In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast, Parth (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Scott (Guest – @scott_trotter) to discuss the futures of some of the academy boys and players on loan. The Chelsea Spot provided exclusive information on Ben Elliott, Bashir Humphreys, Mason Burstow, Harvey Vale, Dion Rankine, Levi Colwill, Ian Maatsen and so much more!
Vision 2030 is a plan devised by Neil Bath that involves scouting and buying some of the game’s top young talents, both to create a wave of players capable of filling the gaps in the first-team and to push the youngsters who come through Chelsea’s academy onto bigger things. Buying players for this plan already took place in the summer with the signings of Gabriel Slonina, Cesare Casadei, Carney Chukwemeka, and Omari Hutchinson. Todd Boehly has shown no intent to slow down this Vision, with the Chelsea owner already agreeing January deals for Molde Striker David Datro Fofana and Vasco De Gama Midfielder Andrey Santos.
Chelsea’s Vision 2030 has five main targets:
for 15% of their Premier League minutes to be from Academy players
for 25% of their first-team squad to be from the Academy
to have above national average GCSE and A Level results
to have more Academy players in the professional game than from any other Academy
to win more national and international competitions than other academies
To achieve this, Neil Bath and Jim Fraser will be given a set budget and freedom to buy players for this purpose and in this article I’ll speak about 10 players currently playing in Academies across England that we should target (most we have been linked to by credible journalists but others are just wishful thinking).
The first player on this list is Arsenal Prodigy Ethan Nwaneri, a player who has already made his Premier League debut at the ripe old age of 15 against Brentford back in September. Ethan is at the age where players receive scholarship offers and with no news on whether he has accepted one at Arsenal, clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City are circling. A left footed midfielder who is physically strong and has bags of technical ability, he is considered to be the best U17 talent in the country at the moment and would be a major coup for the Vision 2030 plan.
The next player I’m going to talk about is a current teammate of Ethan at Hale End who is also coming up to scholarship decisions – Myles Lewis-Skelly. He was at Cobham at a young age but made the change to Arsenal later on. Myles is an all action midfielder who is also being fast tracked through the age groups just like Ethan in order to convince him to stay. An unnamed youth coach once said that Lewis-Skelly was the most “outstanding” prospect in the academy, alongside Ethan Nwaneri. In fact, he went on to claim that the 16-year-old is as naturally talented as Nwaneri. Myles has the ability to play in that deeper role as well as more advanced and regularly takes players out of the game with his impressive ball carrying ability and regains possession with his athleticism and football IQ.
Harris is a Welsh attacking midfielder from Fulham who possesses a very good goal threat from midfield. The 17 year old has scored 6 goals in 5 games at PL2 level this season, including a Hat-trick against a Chelsea side that included Chalobah, Ampadu and Chilwell. He is already a regular for the Wales U21 side and was taken to Qatar for the experience. On top of this. he has made a handful of Prem appearances for Fulham this season and due to signing his first pro contract this summer he’s one of the more expensive players on this list but still a deal I’d keep an eye on.
We’re now going to jump across to North London to discuss the15 year old attacker Mikey Moore. Born in 2007, Moore has featured regularly for Spurs U18 and UEFA Youth league side, making him one of the 10 youngest players to play in the competition. Moore is also an essential part of the England U16s team that consists of Chelsea Striker Shim Mhueka and Chelsea target Chris Rigg, regularly popping up with goal contributions. Rumoured to have been offered a scholarship at Manchester City and Chelsea, it remains to be seen if the winger’s future lies at White Hart Lane.
Triston Rowe currently plays at Aston Villa, having joined them in the Summer of 2021 from their rivals, West Brom. The versatile defender has been a standout performer in Aston Villa’s academy this season, even making his PL2 debut at the age of 16 where he managed to pick up an assist as well as making a few appearances in the EFL Trophy. The England Under-16s international has long been on Chelsea’s radar having played for his country at the youngest age groups.
Tezgel has, just like many others on this list, been followed by Chelsea for a while now, as well as the rest of the top clubs around England, but so far, he has decided to stay at Stoke and develop. A natural finisher at every level, he made a name for himself in the Under-18 side at Stoke, scoring 19 goals in 34 appearances last season and he has 7 goals in 10 games for England U17s side. Due to the variety of goals he scores as well as his technical ability and frame, the striker of Turkish descent has drawn some comparisons to Harry Kane.
Ishe Samuels-Smith is a Left-Back that currently plays at Everton. He’s following in the footsteps of another young driving force who used to play LB for Everton in Thierry Small. Ishe is highly regarded as one of the best young left backs in the Academy game, an issue that Chelsea has had for years, which has recently been addressed by the additions of Zak Sturge from Brighton. However, during the summer, we came close to getting Ishe to sign a scholarship at the Bridge, but he decided to stay at Everton for the time being. With him still performing to a high level and Chelsea’s past interest, I think this is a deal that may reappear.
Now let me have a bit of fun with this one. Carlos Borges is a left winger that plays for Man City and is one of the most electrifying players I have seen at any level. Carlos has bags of pace and flair with goal contributions to back it up with the 18 year old racking 16 goals and 11 assists in just 18 games this season. He is the only player so far to not be linked to Chelsea, but as Simon Phillips recently said, we are monitoring Academy Talent from City in the hopes of convincing them of a better pathway at Cobham. On top of this, his contract expires in 2024, and there’s no sign of a potential first team debut in the near future for him, so there might be a small chance.
In my opinion, Kobbie Mainoo is the best young player currently at Man United with the ability to play all 3 roles in the midfield to a high standard. He progresses the ball well through both his dribbling and passing ability which helps his game in an offensive sense but also has insane agility which helps him not only avoid tackles but cover ground and regain possession for his team. The 17 year old looks comfortable against any opposition he’s put up against and has a really bright future ahead of him. Again, like Borges, there have been no links to Chelsea so far, but a deal I think we need to make if we’re serious about signing the best talent around.
