t seem to fully trust him either. He made 1 start and 9 appearances from the bench in 2016/17, and when the Blues seemed ready to sign even more midfielders that summer, he made the decision to leave the club.
Since then, Chalobah’s career has been curtailed by injuries somewhat, but he’s still managed to pick up his first senior England cap and appears to have a bright future at Watford.
Given his clear talents, it’s hard not to wonder what he could’ve done at Chelsea had he been afforded the chances that Lampard has handed to his current crop of youngsters.