Ever since Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea and began pumping money into the club, it’s been hard for youth to get a sniff in the first-team.
Despite quickly assembling a top class youth academy and acquiring some of the worlds best scouts to fill it with talent, there have been very few youngsters who’ve gone on to make a significant impact at the club, and many of these youth have since moved on after failing to meet the grade at Stamford Bridge.
As Frank Arnesen, Chelsea's former chief scout, stated in March, the pressure at Chelsea is so big that young players were never given a chance. Scott Sinclair's form at Swansea earned him a move to Manchester City, while Fabio Borini is currently on Liverpool's books, though his opportunities have been limited by injury. Nemanja Matic ruled out a return earlier this month.
Of course, there's also Miroslav Stoch who's Zidane-esque volley won the Puskas award for goal of the year in 2012.
Chelsea have a penchant for perennially loaning talent out, with few prospects being able to use that experience to force their way into the team. Even more concerning for Chelsea's young prospects, Jose Mourinho doesn't have the best track record for promoting academy talents to the first-team.
With a host of high priced talent in the squad, let’s examine the potential of a few of Chelsea’s youth who spent last season on loan, and their potential to use that experience to work their way into Jose Mourinho's plans.
Romelu Lukaku spent last season on loan at West Bromwich Albion and performed superbly with 17 goals in 35 games, including a stellar hat-trick against Manchester United to deny Sir Alex Ferguson a win in his farewell match.
Strong, technical, and determined, he may have convinced the Chelsea hierarchy he has what it takes to contribute.
Verdict: Chelsea have yet to sort out their striker situation and questions still remain over the future of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. Although it seems Chelsea are still on the hunt for a forward capable of the consistency they have been lacking, Lukaku could be ready to make an instant impact and fill the role if given the opportunity. His compatriot Eden Hazard recently backed him for a first team spell.
His strike rate with West Brom was excellent and proves he has what it takes to compete in the premier league. With superior service from Chelsea's midfield, Lukaku could be a 20-25 goal a year player.
Lucas Piazon hasn't been given a chance to impress in the first team, despite some superb performances with the reserves and decent displays on loan at Malaga. Chelsea beat a host of other top European clubs to the Brazilian forwards signature, and he's highly regarded as a future prospect at Stamford Bridge.
Verdict: With the established talent in front of him it’s hard to see Piazon carving out a spot in the first team. Most likely he’ll be shipped out on loan in the upcoming campaign, and Chelsea will continue to consider him a future option.
Josh McEachran’s career has been relatively stagnant following a disappointing loan out at Swansea but his spell at Middlesbrough was an improvement. He remains a great talent and at 20 years old the time is ripe for him to mature his game and take it to the next level.
His chances in the first team have shown promise and he may get the opportunity to impress with his technicality and passing ability in the heart of Chelsea's midfield.
Verdict: Another spell on loan at a team that plays possession based football would be fruitful for the midfielder, but frequent playing time and the right guidance is essential. In time he could work his way into the team.
Nathaniel Chalobah spent last season playing under Gianfranco Zola in the Championship with Watford, making a total of 42 appearances and chipping in 5 goals, showing great maturity at the tender age of 18.
Such frequent inclusion into the squad will have done wonders for his confidence and ability. Naturally a defender he can also play in midfield, and the question remains if it would be more productive for Chalobah to spend another season out as loan as opposed to seeing limited action.
Verdict: If he works hard and takes advantage of the experience in front of him similar to the relationship John Terry did with Marcel Desailly, Chalobah could very well emulate Terry and fight for a place in the first team, and his versatility could make him a valuable player to Mourinho who always appreciates a utility man in his squad.
Kevin De Bruyne, another member of the Belgian contingent at the Bridge, has spent the last two seasons developing on loan and despite matured performances in the Bundesliga, questions remain over Mourinho’s confidence to insert him in a first team stacked with world-class attacking midfielders.
It would be counter-productive to keep the attacking midfielder at the club but on the bench. Several clubs have made inquiries as to his availability in the Bundesliga after his excellent loan spell with Werder Bremen.
Verdict: Despite his age, Mourinho's does have a tendency of fielding players who produce results regardless of their squad status, if KDB takes his chances and shows his ability, he could well earn a spot in the side, just ask Diego Lopez.
Thibault Courtois has been ever-present at Atletico Madrid with some brilliant performances for the past two seasons, and was recently confirmed for a third. All indications suggest Cech is expected to slowly make way for the Belgian, but the question remains as to when.
Verdict: Another season of solid performances from Courtois on loan could see him finally spend his time in London and compete with Petr Cech in the 2014/15 season.
Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list and Chelsea have other prospects at the club and on loan who could also fight for a future place such as Gael Kakuta, Tomas Kalas, Thorgan Hazard, Islam Feruz, Nathan Ake, Kenneth Omeruo, Wallace, and Oriol Romeu. However for all of these players, the question remains if Chelsea's strategy of loaning their prospects will begin to show results or if these players will also depart without being given a chance.
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