Chelsea have been shipping youth players out nonstop for the past few years. It’s a bit of a futile enterprise, since they habitually sign players rather than give youth players a chance. Case in point, they signed van Ginkel instead of bringing up McEachran or, hell, Baker.
Let’s look at loaned players:
The Belgian has been one of the top goalkeepers in La Liga in the last 3 years, and is arguably a top goalkeeper in Europe. He’s become a critical piece in the Atletico Madrid machine, making a number of world-class saves to preserve draws v. Barcelona and a win v. Real Madrid. Rumor has it he’s being recruited by Barcelona to replace Valdes. Will he ever feature for Chelsea? Cech is hitting ‘goalkeeper prime’ age (around 30), and is very steady between the pipes. So when will Thibaut’s chance come in London? Honestly, probably never.
Nate was a critical piece in Watford’s failed Championship push last year. He played for former Chelsea player Zico there, and nearly helped push into the top tier. He made 38 appearances with them, which is impressive for a then-17 year old. He’s been less successful at Nottingham Forest, making just 4 caps thus far. He’s battled a few injuries and has really only been available for a month, but all the same. He’s a fantastic midfield talent, capable of playing center back but most proficient as a DM. He can score from distance and has earned universal praise from his time at Watford and for the England youth sides, so here’s hoping he stays healthy and can bust into the first time at Forest and then Chelsea. Expect a full England call up in the next 2-3 years, and a slip into the first team (hopefully, but it’s Chelsea) on a similar timeline.
What’s that, you say? Another Hazard? Yes. At first I thought this was complete nepotism, a ploy to bring Eden to London. But he’s been a revelation for Zulte, where he’s been playing since August 2012. He scores, he assists, he does it all. He’s 20, a fully capped Belgium international, and has 33 goals and assists in just 56 caps for Zulte. Really impressive stuff for a midfielder. He’s not quite the player his brother is, but he’s similarly explosive. He has excellent foot skills, a wonderful passer and solid finisher. He could improve the latter, though, and he still makes kid mistakes. But, again, he’s excellent. It’s unfortunate that, like so many CFC kids, he won’t pop into the first team regularly, if ever.
If you haven’t heard of Lucas, jab yourself in the eyes. Just kidding. Just jab one eye, so you can rectify your mistake and watch some film. Lucas had a rough year at Malaga last year, fighting some injuries and made less than a dozen appearances. He’s since moved to Vitesse, which is like a Chelsea minor league club (they currently have FIVE Chelsea players). He’s made 7 apps for the Dutch, scoring 5 and assisting 5. He’s just 19, has a ridiculous scoring record for Brazil’s youth squads and definitely has a shot at the first team. I see him as an Oscar-type player, despite Lucas being a striker/winger. Lucas is practical, technically gifted and an excellent finisher. He’s quick, Brazilian in his close control.
There are many and more Chelsea youth players out and about in Europe. But these are some of the most promising, as far as I’m concerned.