Date: 16th January 2013 at 1:02pm
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It’s a contentious notion but a true one – Chelsea are improving their youth policy.

Emenalho et al have developed a youth strategy that is clearer and will be more effective than ever before.

This article intends to explain how.

Following on from Courtois, De Bruyne, Thorgen Hazard and Lukaku, the Lucas Piazon loan represents the latest in a string of exciting arrangements in which talented youngsters are sent to top clubs in top divisions.

Malaga are flying high, playing Champions League football and fighting for a Champions League place next year in one of the best Leagues on the planet. This is probably a better and more esteemed situation than the parent club.

Piazon is most likely expected to be given playing time as part of the deal. It won’t be a guarantee, but Malaga will have said that they expect to play him x amount and we hold that amount to be enough. I think he’ll flourish there.

The three aforementioned players are of far higher caliber than the Borini`s, Gokhan Tore`s and Carlton Cole`s of yesteryear, and yet even they may not ever reach the standards required.

Fans of any and every club will always hold their young prospects in very high esteem. Reality requires that they are most of the time thoroughly hyperbolic in their estimations. Josh McEachran will never reach the heights of Xavi or Iniesta. He will not reach the heights of Lampard or Scholes. His level will probably be more Andy Reid or, at a stretch, Raul Meireles.

Watch the friendly match against Paris St. Germain in the U.S in the summer when Marco Verratti made obvious what a truly precocious nineteen year old looks like playing football. It was so conspicuous, they were the same age and yet the ball stuck to the Italian in a way it did not our own squire.

Watch Luke Shaw tonight – he is two years younger the McEachran and yet you will not see the latter play with such assured comfort as will the Southampton left back tonight. McEachran is a talented but second rate player who has been sent to a plucky but second tier club.

De Bruyne, Lukaku and Piazon are not second rate players, and their careers will only be helped by learning their trade alongside players of the quality they one day hope to emulate.

I still hold out hope for Chalobah, and Ake will, I think, be the next to be loaned out to a high quality club in a high quality league.

While there are legitimate concerns about when and how these players are going to fit in to the squad in the future, signing these players young and giving them time to develop is better than our previous policy of waiting to purchase the middle aged, fully developed, fully priced product.

Some will be cut adrift, and each time it will be painful, but it is still a cheaper way of finding those with a world class endowment. It is a system not dissimilar to that of the Portuguese, Dutch and Italian clubs who cheaply purchase ranks of young players from South America, wagering correctly that a single diamond in all that rough will pay for their bet-hedging ten times over.

We are not looking for resale value, but if one or two of the players mentioned above reach their potential, a great deal of money will have been saved. This is the best crop of young players the club has had in its history, and while they are not adjudged to be quite ready yet, rest assured all the right moves are being made to get them there.