Is next season Chelsea's best opportunity to bring through the Academy players?
Our season is over so in my view it's time to focus on what we need to do as a club this summer as we prepare for a season competin...
Our season is over so in my view it's time to focus on what we need to do as a club this summer as we prepare for a season competing in just the domestic competitions. Is this the best opportunity we have had to bring through players from the Academy?
One argument that remains and has done for years now is the chances given to the Academy players in our first team. We have been banging on about it for almost a decade and up to this point players who have made the step up are few and far between.
Chelsea have a MASSIVE summer coming up with a lack of European competition next season dictating who stays at the club and who comes in. Some would argue this is the best chance for some of the youngsters to finally come through in addition to some of our loanees so it will be interesting to see how the club approaches their transfer policy this more than any other season so far.
There is BIG money on offer from next season with the new TV deal coming into effect and as a result, the teams in the Premier League getting stronger. The so-called smaller sides will now be in a position to invest heavily in their own squads and it will become increasingly difficult to finish inside the top four from now on in my view. Chelsea will need to invest wisely with a top four finish the priority so the pressure on whoever comes in to take over will be immense.
We have seen over the years that you MUST invest in your squad to be able to challenge because if you don't then you could be faced with season on season without the Champions League which is something we cannot afford with the new Stadium on the horizon.
So considering our squad ahead of next season and if some of the Academy are given a chance and promoted into our first team squad, the club would need to adhere to the following rules:
Chelsea's Premier League Squad.
Each Premier League team can only register 25 players over the age of 21 for that season’s first-team matches. Of those 25 players, no more than 17 can be foreign players. In other words, if the Chelsea want to submit the maximum 25 names to the Premier League they have to have at least eight homegrown players. A team can submit less than 25 names but still only 17 can be foreign.
What is a home-grown player?
A home-grown player, as defined by the Premier League, is a player who: (a) is 21 or older on January 1 of the year in which that season begins and (b) spent three years between the ages of 16 and 21 with a team in the English football League system.
This rule applies regardless of nationality, so you do NOT have to be English/Welsh to be a home-grown player For example, Cesc Fabregas, as a result of spending three years between the ages of 16 to 21 at Arsenal, is a home-grown player. And you don’t have to be at the same club that developed you to be a home-grown player so Fabregas still counts as a home-grown player for Chelsea.
Based on the information above, it's vital that we get our numbers right and identify how many of the current first team squad will still be here, to how many signings we need to make and then how many youngsters come in.
It looks as though the club has already started the process after comments made by our 18 year-old Academy player Ruben Sammut recently. Speaking of how Guus Hiddink has changed the approach in training he said:
"Since Guus Hiddink has come in, he’s put on a lot more training sessions where we’ve been able to join in.
So I’ve trained a few more times with the first-team squad than I did under the previous manager.
That keeps you motivated. Any time you can impress in training, you just never know what might happen. You might get an opportunity.
With the team not doing so well in the Premier League and out of the cup competitions, there is nothing to play for. Opportunities for young players should be coming pretty quickly.
It’s really good training with the first-team players. Since Guus Hiddink arrived, there’s been a real buzz around the place."
I know fans that want to see us draft in plenty this summer won't be happy when I say this but Chelsea must be cautious when doing so. Next year is a big, big season for us where we need to take massive steps forward so as not to fall even further behind the top four.
Pep Guardiola will be at Manchester City, Jose Mourinho will be at Manchester United, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham - all looking to improve their squads to challenge. Whoever comes in has a massive job on their hands in what could potentially be the toughest season EVER!
So Chelsea fans reading this post, what do you think? Is this the best opportunity the club have had to blood the youngsters and bring them through in the summer or should we remain cautious?