The last player I’m going to speak about is one of the lesser known players on this list. Jimmy is a left-footed winger who plays for Southampton, who has 5 assists in 6 games at PL2 level this season and has been in and around the first team already at the age of 16. He is part of a resurgence of academy talent at the Saints such as Tyler Dibling, Dominic Ballard, and Jayden Meghoma, any of which I would gladly take at Chelsea. Again, he’s not been linked yet, but due to our good relationship with Southampton shown through academy Goalkeeper Eddie Beach, the aforementioned Tyler Dibling and Director of Recruitment Joe Shields, something could get done.
Thank you for reading my first article. As you may be aware, there are hundreds of players on the Vison 2030 list so if you want me to do a Part 2 make sure to let me know, and yes I’m well aware that some of these names are very unlikely to happen but we can only hope.
The Chelsea Spot understand Jim Fraser has been promoted to Head of Youth Development & Recruitment at Chelsea FC.
Neil Bath was promoted into the role of Director of Football Development and Operations in November, where we understand he will continue to oversee the U21s progress as well as the loan system for the academy players.
Jim Fraser was Neil Bath’s assistant for over 15 years, and together they have been the main men behind producing one of the best academies in the world.
In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast, Parth (@CFCParee) was joined by Football.London journalist Scott (Guest – @scott_trotter) to discuss the academy players set to be involved against Aston Villa, the upcoming January transfer window, the World Cup and so much more!
A slightly different episode today – Parth (@CFCParee) was on his own giving an explanation to you listeners about the past few months and the future of our podcast. We did an academy update from 17:18 onwards to the end of the episode, so make sure to give that a listen!
Chelsea’s fixture against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday is pretty much a dead rubber – the Blues have their first position in the Champions League Group Stage already confirmed. It’ll be a chance to rest the important players ahead of the massive game against Arsenal on the weekend. More importantly though, it’s the perfect opportunity to give a few academy players some very valuable minutes.
In our 2020/2021 Champions League success, Frank Lampard gave Tino Anjorin and Billy Gilmour their European debuts in the last game of the group stages – the exact same situation as we are in now. Graham Potter is known to rotate more, and he has an even busier schedule with the World Cup looming, so there really isn’t much excuse for the former Brighton manager.
Rules and Context
There’s a few rules and context points which I may as well go over to clear things up.
There is a List B for UEFA competitions, which can be updated by clubs throughout the season at any point. If they want to feature in the game on Wednesday, they need to be registered by midnight tomorrow (01/11/2022):
Clubs are entitled to register an unlimited number of players on List B during the season, but the list needs to be submitted no later than 24:00 CET the day before a match.
Lewis Hall and Charlie Webster (as well as Armando Broja) have already been registered on this list, so any other academy players who are set to be involved will need to be added to this list. However, it’s important to note that Omari HutchinsonCANNOT be added to this list and therefore won’t be able to feature on Wednesday for Chelsea. The reasoning is due to the following:
A player may be registered on List B if he is born on, or after, 1 January 2001 and has been eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years since his 15th birthday by the time he is registered with UEFA – or for a total of three consecutive years with a maximum of one loan period to a club from the same association for a period not longer than one year. Players aged 16 may be submitted if they have been registered with the club for the previous two years without interruption.
It’s a massive shame since he’s been by far the standout player in the academy this season, but unlike Carney Chukwuemeka he wasn’t registered on List A and won’t be able to play in the competition until the knockout stages (where the registration window opens once again for List A).
Some other general academy context is that the U21s had a game on Sunday evening, hence there was very little involvement in the first team training session today (Monday). The two pictured to have been involved were Silko Thomas (RWB/Winger) who didn’t play last night and Zak Sturge (LWB) who only got a few minutes from the bench. I suspect that tomorrow’s session will consist of more academy players, or at least I hope so.
It’s also important to note that the U19s will have a game on the same day in the UEFA Youth League, but with Chelsea already being out of the competition it’s not like they will need the experience of Webster or Hall for example, and may want to give opportunities to some of the younger players. Some of them have been on international duty with England over the last few days, so it’s going to be fascinating as to how the club manage each of the squads on Wednesday.
So…who could be involved?
I’d be pretty gutted if one of Bashir Humphreys or Alfie Gilchrist (both CBs) didn’t start for Chelsea. Assuming Azpilicueta is guaranteed to start, in either a four or five at the back formation, there’s still two CB options open. Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalobah absolutely need a rest as any injury to them could destroy the whole season. If it’s a 5 at the back, he could play Cucurella and Koulibaly next to Azpi but the Senegalese’s defender fitness is still unknown and I think it’d be a massive risk to start him. If it’s a 4 at the back, I can’t see Cucurella playing at CB so that opens up a slot for one of Bashir or Alfie – as well as 4atb utilising the midfield and attack better where we are much more stacked. Josh Brooking is one who has trained with the first team a few times under Graham, but I have a feeling he’s got a small knock as he would’ve been in training today.
Reece James’ injury has pretty much reduced any quality on the right-hand side in both attacking and defensive sense. Azpilicueta clearly isn’t too favoured by Potter and we all know he’s a bit past it, and the Loftus-Cheek/Pulisic shifts at wing-back haven’t been too successfull either. If he does decide to go with a 5, Dion Rankine (RWB) simply has to play. He’s been excellent at wingback this season under Mark Robinson, and has really matured as a player in the last few years. It’s an easy comparison to make, but his blistering pace and some of the tricks he likes to pull out really does remind you of some of the things Tariq Lamptey was doing in our academy.
I don’t think we can expect many other players in the starting lineup. As much as I’d like to see more than one or two, Potter does also have to keep his squad players happy and I suspect the likes of Zakaria, Ziyech, Chukwuemeka, Aubameyang/Broja and Chilwell are all guaranteed to start while we could still easily see the likes of Gallagher, Pulisic, Jorginho and even Mount play for confidence.
