When Adnan Januzaj dazzled last season under David Moyes at Manchester United, even Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had words of encouragement for the young Belgian starlet.
The Special one said of Januzaj, “He’s not 18, he’s 25! This is the kind of player who cannot be 18, he must be 25. He’s so mature, so comfortable, so very good. I think he’s a very good player with great conditions to have a long-term career at United.” Mourinho has never managed a club for more than three years but has claimed that he wants to stay at Stamford Bridge for years to come.
He has, thus, reiterated his future plan to owner Roman Abramovich saying that the Chelsea academy needs to be upgraded. No Chelsea academy kid has become a first-team regular at the Bridge since John Terry almost 15 years ago. The Blues are used to buying top class talents all over Europe but it’s important for the London side to develop their academy at Cobham. Today, we take a look at some of the bright young prospects who are destined to be the next big superstars and how Chelsea’s relation with feeder clubs are playing a vital role in their players’ development.
Youth Performance over the past years and effect of Feeder Clubs: Chelsea won the last season’s Under-21 Premier League at Old Trafford beating their Manchester United counterparts 2-1 in the play-off final. Their performances in the cup tournaments have been prolific too; they won the Under-18 FA Youth Cup three times in the past five years.
One vital aspect has been how feeder clubs have played a part in developing young players. Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem have taken a lot of players on loan over the past few years and Mourinho’s great relationship with Aitor Karanka (manager at Middlesbrough) have also paid dividends. The Championship side is willing to give enough game time to young players and that’s paving a way for the youngsters to play in the highest echelons of club football.
Recently, in October, Turkish club Besiktas reached a partnership agreement with Chelsea that involves close co-operation between the first teams and academies. It will also include training support and joint scouting projects and young Chelsea players going on loan deals to Besiktas in the near future. Besiktas will pay the wages of most of the players and that has reduced Chelsea’s wage bill. Although, the Blues were criticized for having sent 26 players out on loan in the summer.
Finally let us take a look at three Under-21 youngsters who are destined to hit the headlines in the future:
Lewis Baker: The 19-year-old was named the player of the Tournament for the Next Gen series 2012-13. Baker thrives in a central attacking midfield role, playing as a number ten. His quick feet, immense ability to dribble past the opposition with ease makes him such a prized asset. Moreover, his ability of scoring frequent goals also makes him a top candidate to be a future star.
Dominic Solanke: Chelsea did get a glimpse of Solanke this season and with Mourinho praising the 17-year-old, there is enough reason to be optimistic. Solanke has great technical ability, is very tall and has the knack of being at the right place at the right time. His passing range is an added bonus and he drops deep like Diego Costa to aid his team-mates to build from the midfield.
Charly Musonda: Another youngster who was dubbed the next Hazard by Chelsea after having signed from Belgian side Anderlecht in 2012. A superb playmaker given his age and one who possesses a very calm head on young shoulders. Musonda, however, gives the ball away quite too much for one’s liking but that will improve with age. He can also play as a playmaker dropping deep and his greatest strength is his immense work rate and effective workload.
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Edited By: Girish Bhangre