Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has given first-team debuts to eight Chelsea players this season; more than any previous manager in the club’s history.
There has not been a better time for Chelsea youth to break into the first-team.
Chelsea loanee Trevor Chalobah, who is currently at the Championship side Huddersfield Town, summed it up perfectly.
He told Chelsea’s official website: “It shows that it doesn’t matter about your age because if you’re good enough then you’re old enough.
“That’s what Frank has brought, giving the young players confidence for them to go out there and show people that they are capable of doing what they can do now, and you can see that in their performances.”
The leap into the senior squad, however, has not always been this easy for Chelsea’s academy graduates.
The club’s tendency to axe managers after just months of underwhelming results was a big factor, why the previous bosses were reluctant to use youth at all.
It is quite difficult for them to justify risking their job to promote those from the youth system. They were not at the club long enough to really know the next generation, although sometimes they simply did not pay enough attention.
Lampard’s number two Jody Morris previously told Sky Sports: “We’ve had managers at Chelsea where they’d be 50 yards away, there’d be a Champions League U19s game going on, and the manager’s sat in his office, rather than coming out to watch. It’s very disheartening.
“It’s not my place to go over there and start talking to managers, but some managers aren’t interested – they don’t care about youth. They judge the first team and want to get their own players in.”
There have been a number of former Chelsea youngsters who failed to make it big at the club. But here are three of them you may have forgotten:
Chelsea repeatedly denied Traore’s inclusion in the club’s youth system before. Chelsea were under scrutiny for acquiring under-16s from outside the EU.
Traore “officially” joined Chelsea in 2011 and had four goals from seven appearances from 2011 to 2017, where he also had two loan stints at Vitesse Arnhem and Ajax Amsterdam.
He now plays for Ligue 1 side Lyon.
Patrick van Aanholt
The Dutch defender joined Chelsea’s youth system back in 2007. He made two senior appearances for Chelsea and several loan spells, including at Newcastle United and Leicester City, before joining Sunderland in 2014.
He now plays for Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
Cork had been at Chelsea since the age of nine. He had plenty of loans from 2006 to 2011 before deciding to join Southampton on a permanent move after failing to make any senior appearances for the Blues.
Now 30, Cork is an important member of Burnley and has made close to 200 appearances in the Premier League.