Stats, data – all correct to January 9, 2015:
Chelsea’s youth set-up is full of potential, with wonderkids ready to break through into the first-team. So why are most of them being loaned out? Will they get their chance? Read below, for my opinion on the intriguing situation which is currently unfolding at Chelsea.
You could argue that The Blues have an interesting situation on their hands. They have many good young players amongst the U-18’s, U-21’s and other age groups, with some of those players having the potential to force their way into the first-team.
With that being said, Chelsea’s team is strong. They have strength in depth, and unlike most of their title rivals in the league, do not have to make many signings or additions to the squad in respective transfer windows. Obviously, this means that most players will not get as many minutes as they would like; unfortunate for a team in a league trying to pride themselves on having homegrown talent, especially given the criticism of recent years over the sufficient lack of world-class English players.
There have been many different young players that have joined Chelsea, and gone on to flourish elsewhere, with a prime example being Wolfsburg‘s creative midfielder Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian is still relatively young at age 23, but only made 9 appearances for the first-team, with the majority of them being cameo appearances.
Chelsea signed him back in 2012 from Belgian side Genk, where he was being heralded as a player with potential to be special in the future. They sent him on loan, back to Belgium as well as to Werder Bremen – missing out on his talent.
STAT: De Bruyne has already created 10 assists in the Bundesliga alone so far this season, more than almost every player in the top five European leagues currently, apart from Cesc Fabregas, who has 14 at Chelsea – ironically enough.
He joined Wolfsburg in January 2014, and has looked a completely different player. One that plays with costlessdom and has the confidence to prove his doubters wrong, as well as Mourinho – he is a good player who should have been given a better opportunity to showcase his abilities in the first-team.
However, you could also spin the argument, and say that the fee brought in from the de Bruyne transfer shows that The Blues have an efficient way of selling on players that they know will not be able to gain first-team experience in the squad. They signed him for £7million, and sold him for £17million just two years later; a massive amount of profit which could help them in the future to ensure they keep in line with the Financial Fair Play rules and regulations.
The picture below (source: Wikipedia) just shows the sheer scale of players out on loan from Chelsea at the moment – the majority of which, are all young and under the age of 23:
Lucas Piazon, 20, has been compared to by current Chelsea first-team star Oscar amongst other Brazilian compatriots for his attacking flair, pace, skill and being a costless-kick specialist. With that being said, he has barely featured for his parent club – instead, being loaned out to the likes of Vitesse and Frankfurt. He has already admitted that he is open to staying in Germany, so what does that tell you?
Thorgan Hazard, 21 has been praised for having similiar attributes to his older brother, Eden, who is a star player in the first-team. He is currently on-loan at Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga, but will he get his chance eventually following his move in 2012 or find himself on a different pathway to his sibling?
It is all well and good, to have a world-class youth system. But if you do not utilise your youth players and give them chances to shine, then what is the point? To say, that Chelsea do not give some of their talented players a chance amongst the stars in the team, is unfair. Defensive partnership Kurt Zouma and Nathan Aké have been tipped for world stardom, and have played cameos in the side following impressive spells in the youth set-up and elsewhere.
Dominic Solanke, a 17-year-old English striker of Nigerian descent, has starred for the youth squad and earned himself a call-up to their UEFA Champions League group stage squad against NK Maribor towards the end of last year.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 18, received a huge welcome onto the Champions League scene, as he played ten minutes in their 3-1 win over Sporting Lisbon in December.
All of these youth startlets have been tipped for glory and success in the future. It is exciting to see how they develop and excel amongst the youth ranks. But, it is important not to forget that these are just a FEW of the many amongst the current crop at Stamford Bridge who are waiting patiently for a game. Will they get it? That’s the major question.