For almost all other British clubs, having four integral midfielders in the victorious England U21 side at the Toulon Tournament would be an exciting time for the future.
However, these four players: Lewis Baker, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, John Swift and Nathaniel Chalobah, are Chelsea players, and history dictates that the probability of the club bringing these group of players through together, is as slim as Leicester City winning the Champions League in 2017.
Loftus-Cheek has been given opportunities this season, racking up 14 Premier League appearances, scoring one goal, and while he did not set the league ablaze, he did not disappoint playing in a central midfield role.
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Whereas in the Toulan Tournament, Gareth Southgate played him further forward as a number 10, where his physical presence, close control, and fine link up play allowed him to flourish as an attacking threat and resulted in him picking up the Player of the Tournament award.
The other outstanding individual performer in the tournament and top scorer was Lewis Baker, whose measured and technical performance in central midfield, which was cultured and seemingly Dutch-like, is vindication of a productive loan spell at Chelsea’s feeder team Vitesse Arnhem.
John Swift and Nathaniel Chalobah also had above average tournaments, but the likelihood of their Chelsea breakthrough this season, or ever, is in doubt, and they may well be better of searching for their breakthroughs elsewhere, as is the cut-throat nature of modern football.
Over the last few years, we have been bombarded from every media platform, outlet and direction with the endless romance and unprecedented achievements of Manchester United's “Class of 92”.
Their feature length film, with the wisdom of hindsight, heralded the relationships made in youth systems and demonstrated how a first team can benefit greatly from promotion within due to the youngsters spending their entire careers playing alongside each other.
Gary Neville’s link up play with David Beckham down the right wing, Ryan Giggs and Beckham making runs in the knowledge that Paul Scholes’ balls would reach them, and team ethics being guaranteed through the benefits of friendship.
So, one would feel safe to assume that the higher echelons of the Chelsea hierarchy can see the benefits of keeping at least Baker and Loftus-Cheek together, especially given what Loftus-Cheek said about him and his team-mate following their 4-0 win over Paraguay.
The Chelsea midfielder said: “We have a good partnership in there, we’ve played together for so long that I know where he is on the pitch without looking.”
Perhaps Loftus-Cheek’s breakthrough season will be next season, and perhaps it would benefit significantly from having a friend in the same boat on which he can lean on, especially if that friend is one as exceptional as Baker.
Though, Chelsea and England fans should not hold their breath, as Antonio Conte arrives with a transfer budget equal to an oligarch’s super yacht and midfielders are reportedly on top of his transfer wishlist.
Is it time for Chelsea to start promotion from within? Have YOUR say on the debate in the comment section below!
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