Chelsea may be running away with the Premier League this season and in many people’s eyes, have a side that could dominate English football for many years to come.
However, if Chelsea are to dominate the English and the European game for years to come then they will need to utilise their academy. Something which they have been well known for not doing.
Why? So many would ask this question. Chelsea have won the FA Youth Cup three times in the past five years and are the reigning Under 21 Premier League champions.
Surely this means that Chelsea have some of the finest young talent in the English game, however no-one in the past ten years has secured a regular slot in the Chelsea side.
In recent years Chelsea have been famed for holding some outstanding potential talent such as, Michael Mancienne, who at the time was captain of the England Under-21s and even a call up to the England team.
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Mancienne never managed to establish himself in the Chelsea side, and after a spell away in Europe, he finds himself fighting for his position in a Nottingham Forest side.
Part of Chelsea’s FA Youth Cup winning team in 2010, Jeffrey Bruma and Josh McEachran were talked about as being long-term replacements for Terry and Lampard.
Starlets struggle at Stamford Bridge
Like so many before them, Bruma and McEachran struggled to get a regular run out once they had graduated from the academy and now find themselves playing elsewhere in Europe.
Ryan Bertrand. A name that stood out more than any other on the Champions League final team sheets in 2012. Not because he was a global superstar but because he was a young academy player making his Champions League debut in the final.
Bertrand looked to be in contention for Ashley Cole’s spot at the start of this season however the form of Cesar Azpilicueta and Felipe Luis has seen him pushed out. Bertrand is currently showing some of the potential he looked to always have whilst out on loan at high flying Southampton.
If you cast your mind back to 2009, Chelsea were awarded a transfer ban for the way in which they illegally handled the transfer of youth prodigy Gael Kakuta. He was seen to be the next upcoming French superstar as Chelsea had seen him excelling whilst playing for France Under-19s.
Will the situation change?
Five years later, Gael is out on loan at Rayo Vallecano, having made just 12 appearances for the Blues.
This season Jose Mourinho has shown some attention towards the youth talent that he has at his disposal by playing the likes of Nathan Ake and Dominic Solanke in the pre-season and early cup games. Still the question marks will remain on whether Chelsea will reward some of their youth talent with a run out in the first team.
There must be a reason behind none of the players making a claim for a starting place. It may well be that the youth talent being produced is simply not good enough to make the step up.
Or possibly that Chelsea managers don’t get given enough time to develop players as they often are expected to deliver instant success.
Only time will tell to see if Chelsea’s next generation can make the transition between the youth sides and the first team, as the FA looks set to increase the strictness of the rules on home grown players once more.
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