It has been 14 years since "Ruthless Roman" took the reigns of Chelsea. While success has been rife on the field, off it the only player to have played 3 consecutive games from the Chelsea academy, beside the legendary figure of John Terry is Andreas Christensen. Currently, the Blues have 38 players out on loan, so is the use of the loanee system really a crime against football or is it just part of the modern game?
In the 2017/18 season, Chelsea has a host of stars out on loan, from Michy Batshuyai who is in red hot form for Borussia Dortmund to Todd Kane who is plying his trade for Oxford United. Their famed academy has been stellar in recent seasons winning the 2016/17 Youth Cup for the fourth year in a row and UEFA youth league in 2016. Yet many of these players will never make it to the first team and be farmed out on loan before being sold.
In truth, the loan policy allows for some of the young talents at Chelsea to essentially be placed in the shop Window or gain valuable first team experience, case and point Romelu Lukaku in 2012 to West Bromwich Albion. By simply joining Chelsea a player's stock rises. So should a club become interested in a Blues player the West Londoners can earn considerable funds from selling what should be their prized assets?
From an outsiders perspective, it seems like Chelsea are essentially stockpiling talent. With no intention of many never to see any lick at Stamford Bridge of the first-team action. For the most part that is true. Under the care of former Blues youngster Jody Morris Chelsea now have a young generation to be proud of, yet if Chelsea continues on their current course it will be the forgotten Generation.
As a Chelsea manager, you know that your time in West London will be short but sweet, so a short but solid solution is formed via buying players rather than looking to the Youth ranks.
Antonio Conte is one such manager selling a future England international in Nathanial Chalobah who had been solid when called upon to Watford, all the more worsened by the measly £5 million Watford payed for him and the £39.7 million Chelsea forked out for Timoeu Bakayoko!
In May 2017 I had the chance to go to Chelsea's training facility Cobham with my Under 8- team for a youth tournament, as an assistant manager (and Chelsea fan) I was blown away for the facilities and training they had. Yet this was only for 8 year-olds! You would be hard-pressed to find better youth facilities anywhere in the country. Even at such a young age they earmark and ask some of the youngsters to train with them, before eventually tying them down to a contract.
The loan system modern-day Premier League clubs have in place but specifically the one in West London is quite a sight to behold, each player is given targets with each game they play watched and analyzed by coaches. Targets and a performance review is then given, not to mention the players themselves set up a Chelsea loanee Whatsapp chat.
Used correctly it can be great for young players, one only has to look at John Terry who went out on loan to Nottingham in 2000 or David Beckham's loan move to Preston in 1995. But it the sheer number of loanees that makes Chelsea's loan system so widely known, and hated. It almost seems like Chelsea are throwing darts at the wall and hope some stick.
While the likes of Kurt Zouma, Mason Mount and Loftus-Cheek are suspected to break into the first team at some point what happens to the loanees that don't make it? What will happen to Lucas Piazon, Thomas Kalas and a whole host of other players that are constantly farmed out year after year with no hope of a permanent deal in sight.
To further add fuel to the fire when called upon Brazilian Kenedy has been fantastic, he has the natural flair we all associate with Brazilians with a keen eye for goal and a killer pass. But after being underutilised this season by Chelsea was loaned out to Newcastle United, where in 8 games the winger has scored twice and notched 2 assists. Attracting interest from Bayern Munich and PSG!
Good enough for Bayern Munich, but not Chelsea? Yet instead, the Blues are targeting a £26 million move for Watford's Richarlison, who for all intensive purposes is a very similar player to the previously mentioned Kenedy.
Despite letting the likes of Salah, De Bruyne and Lukaku slip through the net, all of which have gone on to great success Chelsea now include buyback clauses to all the talent the Blues sell. Could Kennedy be joining a growing list of players to leave Chelsea, then come back to score against the Blues?
There are not many better sights in Football than having a young player being brought on in the 2nd half, then scoring the winner of the game to send the fans into absolute ecstasy. While regular chants "He's one of our own" can be heard regularly at White Hart Lane or Anfield, it is a rare sound at Stamford Bridge. For the sake of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham I hope that it changes soon.
What is your verdict on Chelsea's system? Let us know in the comments below!