Stamford Bridge side must learn to show faith in youth.
Chelsea have romped to a Premier League title triumph this season, but this hasn’t stopped incessant talk of potential big name signings being linked with move to Stamford Bridge. Gareth Bale (via the Metro), Paul Pogba (via the Daily Express) and Koke (via the Evening Standard) are three such examples from the past few days alone. However, it is now surely the ideal time for owner Roman Abramovich to put his wallet back into his pocket. The foundations are there for Chelsea to improve without necessarily recruiting a superstar this summer.
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While an impressive record in the transfer market has kept the wolf from the door in Chelsea’s case, UEFA’s FFP (Financial Fair Play) guidelines are beginning to bite for a number of teams. It’s time Chelsea paid more than just lip service to their push to blood young talents in their rapidly increasing squad.
Having already secured the Premier League title, Jose Mourinho could afford to hand Ruben Loftus-Cheek his first senior start in Chelsea’s recent home fixture with Liverpool and the youngster was not found wanting – completing 100% of his passes in the hour he was on the pitch.
A number of other academy graduates have forced their way into Chelsea’s first team setup, with perhaps the most prominent names being Isaiah Brown and Dominic Solanke, but there is a growing sense that Mourinho isn’t ready to throw such talents in at the deep end.
The sheer size of Chelsea’s squad is mind-boggling – the West London side have no less than 23 players currently out on loan – so the act of bringing further new faces is in many ways not only perverse but also serves to stunt the growth of those who are aiming to gain promotion from the club’s youth and reserve team rosters and into the first-team proper.
The current crop of youth talents has secured both FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League honours this term, such is their frightening potential, so perhaps it’s time for organic growth at the club to come to true fruition.
Take young forward Patrick Bamford. The former Nottingham Forest man was identified by Chelsea as a player with real promise and as a result the Blues forked out £1.5m to sign the then 18 year old in January 2012 (via BBC).
The England Under-21 star is still waiting for his first taste of senior action and has this term secured the Championship Player of the Year award after a superb campaign at promotion chasing Middlesbrough.
Currently Mourinho looks to veteran Didier Drogba and French forward Loic Remy as chief back-up options to first choice striker Diego Costa.
With this in mind Mourinho should not consider signing another forward to beef up his goal-scoring contingent, he should instead show faith in Bamford.
Similarly the potential Loftus-Cheek has displayed should leave Mourinho open to promoting the midfielder to fill a more prominent first team role, in doing so Mourinho could then perhaps afford to trim the likes of John Obi Mikel from his expansive squad.
Of course another side benefit to putting more faith in young talents at Stamford Bridge is the resultant move to a first team squad which has more ‘home-grown’ talents, which then helps the club to adhere to quotas in that regard.