Chelsea have looked to overhaul their squad in the last two seasons, bringing in a number of talented young players as well as spending large sums on first team stars. Oscar, Marin and Hazard have joined so far this season with at least two new signings imminent; a right back and possibly Victor Moses. Youth prospects on the surface seem a bit dim despite the massive influx of young players. Chelsea have signed promising young players only to loan them out as is the case with De Bruyne and Lukaku who have joined Werder Bremen and West Brom respectively. Further to this many academy players who were thought to have bright futures are also out on loan such as Bruma and van Aanholt. Davila and young keepers Dalec and Courtois also signed by the club have been loaned out. Of those loaned out the only one who appears certain to have a future at the club is Courtois who enjoyed a very successful spell on loan at Atletico Madrid last season.
The current squad
Below is a list of midfielders and forwards currently at Chelsea (clearly taken from Wikipedia and excluding Lucas Piazon):
Clearly there are an abundance of midfield players at Chelsea. The side are likely to operate in a 4-2-3-1 next season which means that competition for the 2 and the 3 will be stiff. Currently there are 15 players competing for those 5 positions (it’s likely Sturridge will also contest for one of the 3 positions as a wide right). Malouda, Benayoun and Kakuta are likely to be let go in some capacity, which leaves 13. Kakuta was also supposed to be a hot prospect at Chelsea but it didn’t really happen for him after a couple of unsuccessful loan spells and a blocked route to the first team.
With regards to the central 2, there are seven players competing, including young prospects Romeu and McEachran. Realistically they are very unlikely to get first team football with McEachran reportedly nearing closer to a loan move away from the club. Romeu had good spells in the first team under AVB last season making 15 Premier League appearances. One would hope he’d get even more first team exposure this season but that is unfortunately unlikely. Mikel Lampard and Ramires will probably dominate the competition with one or two others getting a look in. Meireles might be let go which would move Romeu up in the pecking order but if Essien remains he still remains as the fifth choice central midfielder in an already crowded line of players.
In the attacking three positions Chelsea have loaned out De Bruyne who could have competed for one of these roles whilst bringing in Hazard and Oscar. Lucas Piazon is not included in the squad list above but he is supposedly a very good young prospect, scoring the equalizer versus PSG in pre-season. His chances will be limited as he sits behind six other players in the pecking order to get into the side. Even more players will be in front of him if the club sign Moses and or Hulk. This would further limited the opportunities for Daniel Sturridge, another young player at the club who although can be frustrating is clearly talented. Thorgan Hazard will also be competing for one of these roles but again will possibly be loaned out or involved in the reserves.
One positive is the rise of Ryan Bertrand as a senior squad member. He has adequately come up through to cover for Ashley Cole as Chelsea’s no.2 full-back. Di Matteo clearly has faith in Bertrand having started him in the Champions League final which indicates that he may be given more responsibility next season as Ashley Cole gets slightly older. As well as this the signings Chelsea have made have indicated that the club are placing more emphasis on younger players, rather than established players. Hazard and Oscar are 21 and 20 respectively and whilst not being cheap clearly shows Chelsea are planning for the future.
Chelsea have looked to overhaul their squad and transform their playing style which has resulted in a huge influx of young players over the last two seasons. It is unclear how many games they will get in the short term with several players being loaned out, and more set to follow. The club performed badly in the league last season, masked by an impressive cup haul. The result was that the club have tried to jump-start a new successful era through big signings and a few notable releases. Next season some of these youngsters may have slightly more joy competing as some of the older players are phased out. McEachran, De Bruyne and Lukaku will need to have good spells out on loan to convince management that they deserve a chance at first team football. Chelsea will start the season with a much younger squad than was previously the case with an array of younger players now in the squad at the expense of the likes of Drogba and Bosingwa.