Football

Chelsea must utilise their academy talent to rediscover success

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Chelsea currently have 33 players out on loan around Europe, with Vitesse seemingly the popular destination for many of the Blues' youngters.

Many football fans argue that the Stamford Bridge side buy their way to victory in the league, but any informed supporter knows it’s an ignorant accusation to accuse them of not trying to bring through young talent.

John Terry is the only direct youth academy talent to be getting regular first team action at Chelsea. Ryan Bertrand was another, but his move to Southampton for £10 million means only the stalwart veteran remains.

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But Chelsea have talent coming through. Nathan Ake, whilst not English, has come up through the academy since the age of 15. It’s very rare now for clubs to have academy players spend their career exclusively at one club.

For example, the Arsenal duo of Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while fans would consider them academy products, were imported from Barcelona’s La Masia and Southampton respectively.

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However, Ake has been at Chelsea for a long time, but came after being released by Feyenoord mid-way through his teenage years. He has developed well at Watford, where he is currently on loan, whilst Tomas Kalas (Middlesbrough), Andreas Christensen (Borussia Monchengladbach) and Mario Pasalic (AS Monaco) are all performing well at a relatively high level.

So why the criticism?

Well, the tendency is that Chelsea look elsewhere to fill a position. To compete at the top consistently you need a consistently world-class team. Take centre-back, for example.

To add another option to his defense, Mourinho brought in Kurt Zouma, and while the Frenchman is a young talent in his own right, this move was made instead of trying to bring through academy products.

Also, with regards to striker, Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao were both brought in as back up to Diego Costa, which meant a serious prospect in Dominic Solanke was overlooked. Whilst arguably all the players bought are better on paper, putting trust in the youngsters is the only way to improve.

Arsenal, again, are a perfect example. They took the time to blood players like Aaron Ramsay and Jack Wilshere in the absence of Cesc Fabregas, rather than spending any big money, whilst Kieran Gibbs and Bellerin have emerged at the full-back positions.

The counter argument could be that doing so sacrifices results. Arsenal have not won a league title since 2004, despite the deserved praise for the integration of their younger players.

Some could argue this is because faith is put in young players that are good, but not world class. On his day, no one would dream to admit they'd choose Gibbs over Bayern Munich's David Alaba, or Oxlade-Chamberlain over Eden Hazard.

However, with Chelsea’s current run of form, perhaps now is the perfect time to begin the integration process. Terry is not getting any younger, neither is Branislav Ivanovic, which presents an opportunity.

Mourinho needs to come up with a plan; one to utilise the vast array of future talent they have and add some hunger to the way they play.

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Topics:
Premier League
Chelsea
Football

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