Since the arrival of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003, Chelsea’s mega-money transfers have often dominated the football headlines.
With the departure this summer of John Terry, Chelsea’s most successful academy player ever, rumours are once again rife over who the next big-money signing will be.
Here, we take a look at three top talents in the Chelsea youth ranks who are perfectly capable of proving why you don’t always have to buy big to find that winning formula.
3. Andreas Christensen
At just 21, young Danish centre-back Andreas Christensen has the world at his feet. Having already racked up an impressive 81 appearances over two seasons on loan with Borussia Moenchengladbach, the commanding Dane also has 14 Champions League turnouts to his name.
With Antonio Conte’s Chelsea revolution in full-swing, Christensen will be hoping that the departure of John Terry has cleared some space in the squad for a goal-scoring centre-back.
Pitching in seven goals over two seasons, including two in the Champions League, Christensen looks to be a ready-made replacement. While question marks remain over Gary Cahill’s age and Kurt Zouma looks increasingly destined for a loan move, next season might just be Christensen’s breakthrough.
Having rejected Moenchengladbach’s £14.25m bid for Christensen in summer 2016, Chelsea have clearly earmarked him for the future. With Champions League commitments looming, don’t be surprised to find Christensen in the first-team squad, ready to prove that sometimes what you’re looking for is right in front of you.
2. Lewis Baker
After joining Chelsea at the age of 10, Lewis Baker has since gone on to become one of the academy’s most exciting prospects. A dynamic central midfielder, the 22-year-old Englishman has a keen eye for goal and earned himself a good reputation at Dutch loan club Vitesse Arnhem.
In 2016, Baker set a Dutch league record for the most chances (9) created in a single game. The same year he featured in England’s triumphant U21 Toulon Tournament squad. Scoring the first goal of a 2-1 win against France in the final, Baker collected the Tournament’s Golden Boot with a tally of four goals.
The 2016/17 season has been the most promising so far in Baker’s fledgling career. A return of 10 goals from 33 Eredivisie appearances double the amount of goals he scored in the previous campaign.
On top of that, a run of five goals in six KNVB Cup games included a semi-final brace to earn Vitesse a place in the final for the first time in 27 years.
Although perhaps a bit early for comparisons with Chelsea’s record goal-scoring midfield legend Frank Lampard, fans will be hoping that Baker’s rapid development will see him featuring in a Chelsea shirt for years to come.
1. Tammy Abraham
At 6ft 3, 19-year-old striker Tammy Abraham cuts an imposing figure and represents a nightmare for defenders. With pace, trickery and a knack for hitting the net, Abraham’s rise through the Chelsea ranks has been prolific.
Across the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, Abraham netted a total of 74 goals in 98 games for various Chelsea youth teams. An essential part of the youth squad that won back-to-back UEFA Youth Leagues and FA Cups in 2015 and 2016, Abraham earned a loan move to Bristol City.
In his first full professional season he set the Championship alight, breaking the record for most goals scored by a teenager since the beginning of the Football League Championship era.
With 23 goals in 41 games in the league, and three in four in the League Cup, the young striker earned Bristol City’s Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Top scorer awards. In the process he broke another record becoming the first Bristol City player to claim all three accolades in one season.
With rumours of a loan move to Swansea circulating Chelsea fans will hope that Swans boss Paul Clement, an ex-Chelsea man himself, will help Abraham showcase his talents in the Premiership. The future is certainly bright for the young striker. Watch this space…
A brief look at the profiles of three rising stars in the Chelsea youth system. Andreas Christensen, Tammy Abraham and Lewis Baker are all seen as exciting prospects with bright futures.
This is the low-down on why it would be worth it if Chelsea tapped into their own talented reserves rather than look for big-money signings elsewhere.