Almost every great team has an academy and from within these academies, many a youngster dreams of stepping onto first team status and the adulation that ensues.
Many, many fail to make the grade but the lucky few that do and are willing to work hard go onto great careers, greatness itself and history.
From the Masia, came the unforgettable Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Busquets to name just a few. From Manchester United came Beckham, Scholes and Giggs. There have been many others but this is a Chelsea forum so I’ll revert back to our interests and why I am thinking of this today after the horror and pain of that defeat against Arsenal.
You see, I believe that although we have gathered the best of youth from around the world, there is little chance of most of them actually breaking into our first team.
Why do you ask? Why indeed, I would reply?
It takes a lot for me to admit anything negative about the club that I love, but it seems to me that the players hold little affiliation to Chelsea. They seem preoccupied with getting selected for the team and procuring their wages. Unfortunately, even a few of the more likely youngsters seem to be heading that way too because of short term self-promoting careers.
I still yearn for hardcore proper supporters of the club coming through the ranks to fulfil their dreams and for us to cheer them on. Alas, it seems that it is no longer possible.
The problem is that football clubs are multi-layered businesses and every business needs to be thriving to survive. The big fish eat up the little fish. The strongest (the wealthiest) survive. And Chelsea is a business just as are the Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham. It’s just the way it is now.
Liverpool sold a player for a reported £142m when he clearly was not worth that much but the buyer thought that was a true value of what they wanted and paid up. Supply and demand at its best.
Without that transaction, the likelihood of purchasing a defender for £75m and a goalkeeper for £67m may not have happened. And if my math is correct that’s £142m. Both players have transformed that club.
One would have thought that a club of Liverpool’s magnitude and “History” would have been able to pluck out gems from their own renowned academy to fill these two crucial positions but no, they had to buy. Needs must.
I don’t begrudge them that at all. It makes perfect business sense. As it should do for all clubs especially the top five or six who invariably have the most money.
Recently, Chelsea has become embroiled in a very public auction for one of its star youngsters. And as I have previously mentioned, I like Callum Hudson-Odoi, I like him a lot.
I hope he stays with us and fulfils his potential so that I am privileged enough to watch him performing for Chelsea for many years to come. I’m not sure that this hope will materialise but fingers crossed.
We then have Ruben Loftus-Cheek, James Reece, Daishawn Redan and Mason Mount who will also hopefully be the future of Chelsea. But all of these players will need to continue to work hard, not only to sustain their own growth as professional players, but professional players honoured enough to play on the hallowed turf of Stamford Bridge. We cannot and should not be handing out large contracts and first-team places to appease the taunting paparazzi. These are our players and we need to carefully integrate them into Chelsea’s Halls of Fame.
The last real Hall Of Famer was a certain John Terry, or JT aka Captain, Leader, Legend.
These youngsters need to live up to that scrutiny and comparison.
But wait, I haven’t finished yet.
Whilst I will physically and spiritually continue to watch for their development, there is another young man that I already think is nearly the finished item. The gem that already sparkles from afar.
I met him a few days, as my son was fortunate enough to be the mascot for Chelsea. I said to this young man that in my opinion having played (at low level), coached and supported Chelsea from the stands, that he will be the biggest star of the lot. That’s how highly I rate him.
What sets him apart?
He has a natural physique (not contrived with weights or other means), he has status, he has an uncanny understanding of the game, he has the vision, he has the strength (he is not a shrinking violet) and yet he is so very polite. Well, he was to me but I don’t think he’s like that with opposition players. Which suits me just fine!
Most of all he has what Sarri was ranting about yesterday after the game.
He has that unnerving glint in his eye that sets men apart. His eyes already tell a story of a determination and willingness to self-sacrifice to achieve his goals. His steely eyes are not that of a loser. This young man is destined for the top and I pray that he has good health throughout his career. He is the closest youngster that I have seen to have all the attributes that our JT had and then some more. He also has pace.
Am I setting him up for a fall? No, I would fall on my own sword if in the unlikely event that he does not succeed. No, I will not need that sword!
Chelsea could sell other youngsters and in some way or another, I could probably understand or justify their decision. But if they were to countenance anything other than giving this young man the longest possible contract for the largest emoluments package in the history of the club.
If my beloved Chelsea do not realise what they have and allow this talent to go to waste, it would be such an act of sacrilege that I would most probably hand back my Season Ticket. There, I’ve said it.
Rejoice, he’s one of our own.
Fellow Chelsea fans, I give you Ethan Ampadu.
Contribution by Navid Deen
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