There still should be some more on the bench though with a view of coming on as a substitute. Lewis Hall (midfielder) has had first team experience before under Thomas Tuchel, and his versatility (has played at LCB and LWB before) may give him the nudge over someone like Charlie Webster (midfielder), who still very much should be getting some minutes with the quality he has. Ben Elliott is a midfielder/forward who would fit Potter’s system really well in my opinion, and he’s really thrived in the 21s so far. Not being able to play for the U19s may actually be an advantage in that sense for him.
Here’s just a couple of lineups that I think Potter could go ahead with. I’m going to assume Koulibaly and Chukwuemeka are both fit enough to start, and that there are no other issues:
I also very much realise Potter could do the second lineup with Loftus-Cheek or a winger instead of Rankine…
I don’t think there are any other academy players who I’m missing. Let me know if I am on any of our social platformsand make sure to follow us for more academy related content! I should be getting an update tomorrow on the squad for Wednesday so stay tuned…
In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Aleksander (Guest – @alelcsander) to discuss all things academy. The boys talked about last season, the new head coach appointment, the players to look out for the in the U23s and U18s as well as the players out on loan! We went into a lot of detail so if you’re interested in the academy, it’s the perfect listen. FYI: This episode was recorded on 27/07/2022. By the time this episode has been released, some of the situations for the players may have changed.
Without much knowledge of the opponent and their players, the assumption that this would be a complete turnover was not the case. A well fought battle between two well matched sides, both operating in 3 at the back systems. The first match under Mark Robinson showed sprinkles of promise, with an attack heavy approach and intense pressing after losing the ball. However, it is hard to grasp a coaches style from one game in a pre season friendly.
The first half started with Chelsea pinging the ball around and Gilmour controlling from his deep lying playmaker role in the Chelsea 3-4-2-1 system. The 2nd minute saw Dion Rankine pick up the ball, glide past one man and take on another down the wing before blasting it low into the goal, catching the opposition goalie out and making the score 1-0. Dion Rankine looked a constant threat and was being fed through balls consistently for the first quarter of an hour. More Chelsea domination followed and culminated in Tino Anjorin shielding the ball before using the studs of his boot to turn and leave two men in the dust. He got forced out wide and then unleashes a powerful shot from a few yards outside the box that went whiskers wide. The first 20-25 minutes was all Chelsea and it honestly looked like with a few more shots, it could be a battering. Then out of nowhere, a good throw leads to a through ball that caught Josh Brooking out and Tyrone Mondi blasts it past Ted Curd into the roof of the net making it 1-1. Around the 35th min, Tino Anjorin set off on an outrageous run, showcasing his dribbling and physical stature. Chelsea lost their grip towards the end of the half and couldn’t regain the control they had in the first 20 minutes.
The second half came with 11 substitutions, going into the half with Beach, Abu, Gilchrist, Tauriainen, Webster, Simons, Elliott, Andersson, Hutchinson, Castledine, Burstow. Interestingly, Casteldine who is usually utilised in the midfield or attacking midfield was placed on the left of a back 3. Diego Luna stood out for Real Monarchs and was causing a lot of problems. He had a free kick that looked like it was going in but just went wide. A penalty conceded by Webster for a high foot seemed a bit harsh but Luna stepped up and Beach made a fantastic save and it went out for a corner. The 64th minute saw Ben Elliot pick up the ball from a fantastic Charlie Webster pass and Elliot went around countless players including the goalie before placing it in the goal. At 2-1 the game looked to be in favour of the Blues but mere minutes later a penalty was given away by seemingly both Beach and Simons. This time the penalty was converted by Pedro Fonseca and now the game was level again. Omari Hutchinson the most lively player for Chelsea in the second half by a mile. Countless darting runs inside from the wing and extremely direct. He certainly didn’t need much time to get used to his teammates as he looked very promising. In the deaths of the game Tauriainen missed a glorious chance and the game went to penalties.
Real Monarchs ended up winning the shootout 5-4 with Elliot being the lone Chelsea player to miss.
The first half had lots of promising moments. The midfield was being utilised effectively and Gilmour and Anjorin stood out. They were receiving the ball and spraying it out wide to players like Rankine who know how to exploit the spaces in behind. I thought the intesnity of the pressing for the first pre season game was very impressive and showed a new determination from the players to impress the new gaffer. The 2 goals we conceded were not too worrying and they were goals from nothing. The only time I thought we looked truly vulnerable was a few counter attacks in the first half but they were squashed almost immediately due to the pressure from the players tracking back. Chelsea U21 get back in action in just around 48 hours against Wolves and it is yet to be known whether they will stick with the two different XI’s or try something new. Mark Robinson has proved in just 90 minutes he is not afraid to experiment, case in point Castledine at LCB.
In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Dan (Admin – @danbarkzr) and a few others in a Twitter Space which we have recorded and uploaded as an episode! The boys recorded straight after the Fabrizio Romano news that Levi Colwill was likely to leave the club permanently…so emotions were high. This is a Levi Colwill special.
In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Dan (Admin – @danbarkzr) to discuss last night’s disappointing 3-1 loss to Nottingham Forest in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, the prospect of moving away from Stamford Bridge, Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi’s performance against Arsenal and finally tomorrow’s Champions League Quarter Final first leg against Real Madrid!
In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) to discuss the FA Youth Cup 3-2 victory against Blackpool in the Quarter Finals, where Harvey Vale scored an absolute screamer and the likes of Lewis Hall and Charlie Webster impressed. The boys also looked ahead to this Sunday’s final in the Carabao Cup against Liverpool and expressed their nervy feeling…
In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee), Orlando (Admin – @0rland1nho) & special guest Joe (Guest – @JoeTweedie) gave their thoughts on the academy so far! They talked about THAT FA Youth Cup game vs Liverpool, the performances of Jude Soonsup-Bell, Harvey Vale & Charlie Webster this season, the breakthrough of Lewis Hall, rejecting loan deals for Harvey Vale, sending Tino Anjorin out to Huddersfield and so much more!
