This year, Chelsea Football club received five Chelsea Academy players. Jose Mourinho was given Dominic Solanke, Andreas Christensen, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, John Swift, and Lewis Baker, all ages 17-19, as players from their first ever debut on a football team. Although the Blues players are talented, not one of the players has been featured past one time.
Chelsea’s first team has not integrated Academy players rigorously since Roman Abramovich took head of Chelsea FC back in June 2003. Although Chelsea could benefit from grooming these players and integrating them into the line up, they have consistently refused to use their in-house talent, keeping them at bay and preferring instead to spend their money buying “star” players, and seeming to prefer changing managers when things are not going their way. However, Chelsea has multiple promising football players on their hands. Yet they seem to prefer building their team through transfers and loans as opposed to building up Chelsea through academies.
The Chelsea club has not had any shortage of many since the takeover by Abramovich, as over two billion has been poured into the west London franchise, the money going to improving training facilities and the stadium, but that’s not all. A lot of the money has gone into buying finished talents, football players who are known for their talents, seemingly reliable, with Chelsea pulling in Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Eden Hazard, Claude Makelele, and more, and playing them frequently. Chelsea feels the burden of wanting to win matches, and the franchise pours its energy into acquiring players that have already developed, and are ready-made products that can be put out there and hopefully yield results. Teams that want to win on a consistent basis feel they must resort to this, and not start out from the bottom, as would occur by playing the Blues’ youthful talent that have come on board.
Thus, the young players already signed on to Chelsea must either stay on the team until they are categorized as surplus, or shipped away to other teams on loan. Chelsea itself is no stranger to this system of operations, with 12 players formerly of the U21 category on loan. Mourinho is making an effort to give the young kids a chance to play first team, but he is also saddled with the pressure to win matches as well. Mourinho and those who have preceded him face the decision of trying to develop young players or put out their already polished talent as part of the first team, at the risk of losing matches and perhaps themselves even being replaced. Thus, Mourinho cannot securely play their young talent on a regular basis, due to the need to create consistent victories. If Chelsea or any team wants to win cups, they need to play their best talent fairly often.
Mourinho is also probably going to play top talent and play it safe for future matches, such as the FA Cup’s third round against Watford. In order to avoid a loss, players such as Ramires, John Obi Mikel, Nemanja Matic or Cesc Fabregas will likely be sent out for the first team. While the fans may want their youthful favorites such as Baker to be given a crack at it, there is little chance that Mourinho will put out any of the young players out with the little experience they have and risk falling behind or even sustaining a loss. John Terry has enjoyed a good career over the past few years at Stamford Bridge, but he is one of the few from Chelsea’s youth system that has succeeded. Terry, a first-team footballer for the Blues before Abramovich came on board, had a considerable advantage in that he was established on the first team for three seasons prior to the change.
It is likely that the young players for the Blues do have what it takes in order to get out there and do well on first team. Chelsea may benefit from placing their Academy players and putting some faith in them, putting out players like Loftus-Cheek, Solanke and baker. Making the young players first teamers is part of Chelsea and Mourinho’s goal, but accomplishing this is easier said than done. In addition, using loan players and having a surplus of players on the books has even led to situations where players leave the team for low amounts and then are bought back for millions.
Mourinho has declared his desire to stay on with Chelsea for an extended period, but whether he will be able to do so by risking wins to play the Blues’ youthful players has yet to be seen. In order to stay on, he will need to create a stable team that has a presence in the league and is able to avoid losing on a consistent basis. Winning trophies and staying employed is likely to remain a priority. If Chelsea decides grooming its Academy youth is part of that winning formula, so be it. However, it is unlikely that the Mourinho will risk victories today for the sake of developing its younger talent for tomorrow. If you want to see Chelsea play, check out tickets available for the matches and support the Blues as they continue to grow their establishment and entertain their loyal fans.