With the summer transfer window in full swing and the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech arriving at Stamford Bridge, and Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz seem set on joining as well, we have to ask ”Is Frank Lampard ditching the youth approach?” In this article, I will address this question and predict the future chances of Chelsea youth players breaking into the first team picture.
Over the course of the 2019/2020 Premier League season, Frank Lampard has blooded several Chelsea youth players into the first team, including the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Billy Gilmour to name a few. You can argue that Frank Lampard’s hand was dealt when Chelsea were hit with the transfer ban over the signing of under age players. Chelsea fans would understandably be concerned about the future of youth prospects breaking into the first team with the activity Chelsea have had so far in the transfer market. But, Chelsea fans do not need to fear as the future is extremely bright for the youth academy and the club as a whole.
Firstly, if you look at Frank’s assistant, Jody Morris, he was the head of the Chelsea youth academy from 2014 to 2018. He would have seen and worked with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori. He would have experience working with several first team players from a very young age and knows how to manage the future prospects coming through and help blend them into the first team. Joe Edwards and Chris Jones, two of Frank’s backroom staff coaches have also had experience working with the youth academy at Chelsea have worked in a first-team scenario while with Frank at Derby County.
If we look at the players coming into the club, they are players you could argue are not currently going to affect the development of any of our youth players. If you look at Timo Werner for example, he is in the same position as Tammy, but they both play differently and Timo is able to play on the wing and could play behind Tammy in a 4-4-1-1 system, if Frank were to adopt this formation. Hakim Ziyech can be seen as a replacement for one of Willian or Pedro who both have left the club. In the case of Ben Chilwell, he will be coming in and replacing one of Emerson or Alonso who both are reportedly up for sale this window. Chelsea do have Ian Maatsen, but he is some way of starting at left back for the first team.
If we look at the transfer business that has been done and what is reportedly going to be done, you can see that the signings that are being made are complementing the Chelsea youth graduates currently in the first team and not preventing the future development of the potential players currently in the youth academy. The Chelsea first team coaches have experience being in the Chelsea youth academy and know how to manage the transition for a player moving from the youth set up to the first team. The prime example of this was Billy Gilmour where he was eased into the Chelsea first team and ended up having a ‘breakout’ game against Liverpool in the FA Cup playing as if he was a first team player for years.
Do I think the Frank Lampard is ditching the youth? No I do not and if anything, I feel that the summer signings shows the ambition Chelsea as a club have. The signings will raise the standard of football being played resulting in the current Chelsea youth graduates and future first team players stepping will step up their game.