the young map of Chelsea

Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have been playing in Chelsea's blue shirt since they were 7 years old. HANNAH McKAY / REUTERS

In July 2010, London alternative rock band Young Guns released their first album, "All Our Kings Are Dead". Nine years later, this album could serve as a soundtrack for the Chelsea football team.

If they are not "All dead", a number of "Kings" of the London club – these players, like Eden Hazard, Gonzalo Higuain or David Luiz who had made the heyday of the "Blues" in recent seasons – are no longer there.

Prohibited from FIFA's recruitment for breaking the rules on transfers of underage players, Chelsea recorded eight starts in the offseason and was therefore betting on an armada of young shoots that the club had previously preferred to lend to other teams.

A forced revolution

With this squad of "young guns" from his training center, the club of the British capital moves to Lille, Wednesday, October 2 (9 pm), for the second day of the group phase of the Champions League.

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The "affair" is quite tasty. For years, Chelsea was a prime example of the team in which the club-trained players, no matter how good, could not hope to break into the first team.

"The best way to make sure you never play for the Chelsea Premiere is to do your Cobham Ranges," where the youth academy is located, summed up six months ago the Dutch hopeful, Juan Familia-Castillo, loaned this year to the Ajax Amsterdam youth team, from which he had left the training center to join the Chelsea Academy.

This small, somewhat forced revolution, which consists in enhancing the value of the training center, is concomitant with the arrival on the bench this summer of Frank Lampard, former glory of the club, who returned with, in his luggage, Jody Morris another ex. Coach of the academy, the latter had slammed the door, deploring the little case made in the first team of his nuggets.

The policy followed by Chelsea for years had been summarized by The Times in December 2018: "The club has recruited the best young people around the world, loaned them before selling them at a profit. "

Redemption clauses

This system was implemented by Michael Emenalo, Technical Director from 2011 to 2017. "We have the difficult task of trying to find a balance and succeed by being sure to have the right players at the right time", justified the latter in 2015, refuting, however, having designed a system aimed primarily at getting money into the coffers.

"Chelsea insists that player development is the priority. But if the player progresses so much that it can be sold for a nice sum, it's also considered a success, "a journalist

From Thibaut Courtois to Kevin De Bruyne via Mohamed Salah or Romelu Lukaku, the examples of players trained in Chelsea having exploded afterwards, reporting to the club a substantive check, do not miss.

Not sure that today Michael Emenalo would have the same reservations to assume the paternity of a practice of "trading" of young players with high potential become current within the clubs – Lille being also an example.

"Chelsea insists that player development is the priority, notes in France Football, Liam Twomey, who covers the English club for ESPN. But if the player progresses so much that it can be sold for a nice sum, it is also considered a success. " Now, the Blues include redemption clauses on their sales, which they did not do before.

A young squad

By the end of the winter transfer window 2018, the London team had sent no less than … 41 players to gain experience in other teams. This allowed it, in part, to absorb the exclusion of the transfer market until January 31, 2020, pronounced in February.

Since then, some have come back and shine in the blue jersey. Without question, as expressed by the mid-Mason Mount, loaned last year to Derby County – under the orders, already, Frank Lampard: "Coming out of the academy, you burn to reach the first team. Especially since in recent years, there was not much people to pass this passage, so growing together, we wanted to prove that observers are mistaken about Chelsea. "

With scorer Tammy Abraham and defenseman Fikayo Tomori, Mount forms the new backbone of the club. All under the age of 22, they play in blue jersey since they were children. And this season (as of September 14th) all three scored all goals in championships.

"There is a state of mind and an approach to the game to have. Experienced players in the workforce need to help the youngest in this area, "Frank Lampard

The trio, who could quickly be joined by other talents from the academy Cobham, like striker Callum Hudson-Odo or side Reece James, should be aligned Wednesday against Lille. "They are role models for 10-12 year olds (from the academy) who dream of integrating the first team one day ", greet their experienced teammate César Azpilicueta.

This young squad is still fishing sometimes by inexperience. "There is a state of mind and an approach to the match to have, Frank Lampard expressed on Tuesday. And our concentration must be at its maximum level. Experienced players in the workforce need to help younger players in this area. "

Wednesday at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, the London club faces a Lille club, the youngest team in the Champions League this season, which also relies on its nuggets to aspire to European stars. Who of Chelsea's "Youg Guns" or northern "young mastiffs" will take over?

Read also Chelsea outclass Arsenal and win the Europa League
At the Cobham Training Center, September 2019.
At Cobham Training Center, September 2019. TONY O'BRIEN / ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS


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