The 2-0 win at Brentford’s Community Stadium could end up being a monumental shift in the chances that academy players from Chelsea see in the first team. Jude Soonsup-Bell, Harvey Vale and Xavier Simons started the game to a bit of surprise from the Chelsea fan base. Whereas, Lewis Hall and Charlie Webster were on the bench for the entirety of the match.
Just 17-years-old, Soonsup-Bell came up against veteran Pontus Jansson and when on the ball looked the part. Strikers in this system usually are not heavily involved and Soonsup-Bell fell victim to that. Just 12 touches in 45 mins shows the magnitude of the lack of space up front. The way Brentford sat back in the first half also gave Soonsup-Bell more problems and a team as drilled as Brentford would be capable to deal with the top strikers of the Premier League and he should not feel hard done by. His silky footwork came into action on the numerous occasion and showed glimpses of what made him a star in the U18 side.
I would like to see Soonsup-Bell given a chance with a front three of Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount and maybe even up top with Lukaku. Being around a more experienced attacking unit can only benefit the 17-year-old and help to utilise his unique skillset. Tuchel also said that “Jude came out of a flu” which could be the explanation for just the 45 minute run-out. A fully fit Jude Soonsup-Bell, with more first team training sessions and a higher quality team around him could cause a lot of sides problems. Chances of seeing Soonsup-Bell get some more appearances in the first team? 7/10 IMO.
Vale was playing out of position today which is important to note and also makes his performance stand out even more. Cool, calm and collected on the ball is all you need to sum up Vale’s performance against Brentford. Yes, he did squander a big chance from an Azpilicueta cross but yet again that’s not usually his job in the U23’s. Dealing with a very physically demanding back line of Brentford, Vale’s eagerness to get stuck in and battle with players 10 years older than him says a lot about his mentality.
Chances will come for Vale to play again in the first team, my preference and I think Vale’s also would be to see him in the attacking midfield role or even left wing back if needed. In his 65 minute stint, Vale showed he had a good understanding of the pace and physicality needed at the senior level. Same with Soonsup-Bell, more training sessions and playing with elite performers will only increase Vale’s ability. The game against Chesterfield on the 8th January jumps out when looking for chances where Vale could next start. Chances of seeing Harvey Vale get some more appearances in the first team? 8.5/10 IMO.
Simons was also playing out of his most comfortable position and would have much preferred to slot into the midfield two. You could tell he is not totally used to playing in that position and adapting to Tuchel’s right wing back system was hard for Simons. In just two training sessions, Simons came in and impressed Tuchel which led him to playing 65 minutes in his first match for Chelsea. Simons won 3/5 of his ground duels which tells you that he would be a great player to see in midfield. Simons was caught out of position a few times but with the way the game was in the first half this was expected and he made great recovery runs to prevent goal scoring opportunities on numerous occasions. His pace isn’t a main attribute that is usually on show in youth football as he normally operates in midfield, but it was used to full effect here.
More minutes could definitely be an option for the Chesterfield game but I hope to see Xavier Simons in his preferred position. Due to the cover we have at centre midfield and right wing back I think the chances of Simons starting another match could be on a lower scale compared to Soonsup-Bell and Harvey Vale. But, a solid performance in a relatively new position could stick in the back of Tuchel’s mind when thinking about his future squads. Chances of seeing Xavier Simons get some more appearances in the first team? 5.5/10 IMO.
Lewis Hall & Charlie Webster
Lewis Hall and Charlie Webster impressed enough after two training sessions to earn a spot on the substitutes bench against Brentford. Lewis Hall has featured in the left wing back position and in midfield this year for the U23’s at just 17-years-old. A place on the bench for Hall is just a testament to his potential and a reward for his elite performances so far this season. With just one senior player natural in the left wing back position (that isn’t currently injured), Hall could definitely be in with a chance of featuring there at some point this season. Webster has featured for the U18’s in all positions around the centre of the pitch and could be of use should more injuries or COVID-19 cases occur in the squad.
The Chesterfield game will be massive in seeing whether Hall and/or Webster can play a part in the senior side for this season. However, I believe that these two definitely have a future at the club due to their different positional capabilities.
Overall, this game was massive in showing Tuchel and his staff and also the fans that trusting in the youth is worthwhile. This is an exciting time for people who keep up with the Academy and with the congested January schedule there should definitely be some minutes up for grabs for the youth. Hopefully more chances for players like Dion Rankine, Alfie Gilchrist, Jayden Wareham, Joe Haigh and Josh Brooking, Bryan Fiabema and Xavier Mbuyamba could be on the cards.
In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) , Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) & Sairam (Writer- @ftblSairam) gave their thoughts after Chelsea beat Brentford to go through to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup! The boys were absolutely delighted due to Jude Soonsup-Bell, Harvey Vale and Xavier Simons all making their first team debuts after starting, and also praised the performances of Chalobah and Saul.
Chelsea vs Brentford in the Carabao Cup Quarter Finals – both squads fully depleted due to injuries and COVID – most would ask: “who cares?”. I can tell you right now, I definitely care, a lot of people at The Chelsea Spot care, but most importantly the academy players and staff care.
As revealed by ourselves in the last two days on our Twitter page, many academy boys have joined the first team training, with Monday’s sessions including most of the 23s, and Tuesday’s late night session involving Charlie Webster & Jude Soonsup-Bell too (Trevoh Chalobah joined as well).
Understandably, a lot of the fanbase won’t know who half of these names are and there isn’t any shame in that either! So, in this article, I will go through each player who has BEEN PICTURED training in the last two days, and discuss their style of play as well as their chances of making the squad tomorrow (will give a rating out of 10 considering there are 5 spots available).
