Jose Mourinho has warned Chelsea that they may have to consider closing their multi-million pound academy if they can not produce homegrown talent.
The Blues manager says he is determined to integrate the best youngsters into the first team and has started by naming seven teenagers in the squad facing Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday.
Chelsea boast state-of-the-art facilities at the Cobham base but academy coaches can only claim to have produced one significant talent in John Terry. The centre-back has certainly been an important figure for Chelsea over the last decade, but the millions spent on nurturing talent should have reaped several players of similar ability.
"You need to prove the academy works well and is worth it" - Jose Mourinho
Close the doors
For Mourinho, things need to change in west London. In an environment governed by Uefa's financial fair play, Mourinho believes that if the academy does not start producing more talents, the doors should be shut for good.
"If the kids are not good enough or the work not good enough, and you don't bring kids up, then close the door and use the money to buy players.
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"You need to prove the academy works well and is worth it."
Luckily it seems Chelsea are about to reap the rewards of their investment. A golden generation of talented stars look set to breakthrough to the first team with several making their full debut in the Champions League tonight.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 18, will play some part while Mourinho has spoke highly of Dominic Solanke and Lewis Baker on the past. He has said in the past that all three are capable of becoming England internationals.
"It's only possible if the first-team manager stays for a long time, which in this club in the last 10 years, was not possible" - Jose Mourinho
Mourinho also suggested that Chelsea's inability to bring through academy starlets in the past decade is down to the ever changing presence in the dugout. Roman Abramovich has changed managers 12 times since arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2003, but Mourinho is hoping a long stay will see the likes of Loftus-Cheek establish himself as a first team regular.
"It's only possible if the first-team manager stays for a long time, which in this club in the last 10 years, was not possible," the Portuguese added.
"Now I'm trying to format Ruben and other Rubens in relation to my ideas, to his position. Imagine next week if there's a different first-team manager with different ideas.
"Some product, almost an added product, becomes an empty product and you start everything again. In this moment, the relation between the first-team and the academy is changing based on this stability that, at this moment, we are having.
"The first time Ruben trained with me was 18 months ago. In this moment, in the last two or three weeks, he's been training every day. So, in 18 months, I think he remembers every word or feedback he's had in first-team development. This stability is important.
"The people in the academy feel they are working for something. Which is why tomorrow, another boy and a boy who arrived at Cobham at eight, is not Ruben's day but 'academy day'."