Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's All About The Kids?

Is the spending over?

Are Chelsea starting to build a decent youth structure?

Recently Chelsea have have been highly visible in adding young players to their ranks and looking to the future. Is this a sign that Roman is no longer prepared to spend millions on overrated 30-somethings? Just maybe.

Currently Chelsea has several kids on loan and they are constantly linked with youngsters in the press these days. Yesterday there were rumors in Norfolk of an impending bid to steal the latest in a long line of promising keepers at Norwich, young Jed Steer. He was watched yesterday by Chelsea and United scouts.

I am not too worried about it to be honest as producing excellent keepers is something our academy is doing extremely well, but Chelsea's interest in Steer prompted me to see if there was a policy change on the horizon at the bridge. Is Roman losing faith in expensive imports? Has the notable increase in transfer fees and the arrival of other billionaire owners got Mr Abrahmovic worried?

Recently the signs of a flowering Chelsea youth system have been flashing brightly in the lower leagues. Ryan Bertrand, Jimmy Smith, Jack Cork, Slobodan Rajkovic, Lee Sawyer, Fabio Paim, Shaun Cummings and Ben Sahar are all out on loan.

Cork, Bertrand and Sahar in particular are held in very high esteem.

Bertrand (left, playing for Norwich) is a regular for his Country at under 21 level and Hull failed to sign the 19 year old left back this summer. He was loaned to Norwich for a second season.

Michael Mancienne and Scott Sinclair were both on loan in the Championship last season and this year they have made it to the first team along with young Welsh keeper Rhys Taylor and promising Argentinian forward Franco Di Santo.

Frank Arnesson's arrival from Spurs appears to be no coincidence in the emergence of a youth agenda at Chelsea, but it's not the immediate future that has been interesting Arnesson.

Further down the ladder, below the loanee's and the promoted talent there is a army of talented youngsters (15-17 years old) trying to impress.

The next crop of kids nearly ready to gain some experience at Championship clubs and emulate Sinclair's and Mancienne's (right, playing for Q.P.R.) path to the first team.

Of that next wave no less than 15 have represented their countries. Surprisingly this next wave includes 13 English boys signed from clubs such as Leeds to non-league set-ups like Sutton United.

Signing the best young talent when you are Chelsea appears to be easy however. We can all recall their controversial acquisition of Jon Obi Mikel and the suggestion his father was charmed with gifts. Ken Bates recently accused Chelsea of tapping up midfielder Michael Woods (currently in the reserves) from Leeds. One cannot help but believe Bates' claims as his experience at Chelsea would have allowed him unfettered access to the comings and goings of promising talent.

Just yesterday Chelsea signed 12-year-old French schoolboy Jeremy Boga. Boga has been called "the new Zidane" in his homeland, and after weeks of talks with the boy's parents, Chelsea reached an agreement for Boga to join them when he turns 16. Expect Boga's dad to be rolling down the King's Road in a Ferrari 4 years from now.

While Chelsea's financial muscle has allowed them to court many of the world's promising young talents they should be praised for the majority of their youth ranks being English. Arsenal has 12 non-British players currently in it's young reserves. The lack of top clubs producing young English players has been one excuse used for the many recent failures of the national team and it is refreshing to see so many lining up behind the Chelsea first team only a few years from possible Premiership starts.

Whether or not Chelsea have the balls to use them will become clear in time. Maybe they will just spend big again on 25 million pound foreigners but it is clear that the intention to develop young players is there. Watch this space.



The Fan's Attic said...

I'm watching.

But, I don't see what England has to worry about, Euro is expanding so teams like England can make the tourney.

Bigus Dickus said...

Name some teams 'like England'

More teams = More games = More football. As Lingering would say...SHHHHHHHHHHH.

Mike Georger said...

its a shit ton easier to get non english talent. look at liverpool, they were able to absolutely rob barca and real of pacheco and bruna because they werent old enough to sign deals with the spanish sides. english players are still crazy inflated, fuck em.

though on a related note, nathan ecclestone did get promoted to the reserves today