Chelsea officials are more aware than any of their critics that they have failed to take advantage of their academy resources since the arrival of Roman Abramovich in 2003.
John Terry remains the only notable first-team star to come out of the system in the last decade and the Russian oligarch is keener than ever to see promising youngsters given a chance to emulate the club captain.
Their brightest hope is Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The 19-year-old appears to be on the verge of breaking into Jose Mourinho's plans, but he has sat on the fringes for much of the current campaign.
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But while Mourinho has utilised the midfielder's talents in just four occasions this season, club officials already consider Loftus-Cheek as one of Stamford Bridge's prized assets.
And the combination of both those factors has reportedly left them fearing the worst with regards to his future, according to the Telegraph. The England Under-21 international has just 18 months left on his current contract and talks regarding a new one are pencilled in for the near future.
However, now would be the worst time to try and convince Loftus-Cheek to tie his long-term future to the club. Mourinho's hardline approach to dealing with him thus far, including the rescinding of a promise to give him a run of games and public dressing down, have convinced him to consider an exit.
The same report says both Manchester United and City would be more than willing to sign Loftus-Cheek with Louis van Gaal and Manuel Pellegrini able to offer greater assurances over first-team involvement.
Such a predicament would be a nightmare scenario for Abramovich, who has taken a personal interest in Loftus-Cheek's development.
What makes things even more awkward for Chelsea is the emergence of Tottenham starlets Eric Dier and Delle Ali. Both have been given a chance to develop amongst senior players by Mauricio Pochettino and both have made their full England debuts as a result.
Loftus-Cheek will almost certainly be thinking about what could have been had Mourinho had given him the same chance. For a man so infamously unwilling to give youth a chance, it may be a chance that will never come.
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