Jose Mourinho caused a stir when he suggested Chelsea should close the doors to their multi-million pound Cobham academy if they can't produce more talent.
He has a point. John Terry has been the only significant homegrown footballer to emerge from Chelsea's academy in the last 15 years. And none have established themselves in the first team since Roman Abramovich pumped some of his oligarchical fortune to revamp their west London training centre.
Changing managers every other season–sometimes even more often than that–can't help young talent develop. With the blessing of Abramovich, Mourinho is planning on sticking around for the long term and it's just in time; some of Chelsea's best prospects are about to emerge from the academy.
If they reach their potential, they could end up emulating some of the great Chelsea players of the Abramovich era. Take a look at the top five graduates Blues fans should get excited about.
The new: Frank Lampard
Baker hit the headlines last season after scoring 17 goals for the Under 21 side. That is an impressive return for a striker, but Baker is a midfielder. Chelsea fans benefitted from the exploits of one of football's greatest ever goal-scoring midfielders in Lampard and it seems Baker is keen to follow in his footsteps. Jose Mourinho has taken responsibility for Baker, saying he will be the only one to blame if he is not playing for England in the near future.
Position: Defensive midfield
The new: Nemanja Matic
The powerful defensive midfielder is set to make his first team debut against Sporting Lisbon tonight after being named in a youthful Champions League squad. The England Under-19 international has already drawn comparisons with Chelsea powerhouse Matic, who has played a key role since rejoining the Blues in January. Having made his debut for Chelsea's Under 18s at just 14, it is clear this teenager can make it at Stamford Bridge.
"Believe me, I am sure that he will be a top footballer and one of the future men for Chelsea" - John Terry
The new: John Terry
Christensen hit the headlines earlier this year for all the wrong reasons. It was claimed by The Mail that this young Dane was already earning a stunning £20,000-a-week at Chelsea despite not making a first team appearance. However, there is no denying that Christensen is an exceptional talent. Nicknamed 'The Gazelle' this defender has pace to burn and exceptional ability on the ball. Even Terry himself has labelled him as a potential successor.
"Believe me, I am sure that he will be a top footballer and one of the future men for Chelsea." Terry told TV2 Sporten.
"I talk to him daily, train with him and try to give him as much advice as I can. I have always told him that he should chase me and knock me off the team. He should be hungry to take my place in the team. For me, Andreas is a brilliant footballer and he will certainly get his chance at Chelsea."
The new: Didier Drogba
Solanke has already made his Champions League debut for Chelsea despite the fact he only turned 17 in September. He came on for Oscar in the 6-0 win over Maribor in October, confirming how highly Mourinho rates him. The pacey striker was the driving force behind Chelsea's victorious FA Youth Cup campaign last season, scoring consecutive hat-tricks to help them to the trophy. In total, he scored 18 goals for the academy last term, fast-tracking his ascent to playing in Europe's premier competition.
The new: Cesc Fabregas
Colkett still has some way to go when it comes to his public profile; he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page yet. However, the keen Chelsea fans, this playmaker could end up being just as effective as Fabregas has been in the first few months of his Blues career. Colkett played a key role for Chelsea's youth team in the FA Youth Cup latter stages, scoring in both semi-final legs against Arsenal before providing two assists in the final against Fulham. Breaking into the England Under-21 setup this season, it is clear Gareth Southgate is well aware of his talent, but will Mourinho give him the chance to shine in the Premier League?
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