For a while now, Chelsea hasn’t been associated with exactly opening their arms to academy players in the first-team squad.
The notorious loan dumping of players has dubbed the Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem, the ‘Chelsea B team’. A total of 29 players have been loaned to the Eredivisie club.
No wonder the nickname stuck.
In fact, for the first time in a decade, the club has started the season without the presence of a Chelsea loanee in the Vittese squad. Chelsea has been criticised for lacking the transition for players from an academy level at Cobham to the first-team.
Former Blue, Joe Cole after Chelsea’s 7-0 thrashing of Norwich, where goals came from academy graduates Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and a hattrick from Mason Mount said Cobham was rightfully criticised in the past.
“It was fair criticism to a degree”, he said. “There were players who could get through, but didn’t get the chance.”
“What the people at the academy have done is, it’s well-staffed, well run by good people. Educated coaches. What they’ve done is kept improving, brushing up talent.”
As a Chelsea fan, it is really nice to see the club nurture and involve young players that have grown through the academy system, onto the biggest stage. Opportunity is key, and Chelsea is finally dishing them out.
Speaking to Forbes in a rare interview, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich gave a glimpse into what he hopes to have built and is currently building at Chelsea and what the academy means to him: “The club was here before me, and will be hereafter me, but my job is to ensure we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future,” he said.
“That’s why the success of our academy at Cobham [the club’s 140-acre training facility] is so important to me.”
“Chelsea is not just the men’s first team. Chelsea is a community. It’s the women’s team, it’s the youth teams, it’s the academy, it supports former players of the club. It’s something that we started to do since day one.”
You could argue Chelsea is one of the best teams at the moment in incorporating and utilising their youth talent. To the credit of Frank Lampard, it did all kickstart from him, who gave chances to the likes of Mount, James and now Roma player Tammy Abraham.
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There was rightful scepticism about Thomas Tuchel taking over and wondering how that would bode for the youngsters. Abraham is a good example of how things quickly can change for an academy star.
He went from being the source of most of Chelsea’s goals last season, to not featuring in the German’s plans for this season.
The big takeaway from Chelsea’s game against Norwich is how Cobham is starting to shake off the bad vibes that cast it as a system of hoarding talent. Instead, it’s got an air of Manchester United 1990’s youth set-up about it.
A club that is starting to know its onions in the stars they hold in their academy and using them too *chefs kiss* – it’s what we love to see.
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