The international break has given Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho time to pause for thought – and his attentions have turned to the future of the club.
Speaking to the
Chelsea have always had an impressive record when it comes to bringing English-born players through the ranks. Towards the end of the last century, defensive duo Frank Sinclair and Graeme Le Saux forced their way into the first team picture at Stamford Bridge, with the latter going on to represent the Three Lions on 36 occasions.
More recently, Carlton Cole and Ryan Bertrand were the youngsters impressing on the training ground at Cobham enough to pull on the famous blue shirt in the Premier League. Both have also been honoured at international level.
But the most successful example of a young British player merging into the Chelsea home team is club captain John Terry. With over 500 appearances under his belt, though, the ex-England skipper won’t last forever. And when Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole all hang their boots up for good in the next five years or so, how will Mourinho’s vision of a constant Chelsea-developed core be realised?
Mourinho sings the praises of the Blues’ setup at under-21 and academy levels, pinpointing the promising development of Nathaniel Chalobah – currently on loan at Nottingham Forest – as one of the system’s successes. The club will hope that Chalobah, along with fellow loanee Josh McEachran, will be the first reinforcements when experienced heads call it a day.
But there are others, too. Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been impressive for the under-21s this year, and the 17-year-old has allegedly been attracting the attentions of Barcelona – high praise, indeed. Forward Isaiah Brown, formerly of West Brom, is also turning heads at that level, with four league goals already this season.
Nevertheless, the key to Chelsea’s home grown future will be whether these players will be given a chance in the first team setup – whether that be in the domestic cups, European football or, eventually, Premier League action. With the Blues already hording a plethora of talent from distant shores – the product of much financial expense – the pressure to secure a return on that investment will be large.
Mourinho, though, is unwavering in his desire to retain local players who represent the values of Chelsea. With him at the helm, Blues supporters can be confident of a long-standing English nucleus for years to come.
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