Josh is a RCB (in our setup). This season he’s looked pretty good, with his positional awareness and pace being of real use at RCB to cover any last-man tackles and also his incredible overlapping ability. Many may have seen him get a red card against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, and even though it was a dangerous tackle, he was actually having an impressive game beforehand and it was nice to see some tenacity. 4/10 chance of making the squad imo.
Alfie also a RCB. Unfortunately overhyped by a Chelsea scout in the media recently being compared to John Terry, he still has had an impressive season so far. Last season he was a big player for the U18s and showed his leadership qualities, getting some minutes towards the U23s at the end of the season and this season has managed to captain the FA Youth Cup side and also play a few more U23s game. 5/10 chance of making the squad imo.
Dion’s a RWB/RW. Blistering pace, incredible skills and loves a nutmeg. He was kind of inconsistent last season, but he was also chucked around at LWB and couldn’t really settle in a position, so he certainly has an excuse. This season he’s improved with that heavily and is a constant outlet for our team to get in behind. Unfortunately, if Reece and Azpilicueta travel, I’m not sure he’s got much chance of making it, but we’ll have to see. 3/10 imo.
Midfielder. If you don’t know about Xavier…then he’s certainly had an interesting story. Moving from Brentford a of couple years ago when they decided to switch from the academy to the B team, he looked a promising player at the time and built a wonderful midfield partnership with Lewis Bate. However, luck wasn’t on his side as he injured his knee and required surgery, and not long after that required surgery in the other knee too! In what would have been a hard place to be mentally, he has come back very strong and become a real leader in this squad – with his qualities still being shown constantly. 5/10 imo.
Midfielder/LWB. Been one of our best performers in the academy this season, which is incredibly impressive. Last season featuring for our U18s, he has made the huge jump into the 23s this season and has played with such ease. Originally a midfielder, his driving runs forward have been amazing to watch with his strength and passing being a key part of his game, except this season he’s played more at LWB and has looked brilliant there too. You know how Reece comes into midfield from the RWB role for Chelsea and just shrugs everyone off? Yeah, Lewis does a pretty similar job for our 23s. 7/10 chance of making the squad.
Striker. Jay’s an interesting one. He moved from Woking in the Summer to Chelsea, and was always going to find it a proper challenge with Bryan Fiabema and Jude Soonsup-Bell ahead of him. However, he has taken on the challenge really well and whenever got minutes normally found the back of the net. His movement is very impressive, he works hard for the team, and surprisingly despite his height he wins a lot of headers too. If Jude hadn’t returned to training today I would’ve backed him to be in the squad, so I’ll say a 6/10.
Attacker. Joe’s that attacking midfielder who just glides with the ball and is a proper joy to watch when he’s on the pitch. As I’ve said before, me and a couple of guys who watch the academy regularly really like to compare his style of play to Joe Cole. Unfortunately for him, the wide attackers are probably going to be pretty stacked with Ziyech, Pulisic, Mount and someone else (who I’ll come onto later) being ahead of him, but in terms of football ability he definitely could be there. 4/10.
Attacker/LWB. If Harvey isn’t in the squad, I would be extremely shocked and disappointed. He has trained with the first team already this season and made the bench, when he probably should’ve come on the pitch anyway in the Carabao Cup RO16. He’s been our best player this season in the academy, with him enjoying the wide forward role with his sweet left foot, and him playing at LWB last season also increases his chances of playing tomorrow. I genuinely think we could see him start. 9/10 chance of making the squad, and a 6/10 chance of starting tomorrow.
Striker. I’m not going into JSB too much, because we’ve done a whole podcast on him with his brother Zac which you can listen to for free! Just click on the hyperlink before, or the Spotify player down below. With no first team striker being available, I also think he has a pretty good chance of making the squad tomorrow. 7/10 chance of making the squad.
Midfielder. I don’t think there’s any harm in saying Charlie has struggled at times throughout this season for the 23s and has hence played a few more games for the 18s, but then again his performances in the UEFA Youth League have been brilliant and he does also have the likes of George McEachran, Lewis Baker and Xavier Simons ahead of him in the Development Squad which does make life harder for him.
Despite that, the potential is so so clear to see and I don’t think many would disagree by saying he is the most “talented” player in this whole article! His body feints are truly wonderful and is on a very similar level to what we see from Mateo Kovacic on a weekly basis, so I’ve got no doubt Tuchel would have loved him in training today. I think due to his raw talent and a couple midfielders being out he’s definitely got a decent chance of making the squad tomorrow, but it also depends on whether Tuchel prefers someone who he’s seen on both days…I’ll go with a 5/10.
Midfielder. To finish off, we have George. He was a big part of Jody Morris’ midfield back in the day, as he normally had Billy Gilmour and Conor Gallagher infront of him, while George acted as the ‘regista’ and would concentrate on keeping the ball moving about. He’s had experience out on loan which may give him the nod over others for Tuchel, but I’m going to give his chance of making the squad a 5/10 too, so then it’s equally likely for Thomas to choose one of George/Xavier/Charlie 😇.
Maybe there are less than 5 spots available, in which it makes the cut even tougher. There could even be more for all we know! What we do know though, is that the Chelsea boys would’ve loved training with the first team today and would’ve strived on the opportunity which was given to them, and hopefully a couple do the same tomorrow night and make a name for themselves for the right reasons.
Saving a penalty in the final, Collins was one of the standout performers of the tournament. Bradley moved up to the U23’s side and then the loan cycle began. Impressive stints at Forest Green and Burton Albion gave a good account of the Englishman and his contract ran out at Chelsea in the summer of 2019. Collins joined Barnsley on a 4 year deal with the option of a further year in June of that year. A steady progression on the goalies career had seen him work his way up from PL2 to League Two to League One and now was at a relatively solid Championship side. The 2020/21 season saw Collins have a stand out year with 9 clean sheets in 22 games. Collins remains at Barnsley and his contract runs out in June 2023.Dujon Sterling
Following an impressive 15/16 campaign, Sterling was promoted to the U23 team and stayed there for the next two years. Sterling’s first loan was to Coventry City in League One and he featured 38 times for the Sky Blues. A loan to Wigan was next and after only featuring 8 times the whole season he stayed at Chelsea for the 20/21 season and played in the PL2. Sterling signed a 2 year contract extension and headed out on loan to Blackpool for the current season. The 22-year-old has featured 8 times so far and has featured at right back and even centre back for the Seasiders.
