Chelsea's stockpiling of youth - Is the club's academy being used for financial purposes?
In football’s current state, with Financial Fair Play becoming a huge stumbling block for some of the world’s biggest clubs, youth squads and academies are coming more into focus now, especially in the Premier League.
Clubs like Chelsea have over the last decade, brought in, not necessarily finished articles, but players of varying ages that are ready to step into the first team and play for a top side, whether they are 20-23 or 30+.
However, with the current financial legislation, Chelsea can no longer splash huge cash on these players without selling first, and it is clear to see that they have begun stockpiling younger players. There is no problem with this, if these players get anywhere near the first team. But Chelsea appear to be accumulating players that are at the club for financial reasons - to make a profit by selling them off, rather than giving these players a chance.
Recent examples include Romelu Lukaku, who was sold for about £10 million profit last summer, despite Chelsea fans hopes that Lukaku would be the player that solved our striking crisis. He was never really given a chance and was sold as Mourinho deemed him not ready (that penalty against Bayern Munich may have had huge implications).
Another example of a player bought for big money and sold for more is Kevin De Bruyne, who rarely had a chance to shine, but is certainly doing that in Germany at the moment. These seem like financial decisions rather than footballing ones.
Another big aspect of Chelsea's youth development is the loan system. We have at least 15 players out on loan at the moment. There are players like Atsu and Oriol Romeu who, chances are, will never player for Chelsea no matter how well they perform. The club will attempt to make a profit on them or at least break even. This isn't a huge issue, as these players aren't homegrown and it always looked like Atsu was bought to eventually sell for a profit.
Lack of homegrown heroes at the club
But then there are the English players that haven't fulfilled their potential at various loan clubs. They are the McEachrans and the Chalobahs, players that were the destined to play for England, but now with each passing loan are becoming forgotten men at the club.
Not saying that these two can't still be top players, but their Chelsea days appear to be fading, when they have both proved through our youth academy and out on loan that they were worth taking a risk on. Chalobah struggled for game time at Burnley, but would the loan system work better if Chelsea were guaranteed a certain appearance number in exchange for a player’s services?
Patrick Bamford is currently in a state of purgatory, playing extremely well on loan, having been bought by the club a couple of years back for a big fee for a young English player. Does Mourinho give him a chance next season as second or third striker? Or does he go on loan to a top Championship/bottom Premier League side and be sold for £4-6 million after that? Dare I say that maybe Chelsea should look at Tottenham and how they brought Harry Kane into their first team after a couple of decent loan spells.
Making enough money to avoid financial fair play is one way of doing things. But Chelsea fans want to see these players breaking into the first team, they long for more homegrown heroes.
Some recent big money acquisitions haven't paid off, Salah being a big example, so why are the likes of Lewis Baker, Dom Solanke and Izzy Brown not making the bench instead of him and starting in the Cups in his place? Lewis Baker has gone on loan to Sheffield Wednesday, a loan that will be useful for him. But if he plays well, there is no doubt that he should be well on the way to making the first team squad.
With Gary Cahill's current first team spot in jeopardy to Kurt Zouma, who has been fantastic when given the chance, and John Terry only having a couple more years at the top level, Chelsea are in danger of losing the English spine that carried them through three Premier League titles and a Champions League. Terry came through the academy and led the club for years, now it's time for Chelsea FC to promote their youth stars, and give them a chance to do the same.