The Premier League club with the most number of potential youngsters who might never play for their parent club is Chelsea. The Blues sent out a staggering 38 players out on loan this season – many of these players came in with a lot of hype, but found it impossible to break into the Chelsea first-team.
With an immense amount of young talents coming through the ranks at Chelsea, it’s only natural that a large percentage of these players never get to reach limelight with the Blues. However, some of these young players were expected to really make a mark – they were seen as the future of SW6, the shining lights of a club that has evolved in the last couple of decades.
Whatever the case, they simply never rose up to the occasion – be it for lack of game time, injuries or not being a manager’s cup of tea, they just couldn’t wriggle their way up the ladder.
We’ll discuss five of these guys and how they failed to live up to the billing.
1 – Josh McEachran
There was a time when Josh McEachran was touted to be one of the brightest prospects amongst young English midfielders – his development in the Chelsea youth system was rapid and in 2011, he was named Chelsea Young Player of the Year.
The future was as bright as the sun for Josh, but then things gradually started going south – Carlo Ancelotti, who greatly favoured the youngster and gave him 17 senior appearances for Chelsea, was fired and André Villas-Boas (‘a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph’) was brought in.
The result was that McEachran was reduced to making just 5 senior appearances in the post-Ancelotti era and was subsequently shipped out on loan to Swansea. The rest is history – Josh McEachran now plays for championship side, Brentford, with next to zero chance of ever playing for Chelsea again.
2 – Patrick Bamford
In 2012, Chelsea announced that they had completed the signing of an interesting young forward who recently switched nationality from the Republic of Ireland to play for the England; in fact, he was already an integral member of the England under 19s – Chelsea paid £1.5 million for his services.
However, as is the case with the vast majority of Chelsea youngsters, Bamford never performed well enough to get a first team birth. Deemed surplus to requirements, he was sent out on loan to Milton Keynes Dons in the summer of 2012 and he never returned (despite winning Championship player of the year in 2014)
He now plays for Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough, his time at Chelsea nothing but a distant memory.
3 – Gaël Kakuta
Gaël Kakuta was once considered to be the best player of his generation, he was seen as a winger who could grow to become the best in the world; for this reason, Chelsea threw caution to the wind and chased the youngsters signature. For the manner in which the Blues handled the transfer, they were fined €130,000 and banned from signing any new players for close to a year – the ban was later lifted following a Chelsea appeal.
How did the player for whom Chelsea went through all this trouble for, fare? Very poor! A lack of first team opportunities, average performances, and injuries forced the youngster out of Chelsea; first on loan, then on a permanent basis. Today he plays for Deportivo La Coruña, on loan from the Chinese side, Hebei China.
4 – Lucas Piazon
When Piazon joined Chelsea in 2011, many of the Stamford Bridge faithful were led to believe that their team had acquired the services of a South-American centre-forward who had the talent to one day become a club legend – he did show flashes of this quality and got named Chelsea Young Player of the Year in the same season he arrived.
But since then, there has been very little to look forward to from the young Brazilian; he has been sent out on loan to five different clubs in four years, with no end in sight. He currently plays in the Championship for Fulham – another of Chelsea’s 38 loanees. There’s a big question mark regarding whether the 24-year-old can feature for Chelsea in the near future.
5 – Michael Mancienne
Mancienne joined Chelsea aged just 9 and in 2006 he signed a professional contract aged 18; by that time, he was already regarded by many as one defender who could really go on to leave an indelible mark at Chelsea; but sadly, poor form and lack of first team action saw his future at the London club go up with a fizzle.
He made just a handful of senior appearances for his boyhood club. before being sent out on loan to various teams such as Queens Park Rangers, Hamburg, and Wolves. Currently aged 29, Mancienne is one of the familiar faces at Nottingham Forest.
For every player named on this list, there are five others of the like. I could go on and on; the bottom-line is – Chelsea must do more for these young players coming through while the young players must do well for themselves as well.