Two quite forgettable loan spells followed the triumphant UEFA Youth League 2016 with Brighton and Hull. Two clubs you wouldn’t even know he had played for if you weren’t an avid follower of Tomori in 2016 and 2017. In 18/19 the best loan spell of Tomori’s career started at Derby under Frank Lampard. He played 44 games and became regarded as one of the Championships best young defenders. We know the story of Tomori after this, plays amicably for a while and unfortunately became out of favour. A loan to AC Milan followed and they ended up paying around £25m to sign him on a permanent basis. Tomori is now playing week in week out in Serie A and AC Milan currently sit top of the league.
Injuries hampered Clarke-Salter at his first loan spell at Bristol Rovers and within the next few years, he would go out on loan to Sunderland, Vitesse and Birmingham. Clarke-Salter is currently at Coventry for the 21/22 season and has started 12 out of the 21 games in the Championship this year. The centre backs contract runs out in 2022 and what happens next for Clarke-Salter after his loan is still unknown. Ola Aina
Aina featured for a grand total of 23 minutes in the 16/17 Premier League campaign and then was subsequently loaned out to Hull in the 17/18 season. A monumental, breakout campaign happened for Aina as he featured 46 times for The Tigers. This notable loan spell attracted the interest of foreign outfits and Torino loaned in Aina for the 18/19 season. Aina showed his versatility by playing in a wide variety of positions including left back, right back and right midfield in his 30 appearances in the league. A clause in the contract meant Torino activated a £9m buy-out clause and signed Ola Aina. In 19/20 Torino finished 16th and they decided to loan out Ola Aina for the 20/21 season to Fulham. Aina played 31 times for the below average Fulham side and they eventually finished 18th and got relegated. Arriving back to Torino at the start of this season, Aina has played 15 times for the Italian club so far in 21/22.
Maddox hovered around the development squad in the 16/17 season and 17/18 and then headed out on loan to Cheltenham Town in the 18/19 season. He played over 40 times in a very fruitful loan spell. Maddox’s next loan spell was a let down and he never featured in the league in the four months he spent at Tranmere Rovers. Two months later he signed on loan for Southampton. Maddox featured twice for Southampton in PL2 before returning to Chelsea. In the summer of 2020 Maddox departed from Chelsea after seven years and joined Vitória S.C. on a four year deal. Maddox is currently on loan at Burton Albion.
Colkett followed Clarke-Salter on loan at Bristol Rovers but a lack of playing time around the Christmas period saw him recalled in January and sent to another League One club Swindon Town. Colkett performed admirably in this loan spell and fetched himself 1 goal and 5 assists in 19 appearances. The summer of 2017 saw Colkett make the inevitable trip to Vitesse and yet again due to a lack of game time and an injury, the loan was terminated in January. Another disappointing loan spell occurred in the 18/19 season when Colkett only played 6 times for Shrewsbury. Following a common theme, the loan was terminated in January and Colkett departed Chelsea for Ostersunds for what was described as a “small fee”. Colkett seems to be enjoying life in Ostersunds and has already racked up 60+ appearances for the Swedish side.
Following a stunning 15/16 season where he was nominated for International Somali Sportsman of the Year, Mukhtar Ali joined Vitesse on loan in January 2017. Ali only made 6 appearances for Vitesse but that was enough for the Dutch club to pay around £500k to sign him on a three year deal. Ali barely featured again for Vitesse and joined Al-Nassr in 2019. Ali’s contract runs out in June 2022.
Kyle Scott hovered around the first team in 16/17 and the 17/18 season and made his first and only appearance against Hull in the 5th round of the FA Cup, playing 28 minutes. In July of 2018, Kyle joined SC Telestar on loan and he returned to Chelsea in December of that same year. Following his release by Chelsea, he reportedly turned down a move to Barcelona and joined Newcastle. In his two years at the club he never managed to make an appearance for the first team and departed to FC Cincinnati after impressing on trial.
After signing a new contract in early 2016, Palmer arrived at Huddersfield for his first taste of professional football. Palmer made 32 appearances and helped Huddersfield to promotion by scoring 4 times and assisting 3 in the League. A lack of football in the Premier League led Palmer to relocate to Derby on loan. Halfway through the season Palmer relocated yet again to Blackburn for the second half of 18/19. His next loan to Bristol City earned him a permanent move for around £3.5m. Palmer is having a rough time at Bristol City and rumours state he could depart the club in January as he has only featured in one match day squad since October.
An 18-year-old Tammy Abraham made the bold move to join Bristol City on loan in the Championship. Abraham had one of the biggest breakout seasons in English football, finishing second top scorer in the Championship with 23 goals, winning Bristol City Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and the clubs overall top goal scorer. Loans don’t come much better than that and Tammy soon found out with a poor loan campaign at Swansea. A steep learning curve to young Tammy’s career saw him net just 5 times in 31 games. A fruitful loan spell back in the Championship at Aston Villa yet again saw Tammy finish second in the scoring charts for the League. His 25 goals and 3 assists helped secure Aston Villa promotion to the Premier League.
With Lampard in charge of Chelsea in 19/20 it was time for the resurgence of youth and Tammy was at the helm. 15 Goals for his first season in a competitive Premier League side set him up for good things come the 20/21 season. However, we all know the story of the lack of playing time and a bad run of form that spelt an end to Tammy’s Chelsea career. Mourinho made the Englishman his number one target for the transfer window and Tammy departed for £34m to Roma. Abraham has racked up 10 goals and 2 assists in 22 appearances for the Italian side so far in his first campaign at the club.
