From Fikayo Tomori to Tammy Abraham, from Marc Guehi to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, we’ve seen a plethora of homegrown talents leave Chelsea in recent years for significant fees, with Mason Mount heading to Manchester United for an initial fee of £55 million after an 18-year spell at the club. Whilst Chelsea’s Cobham facilities rank as one of the finest academies in world football, the West London club has often been accused of being overly focused on churning out a profit, treating their youth products like commodities, sending them through a loan conveyor belt before offloading them for big money. But what if they didn’t? What if Chelsea only lined up with academy players?
Whilst he may not be pushing Kepa Arrizabalaga and Robert Sanchez for the starting spot in goal, Neil Etheridge does have an impressive resume including promotion to the Premier League with Cardiff City as well as 53 appearances with the Philippines national team. Born in Enfield, Etheridge spent three years at Chelsea’s academy before departing for Fulham in 2006, developing in various sections of the English footballing pyramid. He has spent the past three years at Birmingham City.
We’ll play a 4-2-3-1 formation and we start at right back with Reece James, who, despite persisting injury issues, has emerged as one of the finest right backs in Europe for the Blues, enjoying a meteoric rise at the Bridge since a promising loan spell at Wigan and winning the UEFA Champions League under Thomas Tuchel.
Our center back pairing consists of Andreas Christensen, who had a solid season at Barcelona and Fikayo Tomori, who has been a revelation in Milan. Christensen spent two years in Chelsea’s academy before making his Blues debut, whilst Tomori, much like James, had spent his entire youth at the London outfit before heading to Italy and playing a vital role in their Scudetto triumph.
At left back we are stretching it slightly with Nathan Ake, who can deputize there. His career was marked by a myriad of loans after he broke into the Chelsea first team, who signed him from Feyenoord’s youth in 2011. He has emerged as a vital cog in defense for Manchester City and played a key role in their treble, slotting into a variety of positions across defense.
Our two deep-lying midfielders had different pathways in their young careers, with Conor Gallagher staying in the Chelsea academy, whilst Declan Rice will always remain the one that got away. With the way things are looking at the moment, I bet Chelsea fans wished it was the other way around.
We have three midfielders supporting our striker, with the subject of the introduction, Mason Mount in the middle. To his left he has Callum Hudson Odoi who we are all still waiting to fulfill his immense potential. On the right, I had to cheat a bit again, with Eddie Nketiah, who is usually a striker but can play on the right. Whilst Hudson Odoi and Mount spent their whole youth at Chelsea, Nketiah switched to Arsenal in 2015.
And finally, in attack, we have Tammy Abraham, a player who, despite his recent long-term injury, has relished his move to Roma and played a key role in their European title under Jose Mourinho, and who could have been, at the very least, a worthy competitor for Nicolas Jackson at center forwardc. On our bench, we have the honorable mentions of Marc Guehi, Armando Broja, Levi Colwill, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Dominic Solanke, and Tino Livramento.
By: Eduard Holdis / @He_Ftbl
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Shaun Botterill / Getty Images