Nathaniel Chalobah has offered a significant insight into the difficulties that Chelsea’s youth contingent have in breaking into the first-team setup.
The Blues midfielder was quoted in the London Evening Standard as he admitted that the high standards among Antonio Conte’s senior charges made it virtually impossible for the likes of himself and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to gain regular game time at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea had a record 38 players out on loan last season including their own products like Nathan Ake, Tammy Abraham, Andreas Christensen and Matt Miagza at Bournemouth, Bristol City, Gladbach and Vitesse Arnhem respectively.
Chalobah himself has spent loan spells with Watford, Burnley and Serie A giants Napoli throughout his fledgling senior career, and he stated his belief that the amount of talented stars available to Conte had made his job much harder in terms of bringing the club’s youth through the ranks.
He said: “It’s a very high standard at Chelsea, the club has an amazing academy and produces really top players. It’s just there’s that barrier of getting in there – and then staying in there.
“From [N’Golo] Kante, his work rate and defensive quality – he just got better on the ball as the season went on – [Nemanja] Matic, for his composure and passing, and Cesc’s passing and ability to pick up passes – I’ve learned every day.”
At 22 years old, Chalobah’s prospects of becoming a regular for the Premier League champions are arguably slipping away – a point forced home by the fact that he only has 12 months left on his current deal with the Londoners.
Chalobah managed to make 15 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea last term, but he added that he didn’t hold a grudge against Conte for a lack of opportunities. Instead, he chose to highlight the Italian’s will to win as a key component in making the Blues a force to be reckoned with once more.
He said: “You’re playing for one of the best teams in Europe – they’re now back in the Champions League – and the demand is high on winning.
“We won the league and I have competition from European Cup winners, World Cup winners and full internationals. The manager Antonio Conte’s tactical awareness, his passion and desire to win all rub off on everyone.”