Manager Maurizio Sarri has given over 2000 minutes in game time to Chelsea Academy players this season. That is more than any other Blues manager in the Abramovich era (if we exclude John Terry from the figures).
There’s no doubt that the Italian has taken on board some of the criticism about his lack of flexibility in team selection since the start of the campaign, but with the transfer ban in place, he’ll need to be even more flexible next season.
Chelsea have a whole host of young players out on loan and in the academy just waiting for their chance in the first team, so we’ve picked out four names that have the best chance of making the breakthrough.
Fans and pundits alike have been raving about this young fullback, and rightly so. Despite playing for a struggling Championship side in Wigan this campaign, he was named in the league’s team of the year.
With Cesar Azpilicueta not getting any younger, James could compete with the Spaniard for the right-back berth next season. Whether that happens or not probably depends on the future of Davide Zappacosta.
The fullback has been used sparingly by Sarri but did start the final game of the season at Leicester City.
The prospect of losing Eden Hazard to Real Madrid means the Blues could lose their most creative attacking player this summer. Christian Pulisic may be part of the solution but Mount could also provide a creative outlet from the middle of the park.
His return from injury sparked Derby’s late run for the playoffs, scoring four goals and contributing three assists in his last ten matches for the Rams
With Mateo Kovacic returning to Real Madrid, the 20-year-old could be a perfect replacement to compete with Ross Barkley in central midfield.
With Sarri suffering a centre-back crisis before the Europa League final against Arsenal, he could do with the Derby loanee at the moment. The 21-year-old is the Rams’ player of the year after a stellar season in the Championship.
Captain Gary Cahill’s departure in the summer means the club will only have three centre-backs if, that is, David Luiz signs a contract extension. Tomori and Kurt Zouma are likely to battle to be the fourth choice centre-half for next campaign.
The Welsh international has not had as much game time this season as he would have liked. That is mostly because of an ongoing back problem that has kept the teenager out of action for a lengthy period of time.
Still, reports suggest that the 18-year-old has been back training with the first-team for a while. With no discernible backup for Jorginho in the holding midfield role, Sarri could utilise Ampadu in that position.
Although ostensibly a centre-back, Wales manager Ryan Giggs has used him as a defensive midfielder, and it could be his best avenue to getting more first-team football.