Baxter has worked his way up from the likes of Metropolitan Police in the Isthmian League to Hull in the Championship. Keeping clean sheets and making saves is common nature for Baxter now and he is an unsung hero of the loan army this year.
A player who always caught the eye as a youth talent, now has 2 years left on his contract at Bristol City.
A Lorient loan in 20/21 caught the eye of Thomas Tuchel who has utilised the Englishman seamlessly into his back three system. Looking like a man who has played Premier League Football for a decade, the potential Chalobah possesses is off the scales.
Last playing for Dulwich Hamlet after a disappointing spell at Sunderland, Sammut has found another way to stay connected with the world of football. Sammut is now a First Team Recruitment Coordinator at Charlton and has been there since the Summer of this year.
Wakefield has had stints with Coventry, Wealdstone and Bromley after leaving Chelsea and now plays his football in the National League with Yeovil Town.
Isaac Christie-Davies departed Chelsea and joined Liverpool at the end of the 17/18 season. An unsuccessful loan spell at Cercle Brugge saw him released and he is now playing for Dunajská Streda in Slovakia on loan from Barnsley.
Mount has now played over 80 times for Chelsea and has become a fan favourite at the club. 6 Goals and 4 Assists in 13 Premier League games this season means Mount is undoubtedly on track to shatter his previous seasons in terms of output. The sky is the limit for Chelsea’s number 19.
Tudor Mendel-Idowu is a 16-year-old, left footed attacker that can operate on the flanks or centrally. Tudor has recently signed a scholarship with Chelsea but he has not let this get in the way of his educational ambitions. You would think that a player at one of the best academies in the world would pack it all in education wise and focus on football but with Tudor that is not the case…
The Slough born teenager attends Eton College alongside a presumably tough schedule that he has to maintain for Chelsea. Eton is notorious in England for being one of the top academic private schools and its exceptional students that get the highest grades. Eton is commonly found among the top 10 ranked colleges in England which means Tudor is literally in the best of both worlds. Elite facilities at Cobham with some of the best coaches in the nation and also receiving some of the best teaching in the world when he’s not playing football.
The mindset of Tudor must be astounding for his age, being able to keep up with the seemingly impossible task of maintaining grades at Eton whilst being 1 of 10 boys selected to receive a scholarship for 2021/22 at Chelsea.
Tudor’s academic promise has been evident since the early 2010’s, with an 8-year-old Tudor featuring on Channel 4’s show ‘Child Genius’ and placing second where he went up against other children much older than him.
His academic abilities did not plateau there as now at Eton he studies a wide variety of subjects including English, Greek, Latin, German, Maths and Physics.
Tudor has been with Chelsea since under-8’s and has been regularly featuring for the Blues since the under-9 age group. Whilst playing for Chelsea, Tudor has been apart of England training camps all the way up to under-15 level. Tudor is also eligible for Nigeria and the English FA appeared to up their attempts of persuading him to play for England in 2019.
Tudor has a 2 year scholarship with the club that runs out after the 2022/23 season, it will be interesting to see whether his contract gets extended as the records of matches that he has played in seems to be a bit sparse.
However, this is the final step before a pro contract for these scholars including Tudor and will be interesting to see how his career pans out. He is in the classic dilemma of studies or football, many youngsters are faced with this challenge and it seems at the moment Tudor has taken the rare option of both and is excelling.
Pre-Season has begun and there aren’t that many weeks to go until the beginning of the new season. For Chelsea fans, that tends to be a very exciting time as normally there’s a new manager and a few new signings. This time, there have been 0 signings so far, and we have a manager which has been with us for almost exactly 6 months and has won us a Champions League on the way, so the current feeling is certainly a weird one.
I’ll leave all of that to another writer though. As any loyal fans of myself and The Chelsea Spot would know, we have a huge investment into the academy so in this article we’ll be looking at how the U23s could get on this season. There’ll probably be a better preview from @chelseayouth on thechels.net soon enough so I’d recommend reading that too.
The squad has changed A LOT from last season. We didn’t win anything last season, yet it was one of the most talented groups we have seen in a long time. To be fair, we did expect quite a few to be moving onto professional football this season – it’s just a shame that most are permanently rather than on loan. The likes of Dynel Simeu, Lewis Bate, Myles Peart-Harris, Marcel Lewis & Tino Livramento (set to join Brighton) have all moved on to other clubs, while some such as Henry Lawrence and Levi Colwill have gone on loan. All of these are names which even a partial viewer of the academy will recognise, which does really show some of the big players we have lost this season.
That necessarily may not be a bad thing. Yes, there may be a lack of experience at times, and there is a decent chance results don’t go our way in some games (hence I am already predicting a huge out of context cry on Twitter in a few months time from certain fans who don’t watch us when we’re not winning the PL2), but it’s going to be an extremely young squad and the amount they will learn will be incredible. One of the criticisms of the PL2 is that some players stick in there for too long and don’t break into professional football, but for most of these players who will be very young, they’ll generate an incredible learning curve coming up against players who are bigger and stronger than them. Remember when we had Terry, Batshuayi, Rudiger, Hazard and more playing for our development squad to develop fitness? Imagine a team of very young academy boys coming up against players like them – they’ll learn so much.
Chelsea’s first U23s fixture is only a few weeks away, as you can see in the graphic below made by the wonderful @chelseayouth, so let’s have a look at the potential squad we could be using this season…
Chelsea currently have four goalkeepers who could potentially play for the U23s – Lucas Bergstrom, Teddy Sharman-Lowe, Ethan Wady and Karlo Ziger. Bergstrom has been training with the first team for now just in pre-season, but the imminent arrival of Marcus Bettinelli as third choice keeper into the first team would pretty much destroy any chances of him moving up. Sharman-Lowe and Wady could perhaps try and get gametime somewhere else as we’ve seen them do before. Ziger was someone who was training a lot with the first team last season so where he plays will also be very intriguing. I honestly don’t know too much about the keepers’ situations to say much more.
