Chelsea’s success in integrating young talents into their first squad and eventually forming them into world class players has not been too great in recent times. Nonetheless, that might change in near future and here is why: Not too long ago, the youth squad of Chelsea won the UEFA Youth League, which is a similar competition to the UEFA Champions League for under-19-year-olds. They edged out Paris Saint-Germain in the finals with 2-1 and took home the trophy for the second year in a row.
This comes as a surprise at first, considering they are missing the big names in their youth team like Martin Odegaard or Rúben Neves. However, they have a solid team with no weaknesses and some very strong, but less known players. I want to introduce or increase your knowledge about three of their best to you.
The 18-year-old central forward came as a rather unknown player into the UEFA Youth League and the U21 Premier League last year. He immediately performed well and secured a spot as one of the team’s most important players.
With 12 goals and 6 assists in 9 games, he led the U19 as top-scorer to the title in the UEFA Youth League. In the U21 Premier League he netted 13 goals and came only short of Ryan Seager from Southampton in the scorer list.
This season Solanke is loaned to Vitesse Arnheim, the Dutch Eredivise team that Chelsea sends most of their youth players to before they are integrated into the Premier League squad. Of course, he is part of the starting eleven whenever he is not injured and scored 7 goals in 24 games.
As an 18-year-old, Clarke-Salter is already a consistent player and even team captain of the U-21 squad of Chelsea. The central back convinces with strong tackles, speed and handling the ball well. He was also part of both UEFA Youth League Squads that won the league and played a major role in the solid defense in both seasons.
He also showed his strength in many of the U21 games, which is one of the reasons for why Chelsea have the third best defense two years in a row now. Because of his performances, he was called into the first squad by Guus Hiddink recently as a replacement for the long-time injured Kurt Zouma.
Like Solanke and Clarke-Salter, Tammy Abraham is only 18 years old and has already shown his great potential in a lot of games. In 29 games in the U21 Premier League, the UEFA Youth League and the FA Youth Cup, he scored 19 goals and set up another 6.
Already last year he was promoted to play in the U21 team of Chelsea, this year he led the team onto the field as team captain three times. He shows great leadership for a player of his age and with speed, air superiority and the ability to dribble, he brings all the skills to the table you can ask for as a central forward. With the return of Solanke from Arnhem, it could come to a hard fight for the spot in the starting eleven of the U21 squad.