Chelsea NextGen stars face little chance of all breaking into the first team

Stamford Bridge Inside

The youth team beat Barcelona 2-0 in Spain on Wednesday, but hopes of breaking into Chelsea first team look bleak, with even players like Josh McEachran and Romelu Lukaku forced to go out on loan due to competition for places.

With news of the 17 year old Chilean Cristian Cuevas agreeing a summer move to Chelsea following less than 24 hours after a hugely impressive 2-0 win over Barcelona in the NextGen series it would be fair to say that the Blues' youth prospects look particularly rich.

If you add in the talent they currently have on loan, from Thibaut Courtois at Atletico Madrid to Romelu Lukaku at West Brom, there are a string of excellent young players who look like they have the potential to become excellent players in the next few years.

However it's highly likely that very few will do that in a Chelsea shirt, and there must be a certain amount of pessimism amongst the NextGen players when they consider their chances of breaking into the senior squad.

Islam Feruz has perhaps been Chelsea's stand out player in the NextGen Series, netting four goals already including one in the victory over Barcelona. Considering the lack of options Chelsea have sometimes had in their frontline, Feruz might consider himself one man likely to one day feature for the senior side.

However Romelu Lukaku, himself farmed out on loan despite a £18 million price tag, will return in the summer, and Chelsea will also likely sign at least one new striker, leaving Feruz further from the side despite a hugely impressive season.

The problem is a common one to all top class clubs, who struggle to integrate youth stars into their side whilst also challenging for the biggest honours, but Chelsea are finding it harder than most to promote young players into the team. Players like Courtois, De Bruyne, McEachran and Lukaku have all starred elsewhere this season, and clearly will want to be at a side they can play in the first team for next season.

If Chelsea can't find a way to integrate these players, they will struggle to keep them, and that will send a clear message to their U19 stars that they might well have to leave Chelsea themselves one day to continue their development.

images: © Tom Cuppens, © Ben Sutherland

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