At the start of the Premier League season eyebrows were raised when Chelsea decided to loan out Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Crystal Palace and sell Nathaniel Chalobah to Watford. The duo are highly-rated midfielders from the club’s academy, but both would argue that they have not been given enough chances in the first-team to prove that they are good enough at the top level.
Instead, the Blues opted to bring in big money signing Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco, who is a year older than Loftus-Cheek and the same age as Chalobah. However, the 23-year-old’s performances on the field during his debut campaign in England simply haven’t mirrored the reported £40million paid for him by the London club.
If an academy player had performed in the manner in which Bakayoko has this season then we wouldn’t hear from that player again. They would either be shipped out on loan or sold and simply deemed ‘not good enough’ or ‘not ready’ for top-flight football.
Therefore, it is infuriating to see big money spent on players such as Bakayoko when they are, at the very least, not of a higher standard than those in the Stamford Bridge academy. The supporters in the terraces would much rather see a player from their own ranks come through and be given the chances that Bakayoko has this term. That way they can build up one of their own players which could benefit the team in the long run.
The Chelsea U21’s were knocked out of the EFL Trophy semi-final on Tuesday night, with League Two side Lincoln City winning the close encounter on penalties. The night before, the U21 players would have been in their hotel rooms watching the senior side suffer a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Watford.
In that match, Bakayoko arguably put in one of the worst performances of the season. He constantly lost the ball in his own half, he couldn’t cope with the tempo of the match which resulted in him being sent off just after the half-hour mark.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Chelsea youngsters watching that game, particularly the midfield players, were thinking: ‘I can do better than that, surely’ or ‘Why am I not been given a chance ahead of him?’ Unfortunately for them, just like Loftus-Cheek and Chalobah, their best chance for first-team football is away from Stamford Bridge.