Last year’s Champions League winners have a big season ahead of them and young players such as Oscar, Hazard, Marin and De Bruyne have been brought in this summer. Other talents such as Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Bruma and Thibaut Courtois are currently out on loan but who else can make an impact at Stamford Bridge this season?
5. Lucas Piazon
Last season’s Chelsea young player of the year; the 18 year old Kaka lookalike can operate in many attacking positions. He helped Chelsea to youth cup glory last season and has been handed the number 35 jersey. This season may come too soon for him but after scoring against Paris Saint Germain in pre-season don’t be surprised to see his name on a team sheet or two in 2012-13.
4. Sam Hutchinson
A hot prospect with Chelsea from a young age making his first team debut in 2007 Sam Hutchinson was destined for stardom at the Bridge. However that dream seemed dead after a series of agonising knee injuries forced him into early retirement in August 2010.
After attending university and earning coaching badges a miraculous recovery from his knee ailments saw Sam come out of retirement in 2011 and he was promptly resigned by Chelsea. Towards the end of last season he became an invaluable member of the first team providing much needed defensive cover in a busy schedule and after achieving what he has already few would bet against him making the next big step.
3. Josh McEachran
A disappointing loan deal at Swansea last year cannot hide the sheer innate quality this boy possesses. At just 19 years old such setbacks can make or break a career and time will tell if Josh can put his Welsh adventure behind him. A technically gifted player with an incisive pass the Oxfordshire lad is a regular for England Under-21s and will be hoping to impress on loan or in the Chelsea first team this season.
2. Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku was the most wanted youngster in Europe when Andre Villas Boas paid Anderlecht a potential £18 million pounds for the ‘next Didier Drogba’.
The comparisons are clear to see; fast; strong; good in the air and a deadly finisher but Chelsea fans have not yet been treated to these traits as much as they would have hoped. He has had a good pre-season so far scoring a double against Seattle Sounders but is adamant he wants to play regular first team football next season. A loan deal is likely but wherever he plays his talent could shine again next year.
1. Ryan Bertrand
The first man to make his European debut in a Champions League final against Bayern Munich in May, the 22 year old left back is destined for the Chelsea first team squad this season. Currently playing for Team GB at the Olympics he has impressed on previous loan deals at Norwich, Reading and Forest. Will play second fiddle to Ashley Cole but can learn invaluable things from the England legend.
Here is a reel of Ryan's best moments from his highly successful loan spell at Reading in 2009-10. Apologies for the music.
What do you think of these youngsters and any others who might make an impact over the course of 2012-13?
image: © Ben Sutherland