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Getting the best out of the Chelsea Youth system

Modified 26 Jun 2012, 21:30 IST
Chelsea v Watford - FA Youth Cup 6th Round

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 02: A view of the stadium ahead of the FA Youth Cup sponsored by E.on sixth round match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge on March 2, 2011 in London, England

Many might argue on the fact that it is time Chelsea‘s golden generation finally stepped down and open the road ahead for the new generation of players to step up. With previous managers trying to bring in the youth policy to this club such as Andre Villas Boas and Scolari, things did not end up well for them with both of them being sacked because of dressing room tension. It was widely reported that senior Chelsea players were unhappy on being left out. Now things are looking different, with Didier Drogba already offloaded to China and Frank Lampard nearing the end of his career, manager Roberto Di Matteo could promote some of his young players into the first team.

With Chelsea ranked 1st in the list of clubs producing English talent, not many have come up from the academy and have made a name for themselves, John Terry being the only exception in that list. While producing players is one thing, nurturing them and providing them opportunities in the first team is altogether different, and Chelsea have failed in that department. With Chelsea deciding to spend heavily on foreign players almost every season now, the development of some talented youngsters in that academy is getting hampered.

With elite clubs such as Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal having produced exceptional players from their youth system such as Xavi, Lionel Messi, Ryan Giggs to name a few, Chelsea have been lacking in this field. With players in the youth academy deciding to leave the club due to lack of opportunities, Chelsea have suffered heavily, watching their players’ progress in other clubs for eg: Fabio Borini, Scott Sinclair. Chelsea’s youth system has failed immensely and it is now at the age of 23 that Ryan Bertrand has got a chance in the first team, with players like Josh Mceachran and Gael Kakuta still looking for to find a regular spot in this high profile Chelsea side.

But all is not lost in this youth side. Chelsea have invested heavily on the development of their youth system and added players with immense quality in their pockets to the already talented ones in that side. Club owner Roman Abrahimovich knows that he cannot just rely on spending heavily every season and making record transfers one after the other with the introduction of Financial fair play by UEFA.

With players like Islam Feruz, Lucas Piazon and captain Nathaniel Chalobah all proving their worth on a regular basis for the youth side, it won’t be long before these players start challenging for a first team place. Remember, all 3 of them have already played U-18 international football for their respective countries. But for that, Chelsea should continue with their development in the youth academy and not let another set of exceptional talents leave the club.

Here is my list of 4 Talented youngsters in the Chelsea academy who have the potential to break into the first team and become world class players, what is required is just a bit of nurturing and game time:

1. Josh Mceachran -

Having joined Chelsea at a very young age, many believed Josh had the talent and the skill to be one of the top central midfielders not only for England but also for Chelsea. Having made his Chelsea debut at an age of 17 years, expectations from Mceachran were high. Then Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti handed Josh his 1st league start against Hull City where he was being played in a more deeper role. Josh ended 2010/11 season with 4 starts and 13 substitute appearances to his name. With limited chances under new manager Andre Villas Boas the next season, Josh was loaned out to Swansea city where he re-united with his youth team coach Brendan Rodgers. Josh failed to make an impact for Swansea having made only 1 appearance during his loan spell. Having made appearances for England U-17, U-19 and U-21, many believe Josh could be a regular starter for the England senior team if given game time. Surely one Chelsea player who can have a say in the upcoming Olympic games.


2. Thibaut Courtois -

Signed by Chelsea from Genk, Courtois was without doubt Chelsea’s best young performer last season. Courtois was loaned out to Spanish side Atletico Madrid where he managed to win the Europa cup and saw his side finished 5th in the league. He kept 19 clean sheets for the Spanish side. At 6’6″ Courtois is a huge keeper with great shot stopping ability and a very good left foot. At a mere age of just 19, Thibaut has just begun and is expected to get better. Seen as an ideal replacement for goal keeper Petr Cech, he is expected to continue his stay with Madrid for another season.

3. Kevin De Bruyne -

Signed by Chelsea in January last season, De Bruyne was Chelsea’s 3rd Belgian recruit after Lukaku and Courtois. Signed from Genk after being their influential player the season before guiding them to a Champions League spot, De Bruyne hit peak form when being played in a more central role rather than in a wider position. In a more central role, De Bruyne had more control over the game and was able to influence the attack further.

4. Lucas Piazon -


Signed from Brazilian club Sao Paulo in November, Pizaon settled pretty well in the Chelsea’s youth system where he guided Chelsea to the FA Youth cup and saw himself win the Young player of the year award as well. Often referred to as the next Kaka mainly because of his looks, Piazon’s talent is unquestionable. His ability to score as well create chances can come in very handy for Chelsea if he is developed properly. Piazon was exceptional last season and was rewarded for his good play by being on the substitute bench for 2 games, although he did not get any playing time in both the games. Piazon can surely be a player for Chelsea the first team next season.

Having seen Ryan Bertrand emerge from the youth ranks and participate in the Champions league final, it was a huge bonus for the Chelsea reserves/youth squad to see one of them go on to make it to the big stage. This will act like a big bonus for these youngsters knowing that all they need is to work hard and have a little patience. With the “Golden Generation” of Drogba, Lampard, Terry, Cole etc. almost coming to an end, this may be the opportunity these young players might be seeking and Chelsea will be hoping these players can live up to their expectations.

Published 26 Jun 2012, 21:03 IST
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