After looking at the defenders we have this season, there is a decent chance that Andy Myers will stick with the 3 at the back formation which he trusted so much last season. The first team playing 3 centre-halves also *could* (considering managers are sacked every 3 years probably not) influence the academy formations as incase anyone does need to step up from the academy, they will be much more used to the system.
Xavier Mbuyamba is the big name which most will be keeping an eye on this season. He’ll certainly want to crack on in the PL2 after looking extremely comfortable in the small amount of games he played towards the end of last season, and he’s one who could potentially move on loan in January if he has a very good six months.
Sam McClelland is another one who should try to cement a starting place in the team (assuming he doesn’t leave on loan). The Northern Irish international has looked very much in place whenever he’s come into the team, with his height and ability on the ball being of real help to the squad. Bashir Humphreys is another one who featured in the FA Youth Cup team last season and will be wanting to push into the development squad eventually, as well as Alfie Gilchrist who has done very well at the U18s level and participated for a few minutes last season in the 23s.
At wingback, there are a few options with Harvey Vale being the main one after playing a lot there last season, although I would personally love to see him play further forward. Silko Thomas has a chance to push into the team as last season he made an appearance at just the age of 16 and looked promising while picking up a goal and an assist, and we could also see the man with the best smile Alex Kpakpe feature too. Like Vale, some wingers could drop deeper a tad and feauture in the role such as Dion Rankine who did play there last season quite a bit, as well as Nunn, Abu, Andersson, Taurianen and a few more of whom I’m sure I’ll talk about much more later.
The midfielders this season are going to be really fun to watch. Chelsea’s midfield has always been one of the most exciting parts of the teams, with us producing players with the quality of Loftus-Cheek, Mount, Gallagher, Bate etc on a constant basis.
Charlie Webster is next in line with those names and after 6 impressive months with the 23s, he’ll be looking to have a full season in the PL2 and impressing on the big stage at just the tender age of 17. Xavier Simons is a player who many have forgotten, but was once so impressive for us before he got two extremely unfortunate injuries in both his knees. Hopefully, his rehab has gone well and fingers crossed we could see him feature for us this season as the boy has an engine on him.
Joe Haigh’s contract was running out this Summer and his future was in doubt after some Premier League clubs were interested in him, but he eventually signed a two year new deal and will be wanting to impress this season. He’s a player who Chelsea fans will love watching this season as myself and a few other mates have compared his play style very much to Joe Cole. He’s agile and just loves to drive forward with the ball.
Players like George McEachran and Thierno Ballo could be leaving the club this season (either on loan or permanently) which opens up space for someone like Ben Elliot to try and get his footballing career back on track. Ben is someone who is full of talent and earlier on looked a real prospect as he captained multiple England sides, but with harsh injuries he struggled to really develop when expected. There is 100% still a player there and hopefully some football on a higher level will really challenge him and get him playing the level of football we know he can.
This is certainly a position we are quite stacked in. For the U23s, I imagine Jude Soonsup-Bell and Bryan Fiabema will be the main two who will play up front, with George Nunn either featuring more at LWB or leaving the club. George unfortunately hasn’t impressed enough in the Striker position and him playing would just hinder Jude and Bryan’s progress there.
Jude hasn’t played for the 23s too much but has been tipped to be a top striker in the future with his large profile being of huge use and him smacking in goals for the other age groups. You can listen to our podcast episode with his brother, Zac, on all things Jude. Bryan played a lot more last season for the 23s and he started off very well with a screamer against Derby coming to mind, but afterwards struggled big time. Both will be hoping to get scoring at the PL2 level.
Other strikers at the club who are more likely to feature for the U18s include Aleksi Heino who we recently signed (two hours after publishing it looks like he may have joined Wolfsburg), Malik Mothersille who has returned from a season loan at Derby County where he featured 13 times and also Jay Wareham, the new boy from Woking who has impressed in pre-season, who is known to score goals for fun.
Having many forwards at the club could tempt Andy Myers to play two strikers up top this season. It’s something we haven’t seen a lot at Chelsea academy level, but with more centre-backs than fullbacks, a few players who could play wingbacks and only a couple of box to box midfielders the 3-4-1-2 formation could be a real option for the gaffer. It reminds me of when we tried to play Abraham and Solanke together at academy level and a lot of the time Tammy was out wide coming inside. As it is, we all know Chelsea coaches are extremely versatile in which formations they want their teams to play and it’s generally also the most intelligent Chelsea players who can play in multiple different roles, so I’m sure there will be changes to the team and style of play throughout the season.
The UEFA Youth League is returning this season as well (touchwood) and despite it being an U19 competition, we’re still likely to enter the cup with a young squad. That and the Papa John’s Trophy (Checkatrade Trophy) should be an incredible experience for the boys, and I have no doubts there’ll be many scouts watching so it’s a chance for them to impress the world as we’ve seen so many Chelsea boys do in the past.
While writing this, I’ve realised that there isn’t actually much to say on the U18s because half of them will be moving up to the 23s, and the other half I haven’t watched enough to comment on. Putting too much pressure on 16 year olds would be harsh for me to do, but all I’m going to say is watch out for Leo Castledine. He featured for the 18s a decent amount last season at just the age of 15, so he’s got a real chance of pushing on this season.
I’m really looking forward to this season. Like I said before, at times results may not be going our way and things to the average viewer may look bad for the academy, but there is a lot of context to this upcoming season and hopefully these players can use it to really develop mentally and technically. We’ll be covering the academy in huge depth this season so make sure to follow us on all our social media platforms and tune in! You can listen to our academy season review and preview with Joe Tweedie here: